Observations from old cameras marked 'casual' because exact date not available

I’m pretty new here and this is my first question. I started going through old photos going back as far as 2002. Some are scans of 35mm slides and some are from early digital point-and-shoot cameras that don’t have accurate metadata for date (because I never went into settings and made sure the dates were right). As soon as I uploaded two observations the date field was auto-filled as insufficient. I know the month and year and could probably narrow it down to within a few days but how would I enter that? And does ‘casual’ mean they are not valid observations?

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welcome to the forum

you cannot enter a date range, you must enter a specific date (noting though that you don’t need to include the time, that’s optional). I think the best approach here would be, if you know an observation fell within a range of eg 3-4 days, to just pick one of those dates and use it.

it doesn’t mean they’re not valid, it just means they’re missing one of the three main pieces of metadata (media [photo or audio file], date, location), date in your case. Outside of your specific context there are then other reasons for being casual too, eg an organism is not wild. The consequence of being casual means the observation will not appear in most default searches, won’t appear on maps, and won’t be exported to databases such as GBIF. However, these records are still findable if people include casual records in their searches.


Yep, pretty much within a week or two is fine. Add a comment that the exact day is approximate.

For the majority of observations this is more than sufficient accuracy. The only cases where it may not be sufficient is when it’s something phenology related.


Given that obscuring a location results in only the month being displayed (which does not render the observation casual), I think it would be nice if it was possible to just choose a month instead of having to guess an exact date for old pictures like that. Alas, that’s not how iNat works. There is a feature request for being able to pick a date range though, so this has come up even before obscuring resulted in dates being displayed as month only.


My archives from a 1999 project were only filed by month. I had to add a date and choose a random date in the month. I added a comment to cover this but would prefer to choose only a month.
I appreciate this thread and the feature request mentioned in a comment on this thread, and have now voted for it.


Thank you for the advice. With a lot of diligent research into my old field work files, I was able to narrow down dates to within a couple of days of the photo. So here’s a thumbs up for saving old files that you were thinking of tossing out!


Now if only I could figure out how to recover the dates of family vacations from when I was a kid.

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