Help with improving Dubai IDs

There seems to have been a recent iNat project in Dubai that has resulted in a lot of erroneous Research Grade IDs. Also, many are not wild observations and need to be tagged as such.

Here are Research Grade observations.

Here are Needs ID observations.



I’ve marked a few obvious ones as non-wild. Unfortunately for someone knowing nothing about the fauna and flora there, many aren’t that obvious. I’d suspect many of the palm trees to be cultured, but with my total lack of knowledge I can’t be sure at all.


Some of the observations actually show wild organisms. Some are quite interesting. Most are cultivated plants given absurd identifications and “confirmed” by equally ignorant fellow-students. I’ve started. My ignorance of the flora of that area is a hindrance.


I marked a bunch as captive/cultivated and disagreed with some absurdly specific IDs for plants that are neither native nor commonly cultivated. I also sent this message to one of the users who had added 500+ ID confirmations in the past couple days. Assuming good faith, I’m hoping he will be motivated to help with cleanup.

Thanks for joining iNat and jumping in to help identify people’s observations. One thing to know about the ID process is that it’s important to only add IDs that you have definite knowledge about.

You’ll probably already have noticed that iNat will suggest possible IDs for most new observations. These can be quite accurate where the algorithm has a lot of good-quality data to work with, but in places like the UAE there are challenges. The existing number of observations is quite low (so the machine learning process doesn’t have much to work with). And there are lots of non-native species (garden plants, street trees, cats, etc.) The result is that the suggestions can be pretty inaccurate, and will often suggest species from other areas of the world where iNat already has a lot of content (like the U.S.)

So, it’s really important not to just confirm existing IDs if you don’t know for sure that the ID is correct. You can help improve the quality of data for the UAE by correcting wrong IDs. You don’t even need to know exactly what the organism is – it’s helpful just to mark something as a “Flowering Plant” rather than leave it wrongly identified as some rare wildflower from Michigan.

Here’s some guidance on how to identify observations:


FYI as per usual with student projects, there are also copyright infringement cases. I only scrolled though one page before spotting one, which led to a few more. I don’t have time right now to scroll through a thousand observations, but if anyone sees anything suspiciously cropped and pixellated, it would be worth doing a quick reverse image search through google or tineye.

Edit: I decided to look a bit more and it seems like many of the users are submitting a few images each that are taken from the internet. I’ve found at least 5 different users that have done some sort of image theft. There are likely a lot more, but I need to get back to my proper task at hand. I might look at it more on Friday.

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I found that one observer, saraalmalik, is posting photos I think are cut-and-paste jobs. How do you want them marked?

Yea, I don’t know what is going on with that user. Nothing comes up with reverse image search, but the images are definitely edited to blur out some parts (but oddly not the center around the plant). I don’t have evidence to say that is copyright infringement, so I didn’t mark them.

It seems to me that there’s no good reason to think the original photo was at that time and place.

Just FYI, I sent the project creator a message and I believe @bouteloua did as well. Hopefully they’ll get see it and discuss these issues with the students. Thanks for doing curation, and please be diplomatic in your communications. I imagine the students aren’t aware of the issues they’re creating.


If you find the couple of observations where I mentioned an identifier by name, would you tell me how to find that observation so I can remove the comment?

Knocked a few back, marked few as casual. Hope it helps.

I’ve flagged a few cats, dog & rabbits as captive.

Thank you.

I have seen a few unkind comments. Better for the teacher to explain to the kids - iNat is not a game where you click to support your friend, despite those nasty people saying it is NOT Jerusalem thorn.

I went through and marked almost a hundred garden and park plants as cultivated.

Since then, it looks like many have made it back to research grade because the uploaders keep marking them as wild. An example:

Here’s a link to all UAE research grade observations:

This is the main offending project:

It looks like there are also a bunch of other domestic animals, particularly cats, probably ones that @zabdiel marked as captive, that have been marked by owners as wild.

It also looks like this is the umbrella project for a bunch of school kids, who are acting in tandem to confirm each others random IDs and undo anything anyone does to downgrade observations from ‘Research Grade’.

Is there any implied responsibility on the part of the project creator, a school teacher in this case (who, by the way, has made no postings and has had no input in the way of comments or IDs to the project that I can see), to try to get the students to understand and comply with iNat standards? Or at least take on some sort of oversight role for the project? I suspect that these students, having lived in an essentially artificial, man-made city environment, have little concept of what is natural versus what is man-made. They keep undoing the “Organism is wild: No” on what are obviously cultivated plants and captive animals. Here is only one of many examples:

Sounds like a chilling prediction of what life might be like elsewhere on the planet in the future.

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Feral cats? Some of them look as if they are living on the street, not domestic pets.

I think that by now these kids are just into “winning” a battle of votes. I recommend that we completely abandon the Dubai observations for several months. Let the kids mature into other interests, then go back and see if we can clean it up.

This is a really sad project.

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I agree, many of the cats are likely feral except when surroundings clearly suggest they’re pets.
Okay, sound advice. Thanks.