Frequently Used Responses

These responses were written and edited by various members of the iNaturalist community in order to address issues commonly encountered as people learn to use iNaturalist. Copy and paste from this page to save effort writing the same thing again.

Want to add or edit something? Any iNaturalist Curator can edit this page - the link to edit is on the bottom right. Otherwise, reach out to @bouteloua and she'd be happy to work with you on making changes or additions.

Welcome to iNaturalist

Please modify this to fit your style/personality. Here's a link to Needs ID observations by people who joined iNaturalist within the past two weeks.

Hi, welcome to iNaturalist! As a new iNat user, here are a few links to pages you might find useful:

  • <a href="https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/getting+started">Getting Started Guide</a>
  • <a href="https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/help">Frequently Asked Questions</a>
  • <a href="https://forum.inaturalist.org">iNaturalist Forum</a>
  • <a href="https://www.inaturalist.org/blog">iNaturalist Blog</a>

If you ever need help with iNat, feel free to reach out to me personally—you can tag me in a comment by writing @ then my username, or asking the community at large via the <a href="https://forum.inaturalist.org">iNaturalist forum</a>, or by shooting a message to the help desk at help@inaturalist.org. Again, welcome! Hope you stick around. :)

Not an Organism/Test Observations

Hi, welcome to iNaturalist! iNaturalist is for observations of plants, animals, and other organisms. If you need some more help, be sure to check out the Getting Started page: http://www.inaturalist.org/pages/getting+started and Frequently Asked Questions: https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/help

Observation of Human

Humans are indeed found in this area, but iNaturalist is best used for wild animals, plants, and other creatures. If you need some more help, be sure to check out the Getting Started page: http://www.inaturalist.org/pages/getting+started and Frequently Asked Questions: https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/help

Add an Identification

It's preferable only to use these comments on observations by new users, as there are many reasons why an experienced user may not add an ID to their observations. Here's a link to unidentified observations by people who joined iNaturalist in the past 3 weeks.

Option 1: Hi, welcome to iNaturalist! Even if you don't know the exact species of what you have observed, you can search for and select a higher level identification, such as "plants (kingdom Plantae)" or "insects (class Insecta)". Many people helping identify observations on iNaturalist filter the observations by the group of species they know how to ID (like plants or insects), so observations with a blank ID like this one will be excluded from those filtered searches. Selecting a general ID helps funnel your observation to someone who may know what they're looking at, and that way it can get identified sooner. Here is a video tutorial for the mobile app: https://vimeo.com/162581545

Option 2 (general/coarse ID added): I'm not quite sure which species this is, but this general identification will help other people who might know the species find your observation. Many people helping identify observations on iNaturalist filter the observations by the group of species they know how to identify, like "plants" or "insects", and this general ID will help them find it more quickly. If you're interested in learning more about how identifications progress on iNaturalist, you can read more here: https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/getting+started#identify

Option 3 (subject unclear): Hi, welcome to iNaturalist! I've been helping identify observations that aren't yet identified as any organism at all. Which organism are you focusing on in this observation? I've added this identification for now, but let me know if you were focusing on a different organism here. Thanks!

Multiple Species/Organisms in One Observation

These responses are geared toward new users, we need a shorter one for experienced users

Web User: Hi, welcome to iNaturalist! Looks like you've observed a few different species in the photos here. Rather than adding several photos of different species to a single observation, please put each in its own observation. You can add multiple photos to an observation when they are each photos of the same thing. A quick way to fix this observation is to use the duplicate feature. In the upper right corner of the observation page, click the downward arrow next to "Edit" and choose "Duplicate." Then identify the duplicate observation as the organism in your second photo and uncheck the checkboxes next to the other photos. Then come back to this first observation, click "Edit," and remove the extra photos. Thank you.

Mobile User: Hi, welcome to iNaturalist! Looks like you've observed a few different species in the photos here. Rather than adding several photos of different species to a single observation, please put each in its own observation. You can add multiple photos to an observation when they are each photos of the same thing. All of the photos should be saved in the photo gallery on your device, so you can use the app to create a new observation for each type of organism you photographed. Be sure to edit this observation to remove the extra photos. Thank you.

