Implement Photo Blur on observations annotated as "Dead"

I think having iNaturalist blur photos on observations that have been annotated as “Dead” would help bring in new users, and prevent some users from leaving, or using their talents to identify other observations.

The topic of posting dead animals, and gore have been discussed before here and other places. However, I think that the expectation that users will respectfully post a small part of a dead animal as the first photo is unlikely to be widely adopted. Additionally, there are problems with posting a warning image as the first image as well.

I think this issue could be addressed programmatically, through the already widely-used annotations of “Alive or Dead”. Animal images marked as “Dead” could be blurred, and when a photo is clicked on, the blur disappears so that the animal may be identified. Appropriate taxa such as plants could be excluded, and users could opt out of seeing blurred observations in their personal settings.

Clearly observations of roadkill, predation, death, and injury all have significant value, and many users are fine with seeing and ID’ing them as they are part of nature and the world we live in. But also many users are turned away from that. I have had conversations with others about iNat, and their impressions have been “Oh, isn’t that the platform with all the photos of dead animals and stuff”, which is unfortunate, and not representative of the site as a whole.

I don’t have any major objection to the proposal, but I wonder if it would be sufficient to include, in the starter guide, how to filter out these images? Might be a nice way of teaching people about filters.


But what about dead insect, molluscs etc specimens? These would be blurred by default as well. For me this would be incentive not to bother looking.


Cheaper on programming too, which needs time, money and expertise


I don’t think this is necessary. If someone is adverse to dead animals they can sort to show observations WITHOUT the annotation of Dead.


I am generally against this proposal and agree with @zdanko.

However, if this goes ahead, it might be easier to implement this for only a select group - eg, dead vertebrates - as opposed to choosing groups not to include (like mollusks and the others mentioned by @gcsnelling).

Also, a generic label instead of blurring may be more useful? I wouldn’t waste my time trying to ID a blurred photo, but I don’t have any issue with something labeled dead.


Great solution! An alternative could be a “gore” tag that blurs the photo as described above when someone checks it.

I also like the idea of doing this just for vertebrates by default. Insects, etc. are often photographed dead and usually don’t bother people, so there’s no need.

Yes, currently anyone can filter out annotation by dead. New users who are just getting interested in nature, etc, to do this and they might just not visit the website rather than dig through the settings (like folks mentioned in the original post). On the flip side, if this change is implemented, anyone would presumably be able to opt out of it, something advanced users wouldn’t have any difficulty doing.


Agreed that I don’t think this is necessary as the filtering is already available in site functionality. It’s true that new users likely won’t know how to do this, so I do think it could be appropriate to have a short section in a new user orientation that teaches about filters and uses this as an example so new users can implement it easily if they wish.

If this is made a feature, I would definitely want the opt out option to turn it off for myself (as I imagine many others would as well).


But you will turn it off altogether and never see blur again, that’s the biggest plus of that proposal. We can’t sort deaths by how they affect different people, so making taxonomical division won’t solve the problem.

I think it is a good idea to have some blurring or 1st picture substitution for any “graphic” content. I have no idea about a good way to implement it, but I’d be in favor if brighter minds come of with a good scheme.

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This is vitally needed. In fact there needs to be a consolidated, comprehensive source for all the tips, tricks, functions, etc that are available in iNat.

There is a lot of functionality on the site that’s all “under the hood” and very cryptic. Even experienced users often don’t know much of it.


As someone who posts gorey observations of dead vertebrates, I endorse this proposal. If it’s a turn off to enough potential new users and people who just aren’t interested in seeing those images, I think it’s worth it. Especially if “unblurring” is deliberate and easy. The iNat version of a responsible TW or content warning.

I dont think its realistic to expect new and/or casual users to apply filters.


there would HAVE to be an opt-in/opt-out option if this was implemented, because clicking on the picture to unblur it can get really annoying if its not actually something you can ID. thinking of bone identification


IMO there have been better solutions suggested, that would take less to implement. My own preference is for standard graphic similar to that for copyright infringment, that only shows if you opt in with a profile setting, and that only occurs on observations where a flag for “potentially objectionable images” has been selected by someone, along with a short description of why. Then for those that have opted in, they could choose to click on the image and show the original one if the reason given for the objectionable flag is not something that will bother them.

Most importantly, for the majority of users this type of approach would never impact on their iNat experience at all!


I agree with the sentiment of not hiding it, but including a ‘welcome’ tutorial that notifies new users that the observations may contain dead creatures, which can be filtered (insert instructions/link).


I would say that vertebrates would be a good metric for this, however I realize that it’s a complicated and arbitrary distinction. With mollusks, I doubt people would be put off by a sea shell. But what about an octopus or squid? Perhaps a better implementation and education of filtering would be a more practical solution, as others have mentioned. Or only blur observations flagged as “gore” or “disturbing”. This way, it’s on an as-needed basis.

Should we also blur or put up warnings for images of spiders, snakes? Many people are phobic about them.
Sorry, feeling grouchy this morning.


I’m glad you said this, because I think that if there were a better solution, more people would post their dead/gory observations. I have withheld many of my own photos because I don’t really want to bother others with graphic content.


Oh, no, post them, we like it, in a good way, majority of users won’t be bothered by that in a slightest, all observations deserve to be added.

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The main place I see these photos is on my dashboard, where no filters are available. There also aren’t any (user interface) filters for annotations on Explore, the second most common place I see these photos. I don’t get email notifications for friends’ new observations, but that’s another location they would appear for people with the standard email settings.