A question I’ve been mulling over, that seems like there are conflicting opinions over: what level of interaction do I personally need to have with an organism to warrant uploading it as an observation? Here are a few of my own examples to illustrate what I mean, in order from “most interaction” to “least interaction”:
Example A: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/10890391
I was there and observed this beetle, but the photo was taken by my wife, so it’s not “my” photo, but I have permission to use it and I did make the observation.
Example B: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/154918302
I was there when this moth was collected, but a friend is the one who actually collected it off of his moth sheet, and handed me the specimen a few minutes later because he didn’t need it. So I technically never “observed” it alive, but come on… it was alive just moments earlier.
Example C: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/160535161
My sister sent me this picture from her bathroom and asked me to post it on iNat to find out what it was. So I never actually saw the organism personally, but the data is correct for the observation.
Example D: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/178317940
I wasn’t even alive when this observation occurred, but I have the specimen in my collection, with accurate data attached. I posted it as an observation because it’s an interesting record of a now-extirpated species in the region. But by no reasonable understanding of the term did I personally “observe” it in nature.
In all 4 cases, the observations are somewhere along the spectrum from “I saw it and photographed it alive myself” (clearly okay) to “I’m just posting other people’s stuff that I have no business uploading” (presumably not okay).
My question is where is the “official” line between what is and isn’t appropriate to upload on one’s personal iNaturalist account? I know some users are really into the “who’s the top observer of [taxon] in [place]” game, and I could see them getting annoyed that someone is “padding their numbers” by uploading stuff that wouldn’t meet the official ABA standards for what makes something a “countable” lifer, but I don’t really play that game. I figure it’s about the organisms, it’s not about me; as long as I either own the specimen or have permission to post the picture, why not upload it to get the record out there. But I’m curious whether others agree or disagree with this philosophy, and whether there’s any official iNat guideline on this question.