While I was reviewing a number of observations within one of my projects, I noticed multiple observers posting nearly identical photos. I’m not aware that there are any specific iNat rules about this phenomenon. From a closed topic, I see this has been discussed, but some feedback did not seem very serious. I have this problem with students in my classes when I require them to join iNaturalist and contribute observations made during class trips and at other times. I’ve gone back and re-instructed them that only one person may post an observation of a particular animal on a particular occasion. Below is an example I ran into among a group of turtles of interest. I noticed three nearly identical photos of two very young individuals of the turtle Rhinoclemmys areolata – this is an interesting observation. All three photos were taken within about 45 minutes and the locations are very close (but hard to be definitive because of obscured geographic data). I made a comment about possibly combining observations, to which the observer responded, and I tried an explanation.
These are the observation numbers if you want to check it out + the observer’s username.
30212906 – rolandopasosprez
30211522 – trinchan
30199384 – ramontrinchan
30197164 – trinchan ; couple of hours later of a hatchling/near hatchling/ maybe one of the same?
An observation records an encounter with an individual organism at a particular time and location. I would add that it is ‘an’ encounter with one (or more) human(s) and there is not need (in fact it’s wasteful) for multiple observations of that one encounter just because there was a class or tour group of 10 present and snapping photos–it is in fact only one observation of one encounter, just by multiple humans. I guess what I may do is check into adding an association link.
The other issue I see is the geographic one since each ‘observation’ is independently obscured – even as a curator I have thus far only been able to retrieve these obscured geographic coordinates; plus it is likely there is a little variation in the camera GPS receiver from camera to camera.