Use Annotations to populate related fields for downloads

There have been many comments related to the frustrations of data users who cannot simply download annotations. However, iNat’s fields have been an important source of data for many, and they are very easy to download. Given that the ability to download annotations has been discussed elsewhere on this forum, and is apparently a non-starter, I’d like to propose another solution.

Currrently, several annotation values are populated by direct entry, or by a link to specific field entires. For example, the field Insect Life Stage populates the similarly named Life Stage annotation, the field Dead or Alive populates the annotation Alive or Dead. Given that only fields are available as download, populating fields seems to be the best option, therefore I’d like to suggest reversing the data flow and populating select fields with annotation values.

The annotation-to-field mapping has already be determined with the workflow from fields to annotations so, hopefully, the issue should be be technical, not definitional.

One possible critique of this may be that, as in the the case of Alive or Dead, many fields populate a single annotation, for example:

However, the answer to this is to populate the field that current has the largest number of entries as the implies the higher level of common usage.

i think what you’re proposing here is messier than you think, and it’s unlikely to get you a result that you find acceptable any faster than the requests that you’ve already made, such as this: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/data-users-what-are-your-use-cases-and-requests-for-exporting-data/2972/45. you seem to believe that iNat staff are unwilling to work on your previously expressed ideas and may have dismissed them. to me, it looks more like they are simply working on higher priorities at the moment.

in the meantime, there are plenty of ways to get the data that you’re looking for (provided in those previous threads). sure, it takes a few more steps to gather the data using those workarounds, but i don’t think it would be beyond the skills of most people who normally work with data.

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For clarity, whether ‘dismiss’ is the correct term or not is open for debate. The fact is they are not working on options proposed by many people (including me), so I offered a different solution. I’m sure that they are working on things they deem higher priorities, I didn’t mean to imply otherwise.

as mentioned before, several workarounds have been previously described. but maybe you’re more of a visual person. so let me present a screenshot of one way you could get annotation data using the system as it currently exists (using Excel):

in the image above, the data in the two tabs come from two variants of a export / download query. below are the parameters for the queries:

  • alive: quality_grade= any &identifications= any &taxon_id= 48662 &user_id= pisum &term_id= 17 &term_id_value= 18
  • all: quality_grade= any &identifications= any &taxon_id= 48662 &user_id= pisum
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I appreciate the suggestion and the graphic. Nonetheless, this is a feature request. I am fortunate to have a project with close to a quarter of a million observations, including 46,000 last month. I am trying to avoid multiple downloads and subsequent data management if at all possible. For better or worse, the data keeps accumulating and workarounds are something that I’d like to avoid if possible.