Flag a user

I don’t always feel comfortable calling out other users and would appreciate the ability to flag a user for curator attention. For example, I recently noticed someone had posted over 40 observations that were photos of photos with incorrect metadata on every single image. Or another example brought up on the forum: a user posting observations of security cameras. These are clearly not spammers, but a user flag seems more appropriate than a content flag since every observation from the user is involved.

Currently I would email help@inaturalist.org for something like that, but a flag could be good. I came across someone who had posted screenshots of other observations from the app for all their observations and emailed the help email.

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Whether security camera observations can be flagged seems to me to be related to the question of whether a camera trap is an iNaturalist policy conforming observation. My own opinion has changed.

After long reflection I no longer hold this opinion in regards camera traps. I now read "An observation records an encounter with an individual organism at a particular time and location."¹ as “an encounter by an individual person with…” based on "Our primary goal in operating iNaturalist is to connect people to nature,…"². I now read that as a personal encounter with nature. I now do not consider an automatically triggered camera trap to be that personal encounter. Just my own shift in opinion. I realize that while others may concur that these are technically not one’s own personal observations they are still submittable. One’s opinion on camera traps bears on whether a user should be flagged for posting security camera based observations.

Maybe I’m misunderstanding you’re comment, but I believe you’re discussing a different issue. You’re discussing images taken by security cameras; the original post is referring to a user posting dozens of photos of security cameras (identified as ‘human’ as I recall)–clearly not consistent with any reasonable understanding I can think of for iNat.

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My apologies, I had not realized there were submissions of security cameras being made as opposed to by security cameras.

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When I first saw all the photos of surveillance cameras, my first thought was to mark them as “no evidence of organism.” But there are so many observations of meaningless inanimate objects on iNaturalist that get corrected to “Human” that I couldn’t figure out why these wouldn’t be “Human” as well–objects made made by humans to watch other humans.

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From a curator’s view, I wonder whether this would result in a lot of flag traffic for relatively innocuous issues that are usually dealt with by other means. Or whether it might facilitate flag wars between users. I would be curious to know from @tiwane how much this might alleviate the current help email workload for user issues by spreading it to the larger curator community? Or whether he mainly gets egregious cases that curators would likely elevate to the help email anyway?

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I’ve been noticing more and more flags by users who have flagged without making any effort to draw the issue to the flagged user’s attention. Perhaps it isn’t the job of each and every user to help other users or correct other user’s mistakes, but I feel that we all need to engage with other users to some degree if we want the site to ‘work’ . We should engage another user first, and only flag them as a last resort. I’m not talking about abuse, I’m talking about small things like location or date missing, obs of pets, obs of humans, not marking things as non-wild etc. Curators are just regular users who have taken on more of the work load, we shouldn’t be over relying on them.

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Encouraging flaggers to find ways to engage directly with the user to resolve issues is a great way to spread the load and I try to do that as much as possible when I resolve flags.

At the same time, yeah, not everyone is interested in resolving these types of issues themselves, and sometimes as a curator I don’t have the bandwidth or interest in taking on every situation I notice. So, it would be helpful to be able to pass off, or at least track for later, when there’s an issue that relates more broadly to a user than one or two observations.

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In my opinion, if a user is doing something consistently across their records that violates iNat rules, then it warrants a flag. If the user is simply screwing up on some of their records, perhaps due to inexperience, then add a comment to their “bad” records and/or use the DQA at the bottom of the record and move on. Some of these users are not really invested in their records – they’re just messing around and will probably abandon iNat after a short period – and they don’t deserve the time wasted by other users in trying to fix their submissions.

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Yes, and my concern is that adding a user flagging option will make it easier to avoid (or not discover) use of the comments and DQA’s to address such cases, and result in further bloating of the flag backlog.

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Trail cameras provide invaluable data making I NAT a documented research source and not just another pretty picture compilation and should be accorded the same level of respect. Now horrible cell phone photos should be disallowed as identification is most often impossible and thus just taking up valuable space…

There’s no photo “quality” requirement and a photo that seems impossible to one person may be an easy ID for another. Please refrain from “photo shaming”. If you are certain (and I mean really certain) no id is possible flag it “no further ID needed”
Remember we are here to connect with nature and collect biodiversity data. No rejecting or “frassing” of photos happens here.

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Hey @charlie, quick question. So if I understand correctly, if the photo is obviously just a grey blur or something like that, a smear of colour, a photo that lacks any subject or definition, we can flag it in the way you describe?
And to do so, would that mean flagging it as “other” and then writing in the field “no further ID needed”? Yohoyohoapirateslifeforme

Sorry for the confusion, I didn’t mean that type of flag, rather that you would check the “no further id needed” checkbox on the observation. You can also add a coarse id though perhaps best not to disagree unless you think the id is wrong (that etiquette gets sticky)

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Sorry, still a little confused. I don’t see anything that says “no further ID needed”, do you mean “no, it’s as good as it can be”?

yes i am sorry, i was on my phone and couldn’t post a screen shot but I mean this:

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I was wondering if that was it :-)
When I searched the forum for the phrase “no further ID needed”, it only brought up your posts, so I began to think something was amiss when I didn’t see any other mention of that phrase.
Thanks for clarifying that guidance @charlie, cheers.

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yeah i was just mis-remembering the wording since i was on my phone, my bad!
And i know this stuff is tricky to define sometimes, like sometimes there are photos that are truly impossible to say anything about, or that aren’t appropriate as iNat observations for whatever reason. If you do see copyright infringements or inappropriate content, of course feel free to give those actual flags.

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Bottom line (as I understand it): If the submitter is posting stuff that violates iNat rules (copyright issues, inappropriate content, spam, etc.) then FLAG it.

But if it’s just messed-up or incomplete data or poor photos, do NOT flag it. Advise and assist the submitter to the extent you want and/or use the Data Quality Assessment (DQA) for that record. But a poor record does not warrant a flag.

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