What is your what-to-post bias on iNat, and why?

With plants I always fall into a layman trap of being hesitant to take pictures of just leaves or small spring sprouts because I think it’s not enough to ID. I fall into the classic “look for flowering ones” plant observer. I am also not good at IDing trees from trunk photos so those tend to be neglected too. I assume that can change with experience. God knows how many interesting plants I overlooked because it was not in flower and just part of the “green mat”


My bias used to be just the cool insects I found, but more recently I have been posting everything I can find.


Between flowering plants or interesting leaves, and their insects, against my life list. With some lichen, spiders, reptiles. I am happy with ‘can’t go past genus’ but not interested in repeat obs unless there is something different to capture - flower or fruit.
And rocks - but iNat doesn’t like those.


Mine depends on what activity I’m doing. If I’m out for the purpose of hiking, I will photograph and post anything interesting but not take the time for the really common species that have already been well documented. Other people with me don’t always want to wait for me to spend 10 minutes trying to get a good photo of a bird. If I’m out for the purpose of birding, I will photograph everything I see but I usually will only post one from each species. Like the original poster, I will post more from trips since those tend to be new species for me.

I’m not very interested in plants, fungi, or insects but will occasionally post one if it’s interesting or something I have not seen before. One of my biases is towards good photography, meaning a “boring” plant that doesn’t make for a very interesting/aesthetic photo usually gets skipped but a butterfly landing on a wildflower is more likely to get photographed. The challenge of getting a good photo of a bird can be part of the fun for me. I also like keeping track of what new species I’m seeing and learning more about them. I can sometimes lose interest in birding if I’m not seeing anything new.


My top two observed species, I’m always happy to stop and observe them, even if they’re not in season:


Checking my porch lights a few nights a week for an hour a night last year resulted in about 200 moth species. This year, I have a UV bulb and a better camera. Already found new yard species during my first two moth sessions this year!


Lately I’m very biased toward posting photos of squirrels in my back yard! Because they’re cute. Like @kildor I like to post something every day and therefore post the same bird species many times, at the feeders.

I try to post most things I can easily get pictures of, including flowers. In winter, I post of lot of lichens and mosses. Things I can’t ID (like mushrooms) make good posts, but I minimize species that certainly won’t get ID’d to species (e.g. Cladonia and Usnea, as pointed out above). I work to photo pollinators with their plants. I try to post at least once everything I can in a given park or wildlife area, to contribute to a checklist or just because I like recording the diversity. And I’ll photo things just because they look like they’ll make interesting photos.

I’m biased against posting Douglas-fir, our most common dominant tree here, though I try to remember to photo one at each site.


I mostly post insects, they’re my favorite! I like animals, but I don’t spot mammals as often and when I do I struggle to get high-quality photos of them. I post plenty of plants too since they’re there, but I find them a little less fun. They feel too easy to find and photograph. Insects provide just enough challenge to keep me engaged but not so much that I feel discouraged from trying. Besides, I find a lot of them pretty cute!


Yes, especially decades or a century from now.


Currently, my observations are bird-centric in Palo Duro Canyon State Park(Canyon, Texas, USA) at the Wildlife Viewing Blind.
I have taken photos and a few audio recordings almost daily for the past two months.
My routine is probably more therapeutic than scientific. :)
However, you never know how the data may be used in the future.


Me, too!


I’m biased against things that seem cultivated or captive, which I imagine is somewhat common; I’m also definitely biased towards things that make me go “huh” or “cool”, which basically means any organism I don’t think I’d notice if I weren’t walking around iNatting. This means I’m biased against uploading large, readily-sighted organisms like trees, common urban birds, and Eastern Grey Squirrels - they’re very cute, but while every other wild mammal is exciting, I just see so many EGSs!

On the other hand, I upload a lot of mosses and lichen, because they’re so small I don’t normally notice them in day-to-day life (so they’re exciting) but also so common around here that they’re easy to find in large numbers.


