People being dishonest to win on a bioblitz

There are some specific users that have been uploading observations with the wrong date to get a better result on a bioblitz (I am talking about well informed adults).
They have uploaded obs. with images taken some days or weeks before but they uploaded on the days of the bioblitz (the real timing can be seen on the info of the photos).
I guess that it does not only afect the bioblitz but it also afects the veracity of the observations and data.

What should we do about it?

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Have you confronted these people on it?

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Stop making it a competition (assuming it is). If people can’t participate in a bioblitz just because they value the experience, then they shouldn’t be participating.

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What’s the point of “winning” a BioBlitz?

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I would recommend emailing help@inaturalist.org and having staff talk to them. Falsifying data is really problematic.

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This is the only part that would matter to me.
That, and I guess if it discouraged others due to the “cheating” aspect when you gamify observations, but I don’t think bioblitzes are inherently competitive.

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Isn’t this where the DQA comes in?

------------Edit from later on in the discussion:

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I think it is not possible that it would not happen. But how prevalent it is? With growing user base the number of dishonest users increases (i.e. more noise) but usually it is more than balanced by the dramatic increase in good data.
Solutions:

  1. specifically during bioblitz the system would issue a warning when a user is changing the observation date extracted from exif. This is probably not trivial to implement.
  2. add a kind msg to bioblitz participants stressing that not only the number of observations but also the accuracy matters.

(note that on camera the time can be incorrect but I assume you compared the exif info to their previous observations and confirmed that outside of bioblitz the exif date and the observation date match)

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i mean its not really in their control. bioblitzes are built in with the leaderboard and you can swear its not a competition all you want but the leaderboard is right there

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Yeah, definitely a good use of the DQA. I still think that if this is a pattern for a user it should be noted in their moderation history and discussed with staff too, though. Checking observations for those kinds of discrepancies is not a common habit, and shouldn’t need to be!

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I just uploaded to a bioblitz observations that were apparently taken on the wrong date. Fortunately it was 10 years before (so the problem was obvious) and the cause was an error in the camera’s date, not a form of cheating. So, weird things can happen.

I do treat bioblitzes as competitive, but it would be no fun if I “won” by cheating. I want to see lots of things during the allotted time.

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I’ve definitely had the experience of wondering why my observations weren’t showing up for a bioblitz and then realizing the date on my camera was off by a day (or in one case, an entire year). So it’s not necessarily malicious, it could just be correcting an error. Of course, if it has happened with the same user in more than one blitz, then it becomes obvious.

Probably best to email support about those cases and let them look into it.

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Exclude these persons from the blitz?

You first need to ask them about that, wrong date on camera is common, though cheating is too. Save those observations links and username, so if something happens you can email help with those.

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If you think there’s evidence that the observed_on date is incorrect, then definitely use the Data Quality Assessment and vote “No” for “Date is accurate”. But as others have said, camera dates and times can be incorrect for no malicious reason so I’d suggest reaching out to them and asking them about it with the assumption that they mean well.

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Not for now, we are thinking how to aproach it.

I am certain that they are doing it consciously, we thought this year the phenology of some obs. didn’t match totally and we looked at it closely, and discovered that last year they did the same. They were first last years on the species ranking and this year will be first as well.
Also we looked at their obs. and the ones with suspicious data seem to be only the ones registered in the two bioblitzes.

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In a bioblitz, it is important that people be honest. If they are not, then the data collected will be skewed and not represent the real biodiversity of an area. There are many users who are doing it intentionally. I am hoping that reasonable action will be taken against individuals.

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Do you know anyone else who did it and wasn’t caught?

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Unfortunately, cheating is rampant and for some folks finding a way to ‘beat the system’ is the main goal. Plenty of examples all over society today, from kids cheating in school to loads of scams trying to cheat people out of their money to politicians cheating their way to the top. They’re just practicing what they see people being successful with all around them, I guess. Was there anything to gain by doing it? Any prizes to win? Or just bragging rights?

I think it’s important to stress that science relies on accurate data, and that e.g. wrong observation dates and/or locations are going to impact the usefulness of the whole data set for scientific purposes such a phenology studies. Maybe first ask people to please double-check and correct any errors rather than call it cheating. But if they’re in it just for the competition they may not even care about the scientific applications of the data. In that case, I think marking it inaccurate using DQA as suggested already may help get the point across.

I have of more the opposite problem… I take too many pictures to process within the given time frame and it takes me half a year to get them all up on iNat. By the time I’m done uploading enough of them that my name may pop up into the leaderboard, it’s too late to claim any ‘wins’ for it because the competition is long over, haha.

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