What to do when someone keeps posting images from an insect collection?

There’s a person who keeps showing up on my identification list, who keeps posting images of insects that are pinned with needles and the images’ location data is the exact same spot. Sometimes the description field credits the image to someone in another country altogether, and the insect isn’t local to here, but the geodata is still the same.

While I understand this gives good photos of details for identification, I believe this is not the point of this platform. As far as I’ve understood, the idea is to share data about encounters with wild specimens. I’ve messaged the person and explained the issue, and also linked the related part of the guidelines, but I got no answer and it keeps going on. Sometimes tens of observations a day.

Is there anything I can do in this case (flag them or mark them as casual etc), or have I understood the premise of the iNaturalist-platform wrong? Now that one spot on the map is getting a ridiculous amount of observations of a ridiculous amount of insect species. It really bugs (pun intended) me.


Since the organism is not in a place of its own choosing for the date/location of the observation, I’d suggest marking the observations as not wild in the Data Quality Assessment and writing a comment explaining to them that they should be using the date/location of the insect’s capture if they want it to be considered “wild” on iNaturalist.

A potential separate issue might be that they’re posting photos from a collection that’s not theirs, which isn’t what iNat’s really about. If you want to submit a ticket to iNat support with more details I can look into it.


In cases like that I would downvote “Location is accurate.”


IF and only if the insects are posted with the date and location of their capture (not the where they are now or the date of the photo), I think they’re OK to include on iNaturalist.


The iNaturalist observation records the encounter with an organism or recent evidence of an organism. Photos/sounds are evidence of the encounter, and can be made after the encounter (eg a pinned insect that was collected, or a spore print). As long as the encounter’s date/location are recorded accurately, then one shouldn’t vote that it’s inaccurate. In these cases the organism is, at the time of the encounter, where a human wants it to be, so it would be considered not wild on iNaturalist. Voting “no” for “Location is accurate” should be reserved for cases where it’s clear that the encounter was not at the marked location. For example, a photo clearly taken in the woods but with a location in the middle of a city.


Thank you! I have to appreciate the clarity of your answer. :+1:

In general, pinned insect specimen images can be extremely valuable. I work on bees, and there is a significant proportion of species that cannot be ID’d confidently from in-situ photos. I post many specimen photos myself, as vouchers for species that have few or no pictures on iNat (often, bee species that are relatively common have few records here, even if they’re easy to ID with a specimen, b/c they are hard to ID from the average user photo). As everyone else has said though, it’s crucial that the metadata are correct to when and where the specimen was collected, and when possible, who by.


I understand that. What I hear, in many cases species can differ in such minute details, that it’s impossible to photograph them without the subject being absolutely still; in many cases, dead. In this case the metadata, or the lack of, was the issue for me.

I’m by no means an expert in any way, but have spent so much time in nature all my life and having been taught a lot about it, that I can do some ID-ing. I mostly do it at a very coarse level and fill the “drop-down questions” about the entry, as well as the quality grade to the level I’m confident enough for. Clerical work in addition to my own observations, you could say. That’s how I noticed this case.

It’s always interesting to hear from people who know about things, so thank you for the perspective. :blush:


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