Why don't humans have annotations?

I personally don’t see the value in not allowing annotations for humans. I’m not making this a feature request because maybe there is a reason I’m not aware of. I’ve tried searching for an explanation, but I can’t find any.

Well, because no researcher or interested party is going to iNaturalist for human-centered data. No part of their mission statement includes observing humans.


Maybe because Humans aren’t valid observations?


what would be the value in allowing them?


There’s no value of adding observations of humans in the first place.


Observations of humans already have the potential for abuse, particularly if the observer has not gotten permission from the person depicted to post the photo on iNat.

I see some big problems with annotations like “sex” and “life stage” if they were applied to observations of humans – sex is not gender, gender presentation can be complicated, and it is nobody’s business to be making judgements about the sex or gender of strangers, or deciding whether someone in a photo is juvenile or adult.

The only observations with an ID of “human” that I see much use in are observations of human artifacts that may be confused with other organisms (“chewing gum” lichens, mysterious beach objects, etc.). In this context, I could potentially see value in being able to annotate “artifact” as a type of evidence (to filter these out from observations showing people), but otherwise I think it is better to not have annotations for humans.


which is an ongoing battle I have with the Sex annotation for plants. It does not apply to most plants - and blooming difficult to explain to someone new to looking at plants thoughtfully - is The Plant male or female (not the observer, no gender police on iNat)

What annotation do you want to add to human obs @cyanfox ? What would be useful to you ?

but there is interest in who / where etc observers are. And then the very much wider group of silent users.

Slightly off topic. Does iNat have guidelines about using pictures of children? I am wary of pictures of small children on social media.

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The one annotation I wished we had for humans is type of evidence. As it is, every sign of human activity - museum/trail signage, toy animals, artificial flowers, litter in the woods, graffiti carved into tree bark, stacked rocks, tire tracks in mud etc. gets marked as “human” along with observations of actual humans. Some human artifacts look very confusingly like something nature could produce and others do have an impact on wildlife in an area and I wished there was a way to filter these out from all the actual people observations. There are also edge cases, e.g. sculptures and artwork clearly identifiable as representing a particular species or museum displays and trail signage that has info about a specific species where I wonder if it wasn’t better ID’d as the species represented and marked “no evidence of organism” to make it casual instead of ID’ing as human.


We know how many of us there are (8 billion+) and we know where we are (nearly everywhere.)
Of course, the same could be said for dandelions: we know how many there are (8 billion+ ?) and where they are (nearly everywhere) and yet we keep observing those…


I’ve actually always thought it’d be nice to have the “evidence of presence” annotation for “human” since this can sometimes be relevant when marking something initially mistakenly thought to be non-human in origin as human. Or even just for intentionally uploading things to be ID’d as “human” (I sometimes upload photos of graffiti I find while I’m out iNatting just because it’s interesting and I have no other place to put them and since they can easily be filtered out, or weirdly picturesque litter, as an example)

Other annotations though would just be detrimental, for the reasons already outlined.


So - you could add the useful human annotations to the list
Sculpture, trash and artefacts are mentioned in comments.

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We’re not going to add annotations for observations of humans, for the many reasons people have brought up here. I agree there might be some utility for adding an “artifact” one or something, but even that could be used for abuse and might confuse people and make them think it’s OK to post photos of litter or detritus to iNat (which is not what iNat is for, there are other platforms for that).


Every observation on iNaturalist is “Evidence of human presence”
I don’t view iNaturalist as being about humans, but more about human interaction with all other forms of life.


Well, humans belong to only one species, but there are about 2500 accepted taxa of Dandelions, even if there are “8 billion+” individuals. That’s quite a difference. A Dandelion is not a Dandelion.


I don’t like that idea.
My observation of American Beech has graffiti on the bark, and I mentioned this in the notes, but I intended it as an observation of American Beech. Not Human. When someone documents road kill, it doesn’t get IDed as Human, even though a human was the one driving the vehicle that inflicted the damage. Graffiti damage to a tree should be no different.


Point taken. I should’ve chosen “housefly” as an example.

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