Explaining Forum Rules After "Complainative" Thread

The forum I had opened a couple days ago was closed prior to me being able to reply and I would like to do so now and I’m putting the topic in “Forum Feedback” so that now comments to this thread can better understand how the forum works and perhaps address the issue of what the forum “rules” are. There is also an apology on the bottom for those I may have offended or hurt.

So I opened the thread “Biggest Peeve Among Naturalists” to see what gets on our community’s nerve and maybe have a laugh or two. Specifically I looking for stuff like, “Why do people post on social media a photo of the back of their DSLR showing a picture of a rare bird? Why can’t you take the SD card?”

Yet it was closed because…

this Forum is specifically not meant to be a place for complaining or airing grievances, even if they’re small ones. If there is a specific issue bothering you, start a discussion that seeks to understand the issue and perhaps make it better.

I’m sorry you felt that way but the purpose of the topic was not to complain or rant or anything like that, I was hoping to have a little fun and I got that with comments like…

the people that are obviously naturalists, but won’t try iNaturalist!

Uncooperative cameras.

Oh, and along the 'same lines, the mis’us’e of apostrophe’s, especially when its pos’sess’ive!

And in a sense, I helped bring community grow closer together and act more like a family like here…

As a regular Pokemon Go player

Oh, we should trade friend codes!

I noticed repetitively one of three things happening throughout the thread, 1. we were having fun. 2. we were making new year resolutions (because we figured out we were guilty of something and theoretically solving the whole “specific issue bothering issue” mentioned in the thread closing) and 3. we were learning how to become better naturalists in the process. As another said…

I think that the most important rule is “Assume people mean no harm”. The question is what is your biggest peeve among naturalists, and to my mind, people are responding honestly. We may disagree with their peeves, but I don’t think any harm is meant!

Even another user said…

Though I have kind of enjoyed it.

With the reply…

I will miss the info that you and others have provided on what to include in my observations, though

So if this topic needed to be closed because it was “complaintive” even after all the good benefits that came out of it, then so be it, it’s done and over with and I apologize for posting the thread and perhaps it’s time to actually discuss what is “appropriate” for the forum or not. What is acceptable to talk about? I’ve personally tried searching for ‘rules’ and so far it’s been lacking. And perhaps this topic can merge into “Feature Requests” or something to have a rule board posted along with your topic so you know if the topic you’re posting is appropriate for the forum. Once again I apologize if I offended anyone but it appears users like to blow topics out of proportion (me myself guilty of) and I’m sorry if anyone was hurt but any comments presented in the topic. If this topic needs to be closed but we want to put this thread behind us so be it, I just believe I needed a final word.


I got quoted twice! I feel important. :stuck_out_tongue:


I wasn’t offended by the topic or by anyone’s replies. Lord knows I like to talk about my pet peeves as much as anyone, and we all have things that bother us, be they large or small.

I think, however, that with an online forum these kind of things can gain momentum pretty quickly because everyone wants to share what bothers them (it can be fun, of course), and what you end up with, at least in my estimation, is a string of negative posts which is not fun or particularly constructive to read through.

The forum Guidelines, which should be linked to in the welcome message, say

Remember that discussions here should be constructive, so please refrain from merely airing complaints. If something about iNaturalist is bothering you, either start a constructive conversation about it by asking a question, or propose a solution.

So perhaps a bit buried, but that broad guideline is there. Something like a feature request or a bug report is pretty straightforward, but for bringing up an issue or issues, iNat-related or more broadly related to nature, I think it would be good to ask yourself if the discussion you’re about to start will lead to a better understanding of the issue and/or work toward improving the issue. If trespassing by other naturalists bothers you, for example, bring it up and start a discussion about the reasons people might trespass and how it can be prevented or reduced.


I can understand this. But if it happens we all deal with that. Positive, negative, dummy, over serious… as long as everyone is being respectful, what’s the problem?

This I don’t understand… What is a negative post? Even a stupid complaint like “I’m leaving iNat because I don’t like the green on the logo” is an oportunity for others to speak up. Maybe someone else will have a great idea to improve the iNat logo.

I think the only bad thing that came up from that thread was to see someone asking

This for me is sad… truly sad indeed.

