Etiquette around Annotations and Observation Fields


I would have thought it important to enter annotation and observation fields, but I notice some people leave them completely blank.

Two questions:

  1. Is it important to fill them in?
  2. What if you are looking at someone else’s observations, and you can tell some things (e.g. the flowering plant the insect is on)… Is it bad etiquette to just change that yourself?
  1. In general it’s helpful to fill them in.
    With some taxa and life stages, etc it is particularly important as they get a bit lost within the system otherwise. For example, a moth larvae expert may use a filter to just identify larvae observations not adults… but if the observations do not have the life stage annotation, the expert will not be able to find them.

  2. No, it’s great to add annotations to others to help!

As an observer it’s fine to leave them blank also though.
Not everyone wants to go into detail on every observation they upload.
Some may come back to add detail later.
Some may not be able to add the details easily on their phones.
Some may not know the correct sex, life stage or host plant, etc.
There are many valid reasons for leaving it blank.


Surely add them where you’re certain! Observers don’t add them because it takes time, can’t be done on upload page and sometimes they just don’t know! Also, some annotations are available only for low-level taxa, so e.g. if they upload an Animalia, there’s no way to annotate it as larva.


If you wish to fill in annotations or fields on somebody else’s observations, do it! It’s useful information.

Theoretically, I fill these in for my observations, but I get behind.


Annotations are not available for iOS users. That could be a major factor.


These can link to GLOBI, so I highly recommend. For more information:


It can on my computer; I haven’t tried it on my phone because I have so many other problems with the upload screen there.

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This page?
What browser do you use?

Something to keep in mind: if you’re adding annotations please be responsive if people end up tagging you to change them! There’s no way to “fix” an annotation if someone has entered it wrong (e.g., marked a photo showing a clear female as “male” or “cannot be determined”), we can only downvote. I wish community logic applied to those (here’s a relevant feature request:, but so far it’s not the way iNat works.


Yes, that page. Once I add a photo (here done only for demonstration purposes), I then see this:

As you can see, along the left margin there are several menu options, including “Tags” and “Fields.” If I click on “Fields,” I see:

Which allows me to add observation fields before uploading. Marina is correct, though, that annotations cannot be added from the upload screen.

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Understood. My mistake. I got confused there because I was just looking for a place for annotations - life stages and such. I knew about the fields because I had explained how to add them on uploading in the Adding Observations to a Traditional Project - Wiki Tutorial

That is really good to know, for my own annotations as well.

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Thank you so much everyone for your responses. Really good to know.

I think we need to remember that not everybody who is observing nature and posting their observations has a scientific background


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