What do the community guidelines mean by duplicate observations?

The community guidelines say that duplicate observations are not ideal. Does ‘duplicate observations’ just mean when someone uploads the same image twice, as if they were two seperate observations, or does it mean that I should only record finding something in a place once (like seeing a fox in the same place a week after observing one before)?

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So if (at one time) you take multiple pictures of the same organism, and then uploaded all the pictures as different observations, that would be duplicates. In this case, you’d want to put all the photos under the same observation.

If you take a picture of the same individual at a different time, its completely okay and, honestly, necessary to upload it as a separate observation. You can note the related observation if you’d like.

Finally, you can totally upload the same picture multiple times if there’s multiple organisms in one picture that you would like identified - you want to have a separate observation for each organism. Usually if I do this I’ll make a note in the description of what I’m looking to have IDed.

Does that help?


Yes, that answers my question. Thanks!


No prob!

One final suggestion to - even if you don’t know what something is, still put in your best guess. The species suggestion box can be really helpful here for some things, but even if not, your best guess is still good. That way it gets closer to people looking for specific taxa and just doesn’t get stuck in the unknown pile.

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One additional clarification is that the guidelines suggest a “once per day” approach to individual organisms. So, if it has been a day (or more) since you last observed an individual organism, then it would be a new observation. There are some edge cases that might be best to handle a little differently, but it is an easy rule of thumb.


Also, sometimes people will upload the same exact photo more than once – perhaps having forgotten that they had already uploaded it. This is also considered a duplicate observation.

Of course, if they do this because there is more than one species in the photo, and they want each species as its own observation, that is not considered a duplicate.


For those who might not know, the best way to do this is to Duplicate the observation, which means you’ll have just a single version of the photo(s) connected to multiple observations.


I didn’t know that a duplicated observation avoided duplicating the image. That’s pretty cool.

I was about to comment on that, too. iNat straight-up calls that action in the edit pull-down “duplicate” and it’s used to, well, avoid uploading the same picture twice and instead linking two observations to the same picture. No wonder new users sometimes get confused…


How did you create the link to one specific photo?

If you go to one of the observations, you’ll see this at the bottom of the first photo:

Screenshot 2023-02-21 at 17-40-24 Genus Brachymyrmex (Rover Ants)

Just click on the “i”

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Ah! Thanks!

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