Some Updates to Names

We just released a few updates surrounding taxon names that we hope will aid in transparency.

The Names table on each taxon page (go to the Taxonomy tab on the page and scroll down) now orders names by global priority within each Language / Type, whereas names were previously in alphabetical order for each Language / Type. For example, the German names for Lion are not shown in alphabetical order now:

Rather, “Löwe” is the German name with the highest priority and will be shown by default to users whose locale is German. So it’s shown first among the German names.

Below the Names table we now show a Regional Names table:

This table shows everyone which names have been added to places and, if there’s more than one name associated with a place, they’re sorted by priority. Previously this information was only available to curators but that made things confusing and definitely less transparent, so the information is now there for anyone to see. Only curators can actually edit name prioritization, however.

And finally, if you are adding a name, editing a name, or deleting a name, you must add at least a 10 character note here in order to save it:

Having a source is best, but even if you aren’t able to cite one you should at least be able to explain why you are adding, editing, or removing a name and be on the record when doing so. Hopefully this will help people a) think about why they’re adding/editing/deleting the name and b) make it clear to others (via the Taxon History) why the change was made.


Good stuff. Having an annotated record of why names were added/changed will be valuable.


(Who today uses “Leu” for lion in German? Is a literary/poetic word really a “common name”?)

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Seems reasonable to have it in iNat so people can search for it.

Yes, thank you!
Paterson’s Curse used to show up for me as Purple bugloss (wat se ding is bugloss??)


Coincidentally, you provided a screenshot where the German alternative name was spelled incorrectly (‘Afrikanischer Löwen’ would be genitive plural case). I corrected it by removing the ‘n’ from ‘Löwen’, and provided a rationale for the name change - but now after saving it disappeared completely from the name list (I still can see it in curator editor mode).

Is there now some delay for it to be displayed again?


Why? It should not have been if you are using “southern Africa” as your “Prioritize common names used in this place” (since March 2020)
Bugloss (Greek *βούγλωσσον, boúglōsson) ox tongue (= prickly leaves)


Is it possible to change the minimum note length to 8 characters? I feel like ‘See flag’ should be an acceptable note but it isn’t 10 characters, and I don’t know if there is a way to make 2 additional characters worth of verbosity helpful.

Also, if the source is just the same POWO page as is used for the taxon framework relationship, are things like ‘POWO Synonym’ or ‘See framework’ acceptable?

but if you typed ‘see flag’, wouldn’t you then also have to provide a link to the flag, which would then easily take you over the 10 characters?


Yeah but this isn’t about common names its about all names, which includes cases where POWO has provided a list of 15 homotypic and 45 heterotypic synonyms for the scientific name, and there isn’t going to be a unique non-generic description for each of the 60 names, especially if we consider primary literature citations deprecated when a secondary literature citation is available (I don’t think I have ever been able to access one of the sources POWO has cited as a rationale for a synonymy, do they go out of their way to choose things that are hard for the public to access?)

I guess you could provide a link to the flag, but assuming it is on the same taxa it is just a link to the taxon that the name is already on. Right now ‘See the flag’ or ‘See taxon flag’ are already acceptable-length comments, just unnecessarily wordier, and I don’t think we really want to encourage people to be wordier.

I cannot really perceive any situation where you would use the phrase ‘see flag’, and then not link to said flag so that it’s clear what is actually being referred to. Some taxa can have multiple open flags on them at once, so it wouldn’t be immediately clear which flag you were referring to without having to open each one. Similarly, if the flag gets resolved, it again requires extra steps for someone to have to locate said flag (and extra steps again if there are multiple resolved flags as per my first example)


I think best practice should be to include a link. Then anyone can easily get to the exact flag that’s motivating the change.

That’s a good question, I’ll do some investigating. I see “Löwe” now:

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As you should, as it was left unedited. But the entry I was changing (Afrikanischer Löwe) is currently only visible to me when curating the local names (Germany or Austria) but not anywhere else


I don’t see it in the list - but the search box still takes me to the taxon page. Maybe it is cached overnight?

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Thanks, I’ll take a look.

OK, so Panthera leo is one of 8 taxa that have more than 200 common names, and right now the limit for display is set to 200 names. So, not all names are shown when the page is loaded.

We’ll have to up that number but it may not happen until next week as we usually don’t like making changes on a Friday.


… it’s a bit more work for me, yes, but a step in the right direction! Make iNat a bit more compatibe to scientific work, at least for those users who actually want it.

My wish list would certainly include in addition:
(1) offer an easy way to give author and publication year for each species right on the taxon page (this is very important, for example, in the tropical moths, you often find identical species names, mostly with different authors and published in a different year. Species tend to be juggled around 2-3 genus affiliations, and it happens slowly, sometimes only after 50-100 years)
(2) allow direct copy and paste for JPG pictures into all text boxes! This would even allow to copy and paste the descriptions of (copyright-free) publications, like old books (seems to work here, but not in the comments on iNat)


This should probably be a feature request instead of a comment here (or, two separate feature requests)

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Until an easier method becomes available, it is possible to add inline images from the web to iNaturalist comments via HTML:

<img src="url_of_image.jpg">


The limit has been increased so all names should show up now.


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