just a couple of random thoughts while reading this thread.
I was, by nature, someone who wanted to always do things the right way. And that (to me) meant understanding all the guidelines, processes, and rules before I did anything. I also lived a few decades before computers and the internet.
While trying to find how to do computing and interneting, I got some guidance from my children and from younger friends I met online. One of the things I had to learn to do was just to jump in. Sometimes, you can break things by mucking around. But lots of times, no harm is done and things can be fixed. That was a leap for me and may be for other people. Just something to keep in mind. Some of us have a strong history of what I call analog mindset in a digital world. We have to work to switch our natural tendencies.
I can remember participating for the first time in a wiki. To get me started, my patient younger colleague gave me a few initial steps to do then said, “You can’t break anything. Don’t worry. Any mistake you might make can be fixed.” That mindset helped a LOT in my jumping into this foreign world.
Later, I went on to develop and manage my own wiki set up. I worked hard at trying to give people the info they needed without overwhelming them. And by reassuring them, ‘no mistake is unrecoverable’.
When I considered joining iNat, my first reaction was ‘too much to figure out, I’ll just keep doing things on my own and use this site as a resource’. But I was kind of motivated to join so I dug in to ‘figure things out’.
I started by trying to read all the rules and guidelines and set up, and - honest feedback here: I found it too overwhelming and bit disorganized. One step didn’t lead naturally to the next for me. If I had a question, I couldn’t easily find an answer. I tried doing site searches for answers and got up so many hits, many unrelated to my question, that I deemed it not a good ratio of time spent vs knowledge gained. I thought back to my own wiki and wondered how much info was too much not to be overwhelming.
So, I thought, just let me try making an observation without reading all that stuff and making sure I did it right. And I did. I think I might have seen an issue with a few right off the bat. I saw I left something off that made a difference so I deleted the obs and reuploaded it. Or I couldn’t figure out why someone said ‘plant’ on one of my observations till I realized I hadn’t put in my own suggestion (or hadn’t done it right so it didn’t ‘take’). Then I dragged four photos of the same insect into the upload screen and got four observations and someone asked me to combine them.
Slowly, I figured more and more things out but I did them by trying stuff and fixing it when it went wrong. I didn’t do it by reading very much of the guidelines or initial information I could find.
In the last month or so, I have figured out how to do some things better - features of the site I didn’t know existed. But I learned those by being active on the forum. To this day, if I wanted to know something I didn’t understand, I would likely search on the forum for an answer and then, if needed, ask here. I find the info presented on the iNat website too hard to find - too hard to narrow in on for just the info I need.
What I did - that someone who leaves after an initial glance at the site didn’t do - was to just jump in and give it a try. And I had a decent amount of motivation to learn something new. Not everyone is comfortable jumping in and giving something a try, especially when it seems like there are lots of ‘parts’ to navigate. And not everyone feels that iNat has something to offer them they can’t do on their own. After a few decades (add these decades up… I’m old) of learning new processes and services and software, I’m done learning new things unless I REALLY want the service. I’m pretty much all about the fun, these days, so if I have to spend more time learning someone’s set up than I spend reaping the benefits from that set up, then I don’t bother. That’s a personal decision and not a reflection on the site, setup, software, etc.
In trying to help other people learn new things (I have been an educator in many venues for many subjects), the bottom line is, someone has to want to learn that thing or it ain’t gonna happen. And I’ve learned to respect that attitude. That’s their choice and I can’t change it. So, some people just aren’t going to grab onto iNat the same way I have (Like one of my friends who wants to learn about and document the wildflowers around her cabin but just can’t jump the hurdle of joining an online site on the internet that she doesn’t understand and isn’t sure how much of a security risk it is for her. Her handbound journal is familiar and comfortable)
But I can do all I can to help it be an easy thing to glide into for anyone with any interest. And, if I would give any feedback on what it was like for me to join iNat, I would say the initial information seemed overwhelming to me. As someone who spent months setting up the tutorials for my wiki project, I know how much time and effort and thought has gone into the information presented for users of iNat. But I didn’t find it easy to get at what I felt I needed and, like I said, just stopped trying to figure out by reading and instead tried to figure it out by doing.
And I have a feeling that an approach like this is not unwelcome by the administration of iNat. But I do think it’s a tad unwelcome by some users of iNat who like order. If the only way I could get my wildflower friend to join iNat is by saying, ‘just upload the photos… don’t worry about putting in an identification… that will come down the road*’ … I would say it in a heartbeat - even knowing that somewhere, some one is groaning at another clueless newbie.
(*both by getting an identification from others and from learning how to do that step next week when they’ve conquered a few initial steps this week).
Because I have learned that, if someone is struggling with fear or anxiety or a conviction they can’t do something, the one thing I can do to help is to break the task into smaller steps and let them conquer the easiest one first. Then we move on to the next.
I’m way too wordy (my online name is Magpie and I earn it by collecting prowess but also by fitting one definition of magpie as: ‘loquacious talker’). But education has been my passion for the majority of my life and I think anything worth talking about is worthy taking a long time to say (so says Treebeard, anyhow).
I think this topic is valuable. I agree that feedback shouldn’t be seen as negative, especially if it was offered as a plain statement of one’s experience. And I always think it’s exciting when people discuss how to convey info in a way that is effective for people who could benefit from that info. :-)