Respecting ownership of observations


Another common case is where the observer doesn’t add an initial ID or description (maybe they had a placeholder?), but now realises things are going the wrong way: … its their observation so the action needed is clear …



To override someone’s ID of intended organism with something else is definitely uncalled for and against both the spirit and rules of inat. Though in the case of the duplicate observation from a user who is no longer active I could kinda see it.



I think it is almost always unintended, but as someone used to say “it’s the putting right that counts”. I suppose the exception is joke observations (eg human as crocodille). I can go either way with duplicate observations, but there is another thread about what should be done with them (

1 Like


ive thought about things like this before, i wish there was a way for the community to down-vote an observation for reasons like this. this observation was completely thrown off of what it was meant to be and theres no good way to direct it back. even if the fruit is clearer than the bugs, the observer clearly IDed it as an observation of insects, which another identifier (me) agreed with and narrowed down, so its clear its not about the fruit. to override the observers intended observation target definitely feels like disrespecting the observer, especially when you can just comment instead adding whatever ID or other addition feels necessary, therefore not throwing off the intended ID. in this case i assume the person might not have noticed, but this isnt the first time ive come across situations like this.



If the wayward identifiers are stil active I usually @ ping them in case they were just IDing from the thumbnail and hadn’t seen the full observation. But if I know it is someone who seldom responds to @ pings, I usually call upon another iNat colleague to help out.



I suspect most cases like this are accidental, but it does highlight the iNaturalist advice to crop one’s photo(s) as much as possible to the organism of interest, maybe putting an uncropped version at the end for context. This would likely reduce inadvertent IDs of the wrong organism. If I see a whole rotting fruit with a few small insects on it in a stream of ID work, my first impression will be that the fruit is the subject. Hopefully I remember to slow down and inspect the rest of the photos / IDs / description / comments before adding an ID.



Yes. If it’s clear that the observer means for the observation to be of a certain subject in the photo, then you should ID that subject (if you can). If it’s not clear, then ask them. I don’t think they effectively “lose control” of the subject if they don’t immediately make it clear upon upload.

I’m not sure there’s a significant downside to letting an obs go unidentified here or there, aside from it being tough for the fastidious among us (meaning most IDers, including me) to accept. To me, the person uploaded a photo of something they wanted to share and get IDs/comments on, and we shouldn’t decide what the subject is (in ambiguous situations).