Waiting before suspending

Hey curators,

It doesn’t happen too often, but one thing I’ve been noticing is that sometimes users are suspended for copyright infringement without being given a chance to correct their mistakes. While some users are definitely malicious when posting photos that don’t belong to them, I’ve talked with quite a few who don’t know they should be posting their own photos and are quite apologetic when emailing help@inat after being suspended.

After talking with @loarie about this, I’ve changed the text here to say

If someone posts three or more fabricated observations with photos posted from the internet, and is unresponsive when asked to stop, they should be suspended within 24 hours. Please give them a chance to correct their mistake if it is not malicious.

Because most new users aren’t on iNat as often as we are, and there isn’t any on boarding text specifying that you shouldn’t upload representative photos, I think it’s fair to give them 24 hours (in cases where they seem to genuinely be making a mistake) to see the comments and respond to them before suspending their account, but let me know what you think.


I agree. In some situations, even if they respond, but can’t seem to figure out how to “fix” their mistakes, it is not really a good reason to suspend. Sometimes it even turns out they weren’t in the wrong at all, and then it is just super wrong to have suspended them!

This seems reasonable to me too. I haven’t worked in this corner of the curatorial spectrum very much, so I don’t have a good feel for how much (if any) additional communication and follow-up work this will add to curator plates.

Any chance this could be fixed sooner than later?

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I’m seeing a good sampling of new user behaviour as the number of observers in my area has doubled in 2019 over the previous year. They are spread out geographically for the most part, though there are some hotspots. My impression is that most of them have discovered the app independently of one another and are learning what it is and how it can be used on their own. Also almost all of them are also phone app users and not attached to a scientific community. This I think means that their main context for understanding what Naturalist is - is the app store.

it seems to take a good 30 or so observations for people to get a good handle on how they are going to work with iNaturalist and the first 5 to 10 observations is where I have seen most of the behaviour that I see criticized in the forums (including posting photos that are clearly not their own)

My theory is that a lot of what I am seeing is people just testing the effectiveness of their newly acquired tool - i just downloaded this, - it says it can identify stuff - here’s the dog, houseplant, picture of a ladybug - does it really work?

I got tired of trying to find a nice way to tell people not to do what they just did. More recently I simply welcome new users to iNaturalist and encourage them to look at the observations using the website - pull them into the community as quickly as possible in other words.

I find that people quickly get caught up in the observation of the natural world and those few early wobbles are soon absorbed in good contributions.


I have often wondered what new people think about iNaturalist when they use the app to upload observations of artificial plants and they are identified by others as humans–they might think the app doesn’t work since there is no human in the photo.


yes thats the kind of situation that made me stop and think. I wanted to feel welcome and respected when I was new here and I decided that was the most important thing I wanted others to feel when they began. I started by simply not commenting or flagging - then moved on to welcoming instead and then decided to welcome as many as I had energy to.

I know I like my experience better now I don’t feel I have to nag anyone. :)