Great, thought-provoking question!
location bias: most of my sightings are made in the small patch of eucalypt forest where I live (SE Australia). My partner and I have been (informally) studying the local biodiversity and ecology of this site for the past 12 years.
organismal bias: arthropods, with a recent emphasis on wasps and ‘unusual’ flies. Sand-nesting hymenopterans and the parasitic wasps and flies they attract are my current passion.
novelty factor: if an insect or spider is unfamiliar to me I’ll definitely pursue it. But even familiar species are in scope if they’re showing an interesting behaviour or I notice an interaction with other animals or plants. And if get a particularly nice photo, I’ll post that too ;)
seasonality: first sightings for the season, such as first sighting of each butterfly species.
identifiability: I’ll only post photos which I think have a chance of identification. As my focus is insects, and I live in Australia, I accept that many of my sightings will only be indentifiable to genus or perhaps even just sub-family. Most insect taxa in this country include many, many undescribed species. That’s OK – genus-level ID provides clues as to the biology and life-history of the species … and that is what I’m keen to learn. How does it live and what role does it play in the ecology of the forest?

So I end up with a mix of common species and rare ones … all interesting to me, and of potential benefit to someone else, somewhere, at some time.


I think for me (and I suspect others) my biases adapt to the season and to some extent: the toybox!

I was not looking forward to snow come November last year (this is my first year on iNat and I started at the end of last May) and the closing of the ‘macro portal’ of animal life, but to my surprise, I shifted to try other things. Mosses, fungi, liverworts, and oh the wonders of lichen-land! And birds. I mean, I’m always up for a good bird shot.

Last year, I found a terrific deal on a used Olympus TG-6 and it was like an instant pass to many tiny worlds. It’s weird now to think how many things I did NOT observe but did ‘see’ for so many years. This nudged me into super-macro range and a Raynox lens extender and it was like discovering a secret game level! But just as that got going, so did most of my new crawly friends.

But, as they say, limitations are the root of innovation and creativity. So I went out and discovered some secret local hiding places (tunnels, zones), plus some surprising winter species and many examples of non-organism evidence (cocoons, feathers, shells, molts) that kept things going.

Things are just starting to move again and I find myself trying to work out ways to spend even MORE time out there each day. Plus, I added one (and probably final for a while) big toy to my kit – a Nikon P950 which allows me to take great super-macros with the Raynox on it, plus still observe birds, larger animals with it’s great zoom powers. Plus, it’s still relatively light. Combine that with my TG6, and I’ve got most of the range covered that I need all in just one neck camera and a pocket or two. Another thing I discovered about a good superzoom? You can ID tree fungi pretty easily, or other stuff that’s in places that’s too difficult, or too delicate, to get to physically. Right now I’m pondering about having to get another storage drive because already my photo count has gone up so quickly!

But as to what to post? I don’t discriminate against common species. I just don’t post them proportionally to what I observe. I do like to capture behaviour stuff and also out-of-season sightings. Or just the multiple stages of organisms. And there’s always the aberrants, right? Someone just posted a shot of a black Vulpes vulpes the other day taken just a few miles from me walking through a suburb. Pretty cool!

Identifiablility? Well… sometimes that gets a little frustrating. I mean, my pile of unidentified fungi and lichen is so big it’s starting to get a little… mouldy?

My biggest bias is probably avoiding cultivated stuff. I mean, there’s enough of that around to spend the rest of your life documenting it, if you wanted. But to me, it’s like the difference between a real meal and a microwaved dinner. Nice looking package on the frozen entrees but… have those pics ever lived up to the experience?

I joined a local photo club this winter and I’ve already been asked to lead a special interest group in macro. (Probably just to keep me too busy to keep throwing up more spider, fly and maggot shots on the group’s Facebook pages.) I hope to do a little iNat recruiting as part of this new role. We’ll see.

Happy trails everyone!


Same. Unless it is a seriously underobserved taxon such as Tubificid worms.

Yes. Although my aversion to them is only on iNaturalist; I don’t mind the sight of them if they aren’t cluttering up my identify tab. I try to remember that some people are just such newbies to nature that they honestly don’t know the difference, but it seems like such a basic distinction to me – even in a place where I have never been and don’t know the flora, I can still tell when several of the same thing are growing evenly spaced and neatly trimmed along a foundation.

On any given day, I only stop to photograph a small portion of what I see. I have my notepad and pencil out, recording vegetation patterns (“The canopy layer was…”), phenology, and animal sightings, and I don’t really like to interrupt this stream of consciousness to take pictures unless something particularly catches my interest. I have read enough nature writing and scientific papers to know that pictures are not the be-all-end-all.

My what-to-post bias includes a preference for exotic (to me) locales. In the other thread about the Annual iNaturalist Survey, there was extensive discussion about the overrepresentation of the United States. I find that when I am traveling in those underrepresented countries, I am more inclined to photograph and post more of what I see, and also more motivated to go on field days in the first place.

