User Blocked Me For Unknown Reasons, Which Interferes With Curation

There is a way to mute users, which prevents them from getting notifications about your messages, identifications, and comments; muting is usually better for difficult communication with another user. You can mute as many people as you want according to Inat, although this isn’t recommended.

I’m sure, even if staff is involved, they would talk to the person and ask their reasoning, not suspend them for using the feature. It doesn’t sound like a case of person blocking him mid-id session after some disagreements, we had cases like this.
@yayemaster muting is worse actually for that matter, you won’t be notified of their wrong ids.

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Thanks for that fact. I edited the comment.

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I’m currently blocked by an account that is now suspended - the person did not like anyone correcting their (ludicrously incorrect) IDs. Unfortunately their observations and block remain in place even though the account is banned, so there’s a bunch of incorrect observations I can’t fix. It’s really annoying.

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thanks for sharing that.

so I realized that I could see the blocked observations by logging out. for those wondering, it looks like I identified a handful of observations from this user, of which only a couple differ from what the user uploaded them as (using the Computer Vision suggestion, naturally). there was never any comment from this user, and on several of the observations they changed their IDs to match mine. this user has 2600 observations, so a fairly active participant on here.

summary: I have no idea why this user blocked me, but it clearly violates the “community guidelines” regarding blocking.

also, annoyingly, I do see several observations that are either misidentified or which I could improve, but, alas.

if anyone at iNaturalist wants to help resolve this, please get in touch

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I personally think that a user should have to have a staff member or curator approve it when a user wants to block another user. I’ve been blocked by multiple users, and it’s always because I voted an escaped captive animal wild (which is what you are supposed to do). Some of these users have a huge volume of observations and it really bothers me that I cannot see them or ID them.

I understand blocking has some legitimate uses but I am willing to bet that 9 times out of 10 blocking is unjustified.

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Logging out (and then logging back in) is a bit of a hassle though - I would really like to able to see all the observations while logged in.

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I would recommend emailing help@inaturalist.org about this (or any) specific case where a user is unsure if blocking is appropriate or there’s the potential that it is being used incorrectly. Staff wouldn’t post the details of specific cases of blocking on the forum, so it’s best to address via a personal message.

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Whatever the reason joe_fish was blocked, I greatly value his identifications and WELCOME his corrections of my tentative ids. Please don’t let this case put off your valued ids!

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Its a habit carried over from other social media, where blocking is the default method not to be annoyed or disagreed with in any way. And that, in my opinion, is a mistake, because it is (in my opinion) equivalent to taking out a restraining order by default when breaking up with someone. It cheapens and eventually discredits what was intended to protect personal safety.

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I agree with this this up to a point:

I can see how getting blocked is emotionally jarring:

Where it can trigger such unpleasant thoughts and feelings:

  • Doubt: Am I really a good iNatter since I got blocked?
  • Shame: Did I really do something so bad to deserve getting blocked?
  • Safety: Getting blocked was so unpleasant, when will it happen again?
  • Annoyance: Does this person even know how iNat works?
  • Ostracism: Should I even be an iNatter since I’m getting blocked?
  • Injustice: Is it fair that I got blocked?

None of which can be resolved since communication is blocked. I’d feel the same way too but strive to look at it more like:

Because iNat is volunteer driven by generous users like you taking their time to help identify and confirm observations. Being voluntary, it’s hard to make the case that anyone owes anyone else communication. Blocking is an extreme case of this, where instead of volunteering, they’re witholding. So I agree that blocking is unjustified 9 out of 10 times per community guidelines, but would forcing the blocking users to interact with those they block be the right call?

Back to unplesant thoughts and feelings, I think all non-duress users contribute something valuable to iNat, so if someone blocks you, they’re also choosing to take away from their iNat experience. Lastly, as appealing as the idea that people like us for ourselves or what we do, I’m sure there’s also a case for people (dis-)liking us for no reason at all. Maybe your blocker is an example of the latter and it’s not worth trying to figure out why? There are obviously enough people on iNat who value you, so don’t let this rotten apple spoil the whole bunch!

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Hi friends,

Blocking. Blocking is an extreme measure for situations where efforts to resolve differences through discussion have failed and the offending party refuses to stop contacting you. Blocking someone will prevent them from interacting with you on iNat, including through identifications and use of the DQA. You can block someone by editing your account settings and using the “Blocked Users” feature. Blocking is not a way to stop identifications from people you don’t like or trust.

