I’ve been wondering for a while - iNaturalist shows the text “X is a natural scientist!” on some profiles to indicate professionalism, and doesn’t on others. Many people that have it I know to actually be scientists, but some others have been fellow students quite shocked to learn that they are labeled “real scientists” on the platform, afraid their word might be taken with more weight than it should. So the problem is: how does iNat define the scientist status of its users? I cannot find anything on profile settings or editing where one could tell iNat that they are a scientist, so iNat must make the assumption itself. On what basis is that assumption made and how to make it more accurate? Can a person affect this status themselves?
I thought maybe it’s got to do with using university/research bureau email addresses on the platform, and to experiment with that, I changed my email to the university email. Didn’t make me a scientist ;) And that would make sense - not all university people are biologists, and not all biologists are affiliated with a university anymore, after all. However, that made me even more confused, because I can’t figure out what is the tidbit of information that iNaturalist clings onto when judging someones professionalism, if not even the email address. There just isn’t such information on the profiles to grab.
I tried to look everywhere for information on this, but I can’t find anything. I think this is something that would benefit from looking into, because even if it’s banned by community standards to dismiss other people by their hobbyist status or something, being a natural scientist does create stronger implications of knowing their stuff on the subject when making IDs and if people don’t even know they have that mention on their profile, they will not know the weight of their word.
University of Turku