Conversely, when I look at observations in my hometown, I get a sense of what not to post by seeing what has already been observed the most.


In choosing what to upload…

For me:

  • I don’t know what it is and I’m interested to know
  • I think I know what it is but am not 100% sure and want to be sure
  • It’s sometimes helpful to have a record of what I saw when where I can easily retrieve the best photos of the organism.

I am now sorting all my photos into subject folders so sometimes want more certainty with ID than I already have. Some of my folders have thousands of files so having a few of the best easily accessible and searchable on iNat helps with pruning out the excess photos on my computer.

For others:

  • Helping to create records of what is where
  • Showing a variety of views of a species, especially its natural variation
  • Showing behaviour of species when I think it might be helpful or interesting for someone

I try to not have huge numbers of the same species at the same location, but will load enough to show that it is common there. And will also upload anything I think is uncommon. In my retrospective photo indexing/sorting project on my computer I look to see what other records are already on iNat and will upload if that species is not shown at the location within a couple of years either side of the date of my photo. Or if my upload shows something different about the organism that might be of interest to someone. I also try to keep it interesting if I can - eg a bird eating a fish rather than just a photo of the bird doing nothing.

When I’m uploading and trying to figure out what something is, I often appreciate the number and variety of photos posted by a range of people and will do my best to have some degree of specificity in my initial suggestion, even if that turns out to be wrong. That is still a learning opportunity. If my upload ends up remaining at genus or even higher level, to me that shows that there is more work to be done on that organism so the upload is worthwhile and might get a better ID in the future. The exception is when my photos weren’t clear enough - an incentive to do better in that regard which is also a learning opportunity.

Regarding cultivated/captive organisms, I think there is a place for uploads that show what something is so that a future observer in the wild can recognise it for what it is - eg escaped garden plants. I don’t think iNat should get cluttered up with heaps of domestic cultivars, but if something feral is found then it can be helpful to have some idea of what it is and maybe even where it could have originated in the local area.


I record what I see. I favour arthropods since that is my interest, but will post plants if I am curious about them, or know that they are rare - or even just beautiful! Birds are more difficult, since I mostly use my macro lens. Fish also, for obvious reasons.

I post nearly all the spiders I see, and most of the insects. I am well aware that most of them can not be ID’d to species level just from photographs, but I still think the observations are valuable. I post organisms that are common and often seen, but limit it to - say - once a day. I find it interesting to look back on my observations and see the patterns. Some common spiders are seen through the year, some only during summer, some mysteriously disappear during some months. For me it isn’t just about new or rare or interesting things - I want to record normal arthropod life, the fluctuations, the locations, the interactions, the differences - posting only one of each bug will not show any of this.

If I am to visit a new location, I like to filter for the time of year, and appreciate it if others have posted some common arthropods, it is good to know what to look for, and also good to find something that hasn’t been recorded by other enthusiasts there.

I also love bioblitzes, excellent opportunites to open your eyes and see many things you would otherwise be ‘blind’ to. I wish we had more of those!


An interesting stimulus to stop and think a while about the whats and whys of things :-) . I’ve been looking, learning and recording for as long as I can remember, and probably even before that, so participating in iNaturalist is above all a natural extension of what I’ve always loved doing. I tend to post:

  • life-forms of any kind new to me and recordable photographically in the hopes of satisfying my insatiable curiosity and extending my knowledge;
  • observations, particularly flora and arthropods, that illustrate a particular phenological stage or interesting behaviour;
  • given that I am as passionate about photography as I am about nature, I also like to upload images which could help others identify the depicted life-forms in the future.

My focus is learning which plants are native to the localized eco region, versus which have volunteered by spreading on their own after being introduced (for example dandelions in the USA). It’s a fascinating window into human history and activity, and how we have altered the earth. It’s also a good way to be able to curate the landscape and support wildlife.


I’m disappointed that many of you choose not upload what you don’t expect to be IDed to species.
When a new taxon specialist lands on iNat. And works methodically thru the backlog.

Suddenly, it’s just moss - jumps to species. Or can’t go further than … Thanks to Mossy new flora
Or local lichens - from Ian Medeiros

If the obs aren’t there - not much for them to work with. And you miss getting an unexpected ID, even if it is years later! (Must have good detailed pictures of course)