Is there a way to flag multiple observations at once? Better to suspend the user?

This user has been creating observations with several photos which, by his own admission, are stolen from flickr and other sites. He says he’s doing this because there aren’t enough photos of butterflies on this site. I explained to him that that wasn´t the point of iNaturalist but he says he’s going to do it anyway.

You can find our conversation (in Spanish) here on a flag he posted.

So should I suspend this user? or is there a way to flag multiple observations? He still hasn’t replied to my last comment urging him not to do this and instead helping others id their butterflies

There is no way to flag multiple records at once.

If a user continues to post copyright violations, after being warned, and in particular they state they will continue to do so, then yes, they should be suspended and sent a private message indicating they have been suspended for repeated violations of iNat policy, with a link to the relevant section in the help file that prohibits uploading taken photos, and direction to contact the help email at to discuss the situation if they so desire.

I should further note that if, and only if the photos are licensed as Creative Commons etc, he can encourage the owner to submit them to Wikimedia Commons from where in turn they can be associated with the relevant taxa in iNaturalist.

But adding them as observations under his account is an absolute no-go.


It looks to me like this confusion has arisen because there are many taxa for which the taxon photo is taken from Flickr, and not from an iNaturalist observation. It seems that the user was simply trying to replicate that behaviour, which is useful to fill in iNaturalist taxon pages for species that had not been observed yet (although Flickr photos are often labelled with the wrong species, so should be avoided unless there is no alternative).

Although I haven’t done this, I believe it can be done - without creating a new observation - by going into “Curation - Edit Photos” on a taxon page and choosing Flickr as the source. Perhaps an admin can reach out to this now-suspended user to let them know the correct process. It would seem a shame to lose someone who wanted to contribute to the site just because they did not understand the distinction between an observation photo and a taxon photo.

Just a note that Flickr photos can only be used if the owner has licensed them as Creative Commons (this is not the default in Flickr).

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That’s true. I don’t know if the iNaturalist Curation tools filter only for CC photos.

It does not limit to only CC, but I am unsure if it filters for licenses that are more restricted, but allow attributed use etc. It is also a very slow process to find a particular photo.

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To note, this (or an import through Wikimedia) is the only legal way to do a Flickr import (as uploading a photo attaches a copyright notice and a license to the file), and issues of copyright are quite prevalently discussed throughout the site. Additionally, the import function from Flickr doesn’t include all photos of the taxon, so sometimes you may have to import by photo ID (the last part of a Flickr images’s URL). It also seems that they fail to import if they aren’t licensed as Creative Commons. This can also be done with photos on Wikimedia, though I’d also highly suggest vetting the ID prior to import. Both sites often have misidentified photos. EoL used to have this compatibility as well, but the import tool no longer works there.

Regrettably, as noted by others above, the only means of flagging multiple objects here would be to flag each photo individually (and thus remove the photo from public view). Currently, the only flag that affects all of a user’s content is flagging a user for spam (which is restricted to commercial spam and shouldn’t be used for copyright violations). Staff have been looking into some additional hide-from-public flags, so it may be worth requesting if a “flag-user for copyright infringement” would be a viable addition to curator tools for mass-infringement issues.

The following links detail the current stance from site admins, which also entail when suspension should be issued in association with copyright infringement. The notes under Community Guidelines seem to apply to a single photo.