Hello, this is my first post on the forum and honestly may be a weird one to make, but I thought it has an important message, especially because of how much concern goes around about potential misuse of iNaturalist.
When I first started using iNaturalist, it was because it was advertised to me on Twitter, I think, as a way to simply figure out what stuff was, through the computer vision, on the app. (I should also add, it was not being advertised by anybody associated with iNaturalist. It was a thread of sorts, probably made by a young person. It listed environmental-related apps, with brief overview.) Obviously, that is not what the sole purpose of the site and app is. I did not know that though, and downloaded the app, unaware the website even existed. There really isn’t a whole lot of info on the app, which I personally like the simplicity of, but as a new user, I just didn’t really understand the depth of anything I was doing. That being said, I wasn’t aware anybody other than myself would be looking at anything.
I feel very ashamed of this, but admittedly, I did not use my own images usually. I was using the app as a way to just figure out what certain pictures were, and very rarely were they pictures I took that I was using. Instead of using iNaturalist as a way to interact with MY surroundings, I was using it as a way to basically just see what other things were. With this type of mentality, I began using it to educate my kids on what certain animals are, still, completely unaware other people saw any of it or that anything would be used for data.
I let my kids use it, who were definitely too young according to guidelines, which, naturally, I had no idea existed. This is all very embarrassing for me to admit but I feel like I am not the only person who didn’t know what they were doing, which is why I feel like outwardly taking ownership for it. My kids used it exactly how I used it, which is the incorrect way. Very rarely adding location or date, just a picture and the guessed identification. This must’ve caused quite an upset with many people, but I was completely unaware.
I am sure MANY clues were given that this was not the purpose of the app, but I guess I was just inconsiderate and didn’t pay much mind to it. I do not remember at any point being aware of the actual purpose, which is solely my fault. I was really reckless and didn’t understand the purpose of the app. I didn’t use any of the functions other than the suggestions, so I never looked at comments until AFTER my account was suspended. Admittedly, it dawned on me immediately after that I should have been more careful and that it was foolish of me to assume I could just use it however I felt.
Anyhow, once my account was suspended, I FINALLY, looked up the “app” on Google, discovered there was a website, a messages feature and that MANY people had sent me messages instructing me to stop using it how I was using it. So the community did it’s part, but I did not.
So I cleaned my act up, and learned how it’s supposed to be used. Admittedly, not all of my observations are great, and I do still allow my kids to use my account for exploring places or figuring out what species are based on the suggestions, but I do not ever post them, as they aren’t mine. My son especially loves this site. He is 11, and autistic. I mention his autism because the repetition of making observations and documenting things makes him really happy. He loves taking pictures when we go places and I upload those, and he loves to see the data go up and hopefully contribute to somebody somewhere. So, my account is nowhere near perfect, but I am VERY careful about following guidelines and doing things in an appropriate manner. I feel ridiculously idiotic for not understanding the purpose of the app and site, and for not caring to take a closer look. That is 100% my fault, and I am so sincerely sorry for trouble I undoubtedly once caused.
I understand how some people don’t understand certain parts, as I was once there. iNaturalist is extremely accessible and clear, I just didn’t put the effort in and I, again, am so sorry for that. To everybody, because it truly does negatively impact others when mistakes become serial and don’t stop. I want to thank everybody for being so kind to me, those who dealt with my account as a negative one, or those who help contribute to my positive observations, moderators, everybody. Having messed up so bad made me really dive deep, and it is a much better community and site when it is used properly, I’ll tell you that.
I just wanted to get it out there. I feel immense guilt, but know that I am no longer in that position. It also may be helpful to see how potentially unaware some users are, even as grown adults, as embarrassing as it may be for us to admit it. Anyways, thanks for reading if anybody does and hopefully I don’t come off too silly.