Let's Talk Annotations

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 @fffffffff 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.


Tony and team - great work on the new annotation, this is simple and useful.

I’d be surprised if it was as high as 5%.

We really need to have annotations available in the CSV download

This is a interesting thread, but I don’t know if the iNat staff have decided to act on any of the suggestions. Asking for input is great, but leaving responders in the dark re future plans is, in my case, demotivating.


I would add an option for specimens to the list that @JeremyHussell suggested near the top.

A sterile option for plants to indicate no flowers, buds, or fruits.

@bouteloua I’m going to push back a little on the dead/not dead option for perennials. If an herbaceous perennial is overwintering, then the aboveground growth is dead regardless of whether the organism that produced the tissue is still alive. From an identification perspective, it makes a lot of sense to lump in dead tissue with dead plants. Perhaps reworded the option to dead (visible material only; potentially just dormant)? Perhaps a dead (entire organism) option could be added too if that is important to some people. I think that having the option to label an organism dead or alive would be a great addition for plants too.


Seems too far from cut and dry for the possibility as a standard annotation. At what point is aboveground herbaceous vegetation dead, as determined secondhand via what is typically a partial photo of the plant?


When adding annotations to a batch of observations or makes sense to have a set of annotations which can be applied to every observation otherwise there is no easy of filtering out the ones which don’t need annotation from those which have not been annotated yet.

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