Share observations between users

This is something I have wished iNat had for a long time. Personally, I think it would fairly simple to put (for example) in the phone app a field like “Observed With”, then have a list of people you have previously shared observations with when you click on the button. The user you are sharing with then would get a notification on their iNat account saying something like “______ has shared an observation with you, click here to accept it into your account”. IMO, this is one of the most needed features of iNat so thanks @cmcheatle for suggesting it!


could this be handled through Annotations? Or is that not the route we want to go because they are supposed to be something visible in the photo? Fields are too non-standardized and depreciated.


Perhaps, although I still think it would be easier for a user (like me) that uploads most of their observations via the app to have an option when creating an observation to share with someone else. And also when you might submit a lot of observations at one time; going back through every one and putting fields in seems like a pain.


might not be what you are looking for…


i think an implementation of this this would have to be done in 2 phases.

in phase 1, iNaturalist would have to gain an ability to define relationships between two observations. the relationship would be initiated by the observer of the first observation and approved by observer of the second (automatic if the same observer). maybe the community could weigh in on whether they think the relationship is legit, and maybe the community could suggest relationships between observations. so for example, this could be used define interactions by saying that a dragonfly (obs 1) was eating (relationship) a fly (obs 2). or, alternatively, to track life progression, migrations, or identify multiple observer observations of the same individual, you could say dragonfly (obs 1) is the same individual (relationship) as a dragonfly (obs 2). or to define multiple individuals in some other set, you could say bee (obs 1) is in the group (relationship) as bee (obs 2). in this phase, you would also get a tool to be able to view these relationships in a logical way.

now for phase 2… if you currently think of the relationship between observations and pieces of evidence (which i’ll refer to as “assets” from here on), they can be 1:1, 1:M, or M:M (observations:assets). there’s also the relationship between accounts and observations, which is 1:1 or 1:M. because of the way iNat thinks about observation ownership i think M:M should not be allowed for accounts:obs nor accounts:assets. however, i think it would be handy to be able to share observations with another user. so if i took a photo of a peacock and Jane was there, too, then i can make an observation of the peacock, and ideally check a box and select something to share the observation with Jane. when Jane goes to her iNat account, she would see a message that says I shared my peacock observation with her and ask her to accept. if she accepts, she would get either new observation with my appropriately permissioned photo (if i chose to allow her to share my photo), or an observation with no assets. either way, her observation is automatically grouped with my observation (see phase 1), and maybe can get a special status or DQA flag if hers lacks a photo but is based on mine, which is verifiable. at that point, if she adds additional assets to her own observation, the special status or flag goes away. should she choose to share a photo back to my original observation, maybe she should be able to share to a specific observation, and there might be some sort of special indicator in my observation to show that her photo comes from a shared observation. if i get mad at Jane one day and delete my observation (or my account altogether), her observation is preserved, and her own assets are preserved, although mine are removed.


I’m going to move this from Feature Requests to General, just because creating this functionality would require a lot of work and it is not one of the big ticket items on our agenda for the year. I want people to be able to use their votes for other requests that can be implemented sooner.

I think the number of votes here definitely speaks for the community’s desire and that won’t be forgotten (but to be clear I also can’t promise this will be implemented, although I personally think it would be cool) we just already have a lot of big things on the plate for the coming year.

So definitely keep adding ideas and thoughts here, there’s been a lot of good discussion already.


@tiwane my ‘vote’ seems stuck in this even though it got moved, it still shows in my votes page.

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Thanks, I’ll look into this.


I see where you’re coming from, but I don’t really see there’s a need to move it. The votes aren’t really going to be used to determine what gets done, they’re really just a wish list and an indication of interest from this self-selected group (who’ve found the forum). Point out that something is ‘pie in the sky’ but let us waste our votes if we wish ;-)

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We only have a few each, so getting them back is good, even if it is just voting to show general support for an idea.

In fact, I wish more of the “feature requests” would start as general discussion first, and after the initial round of tweaks to the idea, then getting it moved to a feature request. Too often the initial idea morphs into something quite different, and the votes may not reflect the current level of interest for the idea as it has become!

I have, and will be doing so more often, given forum links in comments where appropriate, and I know of others that do so too. Active participants will encounter the forum at some stage…

I am breaking my self imposed exile from the forum to comment that I am disappointed and disagree with the decision to move this or any topic out of feature requests.

It seems fine to me to put a big comment saying It has been reviewed and determined to be tough and likely not a priority, and let folks decide if they want to remove their vote.

That being said, It was I believe the top vote getting request on the forum, now it disappears. There should be some way to reflect something the community feels is important and would like to see implemented. I thought that was the whole idea of feature requests.

Unless something is illegal or technically impossible, if added as a feature request, it should stay there.


The final objective of voting is to get the community’s perspective to the team of developers; since that goal has been achieved, there is no point to continue voting on it. Returning votes automatically is more user friendly (when it works) than requiring people to fiddle with voting and unvoting.

To share some background of the forum’s limitations, I believe the only options for returning votes on feature requests is to close the topic, which halts conversation, or to move it to a different category. Since it’d be nice if the conversation could continue in one place, it seems better to me to move the topic than to close it.

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The above thread is semi-tangentially related to one still in Feature Requests, in case it may be of use or interest.

The issue as i see it is things get really buried and the feature requests subtype is there to keep the current feature requests easy to find and comment on. I think moving it to general discussion will make it easier and also let people get their votes back.
Granted the process of returning votes is buggy but that’s another issue.

(attempting to see if closing and opening this topic will return votes)

Didn’t release my vote, it’s still here. I see on another thread that you are working with Discourse on this, so no need to reply.

Seems like the workaround may be to close voting topic, wait a few beats for good measure, change voting topic to different category, then re-open topic under new category.

Yeah, that’s what I’m thinking but I want to keep things as-is right now in case it helps them track down the bug.

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