iNat posting etiquette questions

Hi everyone, I’m new here. I hope this is the right place to ask this question, if not, please feel free to set me straight.

I’m just wondering about a couple of things regarding posting observations on iNaturalist. I am starting out by observing things around my garden, and of course I have repeat visitors. I’m just wondering whether one should post multiple observations of the same species on different consecutive days, or if that’s a bit redundant? Example: I observed, photographed and posted a buff-tail bumblebee yesterday. Today I see another one (or maybe the same one) again, and manage to get a good photo. Should I post it again, or leave it because I just had one in the same location yesterday?

And if I shouldn’t post it again, how long should I wait before posting another example of the same species in the same place? A week, a month, a year?

Many thanks for your help and advice.


You can post both incidents with the bee. I think iNat recommends making new observations for the same species when seen on different days and times, and places. Accordingly, you can post several observations of a same species


My rule of thumb is:
One observation for each species in each location each day (exceptions for like different life stages/sexes/anomalies)

So same spot same species on consecutive days, even if it might end up being a lot of repeats is fine and not breaking any rules or etiquette really. Your bees on consecutive days are completely allowed and appreciated.

Strictly speaking you’re allowed to post every individual you observe, just that would be excessive and not great to post every single house sparrow flying by. For plants/fungi/anything immobile maybe not having numerous observations of the same one over short time spans.


I’m still new here and have wondered this same thing, so I have to thank you for asking it! :)


Are you permitted to post the same species in the same-ish location on different days? Yes. Technically you’d even be allowed to post one you just saw and then post another one you see a few minutes later. Would most people actually do that? No. A lot of us would find it redundant. However you’re having your own experience with nature in your yard and you can do it how you want!

Just a note, if you observe any of your garden plants that are human-planted, mark them “captive/cultivated” please.


It’s technically “same individual organism” rather than just species, and the guideline of “same day” is to encapsulate “moment in time”, but if there was something that changed about the individual that you felt justified making 3 observations of the same individual on that day then it’s ok. For example, a caterpillar at 10am, which you noticed had pupated by 1pm, and then at 6pm spotted a parasitic wasp placing an egg into it… All 3 would be quite relevant observations! Some people would combine them into a single observation, but I would choose to make them separate.

As for how often for same species more generally… Go with what is of interest or use to you. If sparrows and subtle differences in their plumage fascinate you, then capture every one! If you notice one particular sparrow seems to spend quality time with a number of other bird species, then observing those 10 or 20 interactions with other species could be of huge interest to someone! That you find that interesting could be what someone finds interesting, and it could encourage THEM to look at those things…bwhich to me is what it is all about… Seeing how others see things really opens my own eyes to new things!


So long as you’re having fun and appreciating nature you are allowed to record each individual once per day or significant change (in behaviour or phenology or etc). If you’re learning to identify a species or just really like 'em go ahead. You’ll probably find that your observations get more diverse as you explore and learn more :)


Snap! You say the same thing with far more efficiency :)


iNaturalist isn’t really suited for gathering abundance or population data anyway so it’s not the end of the world if you post the same individual a couple of times in a day, it’s just not encouraged


Same individual should be posted once a day if nothing changed to it, but same species can be posted millions a day, it’s not rebundant, so post what you like.
@intyrely_ecoi it is great to post each sparrow, though not all of us can photogaph all of them and be sure they’re different individuals.


Thanks all for your kind replies. I probably should have said that I’m starting with pollinators, bumblebees in particular but in observing them I’m getting some other pollinators too, mostly hoverflies. So, not just pictures of cultivated plants, although those are usually background material that the pollinators land on.

I know I have a rubbish picture if the recognition algorithms recognise the plant instead of the pollinator! :D

Your insights have all been really helpful, I guess I’ll adopt the policy of one per day of each pollinator species observed, assuming I get a good photo, unless something really interesting happens. That makes sense!

When I did my bumblebee identification training, the instructor said that we’re observing not so much for tomorrow as for 100 years from now, when scientists might be wondering what was where and when. So, maybe the observation that I’d seen a buff-tailed bumblebee in my garden most days for a couple of months in the summer of 2020 will be useful to some scientist in 2120. That’s good enough for me!


When I read your first post my thoughts immediately went to pollinators. I am very interested in pollinators and have a number of pollinator attractive plants nearby so I can observe them as often as I like.

But I struggle getting good photos of them. I have my own limitations I struggle with but mostly, the insects are quick and crawl around, under and into flowers then fly off to another and - from one minute to the next - I don’t know if that particular bee is the one I saw on that flower over there a minute ago.

So, I take as many photos as I can and break them into verifiable individuals. One observation is a bumblebee on the Hyssop and, that bumblebee on the Lobelia two minutes later might be the same bumblebee but I can’t know for sure. And, each batch of photos might capture different aspects of the bee so, if I upload both, one might be identifiable when another isn’t.

Now, I can’t identify pollinators all that well so I can’t tell (with a few exceptions), either in the field or while reviewing photos if I’ve got two batches of the same species of bee … and you might be able to.

