Lower quality iNat observations

What to do with users who post large quantities of whatever (cultivated) plants under whatever irrelevant name. It takes more experienced users a lot of time to clean iNat of this waterfall of similar posts…


Report it if it appears intentional:

If it could be due to ignorance or accident, politely point out the error and provide them with some helpful (friendly) instructions.


Are these from new iNatters and the City Nature Challenge ?

Perhaps wait a week, and many will have been cleared by non taxon specialists.


Always increase of that during City challenge or season of school nature projects :-) Annoying like a mosquito buzz but practically unavoidable.


oh is that where that’s coming from. Yeah I’ve seen a few of those, either leaving the observation as unknown or taking pictures of what seems like nothing specific.

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I would be careful declaring it as “junk”. The mission statement of the site is to “connect with nature”. Some people are just starting out and don’t really know how to do that, and iNat is a stepping stone. You should treat them how you treat anything else. Identify it the best you can. Like mentioned, if it’s something inappropriate, flag it. If it is of a human, ID as human. If it is an inanimate object, ID as human.

Try to be courteous and look at the bright side even when it’s difficult. The site is getting a lot of engagement which is hard to deal with in the aftermath, but this could be how people start having a deeper interest in nature and could contribute greatly to the site in the future. I’ve seen people leave the site due to other people being overly critical, especially when they’re new and don’t know why they’re receiving harsh words. That makes the whole site look bad, imo. We have to be patient and kind, even if it’s frustrating and overwhelming.

And lastly, people say this every year, but don’t overwork yourself. Take a step away from identifying and from the site if you feel you need to. It can be too much to keep up with during CNCs. Do what is best for you and do whatever you need to do to best conduct yourself and feel your best.


If it was for me I would consider the suspension. But I can’t ;-)


No offense but, honestly, yes it’s junk to be polite.

Many users are not at all interested in nature. In certain cases they are attracted by cultivated, showy species at best. In other cases they just want to do something or, worst, they are mandated to use iNat. In these cases there is almost no hope that they would start to post something wild.

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If it’s just cultivated, it’s not a “junk” observation. Cultivated plants affect the environment they are cultivated within and I find observations of them valuable in my own amateur research.

If anything, the REAL problem is that I can’t separate cultivated observations from other casual grade observations like ones with fake locations or no evidence


There are various kinds of non-wild organisms.
Here I was referring to the “junk observations”. And unfortunately we have tons of such observations, epecially as already written in this thread, after the CNC. Maybe from people who have confused iNat for Instagram with living beings or just an alternative to Plantnet.
Like it or not but we shouldn’t always try to see something good in everything.


I wonder if it is in response to copypasta messages telling them not to leave it as unknown. When I see some of the wild guesses, they give the impression that “Unknown” really would have been the most honest response.

Maybe that’s because the wonder of other kinds of species has never been pointed out to them.


This past weekend on our local university campus I saw a couple of young women going around and snapping photos of various cultivated shrubs. My guess is they were participating in the City Nature Challenge or doing this as part of a class. I was tempted to talk to them to see what project they might be working on but figured that being approached by some old guy might creep them out. I had my camera and was trying to shoot some birds, so maybe it would’ve been okay. I did wonder what kind of guidance they might’ve received and if they were simply adding to the glut of “Unknowns” that iNat receives this time of year.


Of course, encouraging people to engage with nature is (or would be) a good thing. But is that really what these mass observation events actually achieve? Maybe I’m old-school, but for me “engaging with nature” means learning to move slowly with attention, to stop, to look, I mean REALLY look, to be curious and open to both knowledge and wonder. The exact opposite of the speed, quantity, competitive “more the merrier” crowd approach.
I know it’s not a popular sentiment, but I agree with @blue_celery, junk by any other name is still junk and especially after blitz type events there is a very great deal of it around. I’m not at all sure what good it does iNaturalist, nature or even the genuinely interested would-be-nature-enthusiasts out there who wait in vain for some sort of reaction to their carefully considered observations, lost under an unmanageable avalanche of often unidentifiable poor-quality unknowns posted purely to play the numbers game.


Let me say that not all the events are equal.
Together with other people I have planned a bioblitz in a place where participants will not find any non-wild organisms. We will take them there, we will make an excursion and no matter if we will be able to involve 10 or 30 or 50 people. What matters for us is to take people in nature, to show them some valuable biodiversity, to make them know a place that maybe they did not know before and also to encourage the use of iNat.
By the way, I know that for the new users the use and scopes of iNat could be quite puzzling at first and so I have created a pdf document with the basic instructions. It’s downloadable from a QR code on the event poster.


There are many threads which discuss the (real) issue of the shortage of identifiers and the lack of appropriate onboarding for new users, especially during CNC season.

I’m consulting with the other moderators on the best way to move forward from here.

Meanwhile, I’m pausing the thread.

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This topic was automatically opened after 20 hours.

CNC is hosted by iNat. iNat plays the numbers game, promoting numbers of observations and observers first.
Imagine if we could rank CNC projects by -

  • area in square kilometres (bigger is bigger, so a smaller area with more people involved is more effective ?)
  • or by resident population (again how much involvement of Them Out There ?)
  • or some interesting targets of quality instead of quantity