How to insist on camera meta data ? or exclude observations that don't share camera meta data in a project?

It’s useful to check if “computer screen photos” have the same date captured as observation to know if date is incorrect, so hiding all metadata would have some minuses, but if it’s a user’s choice we should respect that and force anyone to show it if there’s no clear reason to.

I see. In case I wasn’t clear, I mentioned two related things:

I’m wondering whether or not forum-post screenshots such as those posted to bug reports currently carry any file info./data when viewed/downloaded. These screenshots could be related to observations/IDs, but can also be unrelated to observations.

I separately suggested (more on the main topic) that observation page observer-photos don’t publicly display metadata alongside them (which they do currently).

Do you know any posts where screenshots were uploaded from files? I’d like to check that, pretty sure forum doesn’t save that info, but I post screenshots without saving them beforehand.
You were clear, that’s why I meantioned this case where seeing it by ider can be crucial, ofc we can just mark all such observations as having incorrect date and ask to change files, but it’d be a strong action to do and not marking anything will be wrong too.

It’s possible some parts of mine were unclear or that I misread what you wrote too.

In your first comment I now think you were asking, if someone’s going to upload an obs. photo from their computer (where the photo was originally taken from their phone), and maybe they edit it or take a screenshot of it, does that strip away or change the data? I don’t know, maybe.

Separate from that, I’ve also used a USB microscope to take photos of specimens, then upload them. If any data is attached to those, in that case it would definitely not be the same as the date/location that I originally collected the specimen in, so I add the latter manually.

The other thing I’m referring to is mostly in forum bug reports or feature requests, forum advises authors to include screenshots along with URLs of whatever page they’re seeing on iNat. For example, for bug reports about the Google Map having issues, authors include screenshots of the map. I was separately asking, do those images/screenshots (e.g. maps) carry any info. on them related to the author’s computer, which would be viewable by others when they inspect the image online or download it? That’s kind of a separate issue, but similar in that it’s related to user privacy/data.

In my first comment I decribed what I do to check if a person who photographed a computer screen (which many do when they don’t know about website) set the date to one of original photo or the date of the saved metadata is the same as observation date, in this case time won’t be correct and date in most cases is incorrect too, often months or even years of difference, so if your proposal of totally hiding exif from public view on iNat will come true it will mean there’ll be no way to understand if date is correct or no, with users who left long ago it’s the only way we have to find out.
Second is what I wrote in the second comment, about screenshots, just to check your question we need to see an example of such file added which was saved as a file with exif first (and not just copypasted as simple image), but I just checked now how screenshots are simply saved on computer and there’s really nothing interesting to look at, other than your Windows profile name, anyway I’m kinda sure iNat forum is the same as other regular websites and don’t save any metadata at all.

No, the point is we talk about photos of coputer screen, people are not carrying them around outside in general, so as I mentioned, at least time is wrong 100% percent, as I check accounts and mostly there’re tons of similar screen photos of different things you can guess date is probably wrong too, and if there’re also observations with correct date uploaded and they show that user uploaded them not at the same day you can also make an assumption that situation is the same for all obs. You really can read it all here:
Again I only check if they’re the same on metadata and observation, there’re small chances date is incorrect in metadata and still the same as date of observation.
Sure EXIF is used both for populating needed info, but it has lots of other aspects in it that are shown in it about camera and gear, I wouldn’t call them too personal though, just what people may want to hide to keep their secrets of photography.

I think this is getting a bit off topic from the original question, which I think has been answered. The forum’s software is completely separate from iNat, but to answer that question, as far as I can tell Discourse strips the metadata from any image posted to it, including screenshots.

If you exclude observations without metadata, don’t you also risk excluding valuable historic references that people are uploading indirectly?

I inherited a huge volume of natural history observations made by my parents and grandparents dating back 50 years. I have physical photos, slides, notebooks, journals, species lists, and actual organisms, all labelled with date, location and species. This forum taught me the value of historic data and I am working on getting everything into a 21st century format. The camera metadata will not be at all relevant though.


Thanks for a very interesting thread for a relatively newbie user on iNaturalist as well as this forum. Not sure how much this helps Ram’s original query, but here’s more of a comment and a question…

I never knew of camera metadata, I thought the user has to put in the date and location info anyway with each observation? For instance, besides my phone I use my DSLR camera and upload pics edited from the camera on the laptop into Google photos later and from there into iNaturalist. Sometimes, these may be screenshots (for example, when a butterfly is flying and we can’t get a clear pic but I had a phone video from which I could grab a clear screenshot for ID) and they really help to get the identification correctly later at home. I have no idea what happens to the metadata in all these steps or in case of screenshots, but I make sure to put in the date and the location of the observation when I finally upload to iNat, sometimes with a fuzzy phone pic alongside the edited high res DSLR shots, sometimes not :) When I had started earlier this year I used to have pics only from my phone directly from my iNat android app as explained in the tutorials, but now I use many different options as I explore much more.

I hope that’s ok and doesn’t disqualify my observations from being research grade on iNaturalist? It doesn’t seem to be so but haven’t been on the lookout for such instances.

Hi Surabhi

I don’t think "not having "meta data will prevent an observation from being excluded. As long as date & location are present it is ok.

I think it is one of the better features of inat.

Inat upload tool- whether on the app or on the web portal does pick up info from the picture almost all of which may be changed by the observer.


Yes it does, books and literature – and I suppose we should now add an option for does one want to be notorious as well. This is the introduction to the project.

To add that at some point you would have scanned the images - at that point I am guessing you may have added data to the image - like date of observation, photographer, subject etc (all feasible when scanning an image). That would permanently link an image and its relevant historical data.

answered earlier but am repeating what was said
The metadata is available for online viewing but is stripped when an image is downloaded

Good to know, thanks!

Yes, I know what you mean by screenshots, and on your questions about them I answered as we’re talking about those. But I started with an example of using metadata with photos of the screen, literal photos, of course I use DQA after that, that’s the point, to validate suspisions of incorrect date and then mark the observation as having so and write a comment to observer.

ha ha - wonder what such secrets are – any ideas ?

I don’t know, they hide them! hah. Some tips on settings I guess or gear itself that they use.

wonder if it is secret they learned from other non secretive people :-)

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It wouldn’t make much difference because it’s quite easy to change (falsify) metadata if you want to

Here is a bit of perspective: if I go into my photo prints and scan them, the metadata will be incorrect, i.e. it will show the date that I scanned the photo, not the date I took the photo. So I then need to change the date of my observation to match when the photo was actually taken. Aren’t you glad I am able to do that?

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