Why do we have observations of "Human"?

I find this argument absurd and self-serving. If you want to show off your art, there are plenty of places online to do that.

Imagine if everyone starting posting pictures their kids drew of a flower and identifying them to species? Or maybe my child’s dinosaur drawings have a place on iNat?

This sort of stuff just clutters up a citizen science database and pollutes the dataset.

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iNat is to encourage people who are not scientists to become aware of nature.
It is not defined as a (polluted) ‘citizen science database’


That’s a slippery slope to go down. Who decides what is or has scientific value? Does the next Mallard, or Monarch or Grey Heron etc record that will be submitted have ‘scientific value’?

It seems like you’re interpreting my phrase out of context! I was responding to someone who said that an observation of a deck chair shouldn’t be identified as Homo sapiens because it doesn’t provide any scientifically-useful data. I’m not making any comment about the grey areas of what’s scientifically useful, or how and why that’s defined. My only point is that the casual classification exists in part as a place for observations of deck chairs to end up.

Of course a mallard or grey heron observation can be scientifically useful, because it contains scientific data. If it has a date and location and gets identified then it can be classed as research grade, which is as it should be. That has nothing to do with the original topic: observations which some people consider useless to inat because they contain only evidence of humans.


There might be reason to ID an observation as ‘Human’ if it was a trace observation that was mistakenly thought to be caused by a different organism by the uploader; I can recall one observation where dollops of paint on a fence post was mistaken for a slime mold. I’ve also found and ID’ed an ‘Unknown’ record as Human as the observation was of a stone tool in an archaeological site. It would make sense to delete it, but at the same time, I see also the benefit of logging the presence of humans at that site when studying the past.


This discussion demonstrates that iNaturalist is in a category by itself. Is it a social media site where one can share an interest in nature and have fun? Yes. Is it a database for serious science? Yes. iNat is as strange as a mammal that lays eggs.
My experience here varies. Sometimes I’m reminded of the “otherness” of others. It can feel like rejection, but it is not all about me. There’s a whole world out there waiting to be identified :)


I appreciate the forum, when the heated discussions remain friendly.
If we can listen to each other, we find different ways of using iNat.
What works for me, doesn’t work for you, because … and vice versa. But I may discover a quicker, better way to achieve something which is clunky for me now.
At very least I understand why what I don’t use and NEVER look at does in fact have particular value for someone else.
Social media (and iNat is ‘sciency’ SM) is different for each person here.


I am also concerned about the posting of young kids with exact times and locations, which makes them vulnerable to pedophiles. We should require that location on those posts is very general, or hidden.


There’s an open feature request for that here: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/automatically-obscure-observations-marked-as-human/501 with, surprisingly, 0 votes.


Nature-related crafts like your garden bench or my dragonfly mosaic can encourage others to pause, observe, and value nearby plants and animals more.

Perhaps, but they do not count as evidence of an organism. I saw this recently as I was providing identifications: a quite good drawing of Oregongrape (Genus Berberis or Mahonia depending on how you delineate genera); but it was tagged “human” because we have no way to know whether there was actually Oregongrape present at the time and place the drawing was made.

They do that IRL, uploading them as observations makes nothing of listed things, we already have real, living things on the website to encourage people, how would they “stop and observe” while checking human observations on iNat?

but, some species, have botanical drawings for their taxon photo. That also is merely a drawing and not evidence of life.


Illustrations and sketches can be an evidence of the specimen and shouldn’t be ided as human, that’s the site policy.


Evidence of a human—not an animal track, but a human track. I set up a flood plain project on iNat to record a tiny local park my local garden club cares for. It made sense to include photos of the signage I made for the pollinator garden there in that project. As for the dragonfly mosaic in my front yard, it is my way to say bugs are beautiful to my neighbors who are mostly bug phobic. Also I thought my iNat friends would like to see it (perhaps not!) 3 human observations out of 3000 or so nature observations is hardly excessive.


Probably my signage and mosaic will benefit my neighbors most, but if one “cabin bound” fellow iNatter decides to do likewise for his or her yard or nature spot so be it! :blossom::honeybee:


I believe we may need a forum thread about sharing such things.


I would agree if @botanicaltreasures had IDed their craft as pollinators or dragonflies, but he or she IDed them as Human, so they do count as evidence of human organisms. :slightly_smiling_face:

As @fffffffff already pointed out, that’s a mistaken ID. The curator guide even specifically states that they are allowed.

For anyone who wants to see examples, there is also at least one a project for them: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/nature-drawing-and-journaling

And the reasoning is spurious. Generally speaking, we also “have no way to know whether” most observations’ location or date is correct: EXIF data can be altered, landmarks in the background could have been photoshopped in, etc. There is an element of the honor system to iNat.


That’s a good point re: volume.
The curator guide does specifically mention keeping it under 25% of your observations:


Please don’t use iNaturalist for this purpose, at least not regularly. There are other apps/platforms designed for this, like https://www.litterati.org/ and http://marinedebris.engr.uga.edu/

Theoretically, all observations on iNaturalist (aside from trail cams and some other exceptions) are observations of humans as well. So there’s a lot more than 40k. ;-)


https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/2372054 is an observation that has risen several times as it did recently and is always a joy to see. Great memory. Chuck’s stat reports are awesome. And as Sam has said, iNat is a community.


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