So I’ve always wondered what to do with posts where an often very specific ID is associated with a post with no photos and/or photos with no clue to the location (two issues, really), and, consequently, no way to confirm the ID, especially in the former case. I mostly make note that “no photo is visible at this time” or the like, or, “some indication of the location is needed”, thinking that the poster maybe is new and messed up somehow. Is that the correct interpretation? I bring this up only because such utterly unverified posts could make it into datasets for the particular species involved, while being entirely unverified and perhaps, maybe likely, in error.
For observations without photos I’d personally just ignore them unless it’s clearly a mistake or seems to be a very new user, since some people will add observations without media for their personal “life list”…
For ones without location I’m not sure why someone would intentionally leave it blank, but I’d still just go about it nicely and ask whether they want to leave it blank and if not explain how to add a location - there are some good stock responses to work off of here.
Since these observations would always stay as “casual” I wouldn’t worry too much about that.
This happens for me from time to time. The iPhone app does not to my knowledge support audio taken from outside the app so I will take recordings on the Merlin app, make a blank iNat observation, and add the two together later. Occasionally I’ll forget to add the audio and it sits as a blank observation for a time.
I haven’t had this issue as much lately so it may have been fixed, but sometimes the phone apps would incorrectly upload observations and create a two: one with the picture and one with the coordinates. Not sure if this still happens but it might be worthwhile to go into the user’s observations and see if there are any duplicates like this.
Such records won’t get into other databases, they’re casual if they have no photo and location, thus they’re not verifiable and stay on iNat.
What about observations with audio recordings? Can these not be considered verifiable, at least in some cases? Also, is there any way to search for audio recordings on iNaturalist? I was struggling with this the other day trying to find other recordings of a particular bird call for comparison.
Observations with audio are verifiable and can be RG.
The Identify modal has a filter for observations with sound - you can tick the “Has sounds” box.
Thank you @cthawley . I had missed that checkbox previously!
I’ve made a few observations with no picture. If it’s a bird or something fleeting, I might post the observation as a record that the organism was in place x at y time. I only do it if I’m sure of what I saw, but could not get a picture. I know that it will only stay at Casual, but it is a record that may be of use to me.
Audio for iNat is the same as photo, so observations can be casual with audio for the same reasons, e.g. misisng location, missing date, captive animal, no evidence of it on the recording, it’s a human speech, etc.
sometimes users (including myself) will post an observation without photos just to save the gps coordinates. then I add the photo/sound later when I have time or can upload photos. it helps when im somewhere unfamiliar and don’t think I’ll remember exactly where I saw something. some of those blank observations could be that kind of thing!
I do this, but I usually include a dummy photo. Why? Because it allows the observation to go to research grade. For example, you may have been with another person and you both saw it well but were unable to photograph it. You can post it and the other person can confirm your ID.
What? It’s against the rules, photo has to have an organism in it!
Yes, you should not do this. For one thing, a research grade observation with a dummy photo will go to GBIF (which it shouldn’t).
For another, the dummy photo could end up being used in training the CV model which would be in error.
However, these observations are listed in the species list for a place here on iNat which might be misleading. I thus tag those observatins with “no sign of an organism”, which I feel is not there if there is no photo or audio attached.
What does the dummy photo show? If it doesn’t include the organism that was IDed, then it is not evidence that can be independently assessed by others. If it’s someone else’s photo of the same species, maybe from elsewhere, then it’s definitely not appropriate.
It’s not a tragedy if you submit an iNat record that can’t reach Research Grade. We’ve all failed at times to get a photo that would’ve made for a good record. But gaming the system to push it to RG is definitely not the way to go.
I occasionally post an observation without a photo for sites where I am a volunteer monitor. It would usually be an animal or bird that I have not yet documented at a site and wasn’t able to photograph. These posts are more for the benefit of the organizations that I volunteer for whose personnel know me and trust me rather than for the iNat community as a whole as I realize that such a post will remain “casual.” I have never, however, posted a record without a location.
Observations without media evidence remain casual grade - there’s nothing to really do about them, IMO, although sometimes writing a comment telling the observer it’s missing a photo is fine - they might not know. They won’t be exported to GBIF or other data partners and they won’t come up in searches by default. I’d just leave them be. Marking the DQA isn’t necessary. They’re already casual.
Photos attached to observations should be of the actual individual organism being documented.
This was a bug in our Android app. It’s been fixed for a while, but I’m sure there are observations missing photos due to it.
To piggyback off this, there is boilerplate available for this at https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/responses#photomissing
A dummy photo and RG id is basically data fabrication. In other databases, trusted users can enter just what they saw, professionals do that all the time, but this is not a right site for that.
If an observation has no media, I check the “As good as it can be” box. Because how could it not be?