What is the appropriate response/action for a user uploading multiple duplicate images, organisms?

After this feature request along those lines was closed in July 2019 (https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/create-a-way-to-flag-duplicate-observations-and-remove-rg-status-from-the-extras/201), I sent this reponse privately, but I’ll post it here (lightly modified :)

In a lot of cases the observations shouldn’t even be merged though. One just needs to be deleted. I would estimate in >95% of instances folks do not follow up on their duplicates or other data quality issues. This will only be a very, very minor help.

Duplicates are a huge pain in the butt for identifiers. Anything that makes the identification process slower and more frustrating is a major data issue.

We’ve been flagging them for years. The “acceptable” observation is the one that is oldest or isn’t flagged.

I plan on continuing to flag duplicates as I see them in order to remove them from the Identify pool. This will continue to make the flags page unwieldy and difficult to manage.


Yes, I saw the previous topic (I’d even liked some comments there before), but as you pointed out it is closed (and I’m out of votes anyway).

Or sometimes, the more complete one. I’ve occasionally seen duplicates where the first one is missing date or location, but the duplicate has the photo and the other required info. I’ll leave a comment on the “original” suggesting the user delete it, as the “duplicate” is already complete.


I beg the team to provide a solution (a new feature in the iNaturalist web application, not by asking us to contact the observer) to prevent at least these cases (when an observer attemps to upload several times the same picture to different observations). Thanks a lot.

In some cases the intention is to identify the different organisms in the same picture. This is an exception to be handled by the solution.

Related feature request (for preventing the issue):

Some sort of Request Merge option that would make it easy for a user to accept a merging request by identifiers of observations would be useful. Often I just try to find something else in the images to ID if they post several of the same organism.