Why use iNat over, or in addition to, Seek?

I’m curious to learn why people use iNat over Seek, or for people who use Seek, why upload their Seek observations to iNat? I imagine it is, for some, about wanting to potentially contribute to science, but are there other reasons? Do people feel more certain about the ID if the algorithm suggestion is verified by other people? PS I’m a journalist interested in the sociology of iNat, thanks for any replies!


iNat is a global platfrom, seek is a more gamified personal app that on default just stores the data on your phone (focused on minors, people concerned about their privacy or more casual use of cv), there’re built in activities in it, so some people stick to it while also contributing those observations to iNat. Seek has the same cv as iNat, but has no real people to prove it, nobody else can see your data. iNat observations contribute to the world science, they’re translated to GBIF and other platforms. You will find more by checking previous topics like https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/seek-app-vs-inaturalist/16606. iNat is a social platfrom you upload your data to, Seek is an app that can help you with ids and make your outings more fun.


This may be the case now (unsure), but as of March this year


Then I remember older @tiwane comments about it, that it was updated to current one, but with a delay. Even though for most species there’s no difference, it’s one more reason to use iNat.
To add for social aspect, seeing others’ observations or visiting places with no observations, it’s impossible to do with Seek.


I work in a California State Park, and iNaturalist is tremendously useful in a wide variety of ways. We encourage volunteers and visitors to take observations, and now have almost 30K observations of 1900 species in the park. If an invasive plant shows up in the park, I can see an iNat observation of it and have it removed before it spreads. If a member of a local tribe has a permit to collect black oak acorns, I can point her to the right spot. If a conservation photographer wants to get a photo of a Western Tanager, I can tell him right where and what time of day people have been seeing them. If a volunteer wants to update our recent wildlife sightings board, we have a list ready made.

But for me personally, the best reason to upload observations is how much I learn from it. Seek gives you a suggestion of what you might be looking at, and that’s usually the end of it. Using iNaturalist, I register a guess as to what I’m seeing, sometimes with the help of the AI, and then other naturalists tell me what I’ve actually found, or help me figure it out. And I can ask them how they know, and what details I should have gotten better pictures of, and why it couldn’t also be this other thing.

And I can look back at my previous observations and say, oh yes, we eventually figured out that the caddisfly I thought was a moth https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/21765821 was Nerophilus californicus and this one has the same striking markings and habitat. When I started using iNat a few years ago I could identify maybe 10 local plants on sight, and now I’d say that’s closer to 250.

But even beyond that, iNat is a community. I’ve used it to recruit volunteers, organize events, make friends, rally support for causes ( https://www.sonomanews.com/article/news/the-species-found-at-sdc/ ), make professional contacts, find an audience for my infantile poetry ( https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/an-ode-to-the-overworked-identifier-with-gratitude-and-apology/2792 ) and so much more.


I was introduced to iNat through a biologist that I was working with for a short period of time. I enjoy the social media aspect of it. The ability to be corrected or affirmed by people who are much more qualified than me, or to encourage people who are less qualified is nice. Seek’s gamification and lack of social feedback, as @fffffffff pointed out, does not appeal to me.


From my viewpoint, the question would be: “Why use Seek instead of iNaturalist?”

I’m sure there’s a user group or context in which Seek would seem to be the natural default and iNaturalist an alternative, but if so I’m not sure what that context is. I’m only dimly aware of Seek as “iNaturalist with less functionality”. Never having desired less functionality, I’ve had no reason to investigate further…


no internet connection required for the ID suggestions to work, badges + challenges for those who prefer a more gamified experience, and great for kids (<13) since no login or account required, no personal info is collected, everything remains completely anonymous


In terms of casual user experience, Seek is nicer, more modern and much more guided. I almost exclusively use the iNat site on PC, since I need to convert photos from RAW on my computer anyway, but both the app and the site feel, well, functional.

I’ve bored my parents to tears… I mean talked to them about iNaturalist. They really like the concept (and have asked me if I could upload photos for them) but they are less technologically-literate, don’t use social media much and Seek would be much less intimidating. It is great at removing all sorts of barriers, reducing information overload, ID requires no knowledge or decision on the user’s part.

The easiest way to phrase it is that it passes the test of having friendlier and easier UI than the temp worker agency app to declare worked hours. iNat itself does not.

Edit: Also, to answer @amy_harmon 's question: I spend more time using iNat as you’d use Google Earth, exploring places. I’ve also planned a few walks specifically around what I saw on iNat, for instance when I saw someone had uploaded a species of heron I had never seen at a pond not too far from where I live. I also use it to feed my possibly pathological grebe addiction.


I thought Seek required an active internet connection?

I’ve never used it, but the help page suggests it doesn’t need one

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With Seek, you can’t see what your friends observe and help identify. You can’t make new friends and colleagues with similar interests. You can’t organize the community observations into Projects during a bioblitz. You can’t make use of the community’s observations to help identify organisms.

On my profile page, you can see a variety of things that one can do using iNat that can’t be done using Seek.


I really hope they do, as artificial intelligence is sometimes sooo bad in identification…


I came here to say this, but I see it has been said!


Thanks for the pointer. The help page probably needs to be updated to clarify that Seek requires an active wireless connection at least. AFAIK, it does not work in airplane mode. OTOH, the iNaturalist smartphone app does work in airplane mode.


Seek doesn’t require the use of an internet connection to access the computer vision feature. The iNaturalist app does.


Yeah, I pretty regularly come across CV-identified observations where the purported taxon doesn’t even occur on the continent the observation was made on, or belongs to a different family or order than the one shown in the photo. It seems to be especially prone to mistakes when IDing invertebrates and plants; I always try to confirm my own IDs through other sources (eg. Bugguide, regional floras) before uploading them.


I like iNaturalist because I get to identify observations (a fun activity in itself for me), thus helping observers who want photos ID’d and contributing to a large, scientifically useful database. I’ve never used Seek, though perhaps I’d try it if I had a smarter cell phone.


describes a lot of iNat users, although what organisms it is would vary.


lol please everyone also tell me about your pathological [grebe and/or other] addictions!

and thanks for all these thoughtful and enlightening replies.

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