Your Opinion about Old Data

Back in 2018 I was able to observe two nests of Green Herons when the birds nested in a disused boat basin near our house.

I took a bunch of photographs and recorded the information about the two nests, etc.
This was years before I joined or even knew about iNaturalist.
I even made a YouTube video with information about how to tell how old the birds were because it was difficult at that time to find a lot of information about aging and behavior.

Anyway, here is the question.
I have a lot of older photos of these birds at different stages in their lives.

Is it valuable enough to post this very old (4 years old) information on iNaturalist?

I hate to clog up the system with a lot of old stuff if it wouldn’t be that useful to anyone.

What is your opinion?


Good data of any age will be useful to someone.


I have slide photos from the 1980s that I’m slowly scanning and adding to iNat. There is no limit on how old the photo is, provided that you took the pic and have observation date/location for it.


Data is data, observations are observations. It’s up to you. I upload old stuff all the time. Mainly what I upload is old, actually, because I don’t like to have my whereabouts easily traceable so I wait to upload. Some are just months old, but some are years, too. Really, do what you want. Use the site how you want, as long as you don’t break a rule or hurt anybody’s feelings. Lots of people will take interest in what somebody posts regardless of the date, but even that part aside, it should be up to you and what you feel like doing.

And for what it’s worth, “clogging” usually isn’t a big deal either. Everybody’s uploading process is different. I think most of the time people upload multiple times in one go, it’s a “clog” in a way. I say, upload what you want, when you want, how you want.


I love finding old photos of sites I visit.
Development has occurred at breakneck pace in this country (EC) over the past 30 years, it’s nice to see what the area was like before cattle ranches and condos facilitated extensive deforestation in this region.


That makes me feel better, i.e. that you are uploading data from the 80’s. I have additional data from 1990 including some King Rail with chicks photos.

So maybe I’ll upload the Green Heron stuff and then see if I can dig up the King Rail stuff–I have the location, etc, data from all of it, so it shouldn’t be too difficult.

Thank you for the encouragement.
I just wasn’t sure.


I’d say go for it. iNaturalist has less data the further back you go. Uploading photos from years ago can help improve our understanding of what life was were and when, even if it was only a small four year difference.


I’m sorry, but calling 4 years ago an old data makes us all here living ammonites, of course it’s as good as something shot today. Most of what we upload won’t be used by scientists until decades will go by, so there’s not a single reason not to upload it if you have a date and place.


One problem with old pics – and I’m talking about pre-digital (slides and prints) and pre-GPS – is that you might not have an exact date or location. Some of my old slides are like that – I can pin down the month and year and a reasonably accurate location, so the images have some value, but precision was often overlooked when writing info on the slide/print. If I have to do any approximation, I’ll mention that in the notes for the record and make the location circle large enough to include the location. We have it pretty easy nowadays with digital photography.



You may this topic reassuring: What is your oldest observation


See this FAQ:


I love to see “retro”-data like images, recordings, …


I have quite a lot of observations from 2006, which I didn’t upload until 2019… so 4 years isn’t very long!

As far as the value of old data - I was looking through Calflora records of plants in my county, and saw there was an herbarium specimen for a cool kind of crystalwort I’d never heard of… collected one time in the 1920s, and not mentioned anywhere since. But I went out and tracked down the spot and it was still there! Without that old record, I’d never have known to look for it. As it is, my 2 observations from that spot are the only iNat observations of the species in California.

And I’ve tracked down several other interesting plant populations from the location descriptions on herbarium records from the 1970s and 80s, as well.


As far as I’m concerned, the older the better! There are a lot of potential research questions that involve change over time, and the limiting factor is often that the further back you go (on iNaturalist or in physical specimen collections) the sparser the data gets and, usually, the worse the location information is.


I identify as a trilobite, personally.


I have been going around to museums and colleges looking for old bee collections that include place/date/collector and adding those, my oldest find was from the 40’s. One of the collections that I found (collected from 1950-85) was collected in a county that has very little data associated with it, so a specimen curator in the state was very interested in adding that collection to the larger state collection.

You shouldn’t upload specimens you haven’t met. iNat is not a database for all natural info, but only for your personal observations.

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We went on our annual hunt for Bartholina this year (spider orchid) .
Last year
And I added my first obs from 2017 too.
And the nice orchid identifiers have taken them all to research grade, thanks!

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@sultana uploaded some weasel photos from his pre-iNat days and it turned out to be the first known photo of a living Columbian Weasel. So you never know…


That photo was from iNaturalist?!? I remember hearing about it years before I joined!

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