Hi. This request was based on this Flag, as well as a number of disputes that have occured over taxon photos.
I would really appreciate it if there was some way we could track and see who makes changes to Taxon Photos.
I apologize if this seems managerial or entitled, and I cannot speak for everyone else, but I have poured countless hours trying to find aesthetically-pleasing and accurate depictions of taxa on iNaturalist. I consider this a curatorial duty. There are no objective measures for what counts as a “good” photo, but I try to find default photos that reflect real-world guidebooks or museum displays. The animal’s entire body should fall within the frame; the resolution should be high-enough that the photo looks nice regardless of where it is used (be it on the website, app, Seek, etc.); the composition accents key characteristics for identification; accurate color composition; etc. I also think it’s nice if there is some unified composition between related taxa. i.e. all terrestrial artiodactyls have their full body in the frame, and most of them are depicted at side or semi-side profiles. No head-shots, awkward angles, or the like. Secondary photos should highlight morphic variations, stages of development (eggs, larvae, juveniles, etc.) and discrete identification traits. I try to avoid adding a lot of photos for a species just to reach the “12 photo limit”. It is gratuitous and could be overwhelming for iNat users in the field, where it is unclear what one should be looking for to make an ID.
I have put a lot of work into finding good photos for the species on iNaturalist and take personal attachment into how the branches of the tree I manage - cephalopods and vertebrates - are presented. I have gotten into edit wars with unknown users who insist that “their” photo is better when the composition is lacking, the angles are awkward, the animal is dead, the species is incorrect, etc. It can be frustrating or disheartening to put this much effort into something and then have to fight to keep it.
I’m sure these other users have good intentions, but it would at least be nice to see who are making these revisions so that we can reach out to them and maybe have discourse as to why they want the default taxon photo changed.
Not sure how others feel.
EDIT: As specified by @vynbos, @jonathan142 et al. below, there is an arguably more pressing issue where users have assigned default photos to the incorrect taxon. This is another serious problem that affects plants and arthropods in particular. Additionally, unlike large vertebrates, many of these taxa are ID’d based on discrete characteristics that are sometimes not reflected in the default photo.