iNaturalist 2019 Team Retreat Follow-Up

Investigate ways to capture comments and ID remarks that are useful for making identifications and including them on the taxon page and in identification tools.

Nice. I’m looking forward to this. There are a lot of useful ID tips flowing through comments and it would be fantastic to be able to capture this knowledge on taxon pages (or something like that). We’ll probably need to be able to connect single comments to several taxon pages as they’re often about how to tell one taxon apart from another.


It’s for cases where the user - generally a newer user - has multiple photos of different species in one observation and separate observations should be made out of each photo.


This will certainly be useful for paper wasps. Though on the other side, would there be a feasible way to get certain tips removed from a taxon page (or otherwise vote a “tip” to be non-factual)? There have been a number of cases where rather incorrect notes had previously been used, and it really would be great not to have to see these pop up here.


What I have found most useful is when someone includes in their comments a link to a journal post that goes into great detail how to differentiate between species. Here is a recent one getting us straight on Phyla species in Texas: ([


4 posts were split to a new topic: Train the vision model on cultivated plants

Thank you for all the great work you are doing to maintain and evolving the platform!

It would be great the get the possibility to choose the language of the mobile app within the app, or choose the language in which common names are displayed from within the apps settings menu.


This would be really great. I often ask folks for specific help so I can learn for the next time. It would be easy to check some little box to say that there is ID guidance within the observation for others to find. Or build it some other way. I’d love to have this resource.


You have hit all my “want” buttons:) Such a good plan to strengthen the core before adding feathers, if I may mix my metaphors. Thanks.


Would it be possible that splits/merges could also be ‘suggested’ by another user (similar to the ID process?) - e.g:

  • User X (potentially new) uploads 9 photos in one observation - 6 are a duck, 2 are a wasp, 1 is a dog
  • User Y looks at this, sees the issue, and selects the photos that should be split into two new observations
  • User X gets a notification, and a card appears on the original observation in the timeline - ‘Y thinks that this should be split into multiple’ (with the actual stepped changes detailed in the body of the card), and an ‘Agree’ or ‘Disagree’ button
    • Click ‘agree’, two new obs are created and new user avoids a deep dive into iNat mechanics on first go (and User Y avoids having to try and explain where to click and what to do via the comments section)
    • Click ‘disagree’ and User X can explain with a comment that we’re not looking at ducks, wasps, dogs, but actually the grass that they’re standing on or whatever

(plus similar for merge)


We’ll definitely consider that approach but I can’t make any promises. Cool idea, though!


very cool idea!

Great - more filters would be welcome! I have two specific requests:

First, would be to be able to filter for observations with missing metadata - i.e. are Casual because whilst they do have a
photo, they are missing observation date or location. There are a lot of records like this and they often come from users of the Android app, so I think they’ve appeared as a result of syncing problems. If the user is still active and able to add the missing data, these are ‘quick wins’ for adding more observations to an undersampled area, as we have been trying to do in the Naturemap project ( At the moment I usually find them more by luck than judgement (i.e. by looking at records of a specific user).

Second, it would be brilliant to be able to filter for records with a placeholder, so as to rescue the often valuable placeholder text. It can indicate what in the photo a novice user has observed, or it can include a species name (with typo or not yet present on the system). Even better would be to have a mechanism that automatically adds the placeholder text to description or comment on upload, and of course to implement this for older records where the placeholder is still extant. But that’s beyond a filter request :)

For our purposes, we would be able to search for these things within a collection project - whether that’s through a form or via a url string is not so important.

Thanks for considering the request!


If the Explore search page’s “Front Page” could end up being something other than a full world map load with dozens of observations loading all at once and whatnot, that would potentially be a nice usability boost for those of us on slow connections/connections that have a limited monthly budget of high-speed data. The google search page comes to mind- just a clean lightweight interface where you make your inputs first, rather than receiving a dump of data you’re not looking for.


Any news on this? I’m just thinking about whether a tutorial on splitting and merging would be useful or if you’re close to having something ready.


There’s a lot of discussion of assisting users in splitting observations in this thread:

No indication yet as to where this stands on the iNat team’s roadmap for development.


It’s not something we’ve gotten to yet.


Would really like to be able to merge observations. Have been taking multiple photos of the same organism from different angles hoping to help train the machine learning when I get a species-level ID from at least one of the photos I change all to that taxon ID but not good for anyone needing quantitative data or for people checking my IDs. Looks like hitting EDIT on the iPhone app allows adding photos to a single observation but didn’t catch/understand that till now. Must be many other novices in the same boat…


I hear you, I agree a merge/split tool would be great as well. I’ll post an update to the first post of this topic pretty soon.

As for adding more than one photo to an observation, you can do that when creating an observation by clicking on the + button: Please do put all photos from an encounter with an organism in the same observation.


Unfortunately, due to the SARS-COV-2 Pandemic the iNaturalist team will not be able to meet up for our annual retreat in the foreseeable future. We’re doing our best to be even better hermits than we usually are.

That being said, it’s been over a year since we created this topic, so we wanted to bring you up to date on the 2019 agenda. As noted below, a lot of time and resources over the past year have been dedicated to scaling issues such as infrastructure, adding translations (thank you, translators!), taxonomy, and various community related issues.

Revamped notifications system and dashboard - This will have to be a revision from the ground up so it will take some time, but we acknowledge that this is part of the site which needs a big update. I’ve started a topic in General where you all can share any thoughts you have about notifications. Note that new Feature Requests about notifications won’t be approved, please share your thoughts in the General topic.

Still a work in progress and it’s really complicated, involving a lot of tight coordination in both design and programming. We hope to have a full notifications revamp out later this year.

Implementing an embedded translation feature for comments and descriptions, similar to what’s found on Twitter and Facebook.

Have done some research but haven’t tried anything out yet.

Create a tool to help users split and merge their observations

Still on the drawing board.

Releasing a significant update to Seek in the next few months.

It happened! Great work from @albullington and @abhasm plus everyone else.

Rewriting the Explore/Observations Search page and adding more filters.

We haven’t started on this, but are collecting suggestions here.

Adding a user-to-user trust system. For example, I could trust kueda and he would be able to see true locations of my observations.

This has been implemented.

Investigate ways to capture comments and ID remarks that are useful for making identifications and including them on the taxon page and in identification tools.

Some movement here, but nothing actionable.

Bring up the iOS app to feature parity with the Android app.

The old underlying code of the iOS app has finally been expunged, so we can start moving forward with adding features.

Re-design/re-organize the Account Settings page. It’s pretty messy at the moment and if more settings are desired, it would be best to make that page more manageable.

It hasn’t been redesigned.

Continue to improve the Computer Vision model and the use of geospatial data in suggestions.

Two versions of the model have been released in the last year, you can read our blog post about the latest one.

Continue to upgrade infrastructure and make the site more efficient behind the scenes as the community scales.

iNat continues to grow exponentially and @pleary has done heroic work to keep it functioning and up to speed. The new map tiles are one of his major user-facing efforts in this regard, in addition to a lot of behind the scenes things.

And this list doesn’t include the many various smaller feature requests and bug fixes which have been implemented over the last year.

Thank you for your patience as we continue to work on on improving iNaturalist, and thank you for all of your contributions to the community, we really do appreciate it. Please stay safe and healthy during this time.


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