But I wouldn’t hesitate to upload multiple observations of the same species or (potential) individual in the same day if you felt there was a useful reason to.


To a point. Remember that iNat might not be around then, but perhaps the data will… who knows. But of more critical importance, I think, is that by encouraging others to take an interest in wildlife and to place a value on it, we are more likely to be ensuring that those species will still be around in 100 years! We are losing wild habitat at an alarming rate, and it’s largely because those in the positions of power that make decisions don’t value that wildlife, and the people that vote them in don’t either… so we need more voters to develop an appreciation for the environment and wildlife. Hence iNat’s mission of (my interpretation) “take the time to notice something, share it, and talk about how cool it is!”


I can identify with that! They are elusive little creatures. I don’t know if it will help you at all but here are a few things that help me.

First, get a good look at the subject before starting to faff about trying to take pictures. I got that lesson the hard way, trying to take pictures before I looked at it and ended up with neither a good look nor a good picture. So, I decided that looking and understanding took precedence over getting a photo. Ok, I might miss that one rare sighting, but that’s highly unlikely and it’s good practice. I now have three species of bumblebee that I see regularly and can recognise on sight (but not their caste, that’s the next step), and that’s because I’m looking before photographing. Maybe this is an obvious thing, but it took me a bit to realise it.

Sunflowers are great and that’s where I’m getting most of my photos at the moment. They are up at our eye level, and they are really a whole field of flowers (from the point of view of a pollinator) so they hang around for a bit when the sunflower is in its prime. Other things that attract them being around too are helpful, because they come and linger, but really the sunflowers are where I’m getting my best noobie photos. (Plus you get seeds for the birds when the flowers are done, extra bonus!)

Assuming you’re taking photos on your phone, learn to focus the camera, which usually is very simple, just tap on the screen while the camera is on over the image of the bee or whatever you are trying to focus on - it’s a simple trick that can make the difference between a blurry image and a sharp one. Keep tapping and snapping as your bee moves around.

Last thing, and I got this from the Wildlife Trust lady that I took training from, restrict yourself at first to recognising a few common species. She was all about the eight common bumblebees in the UK. Learn to recognise those, or the equivalent wherever you are, and then you will be able to tell (after a while) when something is a bit different. I think that’s pretty good advice. Don’t confuse yourself with all the rare species that you might possibly see, start from the assumption that you’re looking at the ones that are most common in your area, and most of the time you’ll be right.

I hope this makes sense and maybe helps in some way! :D :D And please forgive me if I’m just stating the bleeding obvious, I’m still new at this.



Good point, data storage is an unknown. I hope that these records we are currently capturing are going to be preserved, but as you said, we don’t know.

Yes, you are entirely correct, we need to value these creatures now so that 100 years from now, they are not but a distant memory in a dusty database.


Thanks @elenmirie - there’s some helpful tips there. I don’t have great vision and it isn’t always possible for me to see things well in the field. If I can get a photo, I can put it on the computer screen and enlarge it. Not being able to see well means I can ‘finesse’ the focus on my phone but not guarantee it’s completely in focus. (tapping the screen works sometimes but not always - I often have to go in and manually focus)

I’m getting better at seeing a bumble bee and thinking ‘that’s not the kind I often see’ and trying extra hard to get photos.And I can identify at handful of bees (to species) in the field. There are a few guides for Bumble Bees I’ve found but I haven’t yet found much identification info on carpenter, mining, woolcarder, sweat, etc bees. - and they may not be identifiable in the field or by photo, which I’m fine with.

I like your id of choosing one or two new species to look for. It’s a strategy I’ve used with birds as well: ‘learn to identify a Broad-wing and then only look to see if that hawk up there is a Broad-wing or not’ vs. ‘try to memorize markings for six different raptors’! :-)

I have some great areas for observing bees (and other pollinators). I have a little plot as does my neighbor, of pollinator attracting flowers. I also have, quite close, a public garden that has tons of pollinator attracting flowers. In Sept, the garden attracts up to a dozen hummingbirds and everyone is all agog at the birds - trying to photograph them. I’m still prowling around the flower beds looking for insects!


If in doubt post and report - nobody ever got into trouble for recording too much data


2 posts were split to a new topic: “Could not save location: title has already been taken”

But… she’s overobserving her artificial garden…

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As an M.S. Zoology, PhD. parasite genetics, w/ hobby in endangered plant conservation surveys, I’m sorry to say: I have no interest whatsoever in your 10th observation of a garden denizen. On a par with TV advertising where I hit the mute button. What for? You may consider checking your rate on number of different species reported instead.
Some join iNaturalist from a gaming perspective to see whether they can get the high score and have people notice their productivity, even if ID’s are wrong. As others have pointed out, from a scientific standpoint, as a population statistic this forum isn’t suitable.
You’ll hear a hearty “Just keep posting whatever, yay for your enthusiasm!” from many education enthusiasts. But when a difficult genus needs attention, and experts need to share what the criteria are, it’s a shame to drown that out with Muzak.

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