Encouraging users to upload more than just one photo

A cliché?

What’s wrong with clichés?

I’d recommend politely suggesting it to these people/person. A lot of people just do not know the importance of different angles. There’s a lot of stuff people learn after using the site for a while, so it doesn’t hurt to politely inform people when it comes up.


I like to phrase it like ‘It’s a type of sunflower. If you have the opportunity to revisit this plant and get photos of ____, we might be able to figure out what kind of sunflower’.

I avoid saying ‘we can’t identify this without shots of ____’ because that essentially labels (in their mind) their attempt to make an observation as a fail and I don’t want newbies, especially, to feel they’ve failed with their first few uploads. We might not be able to say much more than ‘sunflower family’ but that might be all they needed. And the fact that they tried the app and uploaded something is a type of success even if the organism can’t be identified. Building on that success is to get them to do it again with ideas of how they can get an even better id. :-)

On a tangential note, I feel I’ve learned more about getting a handle on the families of plants (dicots, especially) or insects than I have from getting a species level id of a plant. I am getting much better at figuring out whether an unknown (to me) plant is in the carrot family, the mint family, the nightshade family, or the mustard family. (Same with insects). That’s valuable (to me) and I don’t need a species level id to gain that kind of knowledge. I’m sure most people want a species level id. But I am often quite content with a higher level id.


This is great to note as something to avoid because I’ve seen many people suggest taking more pictures in a way that insinuates this. Lots of “you couldn’t get any closer?” and things along those lines, in snippier tones. Once I saw somebody say something as direct as “you need to capture X characteristic, awful picture”. Seems unnecessary and unlikely to help people improve their observations in the future.


I think that, depending on local culture or on the country, it could be better not to be straightforward or to be as straightforward as possible.
After all, the sense is always the same, that means “with this photo the organism is unidentifiable”.

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What about a very detailed, and at the same time easy to use, tutorial for educators such as teachers or organizers of bioblitzes/events to explain them how to teach the use of iNat in order to maximize the possibilities to get an identification?
It could be in pdf format and possibly translated in various languages.
Do something like this already exist?

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There is this video linked in Help. The Help section also touches on improving the quality of observations.

I would also be interested in other resources that have already been developed.


I suspect that is a side effect of the “citizen science” impression some people have; that is, forgetting that observers are uploading for their own reasons, and treating them as if they are your unpaid field techs.

On that note, I have followed the example of others here and setup some copypasta for multi-species observations directing the observer to the tutorial on how to fix it. Because just telling them to separate the observations without telling them how is rather like telling a kitchen newbie to bake brownies without a recipe.

I have found said tutorial in English and Spanish, and a similar one in Portuguese. It would be nice to have it in other languages as well.


When I’m identifying observations I love to see multiple photos, however, sometimes people upload lots of photos but miss the vital characteristic that you need for a specific identification. I’ve done it myself with things I’m not familiar with. Nobody can know the diagnostic features of every organism so, if they have the opportunity, it’s best to take multiple photos and hope for the best.


As he said: “@jasonhernandez74 I have found said tutorial in English and Spanish, and a similar one in Portuguese. It would be nice to have it in other languages as well”,
I wohld add: Most wanted in German!


Any reason you can’t write such a text yourself? I assume the Spanish and Portuguese tutorials didn’t just magically materialize but instead were created by users who saw a need and decided to do something about it.

I have a number of short explanations I often use in comments for new users, and I’ve seen other German-speaking users doing the same thing. (I don’t particularly want to immortalize my sometimes slightly wonky application of German grammar, so I’m not offering anything I’ve written as a template for copy-pasting.)

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I’m an iNat novice (and newcomer to biology in general), and I’m still working out the how many photos/angles/details issue. I can understand that a new iNat app user might think “one photo was sufficient to ID the Cardinal at my bird feeder, so one photo should be fine for this bee”. From the beginner perspective, I think a tutorial or FAQ would be great, although I realize it could get huge in a hurry. Perhaps an easy to stumble across FAQ that pointed to multiple tutorials?

I also really like the suggestions for useful comments in a friendly tone. I’m grateful to the identifiers who’ve taken the time to explain IDs on my observations, helping me to learn. Suggestions of angles/details to photograph are great.

I’m not sure that beginners will be aware of forum or Discord threads ( I don’t even know what Discord is, I confess).

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It’s a platform of app and in-browser of different servers with text (+pic) and voice chats, there’re bots that can be added to control questions (or e.g. play music) and quite a system for different roles one can get, locked chats only for certain members, etc. It’s a gaming thing that became popular in last 2 years amongst YouTubers and it really can be used for any topic. iNat server starts like this

You also can stream via it for other users and message your friends (+ have voice chats just between you two).

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