New User, Are Notes Typically Encouraged or Discouraged?

Hello everyone, I am new to iNaturalist and am wondering if people tend to find others’ notes on observations worthwhile, obnoxious, or ineffectual. I am autistic and can have a difficult time understanding standards of conduct (I’m not even sure if this forum post should be made, haha). I am aware that each accurate identification provides a link with information vetted by those much more educated than I, but I also enjoy leaving notes on each observation for my own purposes and also somewhat as well to potentially inspire future research for others. Especially considering I observe a great deal of edible plants, I feel somewhat mixed about leaving notes, but I assume that most people on here have the common sense to do their own research. Should I skip notes, or just include basics about location conditions, or should I continue to write my own extended notes as usual?


Welcome to the forum!
If you’re talking about notes on your own observations, I would be surprised to hear anyone say they find them obnoxious. I think you should feel free to add whatever information you would find useful. I will also add that sometimes other identifiers don’t notice the extra information, so if it seems like someone may not have read your notes, it’s probably because they haven’t read your notes. :sweat_smile:

If you’re talking about notes on observations that other people have made, I could imagine a few people might not like that, but there are no rules against lengthy comments for others.


Yes, I meant to specify that the notes would only be on my own observations. I imagine many would be annoyed if I applied my kind of notes as comments to their observations, lol. Thank you for your input!


Would adding them to the description instead of posting a comment work? That way you could add or edit your notes as much as you need without other users getting notifications about it, or seeing it and potentially getting confused.


On your own observation you can write as much as you want until you hit the length limit! (Not sure where that is.)

As an observer I do enjoy it if others have something interesting to say about my observation, so I don’t think one should be too shy about that either. But it probably should be something of general interest. If I found massive amounts of comments like ‘I have seen that species too’ or the like on my observations, I might be a bit annoyed. :-)


More details and informtion are always welcome. This is why observations have a description box.
As for me, I only write descriptions if I think it can help identifiers.


If they were descriptive/unique to the observation in question I at least would be happy to see it on my own observations. I do leave occasional comments but struggle to have much to say 99% (roughly haha) of the time, but will always welcome them even if I do not have a reply to make myself.


Write all the comments and notes you want, for others or for your own use.

If I collect a specimen to go with the observation, I like to note its number on the observation. I see this kind of cryptic note on others’ observations, too.


Welcome! In general, I’d say it’s better to put more information than less, even if not everyone who looks at your observation uses it. I identify a lot of caterpillars and other insects, so I spend a lot of time asking people if they know what plant that insect was on, etc. In addition to notes that might help with an ID, quite a few people include notes that are more for themselves. People who are making observations as part of their own projects/research often have location codes, etc. that are very important for them but don’t mean much to the rest of us. And sometimes students will make notes for class-required observations that are pretty clearly for the class rather than the iNat community in general. That’s not a problem either


I only add notes to my own observations as of now, and only in the text field “Notes” when I upload something. I assume that is what you and another person mean by the description? As I don’t see the word “description” anywhere. I’m also using a web browser, not the app. Again, I’m a new user, so I may need to familiarize myself with the layout even more :sweat_smile:


I just wrote a truly terrible poem, if you can call it that, on one of mine. Your notes are for pretty much anything you choose.


I’ve been here for a couple of years now and have never taken issue with notes. Feel free to use them for whatever purpose you feel is most useful to you! :)


It evokes a very specific emotion linked to your sighting and also establishes location so I would say it is quite scientifically pertinent.


Notes = “description” here :D


Notes on your own observation record are especially helpful if there’s something ambiguous about the record, such as more than one subject, an animal is doing something unusual, it’s unclear if the subject is wild or in captivity, etc.


I think adding descriptions of whatever sort on your observations is great. I put them on my own observations for all sorts of reasons: sometimes because I’ve noticed something cool or puzzling in the photo and want to hear what others think about it (beyond an ID), sometimes just to help me remember where I might go back for a follow-up visit, sometimes to document the thought process and references I’ve used to develop my own suggested ID (so it can be critiqued by others, help others, and save me time if I revisit the ID).

If someone has written a description, then when I’m trying to ID I will be more likely to also comment. If they talk about some challenge or uncertainty about identification in their description, I’ll be much more likely to give some explanatory information with my ID. Or, if someone puts something more personal and chatty in their description, like “I’ve been looking for this species for three years!” then I’ll be more inclined to make a comment like “Great find!” or “Beautiful shot!”


I like this mindset a lot. I too am of the view that virtually anything can be of importance and value when viewed with the right perspective.

Also I looked at a few of your observations and you like including general info on the species. If you began adding IDs to obsrvations by others they would be appreciated by many, new users espcially, as comments alongside the IDs.

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Things I have noted, in Notes:

size of an organism
shallow depth of soil
location of plant relative to buildings/ground level/hours of sun
wild or callejero, not domesticated
NOT cultivated
unusual coloration
lots of this organism around today
we just had huge storm
Saharan dust
temperature in excess of 40 Celsius
on this plant
HERE on this plant
leaves smell like this when crushed
sticky/tacky stem
hard to see but in photo #_
behaving like this
rapid growth
abject apologies for terrible photos

No complaints.


I’ve started using notes occasionally. I feel I should do more. Use them as much as you want. This website is for you to use for your observations how you want. While others will use your data, remember, it is your data.


Hi! I usually take notes of the environment (it’s especially important with fungi, as some of them grow in vincinity of specific plants). Weird smell? Stickyness? Particular bugs present? Taking notes of those too. I mention if there was a shift in the weather in the past days. If I find an unusual plant, I mention if there is a possibility of the specimen being planted on purpose or maybe thrown away with some garden litter. I don’t like making several observations of the same species on a single trip, so I sometimes mention it grows commonly in the area, or, at the other side of the spectrum - that there was a single plant that I noticed. Once in a while I mention something silly just to remember, that something made me happy, or surprised, or that the spider was damn big, because you can’t possibly be serious all the time :D

Have fun!