This is a very general big picture question I have mainly for the iNaturalist staff and founders but I hope it’s of interest to other users here. I apologize if some version of this has been asked before.
How safe is the iNaturalist data in the long run (multi-decades)? I realize that the images are stored on some server somewhere (and backed up too). But running servers and storing electronic data takes money. And having money today is no guarantee that you’ll have money tomorrow. And as data storage formats change over time data can be lost and corrupted.
Moreover, iNaturalist is still new. From what I can tell the founders of iNaturalist are still running it. Because the dedicated users here have volunteered thousands and thousands of hours into submitting observations, providing feedback and identifying observations, they should have a real interest in knowing that their efforts will be preserved.
How confident can we be that data will not disappear if the project runs out of money?
What happens if someone new takes over and changes the direction of the project?
What’s the long-term plan to make sure that the iNaturalist data and images can be maintained and will endure in perpetuity?
I’m sure these are things the team has thought about but I’m curious.