Followers, an actual reason to follow people

Every Sunday I make a fairly large amount of identifications and every Monday I come out with one or two more followers. This thought just came across my mind right now. You can easily find all the people you follow and if you want to find people to tag for help on observations without relying on “Identification Leaderboards” theoretically you could just follow them to remember their account for later, yeah?


I am one of those, who follows avid IDers. As a rule of thumb I follow every IDer, who IDed one of my observations and has more than 500 ID made in total. I use it to tag experience IDers for me. If one of those disagrees my ID, I will look extra carefully into that observation and my ID, if one of those IDs to species level (where I did not do), I would search for a key to find out, if it would enable me to do so in my own right.
But I almost never tag IDers. I have the impression every IDer has a way to find what he or she wants to look into.


There’s a few species that I’m really confident on that I follow, but otherwise I’m totally cool with people tagging me. For what its worth.


I follow people because they share observations that I find interesting. Is that not a good enough reason - or “an actual reason” - to follow someone? :(


It is a very good actual reason to follow someone!


I follow local people to see if they see what I see and vice versa.
Not a taxon specialist so I rely on my memory, or leaderboards, for that.

And botaneek since he observes rare plants. Both for his day job. And on his botanising holidays. 10 thousand 621 species and counting!


one of the two main reasons I follow someone…

either I know them somehow from “real life”, or I find the observations interesting, maybe because I can learn from it (my own local fauna or mainly spider observations in regions I am IDing at)


That is very reasonable reason and very much “an actual reason.” I was just saying that it was an actual reason based off of all the flair about following people being useless.

I follow people when they act suspiciously. ;-)


True! I also do that, but end up removing them once things change.

Isn’t every reason an actual reason?

I give iNaturalist sessions in many contexts, and most of them have a field practice component. After the session I check iNaturalist to see who posted at the time and place we were there, and I follow those folks for a while so that I can give them ID help, encouraging comments, and general positive feedback for using iNaturalist.


Some identifiers really focused on a particular group will have great tips for photography or links to ID resources in their user profiles, and then I may follow them so I can (more) easily find those links in the future.


I have mixed feelings on the “following” feature. The negative, it reminds me too much of social media and popularity contests. We all work hard uploading our findings, and for those of us with little to no followers it’s upsetting and feels like what we put on isn’t important to the inaturalist community. Clearly those professionals uploading in the work field or with thousands of observations are going to get followers because it shows they are valuable and important contributors. I tried following members who live in my area to help Id organisms I am familiar with, and got 0 follows or comments on my observations. I gave up following people ever since they aren’t interested in my data.


Well you’ve only been on iNat for less than two months. It often takes a while to get followers, if that’s important to you. Just do what you’ve been doing. If it makes you feel any better, a number of my followers are now inactive or dead.


That’s an interesting perspective; I can’t say I’ve ever viewed people differently because of their follower count on iNat or any other platform for that matter. I don’t see iNat as much of a popularity contest per se; the professionals you mention may very well be valuable and important contributors but so is every person who is uploading obvs and contributing to citizen science, including you!


I don’t see it that way on iNat. I follow 10 very carefully chosen people - because they are nearby, or because their obs interest me.
I see I have 95 followers - probably because I do a lot of identifying - maybe a ‘follow’ is seen as a way of saying thank you?
But those vanity numbers are not something I ever look at on iNat.

How much identifying do you do? If you engage with other observers, you will (slowly) get more engagement. iNat comments are almost all focused on the ID discussion, or unusual behaviour or interaction. Not as ‘social’ as other sites.

PS please add a profile thumbnail on iNat - something for iNatters to recognise and remember you by (not the default grey ghost) - your favourite insect?


In my experience few people care to visit profiles, and/or use the resources provided there (as estimated by tracking clicks on links). It might be a UI or discoverability issue - something to alleviate by a better onboarding process?

As for followers, I regard the feature as an easy way to greatly focus interactions (identifying, explaining, debating…) to a “select few” - according to personal criteria. (That’s a dozen people -only- in 5 years!)


I wouldn’t but much stock in a user’s number of followers - it’s an inconsistently used feature on iNat. I have a decent number, but I am not sure why!

I don’t think number of followers is going to be a good indicator of folks being interested in any user’s data per se. Most data users are going to get iNat data fromg GBIF. Even if someone gets data directly from iNat, there’s no easy way for the observer to know that their specific data was ever used (unless it is a focal point for the use of the data and/or the researcher lets them no personally, which I think is rare).

So I would suggest using iNat for what you get out of it and not worrying about the followers too much/at all. Many people are probably totally unaware of this niche part of iNat and still get a lot of enjoyment out of it!


When I started, I followed friends and people nearby and people who seemed to need my help. (I was slow to catch on to the value of journal posts and that I would get notification if a person I follow posted one.) Now, I get very many notifications. Now, I very very rarely add new people to the list of those I follow. I’ve trimmed the list back a bit and may more.

As to people who follow me? I rarely notice. I do notice and appreciate those who often ID my observations. That’s great. But I rarely think to thank them. Sigh.