Notifications on iNaturalist - Please Share Your Ideas!

As mentioned in the 2019 staff retreat follow-up, a priority for this year will be to revamp the notifications and dashboard system, as the current one is creaky with age and leaves a lot to be desired. This is something that will take time to create, and we would love to have your input as we plan it. We can’t guarantee anything, but here are a few features that are already on our radar:

  • A way to find old notifications, particularly mentions.

  • Get notified when a Data Quality Assessment changes the data quality grade of your observation.

  • Different notification types should have their own category (eg mentions, comments, IDs, etc).

  • Notifications for journal posts from both people and projects one follows.

  • On the dashboard, have a way to sort notifications by type, eg my observations, mentions, journal posts, etc.

Please don’t make new Feature Requests for notifications or for the dashboard, but rather share your ideas here.

Thank you!


I would like to see notifications for new followers please…


this may be covered by your bullets @tiwane so disregard if it’s duplicative:

I know someone else said this in a different thread but I echo a way to not lose track of the new, not yet viewed, notifications (whatever category they may fall into) once you’ve clicked on the notifications drop down(s)


I’d like to see IDs with comments in them treated differently. Right now I miss some comments, for example, if I see a notification for an ID different from my own that was done by a user who I know adds subspecies IDs, I don’t generally open it. Some of them end up having comments that I see later by chance, but otherwise would have missed.


-lump similar notifications. I turned off agreeing observations but would love a notification with something like “TSN agreed with 34 of your IDs!” so i know who’s helping me!

-revamped dashboard where you see more per page and you don’t lose things if you can’t see them. Remove the notifications from the page where people you followed’ observations show up. That drowns out the other notifications.

-Notifications for more things like any data quality assessment or comments within IDs as someone said above.

-in a dream world - fix them in the android and iPhone app and make it possible to respond to them easily there.

I’m sure i will think of more later and will edit them into my post.


When someone you’re following posts a large number of observations, these get merged into one notification. This could also be done for other types of events, e.g. if one person puts new IDs on several of your observations in a row. I’m not sure how far this could be taken. Just brainstorming ideas to make the notifications more manageable.

Minor gripe with the current system: merged observations still count as separate notifications for pagination, so if someone I’m following posts 50+ observations (this happens surprisingly often), I get a single merged notification all by itself on the dashboard, and have to click the “More” button to get to earlier notifications.


Not sure how well this fits under the umbrella of ‘notifications’, but I would love to see notifications of new BioBlitz events created within the geographic region selected under account details (“Search place”).

I’ve only ever found out about BioBlitz events here in Korea after the fact while identifying observations for other users but would certainly enjoy participating in one myself.


Just a small thing but currently when I am mentioned in a comment, I get 2 notifications; one for a comment on an observation I’m following, and one for being mentioned in a comment. Can these be combined?


In my account settings, the box requesting notifications of confirming identifications is not checked. I still get notifications of subspecies identifications that do not contradict my species identifications. I would like the option to not receive notifications of those subspecies identifications.


really, if there are two IDs, six comments, and people @ me 4 times in an observation i am following… all while i am away from the computer… ideally when i got back i’d just get one notification for the whole thing. Otherwise i end up opening the tab multiple times. Maybe dashboard working properly (and keeping track of what was viewed) could mean i’d use that instead, but… it’s a long way from that now


Just reminding you of the Feature Request I created re the ability to unfollow one’s own observations, since I get unwanted notifications without it . . .


I would love to be able to choose to see notifications of confirming IDs on my observations but not those of others. I spend a lot of time IDing observations and get flooded with notifications if I choose to see confirming IDs, so I turned that off. But I’d still like to know when folks are IDing my observations without having to scroll through them looking for new RG statuses.


I too would just like to see all new conflicting IDs of any observations I submit an ID for, and the first confirming ID of my own observations. I do like to see when my own observations get that confirming ID and reach research status, but I don’t need to see all the subsequent ones ad infinitum. I also like the idea of having the notification area just be a brief summary of notifications that leads to a more customizable dashboard with filters for reviewing different types of notifications and updates, a changeable sort order (by date oldest or newest first), with some way to keep track of ones you haven’t viewed yet.


I made previous Feature Requests (“Create Option to Choose Automatic Follow” and “Create a way to unfollow one’s own observations”) before you started this thread, but in the interests of getting everything on this thread concerning notifications I will just copy them here as well. They would affect the notifications by allowing one to first reduce the observations being followed:

“I would often like to “follow” fewer observations when I add identifications using the “Identify” tool, such as when I’m focusing on giving high-level IDs to “Unknown” observations. Other times I like to follow more observations, such as when I’m going though observations of a particular taxa on the “Identify” tool. If possible, I think an option to turn the automatic “follow” on or off would speed up IDs and remove a disincentive to providing IDs.”

“As far as I know, there is no way to unfollow one’s own observations. I have my Account Settings set to not receive notifications where the ID exactly matches my own. But I have many observations where I do not want to continue following as others add consistent but more refined IDs beyond the level I’m comfortable with. I often look for the “follow” tab on my own observations so I can uncheck it, but there doesn’t seem to be one.”


I have my notifications set to only show disagreeing IDs, to reduce the volume - but what I’d really like is to be able to see just the ones that actually disagree, not refinements.

For instance, if I put an ID of “salix” and someone refines it to “Salix lasiolepis” I would rather not get the notification spam from that. However, if I ID it as Salix and someone else adds a disagreeing ID of Nerium, I would like to see that.


Conversely, I don’t consider that spam at all and very much would like to get notifications for these IDs.

The discussions of what notifications people want to see and how hey would like to see them should probably be decoupled. I suspect that much of the anti notification sentiment comes from the unwieldy manner of how they’re currently presented.

Maybe they could be grouped, e.g.
UserX has ID’d 7 of your observatiions, click here to expand.
UserY has commented on 2 observations you’re following, click here.

Maybe they could be presented on a separate page, and not in a drop-down that is so easily lost by accidentally clicking somewhere.


I hope you can implement something to make it easier to find where I last left off reviewing my dashboard material. Each time I return to my computer after being away for a while, there are typically multiple pages of new material in my dashboard (a mix of new observations from people and places and taxa I follow, plus updates on older observations), even though I have selected the setting to show me only explicit disagreements. Before I can start reviewing the new material, it takes me a while to scroll through multiple pages to locate the place in my dashboard where I left off earlier. It would be helpful if there were a way to make it easy to find where I was in my dashboard when I last left it. Perhaps a bookmark function, and a way to jump to that bookmark? Or probably someone can suggest a better method, but this is what I would like to accomplish.


I had mine decoupled, but on one of my Feature Requests on “following” Tony Iwane indicated that it might be solved by the renovation of the notifications. I’m not sure what he meant, but that comment, together with him saying he wanted all ideas on this thread, made me think I should at least mention those here. I can delete my comments on “following” on this thread if Tony wants it that way–I just wasn’t sure. And I am for choice and options on everything–not trying to push my ideal options on anyone else.


It would be helpful to have notifications for pending taxon changes that will affect my observations. It seems like I only see those when they’re committed.


@tiwane, should all dashboard-related feature requests also be tabled for now as well? Dashboard/Notifications are obviously closely related, but not identical in content. Thanks!