What to write on your profile

Hi, this post is mainly suggestions from me about what to write on your profile.
More suggestions are welcome.
Please feel free to remove this thread if this topic already exists somewhere I couldn’t find.

I strongly recommend noting these on top of your profile:

・Your expertise or special interest(s) (e.g. Birds, plants, specific species, etc)
・Types of habitat you are interested in (or just visit most often. Freshwater or marine, for example)
・Your broader interest, including the things you like but not specifically focused
・Geographical area you are good at (Not necessary only where you live)

Especially if you are an identifier, writing your profile in a way people can see your expertise is very very important, because there are quite a few new users that only enjoys clicking “Agree” without really knowing what they are identifying.

※If available, add any links (e.g. Website, Researchgate), list of publications or anything that proves your expertise / passion.

・Then, I find noting photo usage quite important.
Although iNat allows people to do the copyright setting, it is still good to clarify either you want people to contact you before using your pictures or not, etc.

・Also, your email. Especially if you are an active user, there is a high possibility of getting contacted by researchers or people interested in your observations or your activities on iNaturalist, and they might not have an iNaturalist account (to use direct messages).

Without an icon, you can easily be mistaken as an app user or an inactive user who never responds to people’s comments or IDs, which will discourage people from interacting with your observations.
I personally recommend using a good-looking or iconic picture which is related to your interest or yourself, and not changing it frequently.

If you are a heavy iNaturalist user, maybe clarify how people can reach out to you without being missed. Check your Account setting and turn off notifications of confirming IDs at very first, though.

Also it might be good to have:
・Links to what you do on iNat (projects, notable observations, etc)
・Languages you speak
・Links to useful identification resources or useful threads on forum etc
・A bit of information about yourself (※Be careful when publishing your information online)
・List of equipments (cameras etc) you use


This is one that I do not see often but made sure to put on mine. From a curator standpoint, I’ve seen lots of flags left unresolved because there’s a language barrier. There’s a page somewhere that lists curators who speak certain languages, like a reference page, but I remember profiles better than how to find that link, honestly.


Excellent post!

I would add a request for your name - at least first initial and last surname. I understand that there are some who want or need to protect their privacy, but for everyone else, a name allows an observer like me to:

  1. Check on your credentials/publications to see if you have experience with the taxa you are identifying - there are of course experts who don’t publish much, but this is very helpful.

  2. For those of us who collect specimens, it allows us to put your name on a specimen determination label (ID label) associated with that observation.


Good suggestions!. I think one’s geographic focus and taxa of interest are most important. I realize there are non-professionals who are experts, but I like knowing if someone is a professional as that indicates a credential. Not foolproof but helpful.

It’s great to see a welcoming statement about being open to disagreements and requests for IDs.

I would not list my email in a profile. The DM system works perfectly well and you can exchange emails that way if you want to send or receive an attachment.


Well… putting my email on there is a personal no-no for me. There are private messages that work just fine. I actually also wanted to state the same about my name, but I just realized that it is up there because of a link to researchgate… hmm, I have to think that one over. Deleded the link for now. I don´t like to mix private and spare time that blundly actually…

The languages is a nice touch, but I personally find it not so interesting, as translation tools can help out quite a bit in that area anyways and if someone speaks a language I don´t speak that does not stop me from contacting them anyways. Trial and error I guess.

If your are identifying and maybe come up in leaderboards, so people might want to tag you, it is for sure useful to add a little note on your tagging policies. Former discussions here in the forum showed that there is quite a range of sentiments about what people finde rude or polite concerning tagging. Putting a little note stating if people can tag you and for what, where and how often can help relax the confusion and maybe also change behaviours in your favour.


Oh, yes! I made sure to write that I would appreciate different opinions and that I am happy to get mentioned (up to five times a day by a person- if more, better to be DM as I might miss some)


Agreed, I firmly believe in a “burner” email account also. One that has no hard links to your information.


Not really. Keep in mind that users who only have the iPhone app have no way to use or even see the DM system. I’ve sent DMs to users and wondered why they “ignored” me for months, only to realize that all their posts are tagged as coming from the Apple app and they likely never even saw my outreach until I wrote a comment on one of their observations.

For folks who are reticent about leaving an external contact email in the clear, maybe write something explaining that people should DM you to get it (so they know that’s an option), or write it in non-machine-readable-friendly ways, or a burner that echoes to a real account.


I didn’t even know the function existed for like a year. I was very embarrassed.