Just my 2 cents… I don’t want to dwell on this forever and don’t want to be flagged as “revolutionary” or something like that.



I understand where you’re coming from, but personally, I approve of the original thread being removed.

In my opinion we already have more than enough social media platforms and forums for that sort of post. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s better for something like Reddit or Facebook.

The iNat platform has a lot of flexibility, but it does also have a specific goal and purpose, and I appreciate efforts to keep it on track.


I don’t have a strong opinion on whether this would eventually have become negative rants, but I really appreciate the time @birdwhisperer took to explain what they had in mind (give me pronoun points).


Well, it became complaintive at one moment, people are having fun, but once the debate starts it’s over.


I generally enjoyed the first post each person volunteered, even if some of them were negative/kvetchy. I did notice that these comments often spawned replies which challenged them, and that as the exchanges got longer, they got more defensive and heated. This bummed me out, and I wanted to intervene, but that’s like telling people to “stop replying to all!” – usually counterproductive. So I get why it was closed and maybe agree that was a good idea, even though I enjoyed the post.

In summary: I guess I appreciate the forum moderators making tough judgment calls like this, and I’d encourage you to keep posting things even if you worry they might drift into negative-land. If the moderators think it’s going off the rails, they’ll deal, and please don’t take it as a judgment on you.


Closed, not removed.

Sorry, pet peeve (KIDDING! I’m kidding! …I couldn’t resist)


I had fun with the thread–and people offered me good advice regarding my pet peeve. I’m surprised it was closed. It seems unnecessary to me, but I’m not moderating. Thanks for the enjoyable thread while it lasted. I like the threads that can bring in the whole community–even when some replies are “grumpy.”


Thank you for the thoughtful replies and feedback, everyone. It wasn’t a decision made easily, and in retrospect another tool that could have been used was to just close the thread for a few hours, which is something I sometimes forget is an option. I think @earthknight said it well in that there are plenty of places on the internet for a discussion like that, but the iNat Forum shouldn’t be one of them.


For me, ones that ultimately make me feel like this:


Anything involving topics like “Pet Peeves” is bound to get a little heated. Especially when languages other than English are used (translation problems). I also go by the rule “assume people mean no harm”. I aired my pet peeve, and got some interesting answers. I didn’t know the thread had been closed, and would hope people would honour the no harm rule.


I read the rest of the comments, and one thing that struck me about the thread was the use of language. As an international forum, my feeling is that people can respond to comments in whatever language they are comfortable with. I can translate them, or not, but cannot reply if I don’t at least have a sense of what they mean (hence a translation program). Canada is a bilingual country, and I basically only speak English. When people (mainly from Quebec) respond in French, I feel badly that I cannot respond to them in the same language. I don’t want to start a debate, I just wished to state my opinion, especially since it has altered because of responses on the closed thread.


Whatreally struck me iis that some people may feel bad about series of photos of the same individual, I mean well, the unique field for that purpose didn’t just appeared from nowhere.

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I post a lot of Downy and Hairy woodpeckers, Chickadees and White breasted Nuthatches, because they hang around all winter. I hope that the observations are of some use to someone - I visit roughly the same location daily.
I don’t bother with crows or house sparrows, though!


well, for what it is worth, that’s a user created field, which isn’t to say the site developers don’t want you to do this, but they didn’t create that particular functionality, either.

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Personally I’m pretty frugal with posting records. At my home or work place, I potentially could photo certain bird species almost daily but I figure one record per year, if even that, is enough for documentation purposes. I’m not in a race to rack up numbers.


I asked a fellow user to respond in english and when I was explaining why I asked that, the topic was closed. Please take a second to picture this: user A and user B are not english native speakers (let’s imagine that A is russian and B is portuguese). If user A want to say something to user B in an english language based forum, it’s more likely that user A manage to pass the message if he translate it to english. Google translator if far from perfect but if A sees an error he can try to refrase… if B
was to translate the message himself, he doesn’t know the intention of A’s speach so he have no way to correct the error.

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Machine translation uses translations available online - so for example EU documents mean that European languages are fairly well covered.

For Afrikaans speakers the translation is often useless, since there is not much available online for the machine to work with. You can also help Google Translate, by correcting errors.