Hello. I’m fairly new to iNat, so it’s possible this has been discussed before and/or it’s controversial. In looking for ways to help out on the site, I’ve had a lot of people tell me it is helpful to go through “unknown” observations and put them into broad categories (“plants,” “birds,” etc) so that search filters can pick them up. I’ve also been instructed to flag things as “not wild” if necessary. After a while of doing this, it occurred to me: 90% of people who create an observation of the rose bush in their yard do know it’s A) a plant and B) not wild, but they left these fields blank because…well, because iNaturalist let them!
I’m proposing the form to create an observation have some “required fields” which must be filled out, so that it isn’t possible to create totally unlabeled observations. Personally I would like the observer to have to choose one of the same category icons the search filters use: birds, amphibians, reptiles, and so on. “Unknown” would still be a category, but the user would have to consciously choose to apply it, in situations where they genuinely don’t know what they are looking at. I would also like a “multi” category which the the person could click if their observation contains more than one life form; but this button, rather than actually going through, would simply kick back an error message explaining how there can only be one life form per observation, and the user needs to make multiple observations if they desire to upload more than one life form. And finally, I would like every observation to require the user to click either “this organism is wild,” “this organism is not wild,” or “I don’t know,” before publication.
Would this result in more mislabeled organisms? Sure. But I don’t feel it is more work for other users to change something from “plant” to “fungi” than it is to change the item from “unknown” to “fungi.” Yes, it would force the plant people (for example) to look at a few more non-plants than they might otherwise see, but assuming the observer is correct in their labeling at least some of the time, this would decrease the overall workload on the site.
Will people lie about whether an organism is wild, because they do not want the observation hidden from general view/they want the higher likelihood of community ID? They probably will, but some people do that already, it seems.
Thank you for your thoughts.