What to do about observations that don't help iNaturalist's mission?

Every once in a while, I encounter observations that, in my opinion at least, don’t belong on here. A pet or potted plant that’s clearly inside someone’s home. A human making a weird face or ID’ed by the uploader as something else, like a pig or slug or something. They aren’t about documenting the natural world, they’re about making jokes, or sharing pet photos, or someone who doesn’t know what the website’s for or something. The obvious joke ones I’ve been reporting. I didn’t keep the links, though, so I don’t know if they’ve been taken down. Are these removed? Are there guidelines somewhere saying exactly what falls outside the scope of iNaturalist that I can reference if something might be a border case?


Just mark the pets and pots as captive/cultivated, and the humans as humans. Stuffed animals, toys and videogame screencaps can be marked “no evidence of organism” or “Human” (since they are human artifacts) depending on your preference.

Once they get properly labelled they will get filed as “casual” grade observations, same as observations added without media, and not propagated to other repositories.


Update: Found the site’s specific help item about it!


Content is rarely removed from iNaturalist. Exceptions would be things like nude images of humans or pornography. Commercially spammy content and copyrighted images are hidden from public view.

There are so many gray areas that such a policy would have to be very detailed. If in doubt, feel free to flag the content to get a second opinion. From the FAQ:

What is considered inappropriate content?

You know it when you see it, right? Stuff that violates Section 2 of our Terms of Service is definitely inappropriate and worth flagging or otherwise notifying the admins about. Milder forms of rudeness are unfortunate, but probably not something we’ll delete." Although iNat is primarily for sharing observations of wild organisms, observations of captive animals, garden plants, and other organisms most naturalists may not find interesting are okay (they’re alive, after all). Other abiotic phenomena should be marked as “no evidence of organism” in the Data Quality Assessment section. Things that clearly have nothing to do with nature, like what someone had for lunch, are inappropriate and should be flagged. Pictures of pets, humans, abiotic phenomena, or obvious test observations are okay unless someone repeatedly posts such content. If you encounter inappropriate content, flag it or contact the site staff at help@inaturalist.org

That said, it’s probably not worth flagging observations of “what someone had for lunch” unless they continue to post that type of content despite being politely guided toward appropriate use of iNat.

See also this affiliated thread with recommendations for common scenarios: Dealing with low quality observations and inappropriate content on iNaturalist


Thanks, everyone. I’ll adjust my actions accordingly.


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