Eliminating Monthly and 2020 Individual Observation Leaderboards During Coronavirus Pandemic

How about retooling the leaderboard to reward those who make the most identifications?


There’s already an identifications leaderboard (and I’ve suggested before that I personally think it encourages uncritical IDs).


Unless the identification leaderboards are retooled, I dont think we need to be incentivizing people to just go in an agree with already research grade records which is how it works right now. The ‘leaders’ on there in many cases are simply doing that.


That @sambiology, he’s a worry…


“Many cases”


While I’m not a big fan of the leaderboards in general, I do think they incentivize some behaviours on the site that are not helpful, I’m also unsure that turning them off will change those behaviours.

Realistically if someone is so driven to appear at the top of these lists, they are either going to be driven to keep going with possibly inappropriate observing waiting for when they are turned back on, or just switch to tracking it via a project or other functionality on the site.


In my area there’s been a big push to get people to observe things in their local neighborhood, yard, etc, all in accordance with the local isolation/shutdown rules. It’s pretty poor form, etc to go to a closed park or something like that (also illegal and unethical) but if anything, staying at home or near home encourages MORE iNat use than during normal times.

It would be interesting to change the leaderboards to observations ADDED during the month rather than observed, to encourage people to go through old records and photos and such if they are stuck at home. Though I’ve already gone through mine years ago.

If you live in NYC, yeah you probably should stay indoors most of the time. This sort of situation represents a sizable % of the world population perhaps but a small % of the land area or biodiversity. here in Vermont we are encouraged to go outside since there is plenty of space to safely do so. Everywhere is different but iNat can’t be expected to understand and enforce the specific health needs of each area.


I disagree.

Out of all the people who could be violating social distancing orders, iNaturalist users are much less likely to do so than the tribes of young surfer dudes I’ve seen crowding the beaches, the soccer moms still holding playdates, and the trashy neighbor who still has meth binges with all his friends.

What I’m saying is the portion of people who iNaturalist users AND violating social distancing orders AND motivated to do so by leaderboards AND would stop doing so if leaderboards were not present… is so small as to be virtually nonexistent.

Personally I enjoy the leaderboards, and am often motivated to grab a few extra observations or make that final 100 IDs before bed just to move up a bit. I am extremely competitive by nature, and that’s what gets me off my butt to actually do stuff. I would be extremely disappointed if they were removed in order to try to remind people to behave in the ways they already know they are supposed to.


@oakycp – welcome to the forum. we’re all in this together. do you have any examples of people actually engaging in unsafe behavior as a result of leaderboards? i don’t use the leaderboards to drive my own iNaturalist behavior, but i do look at them to see who’s active in different areas.


Sorry, I hadn’t thought about lurkers, the date just sent me thinking though.

I don’t think the leaderboards would encourage people to be risky that aren’t finding other reasons to be risky anyway.

I do use the leaderboards for particular taxons to figure out who to call in for help occasionally, so would rather them stay, but really don’t care about other leaderboards. Don’t see the need to remove, but don’t care if they are.


Broken window syndrome?

But officer I’m the only one on the beach!
Yes, because everyone else, is obeying the law. We are allowed out for essential food or medicine shopping.

1 Like

Where I am (with a Governor who is being very proactive and aggressive with his actions), we are not only allowed out for outdoor activity - we are encouraged to be out. As long as one maintains physical distancing, it’s considered essential for both physical and mental health.

Keep in mind
–I live in an place with quite a lot of nature areas
–our residents are, by nature and reputation, a state full of introverts :-) we were already half way to social distancing before restrictions were put in place
–we have winter weather that can last up to 6 months - we haven’t even seen our first flowers blooming here yet. We would get extreme cabin fever to be told we couldn’t go for a walk after not getting out much for the last 6 months.
–the nature lovers I know, would all rather be on their own anyhow in places that are quiet and not full of people. It’s hard to find the birds when there are running dogs and laughing children and ball games in an area. We seek out the quiet paths away from all that.

Of course, that is just here. There… in all those places that are not here where I am … of course are different. But that’s kind of my point. I’m allowed out. I am not doing the other things I’d like to do but are not wise in this situation. But I am setting number goals for myself for some private little fun. And I’m getting creative about meeting them. Instead of going to the busy park, I go to the lesser known one and turn over logs. :-)


I am too and the motivation in the case of iNat is actually to compete with myself and have little games or routines I play that keep me searching. Or, like publicly discussing my spider issues which internally prompts me to set goals and compete with myself for larger numbers or diversity of species.

I have some mixed feelings about the boards but I find them sometimes useful and fun in a light way when I see I’m the top observer of something because it’s a tiny tiny tiny…
I understand the intent here, to discourage bad behavior but I think the staff has already made statements to encourage safe behavior. I also agree that people inclined to act selfishly and irresponsibly would likely experience a negligible impact to their behavior, if any, from such a change.


That, in my mind, encourages competition for the sake of competition and results in uncritical and poor quality results.

I’m not really convinced that leaderboards are a useful thing. Able to see your own stats, sure, but maybe it’s not such a good thing to have everyone else’s up for review as well.


That’s a good point.

1 Like

I’d always wondered about that. Thanks.

I like the ID leaderboards. The IDs may be uncritical, but if they aren’t there then there is no incentive for people to put more than two species specific IDs on an observation. If I put an ID on for someone else, I find the person who posted the observation will often agree with my ID to get their observation to research grade, and then it’s really not a consensus anymore - I feel more confident about IDs when they are confirmed by more than two people.

Also they encourage people identifying to check in on their niche topics from time to time to retain their spot.

I find that people who add a third or fourth ID are often adding massive amounts of agreeing IDs to RG observations and are extremely rarely actually thinking critically about those IDs. For me, that makes it even more difficult to change an incorrect CID because now there are even more wrong IDs to correct.


In my opinion these are pretty buried, intentionally so, and don’t need to be removed. They’re there for people who are interested. Do many people even go to them? I haven’t checked them out in months. And I think anyone who’s particularly competitive will likely just use Explore or a collection project to track stats anyway.


People have used it to contact me for help on certain observations, and I have used it for the same purpose. I wound up being a leader by focusing on one genus of interest and sorting out all the observations in the geographic location that mattered most to me. To a certain extent, the person in second place for two of the species had done the same thing. Through the leaderboard we established a good working relationship. It would be a shame to lose easy access to that kind of a connection just because someone else thought somebody might identify 7,000 members of a genus just to wind up in first place.

It seems to me that if that behavior were occurring and if it was compromising the validity of the data for a taxon, it could be dealt with by the curators of that taxon or by the administrators of the site. The curators could contact the individual and coach them into behaving more appropriately. If that failed, the administrators could deal with the situation much the same way they would deal with trolling—and I’m sure there are many levels of engagement in between.

In this thread, I’ve seen several references to actual situations where the leaderboards have been helpful. I have not yet seen one example of an instance in which the leaderboard was abused. Are there any? If not, let’s not rid ourselves of a useful tool just to solve a theoretical problem that has never actually arisen.