I’m seeing a few more than usual observations marked as inappropriate in recent times that may or may not be so, but someone has proceeded to directly flag as inappropriate without asking the user about the issue.
Some recent examples are observations of plants on a white piece of paper flagged as illegal collecting, observations of free birds marked as being illegally kept captive by the observer, or observations of an observer is handling an animal and a permit is needed to do so in their local area.
In none of these cases was there any attempt to contact the observer and determine whether they had a permit or valid reason, the record was just flagged as inappropriate.
I’m unsure how to deal with these. On one side, I feel like the last thing we want to do is encourage illegal behaviour. On the other hand, I’m somewhat annoyed that, in each case, the flagger is jumping to conclusions without asking the observer, and thus shifting the onus onto curators. Similarly, I am noticing a trend of increasing flagging of records that show behaviours or objects that some users don’t like (e.g. handling animals, road-kill), and placing an onus on iNat to police behaviour of users that is often neither illegal nor even against the community guidelines.
So the tl;dr is: how do you deal with inappropriate flags that are distasteful but not against the rules, and where no attempt has been made to ask the observer?
FWIW I’ve been doing a mix of: closing the flag as nothing inappropriate; suggesting the flagger ask the user; asking the user myself; etc. However, I’d love to be consistent with what others are doing.