You can’t see profiles at all on the app, either.


My last resort to contact non-responsive people, is a polite comment on their latest obs. Surely they will see that?

I would settle for an avatar / icon that isn’t a ghostly grey head.
And even one sentence of information - is better than a blank profile.


I think this is the best way to contact iOS phone users. That will show up in the “activity” selection, as well as the post.


Linking your ORCID could be considered a shorthand way of achieving this.


7 posts were split to a new topic: Annotating museum specimens based on iNaturalist identifications

What is the cause that online translators like Google Translate don’t help to solve this issue? Do they provide not satisfying results in the languages needed, or are they not used for another reasons?

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If you use it to translate from English or into English. That turns out to be pretty tolerable. Perhaps the same is true between the Romance languages. But if you take quite different languages, for example, something from Finno-Ugric and Slavic groups, then it is easier to learn the language yourself than to understand what is translated.


I really don´t agree.

Yes, sure there are languages for which it for sure is difficult or maybe even impossible to translate anything understandable. But I think it is the minority of cases where this is problematic.

Sure, if I translate russian-german or russian-english it might not turn out as great as let´s say english-spanish, but it is sufficient enough to understand what´s going on for the purpose of this site. I do not plan to write an application letter with a translation tool :-)
I had perfectly fine communication with people, each of us seemingly using a translation tool and then wrting in our preferred language back.
I for example put your russian text from your profile in google translate and it did work out perfectly fine, even if a text like this would maybe not have been graded with the best mark in foreign language in school ;-)

On the other hand… what does it help if someone writes on their profile they speak japanese and greek if I do ot understand the language? I will again have to resort to translation tools and hope for the best anyways.

If there is anything written in the profile, it will give you a hint on what language you could use… if not, location of observations will help as well.


I am on Naturalista.mx which is a partner site to iNaturalist.

Depending on what I observe, sometimes comment threads are in English, sometimes Spanish. Sometimes it is all native English speakers and sometimes a mix of people from here (MX) and not here. (Nearly everyone here who attends prepa studies English, it is usually required as foreign language, but a number of private schools require it in earlier grades, so fluency is often achieved quite young.)

If a comment thread starts in English, local persons will reply in same but more briefly. If however a thread starts in Spanish, the replies from local persons are generally longer and more detailed. Since all of my observations are of local species, often their assistance is more helpful on those observations. The same is true of messages.

Thus, the reason my profile indicates my duality is: It helps for people to look at my profile and know they can approach me in whatever language encourages them to type longer, more detailed items.

There are multiple ways to give cues that this is possible.

  • One might say “I speak French and Italian.”
  • One might insert a line at the top in one’s mother language, as Marina does. (I love this profile photo, Marina!)
  • One might put one’s entire profile description in multiple languages, as I do. (I have seen a profile but I cannot remember whose with four languages, which I found eminently impressive.)

None of these should detract from anyone else’s experience of iNaturalist (or Naturalista or whatever platform anyone is experiencing).

What would detract from my experience would be any framing that there is one default language in the world and the language spoken here (or elsewhere) is “other”.


As a primarily mobile user, it can certainly be a hassle to have to log onto the website on my phone every week or so. iNat has a lot of small buttons that do not mesh well with a small screen, which I’d imagine has played a part in the differences between the mobile app and the website itself. Because I check the site every so often, I’m able to edit my profile, check my mail, and chat here. It’s an odd balance, but I’d say it works fine for me.


I think it’s just more convenient and leaves less room for misunderstandings when it’s somebody who is fluent in the language. I’d encourage people to use Google Translate and similar things because a lot of the time, those translations for a lot of languages seem pretty close to what somebody who isn’t the sharpest with that language (me, a lot of the time) would say anyways. Not perfect but can definitely get the job done.

I think for sorting out conflicts or anything that needs a fair amount of back and forth to figure out, it’s just a lot more comfortable to be familiar, and ideally confident, with the language you’re using. But again, I think for many situations, translators will do the trick. I think it’s just effort and not everybody wants to do that if they think somebody who knows the language will come in and help at some point.


Invertebratist, thank you for your thoughtful and comprehensive profile guidelines and to everyone for the discussion.
Many of us have workshops and field trips that introduce people to iNaturlaist, I always suggest adding an icon and short profile. Initially, one or 2 sentences as was suggested above. I am only a website user so did not know about the limitations to profiles and DM with app users.
This discussion will help me guide new and veteran users to hone their own profiles, highlighting what they want to share with the iNat community.