I am generally happy with the appearance of shares from iNaturalist to Discord and other social media platforms (e.g. Facebook) for a wide variety of URLs. I understand this is principally achieved through the use of Open Graph meta tags. Sharing a taxon page or an observation page, for example, works well, with meaningful titles & descriptions relating to the content, as well as an appropriate image.
However, I am somewhat frustrated by having to always manually delete previews from my shares whenever these tags only contain the barest minimum of information (just the site name & logo). So, for example, while the social media platform’s link preview for a search of your own observations is decent, the preview for a search of all observations is … underwhelming. Let me give you two example URLs.
For this use case, I am a “power user” who would like to see the mayflies found in April and discuss this with my friends on social media, and I know how to format a reasonably compact URL to do this, which is nice for bookmarking & sharing on social media. Entering this URL for my own observations produces a useful preview describing the content, giving it a title, and selecting a preview image (thumbnail of the 1st observation - normally the most recent, so not a bad choice):
However, I more often than not am sharing links that aren’t specifically from my own observations, as I can gain broader insight into the iNaturalist data by looking at all the observations in the geographic region, or across a project, etc. Therefore, if I change the above link to a search of all observations, not just my own (I am switching it to user_id=benarmstrong here simply to show a search with exactly the same results) I get a default title & default image for the preview that pretty much tell me nothing more than just reading the URL would tell me, i.e. “this is a link to some page on inaturalist.org”. Therefore, I need to make an extra effort to delete these whenever I share such a link, as it just adds “noise” to my post, and my link lacks the pizzazz and ease of use that comes from having a useful preview:
The culprit here is these two Open Graph tags, unsupported by any additional
og: tags that would be preferred by social media sites, as they provide useful preview content (as in the previous example):
<meta property="og:site_name" content="iNaturalist"/> <meta property="og:image" content="https://static.inaturalist.org/sites/1-shareable_image.png?1573071871"/>
By contrast, the good preview first example has these:
<meta property="og:site_name" content="iNaturalist"/> <meta property="og:title" content="Observations by benarmstrong"> <meta property="og:url" content="https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/benarmstrong?taxon_name=Ephemeroptera&taxon_id=48011&month=4"/> <meta property="og:description" content="benarmstrong's latest observations on iNaturalist"> <meta property="og:image" content="https://static.inaturalist.org/photos/69127078/medium.jpeg?1587892661"/>
So if the same useful
og:* tags could be provided here, that would be great! Or if not, then remove the not very useful existing tags (though that feels like a step backwards).
I’m sure there are other cases I’ve seen before that could use similar treatment, but even handling this one case would measurably improve the user experience sharing iNaturalist pages to social media platforms.