Either, with tutorial link: Looks like you've observed a few different species in the photos here. Each species should be on its own separate observation. There are some tips for splitting the observation up here: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/how-to-fix-your-observation-with-photos-of-multiple-species/15096

Multiple Observations for One Organism

This response is for new users.

Hi, it looks like photos of this organism are uploaded as separate observations. When you want to share more than one photo of an organism taken at almost the same time, those photos need to be together. On iNaturalist, multiple photos of one organism taken at the same time and in the same place should all be uploaded as one observation.

If you make an image through the iNat app, notice that there is an "+" sign on iOS or a camera icon at the top left on Android. If you tap there you can take or select another photo and both of them will be uploaded together. And so on, if you want to share several photos. On the iNaturalist website upload page, you can drag an observation on top of another to combine it. There are a few helpful tutorials here: https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/video+tutorials

If you have accidentally uploaded images as separate observations when they should really be combined into one, here is a tutorial which tells you how to combine them: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/how-to-turn-multiple-observations-into-a-single-observation/9838

Captive/Cultivated Organism

New Users:
  • Plants:
    Hi, welcome to iNaturalist! Be sure to mark planted plants as "captive/cultivated" when you upload observations of them. Here's a short video showing how to do it in the mobile app: https://vimeo.com/331151155
    On the website, you can also do so after uploading by clicking the "thumbs down" next to "Organism is wild?" in the Data Quality Assessment section at the bottom of this page. Thank you!
  • Animals
    Hi, welcome to iNaturalist! Be sure to mark captive animals and pets as "captive/cultivated" when you upload observations of them. Here's a short video showing how to do it in the mobile app: https://vimeo.com/331151155
    On the website, you can also do so after uploading by clicking the "thumbs down" next to "Organism is wild?" in the Data Quality Assessment section at the bottom of this page. Thank you!
  • Anything:
    Hi, welcome to iNaturalist! iNat is primarily meant for wild organisms. If you do upload captive or planted things like house plants, garden plants, zoo animals, or pets, please mark them as "captive/cultivated" on the add observation screen. That helps make sure the range maps only represent wild populations. Here's a short video showing how to do it in the mobile app: https://vimeo.com/331151155
    On the website, you can also mark it after uploading the observation by clicking the "thumbs down" next to "Organism is wild?" in the Data Quality Assessment section at the bottom of this page. Thanks!
Anyone:
  • Plants:
    Be sure to mark planted plants as "captive/cultivated" when you upload observations of them. You can also do so after uploading by clicking the "thumbs down" next to "Organism is wild?" in the Data Quality Assessment section at the bottom of this page on the website. Thanks!
  • Animals:
    Be sure to mark captive animals and pets as "captive/cultivated" when you upload observations of them. You can also do so after uploading by clicking the "thumbs down" next to "Organism is wild?" in the Data Quality Assessment section at the bottom of this page on the website. Thanks!
  • Anything:
    Be sure to mark captive animals and planted plants as "captive/cultivated" when you upload observations of them. You can also do so after uploading by clicking the "thumbs down" next to "Organism is wild?" in the Data Quality Assessment section at the bottom of this page on the website. Thanks!
Including Identifiers:
Be sure to mark captive animals and planted plants as "captive/cultivated" when you upload observations of them. You can also do so after uploading by clicking the "thumbs down" next to "Organism is wild?" in the Data Quality Assessment section at the bottom of this page on the website.

Identifiers can help out too - just press the <code>x</code> key on your keyboard to quickly mark something as "not wild" when on the <a href="https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/identify">Identify page</a>. That helps ensure the range maps on iNaturalist represent wild populations. Thanks!

Use Your Own Photos And Observations

A few different options here. See the Finding and dealing with fabricated data page for some more information.