I recently made a post about a user who mysteriously blocked me. I had identified a few observations for them without controversy or comment, but found myself on the receiving end of a block. Turns out, this user had done something similar to other users and these blocks were reversed upon my contacting iNaturalist. They had clearly violated the “rules” regarding when a block is warranted, and so justice was served.

Alas, the story does not end there…

I happened to stumble upon another user who has blocked me, again without any indication of why. As with the previous user, my only interaction was identifying some of their observations, so presumably the block is some sort of retaliation on their part. Again, this violates the “rules” listed by iNaturalist, but in this instance there is no justice being offered by the all-powerful iNaturalist mods. The explanation I was given is as follows…

I don’t know why that user blocked you but I don’t see the same pattern of the user blocking people for just IDs. Unless it’s pretty clear-cut, asking someone why they’re blocking another user is not something we usually do.

It is also noteworthy that the user who blocked me is a “curator” on iNaturalist.

My expertise is in marine invertebrates, particularly corals. This is a poorly studied group for which there are very few qualified identifiers on iNaturalist and for which misidentifications are rampant without attentive curation. I have logged thousands of hours on here to keep this group’s observations in good order. But I can’t curate observations if I am blocked… so this ultimately affects every other user of this site. Misidentifications may exist, but I can’t even see them if I’m logged in.

My question is this, why does any one user get to have this unilateral power on a community driven website like iNaturalist? Why is there absolutely no oversight when it comes to blocking? Shouldn’t this be a last resort that is directly administered by iNaturalist staff/mods in extraordinary circumstances for users who abuse this site?

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Every community-based website has that option, the problem is clear here and it’s not that you’re blocked, but that you are one of the few who ids the corals on iNat, solution would be to invite more specialists for obscure groups, so even if person uses all three blocks on them, there would be still more to id their observations.

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I am not a fan of the ‘blocking’ mechanic on social media sites in general.

In my experience the overwhelming majority of the time the person doing the blocking is the one who has been exhibiting poor behavior.

For iNat I’d advocate for the user based blocking system to be abolished entirely and have all requested blocks go through an admin based approval and arbitration process.

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This is said with absolutely zero snark - one block is unfortunate, but two sounds like a pattern, the common factor being you. Are you 100% sure you’re not attracting these blocks through your own behaviour? We all have blind spots and biases. As I said, no snark intended. I know I am regularly a d***head online and often don’t realise it at the time (I guess that I just painted a target on my back :upside_down_face:)

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Joe, help me understand here. As I understand the usage, a user blocked you and that prevents you from interacting with that one user. If that one user is a major source of observations of a group in your sphere of interest, then that is a potential problem. But are you overstating it when you phrase it thus, “why does any one user get to have this unilateral power on a community driven website?” They haven’t blocked you from working on the remaining world of observations and population of users, correct? An unexplained blockage (sounds like an unfortunate medical condition), especially by a “curator”, is certainly frustrating and you deserve further information.

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In reality, they only get power over their own observations, and even then, it is limited to three people. Certainly the situation is frustrating, but I think the benefits of blocking someone when appropriate outweigh the cons of the occasional case where someone gets blocked inappropriately.

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that’s not quite true. as I am often the only user contributing identifications in my area of interest (Anthozoa), when I get blocked, the curation of this taxon effectively gets blocked. any misidentifications can linger (and are in fact completely hidden from me!). that affects every other user who interacts with this taxon. it potentially affects the Computer Vision AI. it can introduce faulty biogeographic data to partner sites like GBIF.

again, there are significant ramifications for letting users pick and choose who gets to interact with their observations in this manner.

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I agree that misidentifications can linger, and I think @fffffffff best addressed that with their comment. But I think it’s a bit of an overstatement to say your curation of the taxon gets blocked. Citizen science data is (almost by definition) imperfect. There are many types of inaccuracies on iNat that curators, or even the community as a whole, cannot fix without the observer’s cooperation.

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I’m seeking clarification from staff: When you get blocked, it should only prevent you from addressing the observations of that one user. You should be able to continue your work on identifying all other observations by any other users. What am I missing?

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