iNaturalist jargon, etc


i wonder if anyone has come across or developed any interesting language while using iNaturalist? for example, some of the folks in my area seem to be using the verb “iNaturalize”, as in “i don’t know what that is. let’s iNaturalize it.” or “oh, such a pretty insect! i’m going to iNaturalize it.”

i wonder if there are any interesting abbreviations or shorthand (including emojis) that people use that are particularly intuitive or effective? for example, someone used “cf” in a comment on one of my observations the other day, as in “cf Andrena miserabilis” to suggest a possible species even though he had officially identified it at genus. not being a scientist, i had to look that up. so i wonder if there’s an even more intuitive substitute for “cf”?

i’m just thinking that if there’s any particularly effective jargon or such, i want to start spreading it during this next City Nature Challenge.

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Glossary (iNatForum)

I usually just say “iNat it!” Rolls off the tongue better. :)

Can’t really think of many other shorthands other than:
Also “obs” = observation
DQA = Data Quality Assessment section
TFR = Taxon Framework Relationship (niche tool curators can use)



I remember having to figure out what the Identify Modal is (the popup window you get from clicking on an observation in

Edit: also RG = research grade
CID = community ID



@pisum, a substitute English term for “cf” would basically be “compare with/to”.

I use it and have seen many others when an observation’s subject is most likely a certain species (or whatever level identification) but the image may not provide ample detail to qualify it as such. For example, if the image is a low resolution or certain diagnostic features may not be made out but there are not many similar-looking species in the region or at that time of year, etc., basically a supposition. It could also mean someone doesn’t want to put an ID on it without more expert opinions or discussion.

It is seen in academic papers for similar reasons when there is good reason to believe that the subject is similar or part of a species complex.

Although anyone can write “cf”, the cases I have seen on iNaturalist have been of people with relevant knowledge who are doing more than guessing or saying “maybe this species”. I personally like this as a genus level identification that is correct is far more valuable than a species level identification that is incorrect.

Hope that makes sense.



“Duress User”

also kind of funny, a group of users has named the practice of taking observations from a moving vehicle ‘ethaning’. it’s a good/fun/silly way to collect data for enigmatic tree species or invasives that occur along the road, but done badly it can result in a bunch of unidentifiable stuff. And you shouldn’t do it if you are driving. I definitely do it (as passenger) for some species though.



I don’t usually see them on iNat, except from professional taxonomists, but two similar Latin abbreviations are “aff.” (e.g., “Pleopeltis aff. macrocarpa” means “Genus Pleopeltis, similar to species P. macrocarpa”) and “vel”, meaning “or”, which can be combined with other things. e.g., “vel aff” after a species name means “this species or something similar”, or in more plain English, “probably this but not quite sure”.



Similar to cassi, I usually hear people say “inat that” instead of “inaturalize that.” We use the abbreviations “obs” and “ident” a lot internally. IMO, the hardest thing to refer to is our computer vision system, which we never came up with a good name for, but which a lot of people call “the AI,” which bothers me because “intelligence” is such a fraught term and “AI” suggests that the computer vision algorithm is somehow equivalent to an expert person, when it is more like a statistical distillation of the considered and informed decisions of thousands of iNaturalist users (well, mostly considered and informed). I usually refer to it as “vision” or the “the vision suggestions,” e.g. “Vision thought it was a red fox” or “red fox was the top vision suggestion.” “Vision,” of course, is rife with semantic collisions.

Specific to “jargon” I generally think jargon is bad, and tends to devolve into insider / outsider signaling that dissuades newbies from joining the tribe. “DQA” and “RG” are useful shorthands for subjects that are pretty specific to iNat, but it’s a slippery slope. I’d hate to get into a situation where people routinely leave comments like, “BP, MT, please split” meaning “blurry photo, multiple taxa, please split these photos into multiple observations,” but which would probably be interpreted as “people here speak weirdly and might be asking me to leave, I don’t feel welcome.”

I’m all about the aphorisms, though. One of my favorite iNat aphorisms “good enough for iNat” as in “this photo is so bad I would never post it anywhere other than iNat.” A typical exchange with my friend Liam might be

Me: Did you get a photo?
Liam: A craptastic one. Good enough for iNat, though.



I also use the “good enough for inat” quote. I don’t tend to use the jargons such as RG, DQA etc, but I do use “Genus sp. cf. species” from time to time. I’ve learnt the meaning of that through context (since this is all a hobby to me), and how @briangooding explained it essentially matched my thoughts on what cf meant.

