Records on iNat that are of "no value" because they're not identifiable

If you simply want to skip over the unlabeled submissions and save them for someone else to look at first, this may do the trick: Add this to your identification url: &hrank=kingdom or choose High as Kingdom in the filter panel.


This kind of statement will cost you experts and maybe some passionate regular users. I fully support the goals of engaging anyone and rewarding them for paying attention to nature. The education opportunities are also immense.

Although you think the data is a byproduct, it’s most likely the reason so many active naturalists stick around. I also think you’re underestimating the true value of what is being created here. Without some bottom on the data quality scale though, the project will accumulate more and more poor records. These will fatigue the users that come here for the data. Yes, there are tools to filter it but why are you making me look at a sterile patch of pavement from 4 years ago, still? Granted, I have low standards and couldn’t find an example (thanks, you just tricked me into IDing a handful of unknowns from my city), but a few of these photos really are contributing nothing and may end up harming iNat. What’s the harm in deleting them after a time?

BTW, I’d delete all the human records. We can already assume a human behind every record. We don’t need records with humans on both sides of the camera. This is more of a pet peeve than an actual request for change.


Agreed. If I thought iNat was ONLY about connecting people to nature and NOT producing information that could be used by biologists, resource managers, etc., I’d not be interested in posting much here. Not that I’m against recruiting more people as naturalists (that’s a good thing), but my main interest is more about data that are useful. I don’t view the data on iNat as a byproduct, it’s the main reason I’m here.


Classic example of a hi-jacking attempt on someone elses mission!

@charlie (using your analogy on the hammer, but not directed at your comments)
I can pick up a hammer, and find it to be a very useful lever for prying things apart, but to suggest that they should get rid of the big lumpy thing at the end because it is no use for prying things apart? LMFAO…

To continue the analogy of the hammer as a tool… it gets used in workshops with kids to get them creating things with their hands. Very seldom does anything actually useable come from those workshops, but many are done around projects that DO create (somewhat) useable things. I am involved with a project here in Gisborne called “Menz Shed”, which is a movement that grew out of the Christchurch earthquake, as a means for retired craftsmen to get together and help the quake affected
community. The key driver for the project though, was to provide a network opportunity for the retired gentlemen that had found their social circles greatly diminished, and the “byproduct” was the ability to share their skills and knowledge with others and help the community. There have been spin-off groups that primarily focus on providing the workshop side of things, but the core organisation is still very much about the original mission statement.

iNat is successful BECAUSE of it’s mission statement, and I don’t think for a minute it would fall over because a few experts got upset that the mission statement wasn’t changed to what they would prefer it to be. There are specialist prybars out there, but they are seldom in every toolkit. If you turn iNat into a specialist prybar, you would find it in far fewer toolkits!


it’s pretty awful to tell kids they can’t explore with and learn how to use a hammer, or use it for anything they want aside from harmful destructive purposes. But it’s also silly to go rip a hammer out of a master carpenter’s hand or call the beautiful table she makes a residue or byproduct or whatever because the hammer ‘isn’t for building, it’s for connection’. Most good tools can be used for more than one purpose. I am not at all saying that blurry photos do that, i am all for blurry photos, they are often utilitarian. I’m responding more to the ‘byproduct’ comment.

In my opinion iNat is successful because (not necessarily in order of importance): Good devs, a very functional database and website and app (it’s not perfect but it’s worlds beyond anything else), and a great community that includes all ranges of experience and several different motivating factors. I don’t think telling people inaturalist isn’t for data collection or that their data is a ‘byproduct’ is helping the community or site at all. For many people this is the ONLY way they can collect data for conservation, monitoring, restoration, etc. Think small towns, communities that can’t afford ArcMap, ares of the world where smartphones are readily available thanks to the flood of used ones from ‘wealthy’ countries, but computers and money are not. Maybe iNat is their only connection to the conservation community, and their only way to collect data in a way that it can be used by others. I don’t think it is fair to call that a byproduct.

And on that note i am gonna try to stop posting in this thread any further lest i get carried away.


I like this statement.

For anyone wishing to get a better grasp on navigating in-site searches with URLs please see this topic:


Lots of those - IS it a bird? Or dirt on the camera lens? What value can that have for iNat?

