Let's Talk Annotations

I think @obscurus touched on some really good points. I just can’t see how the three examples I’ll share below should be labeled under “juvenile”


However I think it be more appropriate to call it ‘nestlings’ instead of ‘chick’.

I don’t wish to sound pedantic, but I would say that, although ‘nestlings’ is good for altricial chicks (who stay in the nest), it’s maybe not so appropriate for precocial chicks (who immediately leave the nest), and that ‘chicks’ covers more bases…

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Yes, I work on precocial species, which is why I used ‘chicks’. However, I wouldn’t mind a combination of the terms (i.e. chicks/nestlings) if that resulted in less confusion.

One of the problems here is that some annotation categories (e.g. juvenile) aren’t defined locally. What about the ability to click on (or hover over) the word ‘Annotations’ to bring up a small window or drop-down showing the options, with a very brief definition of each—a bit like the middle paragraph of my post (128) above. Then at least we could all be using the same criteria when adding an annotation. That would (hopefully) reduce “the potential for misunderstanding and misuse”.


Is there a way to add the translation for new annotation type similar to what was done with “budding”?

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OK, iNaturalist now has an Alive or Deadannotation for observations within Animalia. The possible values for this annotation are:

Alive - meaning that evidence shows the organism is alive and shows no signs of imminent death.
Dead - meaning that evidence shows the organism is dead or shows signs of imminent death.
Cannot Be Determined - meaning that the evidence shown does not allow one to determine if the organism is alive or dead (eg a dropped feather or a snake shed)

And there are keyboard shortcuts for this annotation in identify:

We decided against applying this annotation to plants as it’s likely many perennial plants seen in winter might be erroneously marked as Dead, as brought up here.

Speaking of plants, as @melodi_96 noted, the Budding option under Plant Phenology has now been changed to Flower budding to make it clear that the annotation only refers to flowers. Like the other changes noted here, it should all be available for translation on CrowdIn.


Are there plans to populate the new alive/dead annotation based on some of the frequently used observation fields? For example this one was tagged on 30K observations: https://www.inaturalist.org/observation_fields/92


Should probably work, we’ll take a look.


Can you elaborate on the “no signs of imminent death” part of the Alive annotation?
How soon is imminent? Hours? Days?

I’m not trying to be pedantic; I actually have an observation this could apply to:

I observed a sick animal. It had no wounds, emaciation, or anything overtly disturbing; it was a bit listless, which doesn’t necessarily look much different than sleepy in still photos. I observed it on a Tuesday, and was told weeks later that on the morning after my observation it was discovered dead.


I would say within minutes or an hour or two at most. I’m thinking the most obvious (and maybe valuable?) use of this annotation will be for roadkill, so the situation that comes to mind is when you find an animal hit by a car that is still alive but is clearly going to die very soon. An unfortunate occurrence when you’re out road herping, since a lot of cars don’t avoid snakes and other animals.


Ok, that makes sense. :)

So since I don’t know whether it died within an hour of the last time I saw it, hours later that same day, or the next morning, should I annotate it as “alive” (as it was at the time of the observation), or "cannot be determined ", since I know it was sick and died, but don’t know when?

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When I used to collect herps for museum specimens by road cruising, we’d annotate the specimens in our field catalog as AOR (alive on road), DOR (dead on road), and even IOR (injured on road).


Can it go both ways? Someone keeps messaging me to ask that I fill in the “Insect life stage” observation field on my observations instead of or in addition to the “Life Stage” annotation, because the former causes the latter to be filled in automatically, but not the other way around, and because apparently it’s easier for them to search for an observation field value than to search for an annotation value. So it would be very convenient to have the same observation fields filled in automatically when an annotation is made, as well as the reverse.


I just meant a one-time import of the data. I assume that field I mentioned would be pretty much deprecated now that there’s an annotation.

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Until annotations are exportable, I’m not sure we should consider any observation fields as deprecated.

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As in a downloadable CSV? You can use a collection project to export to CSV or alternatively the API.

More on improvements to exporting data here: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/data-users-what-are-your-use-cases-and-requests-for-exporting-data/2972

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I would be surprised if 5 percent of users are comfortable trying to download data via the API.


Will new annotations have an own graphic on species page?
By the way, do we have an opportunity to do the search using annotation criterion?

You can search using the annotations from the identify page. I don’t think you can from explore (at least not without pasting the correct parameters into the URL)


There aren’t any plans for adding a graph for Alive or Dead on taxon pages at the moment.