(Cross post from the main iNat blog here)
For some time now, iNaturalist has included the following text in an alert box on the place creation page:
New places are one of the biggest sources of slowdowns on iNat, so please consider not making a new place…
For what it’s worth, we will have to restrict the conditions under which people can add places in the future given iNat’s current rate of growth.
iNaturalist is still growing rapidly and place creation remains one of the biggest sources of slowdowns, so today we added some new restrictions to place creation.
No user can create more than three new places in a 24 hour period.
The polygon drawing tool has been removed, meaning that new places can now only be created from a KML polygon upload.
Why these changes?
The place creation limit was implemented because until now users could make dozens of places very quickly, which slows down iNaturalist for everyone. We’re hoping the quota will diminish these kinds of performance impacts.
We removed the polygon drawing tool to make it harder to create places, for exactly the same performance reasons. People make a lot of places that are essentially rectangles, or crude polygon boundaries of places that already exist, and we think that’s partly because the drawing interface we had made it hard to draw complex places and easy to draw simple ones. Requiring KML files will hopefully convince people jonesing to make yet another Texas that it’s not worth the effort. For everyone else, Google Earth and QGIS are both free software packages that can be used to author KML documents.
We hope to eventually reduce the need for place creation with a better search interface (polygon tools, etc) but for now these restrictions should reduce the impact of place creation while still allowing the community to make them when necessary.