Currently the “fave” button or star on each observation is used for multiple purposes by different people: expressing that the observation features good photographs, or an interesting behaviour, or good discussion in the comments, or that the user wants to save the observation in a convenient place for later, etc.
Personally I use it mostly for the latter, but occasionally for the others as well, resulting in a mishmash of different types of observations under my “Favorites” tab. I could use browser bookmarks instead, but I already have tons of iNaturalist bookmarks for saved searches (would love to store those on-site as well) and bookmarks can be lost with a browser reset or computer crash.
I think the button should be separated into two separate buttons:
- Save: Saves the observation in a tab on the user dashboard, and can be used for whatever the user wants.
- Either a rating system (e.g. 1-5 like on eBird, or something else) or just a “Like” button. These would contribute to the photo galleries, and may or may not be saved somewhere for the user (I don’t think it would be necessary). I’m guessing that a rating system would make for nice looking photo galleries, but reduce the visibility of observations with interesting behaviours or interactions, while “likes” would produce a less visually appealing photo gallery but with a variety of interesting observations.