Improve How "Unknown" Observations Are Treated and Displayed

My thought for minimizing that was to have an automated, un-mutable reminder go to the owner of the draft(s) weekly or something similar, just reminding them that they have drafts pending. If that doesn’t get them out of draft mode, then it’s probably intentional on the user’s part.

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@charlie, I was looking for a Feature Request on a draft mode–do you want to turn this into one? I will vote for it.

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I do want a draft mode for batches of smartphone observations. Not sure about a blanket one for nature challenges so if you want that you may make a different feature request… i will make one if i get a chance but it’s nearly kid bed time so i may not get a chance now

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I was thinking of a draft mode for the website upload. Maybe it could be in there with the smartphone request. I’ll wait for you–I have no idea how it would be implemented. No rush.

well… it sounds like you want something different? Though maybe they are complementary? I don’t understand the point of a draft for the website upload, but then again i barely use it.

Well, for a draft for the website upload, I thought I remembered a conversation where people were saying they don’t like it when they’re trying to upload observations and people keep jumping onto their observations to ID them before they want them ID’d. I kind of liked the idea of being able to upload the photos while having some time to figure out IDs myself before they become public. I was trying to find that conversation by a key word search but that led me to this one, and then I realized this was my own Feature Request which turned into a discussion of draft mode, too, so I just thought as a Forum Moderator expressing interest on this thread about a draft mode you might want to just move things around so this draft mode conversation would have somewhere to be voted on. Just found the other conversation where you mentioned a draft mode, but, again, there’s nowhere to vote on it: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/why-do-some-serious-power-users-add-so-many-unknown-observations/282/35

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i usually don’t upload stuff on the web untill i am ready for it… so i wouldn’t likely use the draft mode there. Mostly just for the website. To be honest i have feature request overload right now and I think so do the admins so i’m probably not going to write up a request for that proposal in the near future. Especially since like half the feature requests on there now are from me. But you can do it or if you don’t i will probably do it… eventually

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So, with respect to the draft upload area, is this the issuue (note: I’ve only been on iNat since Sept so am not a power user!)?

Website (which is what I mostly use): from the Explore or observations page, I click the green Upload button. Resulting screen says drag and drop pix or upload file. I have Explorer (I’m Windows) open in the folder with my cropped/etc pix, I select what I want and drag them to the upload page. That upload, each into a little widget that let’s me ID, etc. If I want to research an ID, I use another tab or browser instance. When I’m ready, I hit the button to save or upload (I’m on my phone & don’t remember the exact word)

So is the problem that that window needs to be saved in a private space? Cuz if one navigates away from the window in the instance, iNat loses all the obs & goes back to blank. Which is extraordinarily aggravating!

I don’t know how batch wld work on the phone, so can’t speak to that.

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my issue with the phone is, the app is to me very easy to collect data but not easy at all to edit or adjust observations and you can’t easily add fields or add annotations at all. And sometimes when you upload the species you try to enter doesn’t connect properly. So i’d like to be able to do those things on the website before they get published.

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I use the website only. My issue is that I don’t want to do more to my photos before Upload than crop some of them. After that, I want to Upload all of my photos. I can’t see the photos very well at that point because they are small on Upload, but I get them grouped appropriately, and I upload with preliminary IDs, before doing any research. But at that point I haven’t decided the order of the photos for each observation (because they are so small on Upload), so I do that after they’re uploaded. And I also try to refine my preliminary IDs after they’re uploaded. I was just thinking it would be nice to be able to do those things before they go into the “Needs ID” feed. To me that makes sense–allowing observers to have their Unknowns and newly uploaded observations left alone until they’re ready for input, without putting the burden on the identifiers to guess where identifications are welcome or not. But this isn’t a critical issue to me, just one that I would vote for.

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I understand. Well, as I said above, I’d be all for a change that just saved the current upload staging area - the number of times I have kept my finger on the backspace key too long and been thrown out of the page, and have lost all the work I’ve spent hours doing, well, I could probably have addressed a good chunk of Unknowns!

And on that note, I wish the app (Android anyway) would let me filter on Unknowns. I know it wasn’t really designed for IDing, but that’s one of my very successful work avoidance strategies, and if I could do Unknowns I could address a lot more observations.

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i wouldn’t necessarily say it’s intentional. it may be just someone who’s not familiar with the way the system the works. and even if intentional, i don’t know that you would want to allow someone to keep stuff in draft indefinitely.

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I just realised I access iNat in three ways!

  1. Android app… The occasional observation where I either don’t have my main camera or getting it out would take too long and miss the opportunity. I also read and contribute to discourse via Android.

  2. Website… Where I do my identification sessions, bulk upload observations, discourse, research, etc.

And 3) Website via browser on Android! I actually prefer to do many things via the website on my phone than trying to use the App.

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Good point. The reminder notification should probably come with a link to instructions for finding and resolving draft-mode observations. (And encouragement – we really want to see what you found!)

Not sure it would hurt either, unless the devs found that it was a drain on system resources. To the rest of us it would be as if it were never posted in the first place.

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I encounter this, from the uploader’s perspective, every time I add a large volume of observations. As mentioned a few times above, I think a relatively short waiting period before displaying other people’s “Unknowns” in Identify would be one very helpful change. If I add 75 observations via mobile in a little outing, there’s no way I’m going to be typing in the taxon names at the same time. It’s far, far quicker for me to use the Identify page to add IDs from my computer than it is to use my clumsy thumbs while hiking. It’s also way easier to add IDs from Identify than it is from the web uploader. By the time they’re uploaded and I get to my observations on the Identify page, folks have already started adding coarse IDs that weren’t all that necessary since I just needed a few minutes to add the IDs myself.

We could bring back the “ID Please” checkbox, not to totally exclude it from Identify if it’s not checked, but to slightly weight observations higher in the Identify page when people actually want IDs, vs. people who don’t really care as much about other people adding IDs/getting Research Grade immediately.


In summary, a few ideas from above that I liked, and a few of my own, that would be useful to me as an observer and IDer:

-Provide guidance on apps to at least add coarse ID, but let experienced users ignore if they want
-Provide guidance on web uploader to at least add coarse ID (already done, but message needs tweaking)
-Make it easier to add IDs quickly from the web uploader (more like Identify)
-Add a slight delay before other users’ “Unknowns” show up in Identify
-Or a longer, private “draft” mode, but do not allow drafts in perpetuity
-Use computer vision to automatically assign a kingdom to Unknowns; but overwrite at first human ID
-“Unknown” may not be unknown, just “not identified”, so consider a semantic change there
-Weight observations in Identify higher if folks actually want help with the ID
-Sort observations by number of users who have reviewed them, to help specifically deal with cases like “Unknowns” that should be marked as no evidence of organism or coarsely IDed + community cannot improve

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One challenge I see with this is lets say it is a 24 hour delay, then under the current design, once they are ‘released’, they will be a couple of hundred pages deep in the identity pool, meaning unless someone either goes that deep, or specifically happens to be looking at that specific geography, then the odds of them being revieweed go way down.

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In general, the Identify page should be much smarter about how it sorts observations, rather than simply by date uploaded by default.

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Even just defaulting to random would be a huge help. With hopefully more advanced weighting later as you said. That was a great summary.

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It has been requested (I specifically added a change request for this) and the site said no, they would not consider a change. All they did was add an option to sort by latest updated buried in the filters. So that appears off the table.