Identifiers as Volunteer Curators, and Obs with Probs


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Ok, got it, though I think anyone can link those thread in the post?

i think the request was to move the side conversation starting around the post i noted above to this thread.

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I find this title confusing as “curator” means a specific role on iNaturalist and those curators are of course also volunteers.


It’s true that there are other (cough) “real” volunteer curators that are literally labeled as Curators at this site. These folks also curate metadata for observations (and are often identifiers themselves), but they just have a few more higher-level buttons available for them to press. Identifier-level folks do some of the same things, just without the C word in play.

So, what’s the best way to acknowledge the literal curation efforts of identifiers without overlappingly calling them volunteer curators? I can change the thread title if there’s a sensible alternative, thanks!

Edit: Just below this post is a series of moved posts that prompted the making of this thread. They provide important context. (Thanks Carrie!)

I am the person who recently deleted my account. I am as surprised as anyone that I did it. As you can see from my comments in this closed topic, I was among those concerned about accounts being deleted. I just need a day or two in order to figure out how to word my explanation as carefully as I can, and also figure out which is the best topic it would fit in. I may get a lot of hate for being one of the few (if any) users who are willing to explain why they deleted their accounts, and I don’t expect anyone to agree with my reasons, but I feel that I owe an explanation. I don’t think that it belongs in this topic, however.


You do not owe anyone an explanation. Only put an explanation if you want to. You may get some hate for deleting your account, but just remember: You are doing something with your account, not theirs. It is none of their business in what you decide to do with your accounts of the Internet.


It is your choice. But you don’t owe anyone an explanation. @tiwane said he will not say WHY people chose to delete their profile.


I am just going ahead right here with my explanation of why I deleted my account because previous topics about deleted accounts are closed and I can’t figure out which one would be the appropriate one to ask to have reopened. I expect that if this explanation should be moved somewhere else it will be. Actually, I’m so disillusioned with iNaturalist right now that I have no expectation that this post will be allowed to remain anywhere on iNaturalist.

The bottom line is that I deleted my account because of what I consider very unfair treatment of many observers in Africa compared to the consideration that observers in other parts of the world enjoy.

One general rule as I understand it has always been that observations that are flawed in some way, such as having different organisms in the photos, should be identified to the most specific taxon that applies to all of them. Instead, when I would add an identification of “Flowering Plants” (or “Dicots” or “Monocots”) an appointed or self-appointed person would instantly add an identification of “Life,” causing the appearance of a statement such as “disagrees that this is flowering plants,” which was an obviously untrue statement. If I added the more specific identification again, it would have no effect.

Meanwhile, in another unrelated forum topic a staff member had specifically reminded users that intentionally adding incorrect identifications to observations could be cause for suspension. I asked in that same topic shortly afterward whether that would apply in the situation I’m describing. I also tagged the same staff member in a specific observation with the situation I am describing. In neither instance did I receive a response.

Finally, I flagged an observation in this challenge where my correct identifiication of something like “Flowering Plants” was immediately identified as “Life,” and the response to the flag was basically that curators can’t do anything about this situation, but that I could start an open discussion about it while keeping in mind that a lot of people in Africa are happy with this situation. This I interpreted as a statement that the discussion would be futile.

So I was left with a decision about what I personally was going to do about this situation, and the obvious answer to me was to protest. So I did, by deleting my account, because that seemed the only possibly effective way to protest what I perceive as unfair treatment of others. I recognize that others may disagree with my choice.


If you’re referring to me, mentions are often lost because I get so many of them, unfortunately. Direct messages, and emails to help@inat are the the most sure ways to get a staff member’s attention.


Yes, I was referring to you. I’m sorry I didn’t think to do that.


Well @sgene you continue to be an immense help to fellow identifiers here. You broached the most important topic that I had intended to cover in a “mission debrief”.

On some random obs in conversation with other identifiers, I mentioned how this particular topic would need its own thread, since it’s a global iNat identifier problem of not having enough consensus among all of ourselves, globally. There are many types of “obs with probs.” Many of us have strong opinions about how to deal, and sometimes we cancel each other out and make each other very unhappy over it, even though all of us actually mean well.

May I ask a moderator about spawning such a new thread, if you would like that new conversation to start with your post above? If you would rather not, I can start one myself. Thanks for advice!


I knew you had intended to do that, and I hope that it is successful.


Like something to discuss the best practices when it comes to adding broad identifications? It’d be OK to have one, but keep in in mind that nothing decided here is “official” and that it’s not realistic to expect iNat users to to abide by an “only identify plants in Africa to the family level or finer” norm.


Yes, that! It would be a conversation toward consensus for best practices among iNat identifiers for “obs with probs”. There is one recent guidance statement from one of y’all in some forum thread about DQA that I can quote if I can dig it back up. I agree that the rest should be up to the citizen scientists doing this “labor of love” stuff. Maybe staff can advise if we get stuck on something?

Also, to frame part of the issue, is it possible for staff to provide the following number?

What percent of all observations have started with an initial ID provided by a person who is not the observer? Thanks if so!

One other that could help: What percent of all observations have started with an observer-original ID at Kingdom? Could do with examples plant and/or fungi for that.


No worries, I’m sorry I didn’t get to them. I don’t mean to blame you at all.

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Example: a half grapefruit, on a plate. The way I understand the guidelines, the proper way to deal with that would be to mark it as captive/cultivated, thus sending it to Casual. But next thing I know, it is “Life” because somebody added a disagreeing ID of “Human.” Now, if it was a human artifact, like plastic fruit or a fruit-print tablecloth, then “Human” would be appropriate; but there is an organism visible in the observation: the half grapefruit.

The same thing happened to an observation of a cup of coffee (with the coffee visible), and I think it was the same person who did it. There is a reason we have DQA; use it. Identifying grapefruits and coffee as humans could be construed as deliberately offering wrong IDs.


Which DQA would you use in those examples?

As I said in the post: mark it captive/cultivated.


What an interesting way of viewing it!

I get it more with the grapefruit but my immediate impulse toward a cup of coffee is to think “human”. Labeling it as coffee, the plant, feels like identifying a burger as an observation of a cow. (I think there are too many human steps between the natural plant and what is shown to construe it as the deliberate offering of a wrong identification.)