I am new here, what is iNaturalist about?

What can I expect from using iNaturalist?

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To share and document what you find in the natural world.

To learn more about the biodiversity around you, and around the world even if you wish to.

To interact with a community of people passionate about the above.

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First of all, welcome to the Forum! :)

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I agree with @cmcheatle above. But I also want to ask, what are you looking for? iNat is a great tool for exploration and learning and it can be used lots of ways.

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I really think @cmcheatle sums it up concisely. I would only add that it’s up to you what you do with iNat. Some folks have thousands of observations, participating in field trips. Some have fewer observations but more identifications (I know of at least one member who has zero observations, yet has hundreds of thousands of identification). Some people are active only every couple of months, some daily. Some get overly passionate about the identification and research quality of observations, most don’t. Most people I have interacted with are willing to help so ask questions if you want. A defining principle of iNat is to assume people mean no harm, and I’ve found that to be true. So welcome aboard, and just have fun!

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I’ve used it mainly to record my observations over the years - finally found another use for those photos I took on holiday trips for more than reminiscence! I also use it to check against my life list and to ensure I have the correctly recorded species.

I’ve also learnt a lot more about my local area and the species composition in it! It makes me happy to have a deeper and better understanding/clearer picture of the place I live in.

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I don’t know where you are starting from in your interest of the natural world, but I found using iNaturalist improved my awareness of nature and the species around me (whether a giant redwood in the forest or a daddy long legs under the window sill.

I am more interested in that little plant growing in a crack or the bug perched on it and want to study them and learn more. I can appreciate the intricacy of its leaf shape or whorl growth, or the surreal patterns on an insect’s exoskeleton. Sometimes, seemingly insignificant little ones have extraordinary beauty when you look close. I look up into tree canopies and see many more birds; I look at the bark and notice insects (including larva and pupa), the variety and beauty of lichens and galls, or an oddly shaped fungi. I see far more squirrels and cottontail rabbits now that I’m looking, and I am charmed by them.

On my walks, Instead of being caught up in my thoughts, I find I am more present and mindful of what’s around me.

I have no special training in natural history, but I am curious about it. There are many well-educated biologists, botanists, etc., on iNaturalist who are quite generous in sharing their knowledge with people like me. That is much appreciated.

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I also suggest watching video on Vimeo from iNaturalist and other tutorials, video and written.

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I kind of like the “its okay to be smart” inat video as an intro for people who dont really know what inat is about yet.

https://youtu.be/1-LjzKx-u9g?list=TLPQMTIxMjIwMjBIUOlqOxgPKA

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I’m really happy that you mentioned the cooperative aspect of the site. As someone who still sometimes sees rankings and thinks, “Oh, cool, it’s a competition”, it’s really important to remember that this is a data collection site and not a sport.

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To encourage people to notice nature, iNat says data collection is a bonus.

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I think both of our answers are true. It’s not as if the site has only one purpose.

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There have been earlier conversations about this - iNat says data is secondary. Their stated aim is to encourage people to become aware of the nature that is around them.

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Sure, but while having dozens of millions of observations it’s not true to say it’s totally not about data, many people use it for data only, so even if stuff aims at connection only community is too diverse to say that, though data quality is secondary. It is still not a sport in a way of winning as some people see it, so Eric is right saying that.

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I agree - I think both answers are true. The one thing I like about leaderboards (and inaturalistuser123456219191 should note this), is that it gives you a sense about who to contact if you need into/advice about a species or taxon.

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Thank you for all your help!

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…and to do that, they need people who already are aware, since many of the newbies are mainly hoping to get things identified.

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the oldies also often hope for IDs.

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