Feature Requests - how to best handle the voting system?

Sorry if this has been discussed: but once a request has proved to be popular because of gaining a crazy number of votes, why not put it on the the ‘OK, we know you all want this.’ pile and close the votes? (but maybe keep the thread open so ppl can still discuss it.)


I just tried counting the Feature Requests, but lost count past 200. I hardly ever vote because it’s too confusing. Also, a lot of it seems pointless if the iNaturalist staff doesn’t show much interest in a particular request. It seems backward to me. I would prefer knowing which of the existing Feature Requests are considered possibly doable and possibly worthwhile by staff, and then the rest of us ranking them.


yeah, I meant to include the ‘not’, now corrected, tks.

That was the original method to handle feature requests, but there was significant pushback from people who felt their requests should stay open and votable until implemented (or rejected).

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Maybe it would be good if more topics just started as general discussions and could become Feature Requests only if and when the people who make the decisions view them as real possibilities and give the go-ahead for voting. That way there would be fewer Feature Requests (maybe have an upper limit) at any given time to juggle votes around. That way everything can still be discussed, whether they have become Feature Requests or not, but the voting would be much simpler.


Another option would be for us to close feature requests that have 0 votes and haven’t been active in x number of weeks. There are a ton of those right now.

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That wouldn’t free up any votes though, so it would have no effect on peoples’ ability to vote for new requests w/o re-evaluating all their previous votes.


Correct, I was replying to @sgene’s thoughts here, sorry I didn’t make that clear.


and they may have 0 votes because those that would vote have none free, which goes to the heart of the problem! There have been many FRs recently that I would vote for, and I probably would prefer some of them over the ones I have voted for, but just not enough to warrant going back and re-evaluating all my votes… so it becomes a first in first served sort of thing, especially for those FRs that are around the same level of demand/interest


Bringing this discussion back up because, as has been discussed, the current voting system is a bit broken in that votes don’t really affect when a feature will be worked on, there are too few votes, and the system is convoluted.

So I’d be happy to remove the voting feature from Feature Requests and those who make requests can add a poll to their request if they like, such as @kiwifergus has suggested.

In the end, iNat staff will still reply, close topics, and move forward with requests when we are able to. Some requests require a little work, and others months or weeks of planning.

Let me know what you all think.


Good idea :-)


I’m in favor of this. I’m just wondering about finding polls. With a Feature Request I would always see the topic to be voted on, because I look at all new topics. I track a relatively small percentage of topics. Will it be necessary to track all topics in order to be able to find new polls that are not at the beginning of the topic?


So you’re asking what happens if someone adds a poll to an existing Feature request? eg, if I added on below carnifex’s comment here?

Yes, but also any other kind of topic that a poll can be added to later than the first post. Would there be a way to search for polls if one has not been tracking the topic? I have used the word search but I don’t think the word search on Discourse is as good as the word search on the Google forum was. Here are the first two results when I word-search “poll”:

But maybe if people remember to edit the title of the topic that could work in a search, so one could look for the word “poll” in the topic titles in the list that comes up.

I can see it working by keeping the “feature request” category, and just applying the poll either to the first post, or in the first “reply” that a moderator would make when approving new feature requests. It would be a template poll, but could be modified if the moderator saw benefit to do so.

@tiwane is it possible to keep the feature request category, still have “moderator approval”, but just not have the votes activated? What happens if the number of votes allowed is put to zero?

At any stage you could review all feature requests and check on those you are not following (watching). Also, a standard text could be included with each poll so that they could be searched for.

There are times when a feature request starts off with a basic concept, and then discussion changes and morphs it into a more “polished” idea. I think it would be good to start all feature requests off as discussion topics, and then when all ideas are on the table and a clearer picture of what the request should be, then a formal feature request be made from that. Alternatively, the discussion that eventuates should be reflected in changes to the brief in the first feature request post, and the poll should allow people to change their position (re-vote for or against)

I personally find polls where there is 5 positions to choose from to be ideal. A middle ground (ambivalence), either extreme (For and Against), and intermediate states (Like and Dislike) are a good compromise between simplicity and representation.


A position that a change is needed, but the proposed feature isn’t a good way to accomplish it might be a viable option in many cases as well.

I do a significant proportion of moderation from my phone and it’s just too clumsy and tedious for me personally to do things that require multiple steps and pop-ups like approving a post, editing, and adding a poll with however many options. Not to mention trying to remember how the options are supposed to be phrased. So unless something is built into the system I can’t see recommending it.


I think that would be a case for voting against (or dislike), and adding comments in a reply as to why you vote that way. The wording of course is just what came to mind when I made that reply… careful choice of words so it can be consistantly applied would be needed.

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Ah! I use textblaze and so perceive it as a simple thing to have an entry for a standard feature poll. I forget not everyone has access to that sort of thing!

After thinking about this some more, maybe there could just be a topic on this forum called “Announcements of New Polls” where the creator of a poll could announce it with a link to the topic it’s in. Then anyone who wants to be informed about new polls can just track the “Announcements of New Polls” topic and not miss any.

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