Guiding new users without scaring them off

I’ve been trying to pitch in to help with welcoming new users and making good use of the Frequently Used Responses page as well. I haven’t had much feedback either way yet, but part of the reason is I am probably not speaking some of the new user’s native languages.

Are there any alternate versions of the Frequently Used Responses in other languages? Apologies if I missed a reference to them somewhere. If they don’t already exist - that would be an awesome way some of our multi-lingual users might contribute the project as well!

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you might also not be seeing replies yet because the alerts for them are delayed. Both ways, your initial comment would have a delayed alert, and then their response would also. Plus, they might not be aware of alerts yet, or just be too busy making observations to worry about alerts just now! If I was in Christchurch, I would be flat out on the camera and putting up obs, and would leave all the “paperwork” until after…

Especially with the system somewhat slow given the volume of activity. but Kudos to the staff - it hasn’t crashed or become unusable, at least when I’ve been on, and the volume has been significant!


Indeed, I am very impressed with how hardware, software and staffware have coped!


I have had not so much feedback despite addressing, as gently as possible, to them in their own language…
In my opinion one of the problems could be the way many new users decide to register to iNat. In this light I wonder how people become aware of iNat and then decide to register to do something on the site. Do they know that there are rules to be respected before registering? Do they read (and understand) the “getting started guide” aftre having registered?
For example, one of the Italian initiatives linked to the recent city nature challenges has been promoted on an institution website and on facebook without explaining that iNat is mainly devoted to wild species while encouraging participants to photographs as many organisms as possible to win. The result has been a certain (not too many to be managed) number of newbie all photographing and posting the same plants cultivated in a sort of botanical garden, of course without flagging the observations as cultivated. More or less no one reacted to the invitations to flag that kind of observations. I do not think this is because they were unpolite but just because they were unaware.

In the end, I think that we should apply a way to inform the new users on how to behave and to use properly the site but, at the same time, a certain work should be made in order to make the potential new users already aware of what iNat really is for.


Thanks interesting to know that you are not getting responses in native languages either.

I’ve also run into the problem of a flood of cultivated species not marked as such, and noted it does seem worse in some places. For instance I’ve seen a lot coming out of Malaysia and it makes me wonder if something similar is happening with high promotion of the event but lack of onboarding/awareness on how iNat is used. I’ve seen some people racking up hundreds of observations rapidly, and the subjects being fruit in grocery stalls or individual plants in a huge veggie garden.

When I went to Maui, I was entering observations of plants in town because I did not know what actually grows there–until we went up to Haleakala, the volcano, and saw how different it was.

I had a discussion with someone who asked about why his post wasn’t taken well and I think I went into messages to send him a note away from the public observation. Mostly he was very succinct which came off brusque. I try to add reasons when I change an ID or if people ask for more, but I am also focused on native bees in my state and growing the knowledge base there. I also write people messages that seem to be experts adding IDs and have found a wonderful bunch of people and made connections that way. They have shared links to dissertations and photos outside iNaturalist that will help with our projects.

With bees, I figure it is a time issue, that people don’t explain more. John Ascher has done 100s of thousands of IDs, so just having him come by is wonderful and I don’t expect much more. I’m trying to do some of our 8000 in my state for the small number I know and it is time consuming. (Also getting bees to genera is a huge accomplishment, and species level feels miraculous).

I wrote up a page for us about getting around iNat, mostly because bees need a lot more views and cropping to get anywhere with an ID.

I’ve been here a while and don’t know much about the user guides. Maybe they could pop up as a window or sidebar for the first 5-10 observation posts a person does. Or perhaps there could be more pop-up clues for the first few in the upload window etc…

A “Welcome to iNat” with a few links would be another way to do that. < Just scrolled through more of the discussion and found that. I joined when iNat first happened, and then came back to if a long time later after if grew up a lot. I think I missed the opening page entirely?

Love “Happy iNatting!”



Excuse me! Not trying to be rude here (and I know you weren’t either) but I’m a teenager, I joined iNat less than a year ago, and I think I do just as well as many of the adults here. I’m not saying some kids and teenagers might not be less willing to accept advice, but definitely plenty are helpful members of the community as well.

@blue_celery I’ve been hearing about these problems with new users not following Captive/cultivated rules a lot. It’s hard for me to understand. I got started with iNaturalist because my science teacher gave my class the Port Townsend Marine Science Center Bioblitz 2020 as homework. I was the only one who did it. I made much less observations than I could have, because rather than posting as many photos as possible, even if they were blurry or of cultivated plants, I posted only the best pictures. My observation quality has actually decreased since then, as I started posting all my pictures instead of just the good ones. But I don’t remember having any trouble understanding what not to do.


That is very commendable what you did/are doing. But you cannot imagine, how much garbage (sorry for the word, but it is true) has to be sorted out from the pages of the beginning iNatters… Photos of all family members and friends (some also named ‘funnily’ - that means incorrectly), photos of toys, photos of pictures in the books, photos of dinner salad, of fruit from a store, hundrens of photos of dogs, cats, pet rabbits, pot plants, etc., etc. Try out checking on Unknowns, or domestic dog, or domestic cat. Some of the latter even reach RG, because people do not know better.


I noticed one user (a kid) had all their observations as “slides” basically, with a photo, species name, and general description of the species. I wasn’t sure what to do about it since there’s no way to know if the photos were actually theirs or not.

Check date and locality. If they are same for all OBs (and the locality is obviously some house), mark as incorrect date and/or locality. Then ask them to adjust location and date. If they do not respond, the OB stays in Casual, not much harm done. If the dates and locations are different, just ask whether the photos are theirs. In the case of negative answer, flag the photo marking copyright issues.

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Judging from the recent flood of potted plants and, slightly earlier, of Christmas trees as the first and only OB of a new user, the answer is NO.

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Now I can’t find them. All I remember is the end of their username and there’s a lot with that same ending. Must be a class or something.

Well, then it is advise for future - good luck! And, you can also start doing a good job of weeding: start from unknowns and mark all potted plants, fruits, vegetables, pets and domestic animals as not wild. I am not advising same for other cultivated plants (unless they are growing very obviously in a flower bed, for example), because some may happen to be escapees and status wild is correct for them.


I have been going through Unknowns adding IDs, and of course marking as captive/cultivated where necessary. There’s fewer than you might expect, though that may be the work of other users doing the same thing.


You can go check South-East Asia, iNat is very popular there in school work, so you can imagine tons of 10y-olds uploading everything they see without any id or markings, nothing, 90% cultivated, with 10 duplicates of each organism, and so on. I now id observations at winged insects level and hopefully don’t see all those crazy thing often or I wouldn’t be able to do it for long.

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I didn’t think that was possible. Unless you mean that only one of the four was IDed to research grade?

In some places, fruits and vegetables also escape and become naturalized. There are wild populations of Swiss chard in the San Francisco Bay Area, and naturalized apples are known from many places.

Definitely shouldn’t happen, I hope it was fixed.

I meant apples on a table and similar.