Poll: What are good reasons to fave an observation?

I haven’t voted for any options because my feeling is–basically any reason is a good reason to fave an observation. While favorites are indeed used as a way to sort photos or find popular observations, I approach them as being a tool for the person who is doing the favoriting first and foremost. If it is supposed to serve some other specific community purpose, like “vote for observation of the day” or “say this is a wonderful photo and should be rated highly so other people see this photo first” then it should be named something that is less subjective than “is this observation, in some way, your ‘favorite’?”

Broadly speaking, I favorite observations because I want a collection of my favorites to be able to look through later. This means I tend to favorite for two reasons: because I find an observation particularly beautiful, or because I find it (or the discussion associated with it) interesting.

I disagree with this primarily because I think that the things people are favoriting for bookmarks is “the good stuff”. People do not bookmark stuff at random. They bookmark stuff because there’s something interesting here. It might be beautiful, or be the first of its kind, or have a good discussion, or be statistically significant, or show some interesting anomaly, or anything else. Multiple people favoriting (bookmarking!) something happens for a reason.

In fact, I think using it as a bookmark means that people are going to actually be using it for things that are genuinely interesting, rather than things like the one poll option I just noticed “the observer is your friend”. I have friends on iNat but I don’t fave their obs automatically because my faves exist to be a catalog of interesting things and not just handing out internet points to someone I like.


Other - The photo shows some unique behavior or interaction.

Also I do it as a way of letting the observer know that their photo is beautiful and has been noticed by others.


Any reason is a good reason where there are no rules or guidelines.


There are way too may protests to my comment to answer each one. But I will re-iterate: It’s not a bookmark feature, if it were, then other ppl wouldn’t be able to see what you had faved. There are currently 29million obs on iNat. There is more worth seeing than the 365 ‘obs of the day’ we get a year. The only way for us to get to see observations of some quality or interest (“the good stuff”) is to look through the favs. So if you use the fav to remind you to return to some observation because it needs some attention, maybe location missing, maybe you think it not wild, maybe the images are bad but you think you can key it, then it does impact on others. It’s not what the fav is for. A bookmark feature was requested and turned down by the staff. Request it again if you feel it unfair, but don’t use the fav as your personal bookmark feature.


I was surprised that so many people are using it to basically bookmark observations too. On my browser I have a folder where I bookmark observations that I want to come back to later. Users that primarily use the app wouldn’t really have that as an option though I guess. I’ve found myself coming across something in the app that I wanted to bookmark and just leaving it open to remind myself to look at it in the browser later so I could bookmark it… which isn’t very efficient.

I somehow missed the addition of a “follow” option, which will come in handy for cases when you don’t want to post an id or comment, but are interested in following updates anyways.

I use the favorites to flag excellent photos, and interesting or humorous observations. I knew that the photo browser sorted on most favorited by default and that the site admins looked through favorites to find interesting observations to feature on the blog… so that guided my use of the feature. I figured it was similar to a “like” on other platforms. I’ve been confused when I see that someone has favorited an observation of mine for no reason that I can understand: a common easily identified species in its expected range and just an average photo. I’d assumed maybe it was an accidental favorite, which I’ve been known to do while attempting to navigate websites on a tablet.

Maybe part of the confusion regarding the intended use of favorites is the fact that in the Microsoft browsers (IE and Edge), bookmarks are actually called favorites.


I have used the “favorite” function exclusively for the purpose of bookmarking observations to return to for future reference, and I have zero qualms about that. The likely impact on “obs of the day” feature functioning of my occasional use as such is most likely nonexistant.

I actively dislike using browser bookmarks, because they’re only accessible to me if I’m using the browser that I was using when I made the bookmark. If you like them, you should use them.

The option to follow an observation is nice, but I just spent a little while looking around and I can’t readily discern a way to find a list of observations I’ve followed. They’ll just pop up in my feed if they ever have any updates. I can go to my faved observations at will. Maybe there’s a url path option, but it’s not in the standard user interface.

If it’s been discerned by iNat staff that a separate bookmark feature is unnecessary in spite of lengthy discussions about how some members feel others “shouldn’t” use faves to bookmark things, perhaps that’s a sign that you “shouldn’t” be telling others what they should and shouldn’t be doing with it.


That’s my current use case. I’m faving the best photo for every species of bird we have around here - including common sightings like Robins and Cardinals - for an exhibit in the nature center where we will keep track of the last sighting for each species and people can start to see a visual representation of what’s happening with bird migration seasonally. We need a couple good shots to be the representative photo for the species, and I want to be able to say that particular photo was taken on site (otherwise a couple hours of running through the best photos from each species with the proper license would be enough). Since I’m personally posting every observation I make regardless of quality of photo, faves allow me to find the good ones quickly after the fact.


In contrast I tend to deliberate fave those things because when a similar-looking obs comes up- ID’ed or not- I can go back through my pile of weird things to find the matching obs for cross-reference or to gain insight.

The strong advantage to the favorites tool in this case is that it’s an easy set of visuals to scroll through (although mine has gotten a bit large and unwieldy by now) compared to a list of bookmarks in a browser.


I mainly use it because I want to be notified when someone identifies it. I may have an inkling what it is or that the current name is wrong, but not enough certainty to put an id. and not want to stick my neck out by writing my opinion in a comment.

That may be a better way of achieving the same thing, but I’m not sufficiently IT literate to know what a browser or bookmarking is. So I use the favourite button because it is there and works for me.


To achieve this don’t use the ‘fav’ button, rather use the ‘follow’ feature (top RHS, click the ‘follow’ drop down menu).


I was not on staff when the fave functionality was implemented, but as someone who’s searched through faved observations nearly every morning for the last 4+ years (to look for Observation of the Day candidates), I don’t have any strong feelings about anyone’s motivations for faving an observation, and I don’t think anyone’s motives need to be questioned.

As @paloma says, there aren’t any guidelines to its use. I do think it’s interesting and fun to see what everyone’s uses for it are, though. :-)


Thanks, I’ll do that.

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Other - to mark things I really, really want to know what they are.

I ID a lot of Unknowns to phylum, class, or family. Most of them I don’t care to follow up on, but am too lazy to unfollow while I’m IDing. My Activity is flooded with info about those observations. Of a hundred things I ID or try to ID, there are maybe 2 that I really, really want to know about and are weird enough that I might want to refer to them later. And that interest me enough that if I don’t see them in my Activity, I wonder whatever happened to that backwards cocktail shrimp tail + dried leaf + insect Photoshop?

I just looked in my Favorites to get that link.


What do you mean by Photoshop? It’s a clear leafhopper-like nymph.

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I think @jbecky was joking. But I thought the same thing when I saw it. Amazing.

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Sure, I agree with shrimpy thing, but photoshop is too much for me, hah.

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I usually favorite particularly humorous photos/captions, the way I would ‘like’ a post on a different social media platform.

Sure it’s clear to YOU but I’ve never seen any hoppers this odd.


Using browser bookmarks doesn’t help me if I’m using the app.


Other: because the species featured, while not necessarily an iNat first, is unique in some way, be it a rare species, an unusual occurence for the species, etc.

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