This topic has been on my mind for a while and I want to know what you guys think, what will happen when iNaturalist dies? What will happen to all of the observations on this website. Will you be able to back them up or will it all be lost?
I don’t think iNat is going anywhere anytime soon. I would hope that if there was an impending end, for whatever reason, the data could be archived by the Smithsonian or some other museum (or maybe a collaboration of archives around the world).
I try to download my personal observation data once a year or so. Just in case.
This is really an important question, and I’ve thought about it too - what happens if it all goes “poof”? It helps to know that RG observation data is shared and archived on GBIF, so all the metaphorical eggs are not in one basket. Downloading your data is also a good idea, and keeping a personal (maybe even written-down) log or journal to go along with your observations.
Taking the long view, nothing we humans create is permanent, despite our efforts to the contrary (see https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46565/ozymandias). But for the time being, we can gain and preserve some knowledge and share it with at least a few successive generations.
I hope amazone keeps de CC pics and GBIF the data?
In the end, the original purpose I think, like ebird, was data collection. The GBIF database will continue to accumulate and retain records, so that part of the legacy should be maintained.
As for photos/recordings etc? There are certainly servers and storage that can hold all of the media (I’ve seen storage banks that could easily do it). McCaulay Library at Cornell has begun taking in a lot of things it didn’t originally handle (like eBird photos), so while I doubt they’d deal with iNat, other options likely exist for permanent storage.
Basically, fear not.
Well, in the long, long term we and the universe will be free-floating hydrogen and decaying photons. But at least @silversea_starsong will have cataloged it all before then.
The sustainability issue with iNat has been discussed elsewhere on the Forum, such as:
although that discussion is a little out-of-date now given that iNat has recently improved its funding status: https://www.inaturalist.org/blog/84393-inaturalist-receives-10-million-grant-from-the-gordon-and-betty-moore-foundation
I changed the title to make the subject more clear. It originally sounded like warning.
Obviously we can’t predict the future but I don’t think iNat’s going anywhere anytime soon. And if for some reason it does, we’ll do our best to make the data available and give folks as much warning as possible.
It is so reassuring to now that all my hard work isnt just going to disappear and I will have time to back it up
I want to be clear that I did not guarantee this. I just said we’ll do our best.
The same thing that happened when the Great Library of Alexandria burned.
Just to note that GBIF content is created dynamically by harvesting from data providers, of which iNat is one. If iNat disappears then iNat data will go from GBIF. It is not an archival repository.
Seriously? Wow, I did not know that!!!
That is an alarming data framework that I wasn’t aware of.
Looking back through my decades of data storage, it’s clear that the only certainty is uncertainty. Methods and media come and then go and the only way to be “sure” (relatively speaking) is to diversify. I see no good reason why iNaturalist should fold or data should be lost, but I wouldn’t dream of relying on it as my only means of data storage. If you value your photos and other data, keep originals, keep copies, backup on local storage, backup on the cloud, every time and everywhere. OK, so maybe I’m exaggerating just a bit, but as a famous (deceased) Italian politician once said: “Fidarsi è bene, non fidarsi è meglio” (“To trust is good, to not trust is better”).
I’d be interested in downloading my data (sightings with date/time/gps, and all the IDs), hopefully with the “original” photo files attached to them, but I also fear just how big that file composite would be…
Dynamcially ? I thought a huge website once gave a dataset and it took another 5 years before the next dataset was given. If no one complains the data will be there for ever as one can not knwo what will be usefull in the next century. GBIF just adopts your data as a kind of bakcup
Some options for doing that discussed here: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/add-option-to-download-all-my-photos-and-data/13722
I asked someone at GBIF about this, and here was their response:
Datasets in GBIF are only deleted if data publishers choose to do so. We have also rescued and adopted a few orphan datasets over time.
Here’s their FAQ about “orphaned” datasets: https://www.gbif.org/faq?question=what-is-an-orphan-dataset