Paper about inaturalist *The benefits of contributing to the citizen science platform iNaturalist as an identifier*

The benefits of contributing to the citizen science platform iNaturalist as an identifier

Link to the paper

Abstract :
As the number of observations submitted to the citizen science platform iNaturalist continues to grow, it is increasingly important that these observations can be identified to the finest taxonomic level, maximizing their value for biodiversity research. Here, we explore the benefits of acting as an identifier on iNaturalist.

Congratulations to all the authors and the inaturalist team - this is a great summarization of how inaturalist is progressing and what are the reasons to use it

I like that the list of authors and their inat handles are given - so many of them are so popular for some of the taxa they help with (or even from their activity on the forum)

The 7 “benefits” raised can also verbatim be said to be benefiting observers also.

Thanks @shaunak for sharing this article on the the indian inat group.


rather @vijaybarve Thank you for sharing this article on the Indian group.


92 % only observe, and I am in the 7 %.

We need to find a way for iNat to encourage all those observers to do some identifying.
One observer I fell over has 19K obs. And no IDs. Not even on their own 19K!



I can empathise with a situation where people ae not identifying for others – language issues hence being uncomfortable if some one asks them how or why ?

I think - it is more - that observers think iNat IDs are either automagical by the computer, with no human involved.
Or ‘paid staff’ at iNat.
Or the Curators are responsible for IDs.

They don’t realise that ALL IDs are by meat space people. And that should include the observer. We have a lot of good threads running in the forum where willing identifiers get together to dent the accumulating backlog.

Counting down the #GSB22 deadline on 14 November now.

About language - when I ID for Africa, we often communicate via French - and I am intensely aware that the French is probably second / third language for both of us.


It should also be added to the topic on articles using iNat data.

It’s a short but worthwhile read. Many prominent users contributed.

Name iNaturalist username
Corey T. Callaghan @coreytcallaghan
Thomas Mesaglio @thebeachcomber
John S. Ascher @johnascher
Thomas M. Brooks @tbrooks
Analyn A. Cabras @anncabras24
Mark Chandler @markchandler
William K. Cornwell @wcornwell
Indiana Cristóbal Ríos-Málaver @indianacristo
Even Dankowicz @edanko
Naufal Urfi Dhiya’ulhaq @naufalurfi
Name iNaturalist username
Richard A. Fuller @rich_fuller
Carlos Galindo-Leal @carlos2
Florencia Grattarola @flo_grattarola
Susan Hewitt @susanhewitt
Lila Higgins @lhiggins
Colleen Hitchcock @hitchco
Keng-Lou James Hung @kjhung
Tony Iwane @tiwane
Paula Kahumbu @paulakahumbu
Roger Kendrick @hkmoths
Name iNaturalist username
Samuel R. Kieschnick @sambiology
Gernot Kunz @gernot2
Chien C. Lee @cclborneo
Cheng-Tao Lin @mutolisp
Scott Loarie @loarie
Milton Norman Medina @mnmedinaphilippines
Mark A. McGrouther @markmcg
Lera Miles @lera
Shaunak Modi @shaunak
Katarzyna Nowak @katzyna

And more, I’ve run out of replies
|Rahayu Oktaviani|@roktaviani|
|Brian M. Waswala Olewe|@waswala|
|James Pagé|@jpage_cwf|
|Silviu Petrovan|@silviupetrovan|
|cassi saari|@bouteloua|
|Carrie E. Seltzer|@carrieseltzer|
|Alexey P. Seregin|@apseregin|
|Jon J. Sullivan|@jon_sullivan|
|Amila P. Sumanapala|@amila_sumanapala|
|Aristide Takoukam|@aristidetakoukam|
|Jane Widness|@jwidness|
|Keith Willmott|@kwillmott|
|Wolfgang Wüster|@wolfgang_wuster|
|Alison N. Young|@kestrel|


I just found one today with 6k plus observations and only a couple dozen IDs. Lots of birds & butterflies too, things that would normally be IDed very easily, but a lot of things were in unknown so they had been missed

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I can’t imagine a world where I don’t identify :o
For myself, there is no point in only observing. Also no point in only identifying! For me I have to have a balance.


Added it here
Published papers that use iNaturalist data - wiki 3 (2022 and 2023)


We need the onboarding to prompt observers
… if you only just ID as it’s a Bird! The answer sometimes comes in minutes.


Right? I went through a bunch of his stuff and at least tried to knock what I could out of unknown and down to genus level where I could.


I’m so excited to see this topic get formal attention. Some ideas to push this theme:

  1. Encourage facilities like Biological Stations (I’m looking at you, Highlands, Eagle Hill, Audubon Centers, etc) that do online seminars and Facebook Live presentations to offer mini-workshops in How (and Why) to Be an iNaturalist Identifier.

  2. Everyone think of retired colleagues with expertise (especially genuine taxonomists) and send them this article with a pep talk.

  3. Is there a way to make a “most wanted” list (criteria really don’t matter) that would bring some need-id taxa to greater visibility?


From the linked article

For example, correct identifications of poorly studied invertebrates from the tropics are arguably more valuable than identifications of common birds in the United States.


I think that it needs to be recognized that iNat is a much more complicated web site than most casual computer users encounter. And, that it is often described as a place to “get your photos identified.” That’s why I came to it, although I also encountered it in my reading about citizen science. But, I seldom mention citizen science without having to explain what it is. I don’t think it is a good idea to assume people know what citizen science is.

I have been on iNat for about 2 1/2 years and just recently found the tutorials on the forum. Also, I have to say that when I first went on the forum, I didn’t know how to get back to the rest of iNaturalist. (Yes, it seems obvious once you know.) Most of what I have learned on iNat has come from randomly tapping items in menu lists, which is as likely to be frustrating as it is to be rewarding. Please just acknowledge that the iNat pages, which seem so intuitive when you are used to them, don’t look like other web pages and thus are NOT actually intuitive.

It was only in the past few months that I realized that I could message the people who ID my observations and thank them for doing that. At first, they all seemed like super busy people who I shouldn’t bother (reinforced by the discussions on the forum about how many observations are awaiting ID).

And it was in the same period of time that I realized that it would be helpful for me to ID other people’s observations. Lest you think I am somewhat slow of mind, I feel I should point out that I have two Bachelor’s degrees and two Master’s degrees. But being on iNat certainly makes me Feel slow of mind, which is frustrating because I came here to be excited about looking around and noticing life and learning about it.


Not at all. We have all. Been there and done that. We need the forum to help each other find the way around. How do I? But why doesn’t??

Stick around and you will see the same problems come up again and again, as new people battle with them in their turn. (Wild versus captive? Disappearing placeholder text - because iNat knows it is temporary and we will learn the hard way …)

You will also see people on the forum, who have been here for years ‘never knew you could do that!’

(Getting back to iNat … in desperation I just bookmarked the URL)


I feel a bit guilty about making five times as many observations as identifications, but at least it is a contribution, however small.


Every little bit helps! Sometimes even knocking something out of the unkown group into a more specified group, even if its at something high like the kingdom level, can help

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