What Is "Install iNaturalist Community Forum"?

When I visited the iNaturalist forum today, I received a popup in my URL bar that asked me to install something called “iNaturalist Community Forum”. There is now a persistent button in the right side of my URL bar. I have never seen anything like this before.

Frankly I find it a bit confusing and invasive. I don’t want to install any software or browser extensions in order to participate in a community. I like to keep the software on my computer as minimal as possible for security reasons. I looked this up in google, and apparently this is a concept called a “Progressive Web Application” or PWA. The wikipedia page wasn’t terribly illuminating, however, about what a PWA actually is and what its relative pros and cons are.

I don’t understand what this is or why this would be a good idea. I would be grateful if someone more knowledgeable about it could share a bit more.

I’m also more than a bit uncomfortable that this site is asking me to install a new kind of software without any explanation. I searched extensively for this before starting this post, and I saw nothing on the forums discussing it.

Also, I can’t find out how to make the button go away. I would like for it to go away. Right-clicking it does nothing.

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I can’t really answer any of your questions, but I’m nearly sure what you see is a feature of the forum software used here. I very much doubt this is based on any conscious decision on the iNat side.

Also: I don’t see anything like that, but that may just mean it’s browser and/or OS dependent.


I had to look to find it… I had never noticed it before! (Chrome desktop Windows)

I also found no info (with minimal searching) on PWA that was layperson friendly. (lots of info for developers, etc) So, I’m kind of curious, as well. I kind of ignore most of the stuff in my browser bar in general but I can be annoyed by certain kinds of notifications or status icons, etc. so I get the mindset of ‘make it go away’! :-) At least it isn’t red which really annoys me.


Ah yes, I see that button that offers installation too now. Not really tempted to click on it though. :-)


It’s more about giving an option.

A PWA can have a few advantages like enabling offline browsing of the page or simply adding it as an application (IE: having a shortcut on your Android homescreen that behaves more like a regular app). They can also offer other advantages like push notification without installing a full blown app.

As for the invasive side of, the notification for installing it is done by your browser (which I assume is Chrome) whenever it detects that the current site can be added as a PWA. You can just choose to ignore it and it won’t do anything further.

Furthermore, PWAs still run inside the browser and thus aren’t installed like a regular apps and have much less permissions.

As for the button, once again, it’s a matter of Chrome not having an option to remove it and to my knowledge, there is not much that can be done about it.

You will see this icon in more and more site (YouTube and Twitter already have it for example). You can just ignore it like I do, but this can offer a good option for people that would make use of the pros I mentioned above.


thanks @alexislours, that helped some - and welcome to the forum! :-)

I kind of wondered if it was a browser level icon.


When you install the PWA and open it, it will open without major parts of the web browser UI, such as the search bar, bookmarks, etc. I have done this on both Chrome for Windows, and Safari on iOS and it essentially opens and looks like an app version of the website, even though it is still running from the browser.

On Windows, it makes it so that it shows up as an app, so you can pin it to your taskbar, have a shortcut for it on your desktop, and have it show up in the list of apps. On iOS, a shortcut for it will also appear on your home screen.

This is what the PWA looks like when opened in Windows:


Wow, is Dark Mode part of this PWA, or is it a separate feature? If so, how do you get it?

Never mind, found the setting :slightly_smiling_face:


Thanks much, everyone, for all the explanations!

And wow, now I notice that icon on Twitter too…it never gave me a popup though. I wonder why I got the popup now?

So weird. All this new technology. Please make it stop. I want to go back to the year 2000.


On the phone I have forum saved on the homescreen for years, it’s so much easier to use. It’s not good idea, it’s great! The only downside for me is you can’t add photos from it for some reason, there’s a bug report about it, but it didn’t change anything for me, when it’s in this separate application photo button is not working.


I want to go back to 1980! I access the Forum either from my main page, or the search bar. I’ve never seen an app mentioned.


Interesting - I wonder how long that’s been there! I just looked and found it hidden among the icons in the upper right of the page. Never noticed it before, and it seems pretty unobtrusive.


Weird, I’ve never seen it and just checked. Not there for me (Chrome, Windows 10).

Maybe all my anti-advertisement and various blockers have blocked that from showing up?

Regardless, it sounds like something totally unnecessary.

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No, it’s not an ad and not blocked by adblocks, it’s in your browser.

Oh, in the address bar. I thought they meant the icons on the page, like they said.

Generally I don’t look for additional icons in the address bar other than the translation option.

Still seems pretty useless.

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Yeah, something hidden and not expected to even exist! On pc this really is not something to use, but again, on mobile devices it’s really cool for those who use forum a lot.


I have also a shortcut to the forum on my mobile, do not know how I created it, is is just there.


You mean this little icon–the middle one of the far right–in your browser bar, not an actual pop-up window? (I can see how the latter would be annoying, but as I have pop-ups turned off by default I would not have seen one if it existed.)

I am seeing those more and more in the browser bar for all kinds of websites/apps. (I use the Chrome browser on a Chromebook.)

Just ignore it if you don’t want to try the PWA “app” feature.

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