Assuming they did see that species then and there: Please only upload your own photos. iNaturalist observations should represent evidence of the actual organism you observed, not just a similar example. Uploading photos like this typically infringes on someone else's copyright. If you couldn't get a photo of something you saw, it's perfectly acceptable to upload observations of things you have observed without a photo attached.

Clearly didn't see that organism then and there: Please only upload your own photos. iNaturalist observations should represent evidence of an actual organism you observed. Uploading photos like this typically infringes on someone else's copyright.

(for Curators) User is unresponsive to requests to remove/stop posting copyrighted images: Hi, it looks like you've posted several photos from the internet that are not your own. Aside from being a legal copyright violation, this can have a serious negative impact on data quality on iNaturalist. On iNaturalist, photos should be evidence of the actual organism that you saw, not just a similar example. If you continue to post copyrighted images, your account will be at risk of suspension.

(for Curators) Private message to send to a user who was suspended: We've suspended your account because you posted numerous observations that appear to be fabricated from photos that are not your own. This can have serious data quality and copyright implications for iNaturalist. If you'd like to discuss this issue, please email the iNaturalist staff at help@inaturalist.org.

Provide Cropped Photo

It's helpful if you can crop the photo more closely to the subject. iNaturalist resizes images, so while we can zoom in to try to see it closer, the image does lose some resolution. Cropping usually makes it easier to get an identification too.

Rotate Photo

To rotate a photo, click the "i" (white circle) below the photo. On the next page, click on the appropriate rotate button. You do not have to save the page, just wait for it to finish displaying the "rotating" message.

Re-order Photos

To re-order photos on the website, click on the "edit" button (top right of the page). On the next page, click the “Re-order photos” link on the right side of the page, at the bottom of the photos section. On the next page, add numbers to each photo. iNat will then place the photos in numerical order. Note that any photo with a blank number box will appear last, so you only need number the important photos. Then click "Update photos". When it returns you to the edit page, click "Save". (Do not overlook this last step!)

Missing Photo

Only use this one if there's a reason it looks like the photo might be missing, like they used computer vision for their ID or if it's a new user. People don't need to add photos to iNaturalist observations and it's quite common not to, especially for things like birds or mammals. Here's a link to observations by new users that have an ID, but no photo. It's sorted by oldest uploads first, since sometimes it just takes a few moments for the photo to attach, or maybe they plan to upload it when they get back to wifi.

Hi, just wanted to let you know that there is no photo attached to this observation. Photos are not required but I like to alert people when I see this, as sometimes the photo gets lost in upload or did not finish loading before exiting iNaturalist.

Missing Date

It looks like this observation is missing a "date observed". That is, the day you saw/found this organism. If you add the date, your observation will be eligible for "research grade" status, and will appear in the "Identify" section of the website. You can add the date by editing the observation, selecting the date, and re-saving it. Thanks!

Missing Location

Link to observations (with photos) that are missing locations.

It looks like this observation is missing a location on the map. If you add the location, your observation will appear in the "Identify" section of the website, where others assist with identification. To add a location, click the "Edit" button, then use the search to type in a location and/or use the map to zoom and drop a pinpoint where the organism was observed.

You can also set a circle of "uncertainty" around your observation. For instance, if you don't remember exactly where at a park you saw it, you can set the uncertainty circle so that it encompasses the entire park. You can drag one of the points around the circle closer toward the center point to as accurate a location as you can estimate.

Missing Date and Location

It looks like this observation is missing a "date observed" as well as a location on the map. To add the date and location, click the "Edit" button. You can select a date observed as well as use the map to zoom and drop a pinpoint for where the organism was observed.

You can also set a circle of "uncertainty" around your observation. For instance, if you don't remember exactly where at a park you saw it, you can set the uncertainty circle so that it encompasses the entire park. You can drag one of the points around the circle closer toward the center point to as accurate a location as you can estimate.

