"Ok symbol" policy

Unfortunately with school back it seems we are going to face a situation where photos with this are being submitted.

I won’t go into explicit detail, but the posts clearly can and in many cases can be seen as violations of site policy regarding racist conditions.

Just from today alone multiple have been submitted and flagged.

Can we please get some guidance on actions to take when found or for the flags.

Mark as copyright to hide the image even if technically not the case ?

Warn the user, suspend the user?

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I assume these photos are not showing an organism other than humans? Just a pic of a hand?

Assuming you exclude the bacteria which is on every photo ever submitted to the site, then no. Just the hand showing the symbol.

Some background on this symbol’s recent metamorphosis:

I think we can’t know whether someone (especially a student) is posting photos like this either as a troll/prank to get attention, or in an effort to get a friend to look at the symbol so they can punch them (something my friends and I probably would have done in middle school, had we had smartphones and social networks…), or if they are genuinely promoting hate. My guess would be the former in most cases.

Either way, I think it’s clear that photos of the symbol add nothing positive to iNaturalist and could have a profound negative effect, so I would be OK with at least flagging the photo and IDing as human, which should keep the observations from not being seen by many. I don’t think flagging as spam or copyright to hide it is great, as it’s not true, but I’m curious as to what other curators think. I’ll see if we can add obscene/offensive as a reason for hiding a photo next week.


I may have reached the grumpy muppet heckling from the balcony stage of my life, Statler and Waldorf was it, but I’m not hugely inclined towards the benefit of the doubt on these.


Seems like as we keep getting more unsupervised kids using the app, we will get more unsavory content that doesn’t meet our other flaggable criteria that hadn’t been anticipated because who would post (potential) hate symbols on iNat? Welcome to 2019 :roll_eyes:

I had no idea about the new meaning of this hand gesture. sigh


Aren’t the simply playing the Circle Game? I worry that this sort of reaction is aiding the alt-right in their attempt to appropriate positive cultural symbols.


The appropriation has already happened. I refuse to believe the average American high school student does not know the double meaning of this one.

If anything I’d argue ignoring and allowing this kind of content to remain does more to support and normalize the appropriation than does removing it.


I assume it is a young thing then, because this is the first I’ve heard about it.


Yeah, from what I know, it was a case of a 4chan joke (‘lol let’s say that the okay symbol stands for this, it’ll be hilarious’) that eventually turned into a dogwhistle, as shown when a certain person did something very terrible and made that symbol. It’s the context that matters, and on the social media sites it popped up on, context is something that their AI moderation can’t figure out. It’s a common tactic with extremist groups online, since it means that, if someone calls them out on it, they can act innocent.

My take is that edgy teenagers will be edgy (usually without fully meaning it or fully appreciate what it could signal), but I think the danger will be if this will make people feel unsafe using this platform, and/or if it will signal to worse types of people that certain toxic behavior/activity will be tolerated as long as it exploit loopholes in the rules.

Maybe just removing it and calling them out on it? ‘Right now, unless you’re scuba diving, we’re going to assume this post was done in bad faith.’ You know, on second thought, just removing it under the ‘flagged for being inappropriate’ (which seems to be what mods are doing already) may be the best thing, since it doesn’t signal to outside viewers what it was taken down for.

(Edit: just realized this was in the curators section. I’m not a curator, so I can bow out and/or remove my response as needed. :))


From the about Curators forum: " Only site curators should start topics here , but others are welcome to read and respond." So you are fine posting your thoughts.


We should probably find a way to disable the ok_hand emoji here on the forum too. Don’t like giving in to such misappropriations, but since it’s now a thing… (learn something new every day… :roll_eyes:) I guess it has probably happened before, and will again, with other formerly “safe” symbology.


Where I come from, this symbol means “asshole”. I find it a little disturbing to see so many of these symbols on iNat.


Teenagers push boundaries for fun often without fully realizing how hurtful they are being (intent vs. impact) though some know exactly what they’re doing. As a teacher, I would say that the photos cannot stay on the site and need to be banned. Whatever reason these kids are posting, some other child or adult is getting hurt. I suggest photo removal and a warning (one that is pre-approved and just copied in to save time) that includes very specifically why photo was taken down, how it impacts others, and what will happen if the account posts such a picture again. It’s a teachable moment–a difficult one–but it would be awful to miss the moment. If it’s part of a school observation/class event, I think the teacher needs a heads-up too because he/she can take it up with the student directly. It can’t disappear quietly because students need to know they’ve crossed a line. Just my two cents.


The way the internet works these days, stuff like this trickles down to even younger kids who have no idea about any subtle double meanings. For example, I had some middle-school aged family friends over recently and they were doing this just because they thought it was a funny thing people were doing online. And I agree with having teachers take more responsibility for what their students do on the site, not just about stuff like this, but for posting observations in general


Yet another good example/reason of why “humans” should be excluded from these observations in the first place…whatever value these human-observations have (which I’ve questioned from the start), that seems far outweighed by this and other examples of potential problems/issues you deal with by allowing it…


I wonder if this sign will have to be culled from scuba diving signals now, too :( Changing the underwater sign language would be pretty unfortunate, since it’s pretty important for safety reasons that everyone understands each other down there, and doesn’t have to be groping for the meaning of a new sign. Surrendering standard cultural symbols can have a lot more costs than we initially comprehend.


Maybe I’ve been living under a rock but this is the first I have heard of this … utterly ridiculous. Since when has this been an issue?


I heard about it at least four or five months ago, and I’m not “cool”…but an example of it used in public is from the Kavanaugh Supreme Court Hearings in Oct. '18, so at least since then.

I’m worried about common symbols being co-opted as well, but as someone else mentioned, this symbol has long meant “asshole” in other parts of the world for a long time, maybe before I was born. I remember being told in school not to use it in foreign countries as it can have a crude meaning, and I’m 37.

The fact that the OK sign has bad connotations in other parts of the world is not the reason for this and as an example: the thumbs up sign is the equivalent to the middle finger in Iran, Iraq and some countries in West Africa..
The OK’s signs new meaning in the US was the result of a troll campaign by 4Chan to target politically correctness by turning positive gesture into one that is associated with the alt-right. Sadly it seems that the media took the bait. One can assume the high five and the thumbs up will be targeted next.

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