Ideas for a revamped Explore/Observations Search Page

Like @tonyrebelo , I’d love to see an indication of how many total observations have been made by whom. For species with very few observations, there may be a number of identifiers who have identified just two or three observations, if that; it can be difficult figuring out who, if anyone, has enough expertise to be solicited for ID help. Meanwhile, there may be some user who has identified ten or twenty observations of the species, but only his own, and who thus doesn’t even show up when you search for identifiers. This is one of those aspects of iNat that currently don’t work as well for those not based in North America (where a higher percentage of species have sizeable observation totals, and thus higher numbers of identifiers).

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Oh, and I think it bears saying (given we’re discussing all the things that annoy us about Explore, and that we want changed): Explore is fantastic!! I have gotten so much wonderful use out of it while searching for possible species matches; I remember how much harder it was to identify moths (my favorite taxon for which I had no field guides) in the days before I discovered iNat. I would appreciate iNat even without Explore, but would get far less benefit from it. So cheers for Explore and everyone who helped develop it!

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I like your ideas, but this display should be an easily available option and the user should be able to choose it as the default. In addition to being more usable for experts and for people reviewing a great many observations at once, it should work much better when bandwidth is low or data transfer is slow. That in itself would expand the useful reach of the application—for everyone. It would also improve accessibility for many people with disabilities.

So, great thinking, but it shouldn’t be the only approach. On the other hand, this view should be easy to provide. You’re asking for a focus on data over design. Displaying data in scrollable and page-able (is that a word?) tables takes very few lines of code. To turn your preferred presentation into a graphics-based presentation that would work for other types of users is where the design challenges lie and, with them, the need for more elaborate coding. Fortunately it is possible to have one system deliver both products.

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I’ll cast another vote for exposing as many of the excellent search parameters as possible through the UI. It’s fine to have these in an Advanced Filters section. Ideally, iNat’s devs will implement this section of the UI in a some extensible way. That way, if iNat adds additional search parameters (e.g. elevation range) they can be incorporated into the search UI with little effort.

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I would like to be able to filter the observations about which I made a comment… even if it looks like navel-gazing!

I would also like to be able to restrict the search for a taxon to the taxon alone, and not to all its descendants… For example, if I am looking for the genus Platybunus, I would like to be able to specify whether my research concerns all observations related to the genus or to one of the species of the genus, or only those where the genus alone is specified…

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I also would like to suggest to maximize the map by removing the page footer which is very large, making the map far from being a square (a square would generally be better for the “Redo search in map” feature). This is a screenshot of my whole 1600 x 900 screen (F11 to maximize the browser, to better show the surface usage):

You can see how much space is swallowed by the footer, compared to the map, and you can see that the bounding box obtained with “Redo search in map” is far from a square.

Shouldn’t the map be a popup?

  • No issue with anything covering the map
  • Maximise the map size, and allow to change the map shape (e.g. from a rectangle to a square) without having to change the size of the web browser window to get the same result.
  • Share the map feature between different pages. I also suggest to have the map and the “Redo search in map” (or the ability to draw a box on the map) in the Identify page.
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Unless I’m misunderstanding you, this is already possible. For example, if you just want observations at the genus level, choose Filters-> Rank -> Low = genus. Then you get this search: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?lrank=genus&place_id=any&subview=grid&taxon_id=466517. More search tips here: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/how-to-use-inaturalists-search-urls-wiki/63

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Assuming Your Observations is considered part of Explore, it is a filtered view of the same page after all, then please ensure the batch edit tools under edit observations under your profile are incorporated if that is scheduled for removal.

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i don’t know if anyone else feels this way but i dislike and barely ever use the ‘full screen’ map mode despite my obsession with maps. Full screen mode blocks all of the other tabs and bars and so i don’t like it. If it just expanded to the whole browser window area i’d use it more.

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Thanks for the tip… Another function whose purpose and interest I had not grasped…
It is not easy to understand the subtleties of the help, when you don’t speak fluent English!

