Journal Posts - Purpose & Privacy

I began using iNat because I was bored on Instagram. Yea, I know…not very scientific.

I have thousands of nature-related images and while posting to a platform like IG earns me Likes and, on occasion, conversation, the images (and my often lengthy, informative captions) are lost in cyberspace - difficult to search and organize.

Throughout June I began reviewing my archive of images and adding them to iNat…

I also took advantage of utilizing the Journal. I was seriously considering using the Journal more when I realized journal posts - like the IG grid - cannot be organized. I submitted a Feature Request suggesting tags be added. I soon learned the Journal feature is outdated. I also discovered that the Journal is not private, but instead, appears on a public blog roll-like list.

And so, I ask…if the Journal is an outdated feature - why has it not been retired? Should new users be nudged and encouraged not to begin using it? Should new users be informed it is public?

I am so grateful I learned its limitations before I began using it on a daily basis; it would have been frustrating to learn my notes were as difficult to revisit as IG posts/captions and…my private and/or personal musings are publicly visible.

Honestly, I’m also thinking as a mom here…for example, I can easily imagine myself writing lengthy blog-like Journal posts when my son was young. I was naive. I am not now.

To encourage nature study with children, I wrote extensively about the local places we visited, citizen science, etc. After a handful of my fellow education bloggers and I traced images of our children shared on questionable websites and in chat rooms, we unfortunately learned the dangers associated with publicly journaling our day-to-day lives.

Can someone clarify the original purpose of the user Journal and I’m wondering, why is it public? Isn’t the Guides feature more suitable for writing scholarly, research-based, informative, public…guides? Yet, it is being phased out, right?


It is not outdated, who said that? Everyone who wants to use it should be using it. Journal can be for everything, far from only guides. You can easily see the answers comparing person posts and project posts, they have almost the same purpose.


You can view a stream of everyone’s journal posts here:
It’s kind of chaotic because they’re used for a variety of different things - identification guides (I think the Guides feature is weird to navigate), project updates (encouragement for members of a project), and personal updates (kind of like facebook posts I guess, but generally longer).

I don’t think they’re outdated; it still functions perfectly fine the way it was meant to. Plenty of people still use the feature to make good contributions to the community. I mean I think many people would appreciate this update but that doesn’t completely break them.
I also don’t really see the purpose of a feature that isn’t public?


I think that’s only if you publish it, which you don’t need to do. (You can hit “Save Draft” instead of “Publish.”)


Oh, yes…I agree. Although, when I initially joined, after setting a password, etc. I was in the mindset of “private.” And, reading the feature name Journal, I imagined it was personal. It’s not as though I believe any user is going to write their hopes and dreams in it as if it’s a diary, but…I can imagine writing odd notes, private locations, vulnerable species notes etc. and not realizing they post to this page:

I hadn’t realized my posts were there until a Community member commented on what I assumed was a private post.

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It was noted in my Feature Request. I began taking notice to other Community members’ profile pages and must admit, very few people appear to use it…so I assumed this is true. Happy to learn I am wrong!


Just to clarify, that although the journal functionality hasn’t seen many updates recently, we don’t intend to remove journals. The misunderstanding came from a comment from a relatively new user. I’m sorry that wasn’t clarified in that thread earlier but now has been.

In my experience, journal posts don’t have high visibility because you don’t get a header notification (a red bubble) for them. We’re working on updates that should make it easier in the future to see journal posts from people and projects you follow, if that’s something you’re interested in.

When it comes to searching for journal posts (and iNat blog posts), I use Google if I can’t remember when it was (or who wrote it). e.g. this search for inaturalist journal diy moth light


I would recommend creating an index / table of contents. A journal that is comprised of an organised list of your other journals.


In the meantime, you can link to journal entries that you’d like many people to see from your user profile page.


People can see them there, but I don’t think many users browse that page. However, when you post a journal it will show up in the home page feed of people who follow you. I’m guessing that’s more likely why they saw your post.


I appreciate the topic being raised. I would add that posts on this forum seem to attract more attention and responses than journal posts. I have no idea what the ‘feature request’ would be, but it would be amazing for journal posts to have a similar platform or ability to attract attention and discussion as this message board. That’s not the current situation.


I do check that page as often as the forum.

perhaps @catttailsandcobwebs you expected it to be private because it is called ‘journal’ - but - it doesn’t claim anywhere to be private.

I use the journal for occasional links to my blog. Which I can search and sort and arrange as I choose to.

If you want your journal to be private, you can make a blog password protected = by personal invitation only

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I think, also…after learning it is public…I became very self-conscious of sounding silly or dumb once I realized every user of iNat may read my Journal notes. As for a blog, I’ve been happily keeping a diary on my website for years…so I’m content…and fully understand the iNat Journal now!

I only considered having a Journal on iNat so I could collect nature study-specific notes, observations and resources, etc. That way all of my more field journal-type notes would be saved in this place because my more personalized daily diary entries are saved on my website.

Like your blog (from your description), mine is also organized and searchable too, displaying curated images, lists of flora, fauna and fungi observed on my property and…a diary.


You can’t sound silly on iNat, don’t worry.)


the iNat journals range all the way from erudite academic to people who are interested in nature. I don’t think many other people even look at the Journal (but I do get some blog visits from iNat). Do, use it as you wanted to.


I have always assumed the Journal post was public. I have posted a number of Journal posts about entomologists whom I have worked with. It helps me remember some things, and they have been appreciated by some folks. I’ve also posted a number of rough guides to some common moths, which some folks use. I suspect if you want a private journal (and some ways have been discussed), keep it in writing.


I am sure you are much appreciated in your field of expertise.


Thanks. I don’t know if I’m appreciated or not, and don’t get too worked up about it. If what I know can help others, I’m glad to share it, but I am no means an expert. And I just like to share information about the folks who I know, and slogged away at their work, with little recognition. Plus it helps me remember them!


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