The Jokes on iNaturalist

Something that irks me on the website is when kids post observations of themselves or their friends and say that they are some sort of animal. I also dislike when people post pictures of their pets and instead of the animal that their pet is, they give it some other animal name like a yak, skunk, etc. iNaturalist should be exclusively for scientific purposes and not a platform to joke around on.


you can identify them as human and let the user know that it’s against the policy of the site, if they persist doing it, flag the observation or email and they user may be suspended if it’s excessive. The usual response is jokes need to remain in comments, not IDs (and obviously any jokes that violate the terms of service, etc, aren’t allowed).


I’ve had a change of heart on this issue. Along with you @chewitt1, I was quite annoyed by posts of people and pets. Usually, the people in question are kids and the observation location is often a middle school. I completely agree that these data do not belong on iNaturalist, but honestly, now I’m just happy to see young folks using this incredible platform. Maybe it takes those young folks awhile to switch from posting photos of their dog to uploading photos of wildlife, but I’m willing to be patient. It seems like the vast majority of them make just one or two people posts, and then they’re done. In lieu of a comment about “the rules” to these young folks, I’m now more inclined to past a link to a nearby cool observation. Cheers.


Just give a real identification, flag it as captive, and write them a forgiving note if they do it more than once. It’s much worse (in my opinion, but also implicitly in the site’s policies) to scare off young naturalists by being stuffy and overly serious than to occasionally deal with a silly observation. Calling your friend’s fat, black-and-white lapdog a panda is kind of funny, after all.


@chewitt1 – I’m with you in spirit but resigned to the fact the site is open to a wide diversity of people that includes goofy kids along with serious professionals and hobbyists and everyone in between. It’s kind of like trying to have a serious dinnertime conversation with fellow adults when kids are playing a noisy game under the table. That’s life and we work around it.


I made a post similar to this. You can see if they’re using the iNat computer to make an ID, usually they are. But as everyone else has said, just do the right ID and flag it. It’s hella annoying but there’s nothing that we can do to stop it; we can only work to correct it.

The one issue that came up in the forum I made was a discussion surrounding the ethics and legality of younger users posting pictures of their friends without their permission on a platform such as this. While America is lax, some countries it’s illegal to do so.


I was exploring a national park in Thailand when i was there a few months ago, when i came across a can of soft drink that appeared to be partially hidden as if it were an animal weary peaking out.

It took some self desicpline to post it on iNaturalist as a satrical post, ‘A. litteri’, a previously rare anthropophilic species that is becoming more and more common, especially near human-habitated areas.

One of the “problems” with crowd sourcing is the amount of “noise” you get. But it’s all a matter of how much “information” you also get. So it the noise/information ratio is very low, one should only get a way to discard it (for instance, identifying as “Homo sapiens” or using the data quality assessment tool to say it’s not wild, the location is inaccurate, etc.). In the end, those annoying observations will be the outliers in a massive pool of good, solid data.


welcome to the forum, @jpsilva!

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I thought this post was going to be about Gerald when I first saw the title


my poor computer has had enough. I am not clicking on that link hahaha


Yes, I understand. Actually these post are pretty boring but I am sure you agree that it is different if the author of a joke is a kid or an adult. So, I would suggest you to go on identifying these post as humans and suggesting these users how to properly use the site, in particular if among " rubbish" observations there are also valuable observations of wild organisms. In these latter cases it could be appropriate to encourage these users to go on with good observations and to leaves jokes behind. Otherwise, if they go on with jokes, they should understand that maybe iNaturalist is not something fitting for them.


OMG I had not seen this observation before! That was epic! lolz

You are not alone. I was surprised to see a similar joke observation made by a nationally revered botanist who puts great effort and time on inaturalist into helping newbies like myself as well as peers. So every once in a while, provided the joke is clear, ie not misleading, it is acceptable.

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I was tempted to post this one to iNat (possibly under Lithobates fisheri, the real-life Vegas Valley Leopard Frog) but decided it’s best left on my Flickr account.


It appears, since it is poolside, to have recently “left the building”.


Not everyone can resist such temptations:

Even taxonomists make jokes with their species occurrence records (specimens) on occasion - like this plant, whose common name is “frogbit” (yes, the botanist pressed an actual frog with the plant):


Back on topic after Gerald - what a scream. I assume the first one or two of the ‘joke’ observations are people getting used to the platform. I usually remind them of the purpose of iNat, and suggest they get outside and take some photos. I try not to be nasty about it, but I guess one time my tone was not appreciated. It’s kind of difficult to see the same ‘joke’ over and over, but having to keep in mind that some may wind up excellent iNat users.


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