What @edLike said plus:

@dianastuder, The value may be to the individual who is fulfilling the mission of the site by connecting with nature, possibly using iNat to keep a life list (verifiable/ research grade or not) and becoming a part of the larger iNat community which in turn may actually be a good value re: return on investment in the long run for our community, the site’s future and the future of our own species and biodiversity. Sightings that aren’t research-grade eligible are still valuable to different researchers and while perhaps not representing the “solid” data point some scientists need for their work the qualitative anecdotal evidence may be enough in the context of the research of others. It depends on how you think of iNat I suppose.


No, iNat may have hijacked itself. This whole “data is a byproduct” idea just popped up. Read the Help - What is iNaturalist? Sounds like recording data is pretty important. Just found the About pages, certainly a more complete description of what iNat is. But even there, “It’s a platform for observer’s projects”. “It’s not for mapping anything.” I realize kueda is a founder but “data is a byproduct” is a crap description that can hurt iNat. The data is glorious.

All I’m suggesting is a low bar for data quality, a curbstone even. What’s the harm in deleting a record that can’t even hint at what living thing it’s attempting to document.We can attempt to ask first, we often do ask. iNat is the hammer. Living things are the nails. Why preserve the rock someone whacked and left wedged in the board?

Maybe forcing / encouraging people to give some idea of what they are observing. That the Unknown or Life fuzzy image instead starts at animal or plant or fungus.

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If someone does not know what it is they have documented, there is no point in forcing them to guess. There are already too many complaints about inaccurate computer vision ID’s, clearly wrong guesses (lookalikes from different places) etc. That will just drive those numbers through the roof.

Speaking as someone who does a good number of coarse ID’s, in all honesty, unless you can get it tio family or genus, adding an ID of plants or fungus has low success rates. The occasional one comes through (and I still do them in hope they will), but rates remain low. There are just too many records and too few eyes to spend the time. In other areas (birds, reptiles, fish, mammals, some insects etc) it has good success.


I’m thinking of a a few obs where the ID goes to the insect, then the observer says no it’s that plant off to the left I want an ID for.
And the nice green pictures full of plants, but, which one needs an ID?

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as a clarifying point i believe this is meant inclusively not exclusively. It doesn’t mean ‘it isn’t for mapping any possible things’ but rather ‘it isn’t for mapping all possible things’, meaning it isn’t there to map litter, rocks, weather events, selfies, or whatever. I took it as meaning that though it could use re-wording.

There’s a huge range of options between ‘data is a byproduct’ and ‘delete people’s observations’. I don’t think either end of that is the right way to go.


There’s some discussion about best practices for the tricky ones here:


Not presuming to speak for @kueda, I think it’s clear from the rest of his posts, and from all the development activity that happens within iNaturalist, that he and the whole staff value the data generated by iNaturalist at least as much as the rest of us data users. The word “byproduct” carries some pejorative baggage in other contexts. What I think is true in this context is that the “data of iNaturalist” are completely dependent on the success of the mission, connecting people with nature. No connection, no data. The more connection, the more data. And of course, the more noisy data too, for which the iNat developers spend a lot of thought, time, and resources to help the rest of us filter as needed. But they can’t do that at the expense of the primary mission, or it all implodes.


Well, as it was already pointed out - you could always just skip the obs you think of no value from YOUR point of view, but someone else might find some value in them. Also there’s neat feature (see screenshot) i use occasionally in obs in my geographical area, if it’s just a torn leaf or a flower in someone’s hand and ONLY if i’m VERY confident it can not be identified finer than Family level, let’s say. I’m aware that it can bring obs ID’ed at Genus lvl to RG. But then again - ID is a community thing and someone can downvote my decision.

PS/ funny it’s got hummer icon :joy:


i think it’s a gavel? I am trying to see a hummingbird but i can’t.


Oh dear, new english word for me, thank you! In kazak it’s the same word for gavel and hummer, so i was quick to…judge :sweat_smile:


no worries, but you caused me to stare at it for several minutes trying to imagine a hummingbird :)


my bad, i misspelled hAmmer)