Restrict your observations from appearing in someone else's collection project

iNatters have control over whether other users can add their observations to traditional projects or attach observation field data to them. In my opinion that control should extend to collection projects.

Projects are often wrapped up to look like an official, curated collection, when in fact some of the top “participants” in the project may have nothing to do with the project. Usually this is fine, no big deal, but there are some iNat projects I do not endorse, such as those that promote foraging native plants from over-visited/threatened natural areas (a discussion for another topic!). However, my iNat contributions are being displayed prominently on those project homepages. There are analogous disagreements with projects that have been brought up by others to no satisfactory resolution because the project admin refuses to add the user exclusion themselves. I also tried to resolve my issue with the project admin, but never received a reply.

I believe the exclusion filter that is applied should be displayed publicly on the Read More/About page of the project so that everyone can understand why the project stats may not match a similar filtered search on Explore.

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Some ideas for placement are near the top, where other info/settings are, or maybe near the bottom, where you can flag an inappropriate project.

This is not a request for changing existing or adding new user account settings, but a new option for opting out of specific collection projects.

Good idea! I suggest to 1) generally allow observations to be added to projects irrespective of project type and 2) allow in both cases the option that @bouteloua is proposing, ie the exclusion of your own observations, but from both project types on a a case-by-case basis. In this scenario, the 3 options in the accounts settings could be removed as each user would need to decide whether s/he would like to have her/his observations excluded from a given project.

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I don’t believe any user account settings need to be modified; I edited the request to clarify that.

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What I’m suggesting is that these account options for traditional projects could be removed

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if at the same time each user can decide on a case-by-case basis to be excluded from a project, be it a collection or a traditional project.

As you say, the cases where you don’t want to be a part of are probably pretty few, hence that case-by-case exclusion should do the job where needed.

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I think the exclusion filter should be extended to people who have blocked the admin, since that also makes it hard to understand why project stats do not match a filtered search on Explore.

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I’m not sure why one would want to do this?

I think this feature would be a pretty darn good idea.

Oh gosh! That is disappointing. I agree that you and the iNat community of users should have some control over who is using your data and how. If not, everyone would have to obscure every observation to avoid such scenarios.

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There is a downside to this which is that it could further restrict contributions to projects. As it is it’s quite difficult convincing everyone to go to the effort and join a project, so they can add their observations. This is a further issue when that person is no longer active on iNat. It means that projects, especially ones designed to be comprehensive can have some unfortunate holes in data (e.g. a notable sighting or two), which diminishes the purpose of projects to begin with in some cases.

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I vote for this. I have recently found out that I was included in a project which I found generally offensive.

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This seems like it’s asking for a way for people to opt-out after the fact, rather than requiring asking them to join one by one, no? I agree the latter might be too complicated, but the former seems like a no-brainer to me.

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That is why I proposed to add a notification which will inform people about inclusion of their OBs in a collection project. Opting out of a project is a very desirable feature, but the thing is, the users will not know their OBs are in a collection project unless they somehow stumble into it.

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There are some people who may not desire their observations appearing in a project for different reasons such as political territory disputes. Certain projects include areas like Crimea in some Russia-based projects or Taiwan and Hong Kong in some China-based projects. There are some interesting flagged discussions on this, but I don’t think I can link them here.

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Great offer, in my opinion. I think the slight deterioration in statistics by territory is worth it. Participants will be able to independently walk political cockroaches-in-their-heads without the involvement of staff.

There could be one more solution, though it also might be a complicated issue for the staff. 1. No projects with a name of a politically problematic area (they are known well enough), 2. No projects involving administrative (not geographical) territory, which includes more than one country, unless there are project curators from every involved country.

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i sort of see collection projects a basic observation search query with some extra functionality on top of that. i think if you start placing restrictions on what can be added to a collection, you could start down the path of excluding your observations from searches in general, which probably is not a good path to go down.

also, from a technical perspective, i believe exclusion filters are relatively taxing on databases. so i don’t know if it’s wise to broadly apply a bunch of those everywhere.

finally, is it even technically or practically feasible to find and review every collection project in which one of your observations appears? if you’re going to create a blacklist of projects for your observations, you would need to constantly review projects to make sure they (still) align with your values.

that said, i understand the desire for your name to not be associated with various projects. maybe you could just add a disclaimer to collection project pages that says that observers and identifiers that appear on those pages may not necessarily endorse the project?

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As iNat is, the status quo is not neutral, but is supporting one side?

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I’m not going to get too far into this conversation as I’ve got some strong opinions on it (re Israel/Palestine/Syria)… but I will say it is important to recognize that virtually any decision iNat makes regarding borders or politics, current OR historical, will piss people off. If they want to defer judgement to an outside body, or say nothing except in the most vulgar or purposefully offensive cases, I would understand. I am personally not happy with all the decisions iNat has made, but I’d rather live with it than start fights.
As for whether individuals should be given more control over what statements their contributions make… it’s always a tricky question and I don’t know what the best answer is. I’d like the option to withdraw my obs from some projects… But that’s kind of a slippery slope…
Ultimately a project is just a way to filter data. If the project is hateful, it should be flagged. If it’s merely controversial… Once you’ve released the data, you can’t really control others’ use of it without massive effort or censorship.

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I agree that this is a very slippery situation. The biggest problem is that the real aim of some projects is unclear. Some, as @bouteloua mentioned, may be aimed to collect data that would lead to overexploiting nature or even poaching, some has nothing to do with biodiversity data collection, but are just political/ideological statements. I really do not know how to solve all these problems, save through a very unpleasant procedure of monitoring all projects and resolving the harmful ones. Though I admit, this is not the solution, either.

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I agree that it’s likely not a realistic possibility, to the point where the overhead on the system to exclude observations from collection projects would pretty much nullify the reason they were created in the first place. But I still think we should have the ability to…

Maybe a solution would be to lodge complaints against specific projects that are currently collection projects, and if the reasons were judged to be sufficient then those projects could be converted into traditional projects, which would then allow those wanting or needing to exclude their observations the ability to do so.

For example, if I don’t want my observations of very large native trees appearing in a project run by an amateur logging and milling group, then I could contact iNat staff and give my reasons. They would then make a decision as to whether the reason was sufficient to either enforce a change to traditional project, or just to approach and negotiate with the project about the possibility of changing it. Then if the outcome of that is “no, it stays as collection”, I still have the option of deleting the observations if I feel that strongly about it.

Keeping in mind that the situations that would likely warrant this would be very unusual indeed. I would expect the grey area between “project is distasteful but acceptable” and “warrants complete removal of the project altogether” to be fairly narrow.

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