Integrating Records from Australian Nature Sites

#1

I think it’s fair to say that iNaturalist has greatly benefited from integrating records from other platforms like iSpot (https://www.ispotnature.org/) and NatureWatch NZ (http://www.naturewatch.org.nz/p/welcome.html). This strikes me as a good way to expand the geographic coverage of iNaturalist, which continues to be heavily biased towards North America.

Australia has several platforms with similar functions/objectives to iNat, namely BowerBird (http://www.bowerbird.org.au/) and the NatureMapr family of sites (https://naturemapr.org/)

Are there any plans to integrate or merge observations from these platforms? I would be interested to hear what the development team’s philosophy is on this sort of thing. In my humble opinion, iNat is the best nature site on the web, and I’d love to see it become the go-to choice for everyone around the world. Also, I’m lazy and I’d rather not check fifteen different regional or organism-specific sites to follow my taxa of interest.

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#2

Our philosophy is to focus on building community and not aggregating data. This means that while we decline offers to import ‘userless’ data generated elsewhere, we make exceptions if a person wants to join the iNaturalist community and would like help migrating their observations made elsewhere to iNaturalist.

I should note this isn’t always possible/practical. Mushroom Observer has great API’s and we’ve made a nice tool that allows people to import their content from there https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/moimport
For other sites like Observado which don’t have well developed accessible API’s, in the past we’ve help a handful of individual users who contacted us migrate their content by sending us CSV exports etc but this has become too staff intensive for us to sustain, so we’ve started declining requests like these if the site in question doesn’t have well developed accessible APIs.

In three cases we helped orchestrate data migration with groups of people joining from other platforms, you mention the South African migration from iSpot and when the formerly independent NatureWatchNZ joined the iNaturalist network. We also did this with formerly independent Biodiversity4all - now the Portugal iNaturalist Network node. But these groups were still made up of individual users consenting to to have their individual content migrated to their iNat accounts.

The one exception to this philosophy is Questagame which is currently posting observations generated elsewhere to a single group account. This is a temporary situation resulting from a misunderstanding of how Questagame was allowing users to join iNat and post to iNat through their app that we discovered wasn’t line with our policies. Questagame is currently bringing that functionality in line with our original expectations at which time they’ll discontinue posting to the group account.

Hope this helps,

Scott

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BowerBird.org.au R.I.P
#3

That’s really helpful, thanks! I did not realize that those migrations were the result of individuals wishing to import their observations. I suppose that makes sense in hindsight!

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#4

That’ll give us mortals a chance to be highest observer for a month again, which I’ve not been able to achieve (I don’t think I’ve come second yet either).

Unfortunately BowerBird has too many bugs and no funding for fixing these. I used to use it and the Australian data aggregator ALA collected records from there (as well as other sources). I’ve heard rumours for ALA becoming an iNaturalist affiliate so that might draw more people to the inat platform from Australia (but sorting out taxa is challenging). Since this year I’ve been actively trying to get locals to use iNat even running a couple of workshops for a local Field Naturalists Club with limited success (I’m not a good salesperson). I agree that iNat has the best interface but at first I was a little daunted by it as there is so much information on the screen.

#5

I didn’t know that about BowerBird, or that ALA may become an iNat affiliate. Good to know!

That’s great to hear that you’ve been lobbying the Aussies for iNat, keep it up! I know a few folks (the Horts in particular) that I’d like to see join our community, so I think I might put some friendly pressure on them as well.