Taxon photo changes are now recorded in taxon history

As of a few minutes ago, taxon photo changes will now be recorded on the history page of a taxon. So if anyone reorders the photos of a taxon or adds/removes photos for a taxon, it will show up on the history page. This is to increase transparency and provide a chance for users to discuss any issues with photos chosen for a taxon.

This feature is there to facilitate civil dialogue when/if there are disputes or questions over taxon photo changes. To help with that, we also added some guidelines for taxon photos when disputes happen:

Note that it only records changes to photos since we implemented the feature, so past taxon photo changes will not show in the taxon’s history.


Great that it was added!


Great, thanks for implementing this - it allows tracing of any “mysterious” changes. I noticed when I tried it that there is no place for explanatory notes, so I’m not sure how the “civil dialogue” would get initiated. If I were to disagree with a photo change, would I have to flag the taxon to initiate a dialog?


Yes, that’s what the guidelines say:

If there are repeated changes, please flag the taxon and tag the users involved in the changes to have a discussion.


Just curious why this wasn’t posted in the “News and Updates” category?


I’m not really sure, haha. This is more niche and not as user-facing and really jsut an addendum to the taxon history page so I guess it didn’t feel like a major announcement or something that most people would come across that needed explanation.


Awesome update! Thank you!!
I had been frustrated by people replacing useful icons into useless pictures, and also by the fact that my hours of work to select the “best” (Of course, the ones that are most helpful as references for ID - aesthetics comes second) pictures out of hundreds, (sometimes thousands) of choices, were not recorded at all, but this will solve both!


I would have liked to be able to make a (relevant) note at the time.

Yesterday I changed the order. First picture, of a poppy (but which species was it??), was focused on two bees. I want the taxon picture for the plant to focus on the flower, without the small creatures distracting. If you ask me a few weeks later … oh sorry no idea WHY I changed which picture where.


Personally, I hope that this might facilitate some researcher who’s interested in a good data science project of looking to see if taxon photo changes improve or worsen initial ID rates. I’ve seen some poor quality and/or non-representative taxon photos and — from my purely anecdotal, qualitative, and speculative perspective — it seems corresponding observations tend to be initially misidentified more often, since the observation doesn’t look like the displayed taxon photo thumbnail image.


I have often seen cover photos replaced by a closeup photo of a flower that could match several other species.

For backup and recovery of taxon photos, I have been using this project for 3 years:

For instance, this photo is likely the best one for Senna occidentalis, as it shows all the diagnostic features of this species (acuminate leaflets, the more distal bigger, dark round extrafloral nectary at the petiole base, shape and position of the pods) and it still looks great at small size:

Good to have that info recorded! I just gave it a try and replaced one of the taxon photos I noticed that had been pulled in from my Flickr account in the past. I have since imported and created an observation for it on iNat, so I simply replaced it with the identical photo from the corresponding iNat observation.

Here’s what it’s showing for this action in the history:

“Destroy” in this context appears to mean I removed the photo from the taxon page line-up (this was the one originally chosen from Flickr). The photo record is still there, it’s just not showing on the taxon page any more. “Create” is pretty straight forward the photo I added from my iNat observation to replace the Flickr one. It also created an “Update” for the second photo on the taxon page even though I didn’t actually do anything with that - it’s still the same picture in the same position as it was before.

I wished I could annotate this in some way to indicate what I did other than creating a flag. There’s really no need for a flag in this case (no curator attention/discussion needed as nothing really changed except for where the taxon picture is being pulled from - iNat vs. Flickr), but it might still be nice to be able to note that.

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It would be great to be able to attach annotations to the photos, in the history.

For instance:

  • I add a photo in the taxon page.
  • I open the history, I attach an annotation to the photo I have just added.
  • Someone else moves, or removes, the photo. My annotation still sticks to the photo.

In order to avoid multiple displays of the same annotations if the same photo appears several times in the history, I would suggest to put the annotations in a tooltip attached to the photo ID, or in a separate page, like a public journal post, dedicated to all the annotations attached to the photo.

I would use annotations to mention all the diagnostic features of the species that are visible in the photo.


Continuing from above, a next step would be to attach some meta-data to the photos in the taxon page with values like “flower”, “leaf”, “fruit”… and to be able to change the photos displayed in the SPECIES view of the Explore page in order to show for instance the “fruit” photos instead of the 1st photo in the taxon page (if any photo is marked as “fruit”, else the 1st photo).

Feature request here:

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What about names on photos? Some people put their name on a photo, sometimes even a website address. Often this photo has a high artistic value, but a low scientific value, and sometime it is even put as the main taxon photo. It seems to me that it is not very good to use iNat for your advertising. Maybe it would be a good idea to add to the guidelines that it is preferable to use photos without captions and names for taxon photos?

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