ecoEXPLORE observatons

I hope I’m not stepping on someone’s feet, but check out these observations by a user:

The observations all have ecoEXPLORE: Username:

with some user name after it. It appears that a large number of observations by different individuals are somehow being submitted to inaturalist under a single ID. Is this koture? The observations seem good and valuable, but why not have a separate inaturalist IDs for each observer?

They must be from a different resource (website) that uploads its database to iNat.

direct from the ecoEXPLORE page: “Developed by The North Carolina Arboretum, this innovative program encourages kids to explore the outdoors and participate in citizen science.”

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I’ve seen their logo before and assumed it was kosher, but that’s a good question.

From the description on their site, it sound like a curated version of a group account:

Or that they create individual accounts for ones they want to submit?

I wonder if it actually creates individual accounts so there can be communication with the observers, though, as that was one of the main issues with another group account that was banned in the past.

i think this is one of those gray areas. you’re supposed to have each person create their own account and submit their own observations under their respective accounts, but it’s not always easy to identify these kinds of group accounts and to ask them to have all their members create and post to their own accounts. probably as long as it doesn’t post too many observations or otherwise violate iNaturalist’s terms of service, there’s probably little to be gained by asking this group to change what they’re doing.

that said, sometimes the longer you wait to correct the course, the more of a problem something like this could become. (i can think of at least one such case where it became a problem that was difficult to address.)

Not creating their own accounts IS already a violation of the TOS though, per some posts from @loarie and @tiwane about that one group account: One of the behaviors that got that other group account suspended was creating dummy accounts for their own members instead of creating member accounts (either directly or through the API). As far as I am aware, that part of the TOS hasn’t changed.

If ecoEXPLORE’s accounts are also dummy accounts, then they shouldn’t get a pass when the other app/group account didn’t for the same behavior.

If ecoEXPLORE’s user accounts are actual user accounts, then it isn’t an issue.

P.S. @pisum, I don’t mean to be preaching to the choir; I think you know more about that issue than I do, from your replies in the various threads.
P.P.S. I also know the issue was more complicated and moved on from just the dummy accounts. That’s why I said it was “One of the behaviors”, not the only behavior (i.e, I know they switched from dummy accounts to a group account, but the posts I obliquely referred to specifically mentioned that the dummy accounts had been a TOS violation).

The North Carolina Arboretum has a project on iNat which I’ve joined. ecoExplore is separate but closely related. I thoroughly support ecoEXPLORE as a powerful teaching tool that the NC Arboretum uses with children. The more kids who realize that their yard is like a mini arboretum the better. I just wish other arboretums and parks would do something similar.


ecoExplore is a curated account on behalf of minors. I have no problem with an educator creating an interactive account like this. I really respect Jonathan Marchal’s dedication to extending the influence of iNaturalist in such an intuitive, organic way.


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