Species naming conventions and capitalization in non-English languages

Many languages have no rule or agreement on how they are formatted. Try getting consensus if English bird names are capitalized or not.

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Found in google groups: https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/curator+guide#names

Managing it through the entry was dropped as it was impossible to maintain or manage as people would simply not know or worse knowingly disregard the guideline because they disagreed with it.

This along with the constant edit wars changing priority of names etc was the reason editing of names was restricted to curators and the standard display format adopted.

Not exactly a bug, but rather an inaccuracy in design. In the website version (but not in the Android app!) the first letter of the second and following words is auto-capitalized in the displayed common names disregarding how it was indicated in “edit taxon”. Perhaps it’s ok in English to capitalize the first letter in each word of a species name, for sure it’s right in German and maybe in some other languages. But in many languages, namely in Ukrainian and Polish, probably also in most of other Slavic languages, it’s just wrong and looks very weird, almost the same as if an every second letter would be capitalized in each word. I’ve tried to use Ukrainian version with common names and I just can’t stand how weird it looks because of this (normally I’m using scientific names only).

It should be displaying exactly how it is indicated in the “edit taxon”, except maybe auto-capitalizing the first letter in the first word only same as in the scientific names. Especially considering that this is how it is in the Android app already.


Might be a duplicate https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/auto-capitalizing-the-first-letter-in-the-second-and-following-words-of-the-common-names/35270

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It looks awful in English, too.


Thanks, I moved the posts from “Auto-capitalizing the first letter in the second and following words of the common names” into this thread (above).

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Same problem in French. The first word of a common name takes a capital letter, but adding a capital letter to en adjective is super-duper incorrect and should never be done. Most common names in French seem weird because of this rule. For this language, the first word should be auto capitalized, but not any of the others. I don’t know what this old discussion has led to however, and if things are getting adressed internally.


Dear iNaturalist Team,

I hope this message finds you well. I am writing to bring to your attention an issue I have encountered on your platform regarding the representation of species’ common names in Catalan, Spanish, and other languages.

Specifically, I have noticed that the common names in these languages are automatically capitalized, when in fact the proper grammatical usage in these languages is to write common names in lowercase. This discrepancy may be confusing for users who rely on these languages, and it also detracts from the accuracy and authenticity of the content.

To provide an example, in Catalan and Spanish, we would say “gat” or “gato” (meaning “cat”), not “Gat” or “Gato”. The current capitalization on the platform gives an incorrect impression of the standard writing conventions in these languages.


I understand that capitalizing common names is a common practice in English, but it is not universally applicable to other languages. I kindly request you to take this into account and adjust the capitalization rules for non-English common names on the platform, as per the respective language norms.

Thank you for your attention to this matter, and for your ongoing efforts to make iNaturalist a valuable resource for naturalists around the world.

Best regards,

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Moved this post (originally in Bug Reports) to this existing thread about common names and capitalization.

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Common is not necessarily correct. The birding community has decided that the standard common names of birds are proper nouns, and should therefore be capitalized; but this is not technically the case with other taxa. Douglas-fir is correctly capitalized because it is named after an individual person, Sitka spruce should have the fiirst word capitalized because it is named after a city, but grand fir and noble fir are not proper nouns, despite commonly being treated as such.

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+1 on this issue. Seems like the best way would be respect the capitalization proposed in the local taxonomy entry (in Slovakia we have both first letters lower-case)


Capitalization problems from the other side. Looking for information about a species you find sometimes only :XY is a species with 33 observations. Written i nGerman: XY ist eine art mit 33 Beobachtungen. The word “Art” (species) here is written incorrectly with a small first letter! In the German language ALL nouns are written with a capitalized first letter. Perhaps iNaturalist would be so nice and alter this standard sentence. Thanks in advance!

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This occurs at various places throughout the platform and is not a translation issue but how a string with various values is implemented - likely an older part of the platform where the coding is ignoring capital letters? Don’t think this is something that will be resolved soon

Same problem in Finnish, although nowadays Finnish species names are single word so the problem is mostly in some higher taxonomic ranks like “Synnyttävät nisäkkäät” https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/848317-Theria. What bugs me more is the capitalization of letters after hyphen. In Finnish we use hyphens to separate syllables in certain compound words like “suo-ohdake” https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/160623-Cirsium-palustre. Capitalizing them in the middle really breaks the flow of the word and just looks very weird.

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