Scientific uses of iNaturalist.org

I may be naieve but I have always done and posted on iNaturalist.org as if itsxend use was a science project of some seriousness. The downside is that when I encounter someone behaving as if they are trying to corrupt or otherwise abuse collected data, it makes me angry. My response however is to disassociate from iNaturalist and build my own system for retaining phenological photos with metadata. Alas it will only support my bryological purposes, so not generally useful. But it’s rational to do that. i certainly don’t feel like “policing” iNaturalist instead, not that I have any authority to do so. i would “police” my system my denying write enabled access to it.

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Here are some of the dashboards I’ve made for science conventions/school projects/for fun using iNaturalist data:

Mississippi Milkweed Phenology: https://msstate.maps.arcgis.com/apps/dashboards/148edb3fed4a4659a8ccaad34eb09ae9

Global Milkweed Phenology: https://msstate.maps.arcgis.com/apps/dashboards/ea16516221a944e4ab5ae07918a29518

Pollinator-Plant Interactions in Mississippi: https://msstate.maps.arcgis.com/apps/dashboards/86654a11e62a4a4bbb6a70a11c9425fc

Mosquitoes in Mississippi: https://msstate.maps.arcgis.com/apps/dashboards/b4e7e6fc61d74c1eafc1aa65a9277ce8

Plants of Mississippi with easy ecoregion filtering: https://msstate.maps.arcgis.com/apps/dashboards/344fbb9315bc401b9428f6ac3808dfc6

Edited to add: I definitely get your frustration, but the work you and many others have put into iNaturalist will pay off.

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Any platform that promotes itself as outreach to laypersons is going to have the problems inherent to outreach to laypersons. If iNaturalist insisted on higher scientific standards, it would be a very different – and much smaller – dataset.

Nothing wrong with that. Most scientific data is held by institutions and not easily accessible to the general public. I’m just glad that, in addition to those purely scientific repositories, there is also an accessible platform like iNaturalist.

No one platform can be all things to all people.

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If you notice inappropriate behavior on iNaturalist, please flag it so that a curator or staff can take a look.

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All such projects have advantages and disadvantages and various limitations, but for me the advantages of iNat definitely outweigh the disadvantages. On iNat, I met many nature enthusiasts who are a great added value to this website.

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I definitely sympathize with your mindset. If you see abuse definitely flag it, but there’s nothing you can do about people posting useless pictures. The goal of iNaturalist is really more about getting people involved in studying nature; this took me a while to realize. It can be tiresome trying to clean up hundreds of observations that a group of students posted as a part of their class assignment. School projects are notorious for posting cultivated plants and observations without IDs; I do what I can to clean the up but some are just too poor to ID.
Many people in iNaturalist started out like this before they took on a more scientific mindset and started finding cool insects and things. That is the true goal here— to show average people that they can find wonders of the natural world just in their own backyard!

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Well, iNaturalist has two goals which sometimes contradict each other. One goal is to get people to interact more with nature. The other is to produce data for serious scientific studies. I personally value it for the opportunity to contribute to science, but both goals are important.

As must be expected of citizen science activities, iNaturalist is inefficient at producing that scientific data. It produces lots of data! Free data for scientists! But not perfect data; it must be reviewed before use. Most of the problems result from people doing their best but not knowing enough to do it well. The rare (but sadly real) people who seem to be causing trouble on purpose should be reported to the staff who do have the authority to police the site.

I’m sorry to hear that the problems of iNaturalist have driven you to make a separate database, @ecoquant That approach is sometimes necessary, though, to retain only good, clean, accurate data.

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I’m not sure these are mutually exclusive. You can create a traditional project on iNaturalist that only you can add observations to.
https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/new_traditional

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