Observations of People and/or Pets

A question if I may: Should iNaturalist really be allowing the addition of observations of People and/or their pets as these are hardly observations of wildlife.

I get the impression that some (admittedly a few) people are using this facility as a means of self promotion (images of themselves or their families and pets) or even as a form of social media - surely not what the facility was originally designed for ?? To me this content should be classed as ‘SPAM’ and removed.

What are others thoughts on this issue ??

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Images tagged “human” are pretty much ignored by everything, so they’re not much of an issue other than for the annoyance of having to ID them as human to begin with.

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Hi! Welcome to our community! Glad you are here as this is a wonderful place with amazingly kind people. I check the boxes on my filters to needs ID and research grade so it blocks any casual grade. If you see a captive or cultivated that needs ID or has made it to research grade you can flag it as Captive/Cultivate and it won’t be research grade anymore.

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There’s no real way to stop people from doing it, as it’s mostly new users trying the site out. As others have said, you can filter them out and if you find a new one just mark as human or ‘not wild’ for pets.

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Once they get put into casual grade, it wont affect scientific data. Just keeping them out of the research grade filter is all thats really needed

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I post photos of my pets but it’s a one-time thing because I just want to know what I own because pet stores tend to misidentify. According to PetSmart/Co I have an Armadillo Lizard (Ouroborus cataphractus) but thru iNat I know it’s really a Maasai Gridled Lizard (Cordylus beraduccii). All thanks to one person who happened to look at a casual sighting.

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I have a very ambiguous feeling about posted human photos. Especially the photos with insulting „identifications“, especially these of kids. It is stated everywhere that these photos are not seen by anyone when they are IDed as Human, but it is not exactly true.They remain in the accounts of users and if the user posts something again, these photos are still visible. And, the user who has posted the photo and the „ID“ can send out the page to anyone they wish. And that bothers me, because in this situation iNat can be used as a tool for bullying. In my opinion, any human photo, IDed by the user something like bat, mushroom, etc., should be flagged and removed in the same way as in the cases of copyright infringement. Actually, I‘ve also seen human photos here which could be easily qualified as a breach of privacy. Photos of pets –well, unnecessary and irritating, but OK if marked as non-wild. Same as potted plants.

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Just checked: two clicks in search system and you can see all human pictures posted, unless they were removed by the user.

These “behaviours” of posting photos of self, or friends, or pets or garden plants, of making joke IDs… Are all symptomatic of an apathy and “disconnect” of people to the environment and wildlife, and even to the very processes that sustain their own lives. If you are tasking them to make an observation of a wild animal, and their interpretation of that is “me making a funny face”… hmmm…

They are the exact people iNat need to reach. The core mission of iNat is to foster an appreciation and value in the natural world, more specifically the wildlife. Myself, I got interested in iNat to help me catalogue a botanical garden (cultivated space), went on to observe weeds and birds in my backyard, and now actively campaign for the protection of a katipo colony that I stumbled upon while making observations in places I would never have gone to without my participation in iNat.

I try to treat every observation in iNat as the start of a conversation. In the early days when there were a dozen observations a week, that was easy… Now that there are thousands a day it is a little harder and I find myself just focusing on spiders, but the basic premise for me is still the same. Someone has taken the time to share something they have seen… At the very least I try to show gratitude for that, but I try to capitalise on the opportunity to either learn something myself, or help them learn, and a real win is when I can get someone that makes observations of houseplants to turn over the leaves and make observations of the ladybirds on the other side!

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The FAQ has standard answers for humans and pets . IMO - they do a good job of assuming good faith and using it as a teaching opportunity.

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Beg to differ. Practical jokes and bullying exist from times immemorial and are present in all societies whether they live in nature or very much away from it. It is just that there is no need to give one more tool for the bullies. I‘ve already mentioned in another thread that not all people can be connected to nature because they are interested in other things. That includes kids who may obediently (or less so) do school projects on connecting to nature but only few of them get really hooked. Others might remember something and might return to nature in mature age, the rest will go away and forget.

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There is a big difference between a concerted effort to hurt someone and a misguided attempt at humour. Blurring the boundary with blanket classifications of “bully” is no better than the bahaviour you are denouncing! It’s like punishing children that bite by biting them back!

I find it very annoying but just ask that they mark it as captive and move on. Not worth the energy to get upset about. The only time it really bothered me was when someone uploaded a picture of a child who has an overbite and identified him as “guinea pig.” I don’t know if this was a parent making a bad joke or a kid bullying a peer, but I really don’t want iNat being used as a tool for bullies and hope that’s never a pattern.

On a related note, has anyone else run into an issue where people will mark feral animals and released exotic pets as captive, even when the description says otherwise? It’s a frustrating thing to run into and it’s happened to me several times. I hope people can remember that something can look like a pet but not necessarily be one!

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I’ve posted a few records with photos of Homo sapiens on iNat and in each case they were of personal friends/colleagues who were excellent naturalists and who had recently died. It seemed like a nice use of the human category … acknowledging those who had contributed to the study of nature but are no longer with us.

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Every picture I see of kids photographed by other kids makes me wonder if those have been vetted appropriately by supervising adults for privacy concerns, and if iNat would be required to confirm parental consent for posting these. According to COPPA, website operators are required to obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting/disclosing personal information from children. A photograph qualifies as personal information, doubly so if it is connected to geolocation. I have run into situations where I needed to get written permission from parents or was told not to post certain pictures because of privacy concerns (e.g. some of the children being in foster care). Schools nowadays seem to have strict policies regarding photo permissions. Other online groups have policies that every picture of a child being posted will promptly get deleted by the admins. iNat seems to have a comparatively relaxed policy for pictures of minors and I wonder if this isn’t asking for trouble at some point.

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This concern totally makes sense. Idk about y’all but my house is clearly recognizable as my house because of the sheer number of observations there. It would be easy to someone to find a kid if they’re posting selfies and also posting observations from their yard. Maybe we need to flag photos of children for fast removal.

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Possibly the “Other” Flag This Photo could be used with the explanation of “photo with lack of consent”.

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Yes, I have seen that. I will ask why in the comments; if it’s only one person I might send a PM or “at” the person who marked it down to ask why.
I know at least once it prompted a very useful discussion:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/4910798

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Posting photos of humans and pets somehow goes along with observations of objects and cultivated plants. In many cases it is just the result of people who are doing something with iNat just for curiosity but it is unavoidable.
I think that we all should try to be enough sensitive to understand which ones of these users still can be “rescued” and has the potential to post something interesting.
Otherwise, where we think that there are no hopes, we should rather descorage the users to remain here on iNat.

Regarding the observations of humans, where there is the possibility that they represent a case of bullying (as mentioned by jurga_li), there should be the possibility to delete such observations in order to protect those that could be the target.

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I don’t think I have seen anyone using it like that but I would probably email help@inaturalist if I came across someone treating iNat like instagram

I’m not sure what the rules are in the UK as regards website operators but there are certainly laws about posting images of people online. I’ve certainly seen photos posted of children in the UK where I’ve wondered if the person posting them had checked if they could post them - in some cases they were a photo of a human but in other it was an something like an observation of flower with a child in school uniform in the background.

I think iNaturalist could probably use some additional flags for photos of humans.

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