Places vs Project? Differences?

I recently searched for the existence of a project at a State Park near me. I didn’t find a project but I found something called places. My park was listed there showing hundreds of observations, half of them from me but I didn’t intentionally put them there. How does a place become a “place”? How are observations added and what does “open space” mean? I looked through the help section but didn’t find an answer. Can anyone provide some insight?
Thanks in advance!

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iNat has two kinds of places: Standard Places (mostly country, state, and county level places), and Community Curated places. Your state park is a community curated place, and you can see who added it in the lower left of the place page for the park.
Anyone can add Community Curated places (though they need a minimum number of observations, and the places can’t be too big). “Open Space” is just a type of place, like Country or Town. iNat doesn’t really do much with place types.

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Place is a polygon saved in a system (big ones by staff, others by regular users), it collects all the observations which accurances fall into its borders. Places can be checked directly or used to create collectional projects, which in turn are just saved filters in search (e.g. lepidoptera of X place). Traditional projects can exist without adding a place and don’t need it. Using projects is easier than a place, because you see different statistics and can search more easily, there’s also of course a social aspect with more people seeing a project badge on your observations and joining in, you writing in a project journal, having events, etc.

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Several of my recent fungi observations were added by project curators to “Fungi of the California Floristic Province.” Not of California the state, but of the California Floristic Province, which includes most but not all of California and small parts of other states. So it sounds like you are saying that someone had to create this place, separately from the existing place that is the state of California?

You describe a traditional project, not collectional. Collection works automatically and observations can’t be added manually, you only can change some of the filters. Traditional project can function without any borders and even when there’s a place set, observations out of it can be added too.

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That is correct. The California Floristic Province actually excludes a lot of California - all of the deserts.

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