Question about evidence of human activity

I have question about “non-organism” and inappropriate content:

Airplanes, bicycles, buildings, music instruments and more … as “observation of human activity” - are aceopted in iNaturalist or not?

Example here:

What we should doing?

A few observations like this are not a problem - ID them as human and ask the user to only add photos of organisms or recent evidence of organisms. Observations of humans are automatically “casual” grade and do not show up on maps or search results by default. However, if someone is adding a lot of them, then that’s not proper use of iNat.

Simply idea - are photos of people allowed or not? Directly - human.
Does iNaturalist gather observations of HUMAN on the Earth? And “activity on human”?
It is important and simply question. It should be clearly articulated and showed in help, in my opinion.

Observations fo humans are allowed, they’re just made difficult to find.

From the help file directly, sorry only in English:
Pictures of pets, humans, abiotic phenomena, or obvious test observations are okay unless someone repeatedly posts such content


Thanks! Aall these examples will classified as Casual after mark “no”:

Other abiotic phenomena should be marked as “Evidence of organism — No”


Although iNat is primarily for sharing observations of wild organisms, observations of captive animals, garden plants, and other organisms most naturalists may not find interesting are okay (they’re alive, after all)

Bicycles, airplanes are not alive. In my opinion all the results of human activity should be forbidden.
What is this: Homo sapiens??? Unbeliveable. No, it is is a wooden bench! not Homo sapiens.

iNaturalist as global system information about WILD LIFE , system connected to GBIF should have higher scientific level and non-valuable photos should be like deleted permanently from here.

It is evidence of a human, in the same way tracks, bones, nests, scat etc are and can be evidence of an animal, and accepted as submissions.

Why human records are allowed in small numbers is discussed here

Records of humans, or any casual record for that matter are not sent to GBIF.

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I’m not staff or developer, this is just my thinking:

Observations marked casual are not sent to GBIF etc. So marking a bench as “evidence a human was there” is a way to make casual and protect GBIF from such observations.

iNaturalist is not primarily designed as a data collecting tool for scientists. That is a very useful (but secondary) extra! Main goal is to encourage people to value the natural world, and banning or deleting content is a somewhat off-putting way to keep the focus on wildlife, so the approach is a more friendly one where we just encourage the desired behaviour/content.


Thank You for response. GBIF - ok. Human - ok. But - for me - airplane is airplane not “evidence of a human”. And surely Airplane is not Homo sapiens!

Human - ok but if more 25% in posts - not accepted in iNat.

I have next 3 questions:

  1. Is the same: “human activity” and “abiotic phenomena”?
  2. “abiotic phenomena” is accepted but “human activity” is accepted or not? I can’t find it in guides, helps, FAQ.
  3. Buildings, streets, vehicles etc are accepted or not and why? Correct ID for these should be, respectively “Buildings, streets, vehicles” or “Homo sapiens”?

Thanks for patience.

If it helps, think of it like this… “What species is likely to have caused that airplane to be there?” in the same way as “What species is likely to have left that footprint in the sand?”. In the case of the former, it’s a pretty good bet it’s Homo sapiens (the pilot!)

A1 No. “Abiotic phenomena” would be things like coloured rocks where the colour is not due to a living organism. Or a cloud shaped like an elephant!

A2 Yes. In the guide it lists both humans and “abiotic phenomena” as observations that are not encouraged, but acceptable in small numbers. As an example, I might make 100 observations of animals I saw on safari, but then I see a cloud that looks like an elephant, and I find it funny that I don’t have an observation of an elephant while I was on safari, so I make one of that cloud. 1 in 100 observations makes it sort of ok, but not to be encouraged to do so! Some people take the humour too far and make an ID of elephant, but the appropriate ID is Homo sapiens, because that is the only legitimate species involved in the observation (remember, every observation has a human involved, by default… “the observer”)

A3 There is no abiotic category to put observations of “buildings, streets, vehicles” to, so they are always put as Homo sapiens because of the involvement of the observer (see A2). If there is a hawk sitting on top of the vehicle, then it can be put as the hawk for ID, but only if the observer doesn’t specifiy the subject of the observation to be the vehicle! The observers’ intention for subject is always honoured where possible.


This is what the site defines as an observation
An observation records an encounter with an individual organism at a particular time and location. This includes encounters with signs of organisms like tracks, nests, or things that just died’

This photo is not a raccoon, but it is acceptable evidence that a raccoon was present here

The simple reality is no ‘rule’ is going to stop evidence of, or even actual humans from being posted. People are going to do it. Unless they are illegal or offensive, in which case they are deleted, they need to be classified. Otherwise they stay in the pool of records needing identification permanently.

Putting the human label hides them from all searches on the site, unless you specifically decide to search for them.

Because so many users do it as they are learning the app or site, the site owners have decided to not make it a practice to delete the photos as that would be very demotivating to new users.

People who abuse the system and post large numbers of this get warned to stop. If they dont stop after the warning, they get suspended. I know this, as a curator on the site I have done both.


I moved some posts to a new topic since they were straying from the discussion of the feature request.

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