Is posting an observation without a documented photo acceptable? Saw a comment to that effect, though the observation would only be classed as “casual”. Wondered what the general feeling is on this.
iNat is made to connect people and nature, in any preferable way. Your choice matters, not someone else’s opinion.
Its not against the rules, in iNat, but as you said, it will only count as a casual observation. I believe the website also has an option to upload observations without photos and/or sounds.
it’s fine. such an observation without a photo would just become a casual observation.
if you look at the Sankey diagram at the bottom of this page (https://jumear.github.io/stirfry/iNat_obs_counts_by_iconic_taxa.html), you’ll see that there’s a (relatively) small but significant number of bird observations that are casual. most of those casual bird observations are people recording observations without photos (which is a common practice in the birding community).
also, you’ll note that the top observer in Canada if you include casual observations (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=6712&subview=grid&verifiable=any&view=observers) doesn’t show up as a top observer if you include only verifiable observations (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=6712&subview=grid&view=observers). this is because almost all of that person’s observations don’t include photos.
Like everyone else said, it’s totally fine, but because it can only be casual grade, it won’t show up on maps or in search results by default.
If it’s bird observations you’re recording and you can’t get a photo, you can record sounds and upload those to iNaturalist. You might also consider using eBird for bird observations which lack photo or audio evidence - I believe those will be exported to GBIF.org from eBird, whereas on iNat they won’t.
I have to add that adding a photo to that effect is counterproductive. iNat adds a note and mark that observation automatically as casual. Somebody has to do or did it now.
I have found eBird cumbersome to use
As others have said, it’s s absolutely fine to post observations without media.
If the description or comments don’t indicate that it was intentional, though, I will leave a comment that media is missing, because sometimes it is the result of an interrupted upload or sync error that the user was unaware of:
eBird is definitely cumbersome if your main purpose is uploading geo-tagged photos of the species you observe. But iNat is more cumbersome (and generally insufficient) if your purpose is collecting survey data of which species are and aren’t present in a given location, which is the original and primary purpose of eBird. Both of those are honorable endeavors, so it just depends on which thing you personally are more interested in doing.
I have 13,000 observations without photo! The reason is, my old moth diaries from the 1970s are obviously hand-written books. For me valuable because they come with species, location and date. They will never be confirmed, but I can still get them in the distribution map view. During Winter time, I may actually go through my old insect collection (also from the 1970s) and take pictures, at least to document a few of the records. Adding photos later works perfectly well, and then the observations become verifiable. I like the iNat system!