Is it acceptable to create a second account for things that I did not observe myself?

Sorry if the title of this topic is misleading, any help with coming up with a better one is welcome :)

I often get sent photos from friends asking me for the ID of something, and if I don’t know what it is, I want to post it on iNat (With permission, and I’d give the person credit). I could always just post it from my own account, but I don’t want things to show up on my life list that I didn’t actually see. Is it acceptable for me to create a second account for this kind of thing?


I’d lean toward no myself, due to the copyright being attributed incorrectly in the metadata, data quality issues, potential duplicates, as well as the fact that iNat is really meant for people’s personal observations, not uploading others’.

Though say I had a friend or family member who was not good with technology, and did want to have a profile, and I could help manage it for them? I think that would be fine. But a profile that conglomerates many peoples’ observations in one—no, I’d urge them to create their own accounts rather than post them myself.


If needed I would encourage them that they actually dont even need to create an account (in the technical sense), they can simply log into iNat through Facebook, Google, Flickr etc


I’ve posted a few photo records taken by others on my iNat account, with credit given to the actual observer/photographer and with that person’s permission. Some were organisms I already had on my life list but a few were not. Although I encourage these folks to open their own iNat account, they aren’t interested. Since their records have some value (in my opinion) this is the only available option. I think it’s more important to get these records into iNat than any concern it might slightly bias my life list. A user of those records won’t care if it was my photo or someone else’s.


I should add – just to muddy the water a little – that camera trap (game camera) photos do not technically represent one’s personal observation of an animal, but those are submitted as one’s observation anyway.


Good point.
until now I’ve been using the Computer vision demo to see if the AI can come up with anything reasonable, and it often does. Maybe I’ll just keep doing that for now, although I’m curious to see what others have to say.

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If I only notice a different species once I zoom into one of my photos when I’m on the computer, did I really observe it at all? :thinking:


Good point. The camera sees more than we do at the time. Maybe my cameras should have their own accounts.


I think the issue with accounts is more having someone who is responsible and a point of contact for that observation. For instance, class accounts for underage students administered by one teacher are encouraged as a solution, even though they aggregate observations from multiple individual observers. There are also program accounts for parks and conservation programs that have observations posted to them by multiple staff.

I think this same principle would apply to uploads from game cameras or other automated recorders (bird/frog calls, etc.). Whoever is the poster is in charge of those. So I think that there are definitely some cases where posting other user’s photos (assuming you can take responsibility for ensuring their accuracy, etc.) is fine.


i’m going to differ here and say go for it if you have permission to post the photo from the person who took it and it’s good data. Why throw data away over semantics? I think it’s frowned upon but i’ve never heard of anything being deleted for this reason unless there were other issues also happening…


I think a second account is a perfect way to handle these situations. The practice of posting photos from others is discouraged, but by doing so you might gradually get them interested in opening an account themselves, or at the very least encourage them to be more aware of their encounters, so I can see it as being on-mission still. Given that it’s in the grey area of acceptability, definitely keep it to a minimum, ie encurage them to open their own accounts, and if the day comes that the pushback from the community and/or iNat eventuates, then it will greatly simplify the task of cleaning up or fixing… ie just delete the problematic account.


I’d only recommend creating a second account if you’re likely to be uploading lots of second-hand observations, with permission of the observer(s), and you will be signing onto that account regularly to curate the IDs and answer the questions in comments.

Otherwise, upload those observations from your regular user account. To make it clear that they’re not your own, you can add the observation fields Second-hand observation and Original observer (with the name of the observer). There’s also the field Photographer to name the photographer when that’s not you (useful if you also saw the organism observed but didn’t take the photo).

Of course, the best thing is for those other observers to make their own accounts and upload their own observations, but I know that’s not possible, or likely, with some people, and uploading the observation is more important.


I’ve posted a few observations in the past for people
I always give them credit… in fact I’m getting ready to post two bob cats
For my sister taken in California. But I do believe the rule of thumb
Is if it’s a lot they prefer they set up there own account
I was going to set up a account for a friend that spent a month in east Africa
To post a few thousand of his photos… but I simply don’t have the time to do it

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if I did create this account, I’d be checking it regularly.

I wouldn’t post it if I didn’t have permission to do so :)

Some people have a healthy, and reasonable, aversion to linking various online accounts together, especially with linking them to Facebook and Google.


If they have that aversion, they can ignore the advice


What I meant by

is that observation description sections and observations fields aren’t clear/displayed anywhere on the site but the observation detail page, and would be ignored in tools like Even on the detail page, observation fields are hidden behind a collapsible sidebar section. The only attribution and license type for photos that really matters is here:



I have taken a different approach to getting an ID for someone else’s photos. I have uploaded the photos, entered time/location info(to the best of my knowledge), then let iNat give me an ID, then deleted the photo before submitting it. That has worked pretty well for what I’m doing - when a friend has a photo but doesn’t know what it is. I do this very infrequently, so I don’t think this has much impact on losing an observation, especially since time and location can be uncertain.


that’s similar to what I’ve been doing with the Computer vision demo.

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I’m going to just throw in here that there are accounts already dedicated to doing this, for example @questagame.