Unfortunately, there are folks who need an immediate and tangible demonstration that their actions can have serious consequences. And yes, resentment and spite factor into it as well. Maybe that’s unfathomable to some of you. That’s OK. Lots of different people participate in iNat for lots of different reasons. So far, this discussion has seemed very abstract to me. Nobody is allowed to mention those who quit, or to speculate as to why. The major contributors who quit are painted as selfless saints. Fair enough. Many no doubt were. I’m just somebody who saw a job that needed doing and felt that if I didn’t do it, nobody else would. As I don’t quite measure up in the sainthood department, I tired of doing my (largely) thankless job while simultaneously fighting against some who persisted in thwarting my efforts. Not being a saint, I wanted to strike back in the only way I (legally) could - by withdrawing my contributions. Petty and spiteful? Ok, fair enough. It seems to be assumed that those driving out the major contributors are pathological fiends of some sort (surely not any of “us”).
If I were one of these major contributors of which you speak, the message I would get from this discussion is: “We appreciate your wonderful contribution so much that we must remove your right to withdraw that contribution should the day come when you can no longer put up with our BS”. Is that really the message you want to send? Admittedly, not everyone will take it that way, but it’s something to consider before proceeding.
As far as taking a more leisurely approach to IDing goes, I wish I had the luxury of working on IDs on my own schedule. But that isn’t how our project works. There’s no sitting with my feet up eating bonbons. There are deadlines. Yeah, I could ignore them, but that would just make someone else’s life more difficult. Yeah, I could assimilate the observation data without vetting it to stay on schedule, but then I would just be doubling my work. Down the road, I’d have to make corrections in two places instead of one. Yeah, I could just live with the errors, but I have a strange, anachronistic “Not on my watch” attitude about it. In addition, errors in observation data have a habit of breeding. People base their IDs on “accepted” species ranges and phenology. Errors in published data are used as evidence to support subsequent errors. These things are best nipped in the butt (as our premier would say).
If I even take a few days off during the field season, the backlog quickly builds to the point where catching up becomes daunting, and that can be fatal. When there’s a significant backlog, I feel pressured. I start to get rushed/sloppy. People get upset because I correct their IDs without stopping to provide an explanation and pointers to references (which I normally try to do). To some extent, we are victims of our own success. If we do a good job as IDers, it encourages folks to submit even more observations, and to tell all their friends about how great iNat is. If we pull the rabbit out of a hat and positively ID a blurry photo, we foster a belief that anything is possible, and create more work for ourselves. Prompt and thorough vetting of observations comes to be expected as the norm. As things stand, I can just barely keep my head above water, but I can only do so by keeping on top of IDs during the field season. The off season is dedicated to processing the observation data from the previous field season (and weeding out errors I missed earlier in the process). What few lulls there are in the action are devoted to ongoing efforts to clean up historical data (which provides an object lesson in what will happen if I slack off on vetting the incoming observation data).