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I definitely agree with this suggestion

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I used the full screen browser mode because I didn’t want to show my browser’s tool bar and favorites, and to better illustrate the huge footer size compared to the whole screen. My remark was not limited to this mode.

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The two biggest improvements by far for me would be:

  1. On the “Map” view, be able to toggle whether to display the “latest observations” box which occupies a huge amount of the map view area; AND toggle the display of any markers showing observations. When I’m trying to zoom in on an area in the Borrego Desert portion of San Diego County, it is nearly impossible to see any feature of the map due to the density of the observations until one has really zoomed in. Right now, I just have to make an educated guess as to how to center the map on each zoom.

  2. Be able to draw a polygon, or equivalent, to select the observations of interest. It is very time consuming to have to download a rectangular box worth of observations, and then filter the observations to the region of interest, which almost never is a rectangle in mountainous terrain.

Thanks!

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I don’t understand the relationship of the different Observations pages, and can’t always remember in which one I can find which search fields, which is I suppose part of what is being rectified with this makeover of Explore.

But what i need more than anything is a page to go to where i can search by any parameter I have used in creating an Observation - ie field or ideally fields, field value or ideally values, tag or ideally tags, a keyword or group of characters in the given Place name (Locality name?) , or in the Description, and a Taxon (a choice of whether it is inclusive of Taxa below it or not would be great) - or Taxa.

Then - here’s where i ask for a pony - to be able to bulk edit any of those features.

And i don’t know if this is applicable to this thread as i don’t know if bulk editing is part of it, but if it is - the huge difficulty for me in selecting obs for bulk editing is that the low res thumbnails are not distinguishable and zooming doesn’t help. So if it were possible to either increase the resolution of the thumbnails, or to put a Checkbox-for-editing in the individual obs, I would be able to achieve a lot more with the exisiting features.

Thank you for this thread and sorry i still don’t know thelanguage of iNat well enough to be more coherent.

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When I search for all genus Senna observations in a bounding box, the total count displayed is higher than the sum of the counts for all the tiles (species) displayed:

In this use case, the search filters the observations already reviewed, in order to show only the observations not yet reviewed. Only when I have finished reviewing all observations from all the above tiles (species), appears an extra tile (genus) to show all the remaining results that were hidden (but counted in the total):

Suggestion for the fix: always show as separate tiles all the other search results.
Display a tile for each taxon level between the species level and the level of the taxon being searched for. For instance, if we search for a family, there could be tiles for the family, all subfamilies (for observations with IDs only at that level), all genus and all species.

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The current Explore page Species tab intentially shows “leaf” taxa, so this one isn’t a bug and I moved your comment here to the main brainstorming topic.

https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/how_inaturalist_counts_taxa

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Yes, it’s a choice.

But then the total count displayed must be consistent with the tiles (species) displayed, that’s why I reported this as a bug.

2 posts were split to a new topic: Identify: How to mark all as unreviewed?

This topic is about inaturalist.org/explore, not the observation edit screen. Please start another topic if your proposal differs from the discussion topic here.

Please show only 2 digits after the decimal point for coordinates, this will make URLs much shorter and look better.

This will not make any real difference.

For instance, compare these 2 bounding boxes:

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?nelat=43.93&nelng=-81.91&place_id=any&swlat=39.42&swlng=-94.68&taxon_id=52348

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?nelat=43.93&nelng=-81.91&place_id=any&swlat=39.43&swlng=-94.69&taxon_id=52348

Moreover, remove the useless “&place_id=any” in the URL:

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?nelat=43.93&nelng=-81.91&swlat=39.42&swlng=-94.68&taxon_id=52348

In a comment or an email, this would look better than:

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?nelat=43.937970365789084&nelng=-81.91059113368249&place_id=any&swlat=39.428253025387114&swlng=-94.68769074305749&taxon_id=52348

It would also be easier to change manually the coordinates (since we cannot draw a bounding box on the map).

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