Incorrect Location

It looks like the location on the map is incorrect. Can you edit the observation to reposition the map pinpoint? You can do this by zooming in on the map within the mobile app or by editing on the website and tapping/clicking where it was observed. You indicate a "general area" by dragging one of the points around the circle further from the center point to as accurate a location as you can estimate. If you don't want to reveal the exact location, you can also select “obscured”, which will only display the approximate region and not the precise map pinpoint. More information about geoprivacy can be found here: https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/help#geoprivacy

Imprecise Location

Here's a link to verifiable observations with a precision radius of >100,000 meters. Adjust the URL to change the number of meters.

This observation has a very large radius of uncertainty around the location which makes the data less useful. Are you able to edit the observation to make the location more precise? Thank you!

More detailed: This observation has a large radius of uncertainty around the location which makes the data less useful. Can you edit the observation to make the location more precise? You can do this by zooming in on the map within the mobile app or by editing on the website. It may be easier to keep the center point of the location accurate during editing if you use the website rather than your phone. Just drag one of the points around the circle closer toward the center point to as accurate a location as you can estimate. Thanks!

Private Location

Only use this response with people who are new to iNaturalist (have made only a few observations and/or just joined in the past week). With new users, the various geoprivacy settings are often a point of confusion. For example, some people think "private" means "private property" and not "location hidden". Note: users are allowed to make their locations completely private, if they choose to do so, and their decision should not be questioned. Using this response could come across as badgering or condescending for those who understand geoprivacy and intentionally marked their observation as private. No need to use a boilerplate response for those situations. Just ask if they would be willing to share which country, state, etc. in order to help identify the organism in question.

Here's a link to observations by new users who marked the geoprivacy as private.

Hi, welcome to iNaturalist! Since you have marked the location of this observation as “private”, others aren't able to see even the general location of this observation (not even the continent). There can be similar looking species in different parts of the world, and the location can be an important clue in identifying what you saw. If you don't want to reveal the exact location, another option is to select “obscured”, which will only display the approximate region and not the precise map pinpoint. More information about geoprivacy can be found here: https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/help#geoprivacy

Pinned Specimens with Clearly Incorrect Location and/or Date

The same considerations shown in this response apply to the likes of camera trap observations, pressed specimens in herbaria, shells in collections, etc).

It looks like the [date and/or location] may be incorrect for this pinned specimen. The "observed date" and location on the map should match when and where the organism was originally collected. If you're not sure, it can be marked Casual in the Data Quality Assessment section, either by marking as "not wild" (also known as captive/cultivated) or voting no to date and/or location are accurate. This helps ensure the database and range maps only represent organisms when and where they were originally documented in the wild. Thanks!

Duplicate Observations

Duplicate observations can be a burdensome issue for identifiers and data users. Most users don't mean to upload duplicate observations and they typically stem from errors or a misunderstanding that observations should include only a single photo. If observations are flagged, they become casual grade, so many users will flag duplicate observations when they come across them (Select "Other": with comment "duplicate"). This is not officially sanctioned by the iNaturalist staff, but unfortunately no other tools have been provided to address this common data issue. Please only flag the observation if you have informed the observer that it is a duplicate. Of the two or more duplicated observations, the recommended one to flag is the newer one, or the one that is more incomplete (e.g. missing a date, location, or has fewer IDs/comments). See related discussion on the forum.

Exact Duplicates (same photos): This observation appears to be the same as another observation you have uploaded. I have flagged this as a duplicate. In the upper right corner of the observation page, you can click the downward arrow next to "Edit" and choose "Delete." Thank you!

Near Duplicates (same organism but different photos): It looks like you uploaded another observation of this organism at the same time. It's recommended to combine the photos into a single observation rather than to add separate observations of the same thing. I recommend deleting this one and adding the photo to the other observation. Thank you!
[link to other observation(s)]

Misled by Computer Vision

The computer vision suggestions can be very good for a lot of species, but not so good on others. This seems to be one of those it struggles with. The suggestions can sometimes be way off upon closer examination of images or range maps.

Revised on October 11, 2021 00:48 by bouteloua bouteloua