"Total Observations" being misleading

Would love to hear what you all think.

When looking at species page (e.g. https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/1359673-Isurus-planus) on iNat, the “Total Observation” column only shows the number of Verifiable observations available, not the “Total” observations.

This has confused me so many times in the past when there were actually observations I would have loved to see but this “Total Observation” number was zero, just because those observations are casual.

Often some uncommon or extinct species have only casual observations on iNat, and are still often useful observations for ID use. Can we please not completely ignore them.

My suggestions here would be:

・Change the word: “Total Observations” to “Total verifiable observations”
or, a better but more complicated option:
・Show the numbers of observations of RG, Needs ID and Casual separately, instead of “Total”.

If this should be moved to feature request or bug report please do so


I think the philosophy here is that an “observation” requires that a person observe a wild organism or evidence of an organism recently being present, record evidence of the encounter, and record the date and location of the encounter. If something is listed as casual, it means either
-they didn’t record the date, location, or evidence of the organism
-they didn’t observe a wild organism
If anything, the “casual” designation indicates entries that really don’t qualify as a proper “observation” by iNat’s standards. I know the question of posting pictures for ID purposes that don’t qualify as “observations” has been brought up before, and in general the consensus seems to be that iNat isn’t the place for them. I suspect that relegating such images to a “not-really-even-an-observation” status is meant to put a damper on that sort of content. Otherwise, the site would be flooded with pictures of people’s trips to natural history museums, zoos, and botanical gardens, which are fine pictures to have for IDs, but just not the sort of content iNat is made for. Not counting “casual observations” as real “observations” but allowing them to exist in a sort of limbo state without deleting them completely seems like a fine compromise to me, but I know not everyone agrees.

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Although the one place I agree the casual observations being absent from searches is a tragedy is the cases where a user has opted out of community ID and the observation is casual-ed by 4+ members of the community disagreeing with their identification. In those cases, the observation has all the necessary qualifications, but it will be in casual purgatory forever unless the user who posted it changes their ID. The whole community-ID opt-out thing is an entirely separate can of worms that I know has been debated to death on the forum so there’s no need to have that discussion again, but those “casual” observations are in a different category in my mind than the ones that are just lacking essential observation components. I assume there’s a way to search observations by “community ID” and get those to show up? But they’re definitely not showing up in any typical searches.

I can’t think of any way to improve the current system though. Casual-ing them to get them off of the range maps for the species they’re misidentified as seems like the best option.

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You could use the " Identify" page, and filter as you like.

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Yes of course. Just the “Total observation” column in taxa pages are misleading, because when it says there’s no observation of a taxon, no one will try searching the taxon on Identify page or using html and find the unseen casual observations.

If casual observations do not qualify as observations, why do we call it “observations”? As long as the name is like that, I think we should treat them as a subset of observations.


You can use the filters in the search window to show casual observations, but I admit you have to hunt for that option. Maybe a button on the species homepage, like “show casual” along with the “show yours” would help.


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