Prevent DQA Voting When Pre-requisite Conditions Aren't Met

Platform(s), such as mobile, website, API, other: All

URLs (aka web addresses) of any pages, if relevant: Observation pages with DQA voting, including Identify

Description of need:
DQA fields are generally available for voting on all observations. However, in some instances, it is beneficial to prevent users from entering DQA votes that would not correctly apply to an observation given its current status.

This is already the case:

  • When an observation has no location entered, the “Location is accurate” DQA should be greyed out.
  • When an observation has no date/time entered, the “Date is accurate” DQA should be greyed out.
    (though I am not sure for how long this has been the case).

For instance, if an observation only has one photo (or sound), the “Evidence related to a single subject” DQA is not applicable, but users can still vote on the field. This use of the DQA is inaccurate and can cause problems.

Additionally, there are rare cases where the DQA is abused to make observations Casual grade. Reducing the DQAs fields available for voting will reduce the opportunity for this activity in a minor way.

Preventing votes in these and similar situations improves iNat data quality and reduce user frustration.

Feature request details:
I propose that when an observation status is such that it does not allow for certain DQA fields to be voted on correctly, the field text and voting icons (and numbers of any existing votes) of the respective field are greyed out, and new votes should not be able to be entered, as is the case when Date and Location are missing.

Specifically:

  • When an observation has ≤1 media file, the “Evidence related to a single subject” DQA should be greyed out.
  • When an observation contains no media, the “Evidence of organism” DQA should be greyed out.

Additionally, I am not proposing to remove any DQA votes when an observation status changes (as in this feature request). I think that, despite its benefit in some situations, this could be problematic as it could be abused to remove DQA votes.

Based on my personal experience, the number of observations that are affected/would benefit from this change is relatively small, but I still think it’s worth making the change.

The request is based off of discussion stemming from this post:
https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/easy-way-to-mark-multiple-species-observations/278/229 from @elacroix-carignan

There are a few cases where observations containing no photos or sounds could be IDed to species - specifically, if they have a DNA sequence attached. I actually have run in to this a few times.

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Supporting this one - which I have struggled with. (To me the new DQA was an accepted guideline - specifically for - multiple pictures each with a different subject)

(@cthawley vote for your own?)

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i think any mix of photos or sounds should be the driver here, not just photos.

probably “recent evidence of organism” should be disabled, too?

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To my knowledge, it already is like this for missing locations and dates. In the “identify” tab, anyways.

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Thanks for all the input so far! I’ve edited the submission to take some feedback into account, specifically:

Thanks @dysm for pointing out that

I verified with a test observation that this occurs on observation pages as well. I’m not sure when this started but it’s great! It also means implementing this in the remaining scenarios shouldn’t be difficult. I updated text to note this. I do wonder when this change happened, since I have definitely seen observations with date downvoted when no date was present. Maybe these were just old ones I found going back through casuals (or ones where dates were removed and the vote had been added before that).

I agree that

and updated to mention sounds as well.

I don’t think it would be necessary for

because if the observation is for a triceratops or whatever that could not have been observed in the past 100 years, this could still be applied even without media.

In the case of

these wouldn’t qualify for iNat as RG anyway since they don’t have media. I very much agree with this behavior - it would be easy to just submit a DNA sequence taken from anywhere in an observation field. An ID based only on a DNA sequence is a bit circular/not really what iNat is about in my opinion (presumably, it’s just different people BLASTing it and seeing what it matches). Regardless, no matter how may IDs an observation like this has on iNat, it can’t be RG without a photo (I don’t think a sound of a fungi would be IDable…;)). So I still think it would make sense to grey out “Evidence of presence” for medialess observations regardless of the content of their observation fields/notes/comments. Fwiw, the help for this DQA only provides examples referring to images: “e.g. images of water, rocks, etc.”

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That’s fair. Honestly, I actively dislike when sequences don’t have media for the same reasons I dislike a huge portion of the IDs in genbank - there’s no way to verify that the name attached to the sequence is justifiable.

So yeah, I don’t even know why I brought it up lmao. Too much time spent staring at my computer screen.

(Now I want to figure out how to make sounds of fungus… .the sound of a brittlegill snapping? the noise it makes when you smoosh it? Probably not useful identifiers.)

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The wording of this sounds like 1 photo and 1 sound would be greyed out. The DQA should be available to be checked in this situation. Many times I see people post an observation with a photo of a bird and an audio file, but the bird they photographed is not the species singing in the audio. I figured you probably don’t mean to include this situation, just poor choice of words.
Maybe instead:
When an observation has no media or only one photo or audio file, the “Evidence related to a single subject” DQA should be greyed out.

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Edited to

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19 posts were split to a new topic: “Evidence relates to one subject” DQA and photos with multiple species in them

It might also make sense to gray out the “can the Community Taxon still be confirmed or improved?” check boxes until there actually is a Community Taxon.

While I can’t tell when they were added, I have run into situations where “Yes” has been checked very soon after posting on observations that were very unambiguous. (I won’t link to the specific observation, but I just saw one in the last day or so of a clearly photographed pipevine swallowtail caterpillar from an area where there is nothing else that looks like a pipevine swallowtail caterpillar.)

Some of this might be people trying to get extra confirmation on their observation IDs for whatever reason, but I could also imagine that some new people are doing this because they don’t realize exactly what the Community Taxon is. Without that, this question sounds a lot like “can the ID be confirmed or improved?”, which is always true when you initially post an observation.

UPDATE: I asked the observer about the “Yes” vote and the response was basically “sorry, still trying to figure out how to use the app”. While I don’t know if the vote was made at the beginning or after other IDs were added, I think this confirms that graying it out initially might help users

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