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A term that most current forum participants likely get, but many new users may not, is

taxon (singular) or taxa (plural).

A taxon is a named category of life, whether it be species, subspecies, order, or kingdom. “Birds” is a taxon; “California Condor” is also a taxon.

iNaturalist manages all of the organism names it uses via taxa. Each taxon has its own page in iNaturalist, and you can search for taxa (by common or scientific name) here.

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i don’t think i would necessarily want to introduce a bunch of technical/scientific abbreviations and shorthand to new people. i was thinking more along the lines of things that would be immediately apparent/intuitive for 80% of the general population. i think even “iNat that”, though catchy, might not meet that threshold since i think <80% of new people might understand “iNat” to be “iNaturalist”, especially when spoken.

i do like “good enough for iNaturalist”.

have you come across any interesting terms to describe significant achievements on iNaturalist? for example, i think in the birding community at large, there’s the concept of the “big year”. is there something like that specifically for iNaturalist or are there other achievements that are iNaturalist-specific?

or is there an intuitive+catchy term to describe a participant in a City Nature Challenge? like if I’m participating in the Vancouver CNC, is there a short way to say that? or is there a short way to describe a user of iNaturalist? (i think it would be logical to be an iNaturalist, except that that’s the name of the system.)

also, does the iNaturalist logo bird have a name? (EDIT: nevermind. i don’t think the bird is consistently used as a logo.)



I love the phrase “iNat that”. I also occasionally say “let’s ask iNat”.

I have also been know to say that I am “going iNatting”, meaning a walk or trip taken specifically for the purpose of making observations.

When I am eventually killed by a falling tree or trampled by a moose, because I was distracted by a butterfly, it should be termed an iNatural death.

I (briefly, many years ago) studied latin, but am not scientifically trained. I personally avoid using latin abbreviations on iNat except with someone I am quite sure at least knows the common scientific/ academic abbreviations. First, the user must be familiar with the abbreviation. Second, the user has to know what the latin phrase means in the context of the discussion. That’s probably a quite small subset of users.

That’s not to say that these are not a useful shorthand - in the right circumstances - but I do think it’s important to avoid setting up artificial boundaries around acquiring knowledge. Keep in mind that other people also look in on these conversations, also looking for clarity about a species.

Making me google once is fine; I’m learning. Making me google twice tells me someone is not actually very good at explaining things. (Most people won’t even google once.)



I completely agree with @kueda that jargon is often a turn-off and I try to not use it as much as possible because it makes me feel unwelcome.

However, I think “iNat/iNatted/iNatting/iNatter” are fine, just please remember there are two t’s involved. :-)



Some of these are specific to my part of the planet.
sp or spp = species or subspecies
cnc = city nature challenge
indentotron = computer vision
ai = alien invasive
biocontrol = living things that prey/eat or parasitises ai
s Afr = southern Africa
herps = ?
nemba = national environment management act (South African law)
biogap = an area where there is a lack of information about species
sanbi = South African national biodiversity institute
crew = custodians of rare and endangered wildflowers
outramps = ?
vegmap = vegetation map
bioblitz = ?



have also seen sensu stricto



i like that. “let’s go fix that biogap.”

EDIT: i’m thinking about it more, and i think “biogap” might be misinterpreted as a place with a lack of life. maybe “data gap” is better or “info desert” (as in “food desert”)



i think:
sp = species (singular)
spp = species (plural)
ssp = subspecies

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Karoo Biogaps is a huge project currently being undertaken to survey the biodiversity of the Great Karoo (Groot Karoo) to better our understanding of this huge, hot, dry, under-recorded region (mostly in an effort to stop fracking).

Have a look at the Karoo Biogaps project if you are so inclined.



Andrew, some clarification for you:

herps = herptofauna (reptiles and amphibians) = herpetology (study of herps)
outramps = Ou Tramps - the southern Cape CREW group
bioblitz = an intensive short-term (day or week) recording of species in a particular area by a lot of people at once.
sensu stricto = in the strictest (narrowest) sense (taxonomy term)
sensu lato = in the broadest sense (taxonomy term)

For the correct species abbreviations see Pisum’s post above.

And while we’re at it:
lose = lost something, e.g. I’ll lose my mind if I see this misspelling again.
loose = not tight, e.g. I’ll loosen my mind to accept that it’s sometimes misspelt.


taxon = one member of a species/genus/family etc.
taxa = plural of taxon

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one of my least favorite terms. Deserts are so biodiverse and underappreciated.