I agree with others here that how we talk about the scientific role or utility of iNat data is important. I understand that the mission of iNat is first and foremost to help people connect with nature and with each other and that biodiversity data collection is a secondary role. Some might even say a byproduct. But I think that the data generated by iNat is so important and impressive that it needs to be better recognized as an outstanding source of knowledge on biodiversity. By emphasizing the secondary nature of the data being collected, I feel it may promote a bit of carelessness when it comes to the data being collected. Reading the forum, I sometimes have the impression that some problems with data quality are discarded as being not so important because the data collection is just a secondary role and the data is a bit of a mess anyway. I think a bit more care could go into the data quality assessments. For example, issues such as duplicate observations could be made easier to flag, stronger measures could be taken to reduce blind agreeing, perhaps expert contributions could be given a bit more emphasis, etc. Also, the responsibility of the data quality seems to be partly relegated to scientists wanting to use the data. Of course, scientists have a lot of responsibility when using iNat data. Observations will probably need to be filtered to clean up some data, IDs need to be verified for smaller projects and necessary caveats need to be expressed when interpreting the results of any analysis making use of iNat data. However, a lot of verifications cannot possibly be done by scientists for larger projects (e.g. confirming IDs) and I think if some things can be done here to improve data quality, it should done. That does not mean turning iNat into an expert platform, which would certainly entails a lost and would not be good for the first role of iNat with which I totally agree. But, better acknowledging the potential role of iNat data in biodiversity research seems like it may promote better quality data through user behaviour and perhaps through improvements in functionalities that increase data quality.
Just to be clear, I don’t want to give the impression that I think that iNatters are completely careless about the data or that the developers are not doing enough. I can’t imagine how much work and dedication must be needed to maintain and develop such an outstanding platform! I know that some of the issues have been discussed and that some of the potential improvements are far from being straightforward to implement. Also, finding ways to improve data quality/usability without jeopardizing accessibility is without a doubt a challenge.