Taxonomy Strike

Friends, if you're wondering where I'm at... I am on a taxonomy strike.

This stems from a very particular poorly implemented policy from iNaturalist that I am fighting against. Did you know that users have the ability to block up to 3 of their fellow users on here, and doing so prevents a blocked user from adding any identifications onto their observations. When this happens to a de facto curator such as myself, it effectively prevents me from curating those taxa. How do I know... because this is precisely what happened when a fellow user blocked me for no perceptible reason.
[edit: this observation has since been deleted and reuploaded by the user]

That brief exchange is the only time that I've spoken with @old-bean-adams [edit: AKA @j_stauffer, AKA @j__stauffer, the user has repeatedly changed names in response to this post] on here, but despite the dozens of identifications that I've provided this user, they felt the need to violate site policy ( and block me. When this was pointed out to iNat staff (specifically, @tiwane, the Outreach and Community Coordinator), the response was to ignore it.

"I don't know why that user blocked you but I don't see the same pattern of the user blocking people for just IDs. Unless it's pretty clear-cut, asking someone why they're blocking another user is not something we usually do."

Why is this important? Why is this worth fighting about? Because this stretches far beyond whatever grievance @old-bean-adams might have felt they had with me. When I am blocked from interacting with that user's observations, they are essentially un-curatable, at least on my end. And seeing as I am often the only user curating coral observations, that means that any misidentifications linger on, visible to every other user. Thus the actions of this one user have a direct effect on everyone else here, and potentially on the larger scientific community, who might encounter this user's potentially erroneous data on sites like GBIF.

iNaturalist asks a lot of its experts. The workload involved with curating a taxon is daunting and continues to grow as the site does. From my perspective, there are a number of policy decisions made that actively inhibit the desire of experts from contributing their time here. For instance, allowing an AI-generated identification to count as the equal of a human-generated ID is a profoundly bad policy, especially since many of the users who select those IDs are ephemeral and never bother to update their IDs. This, in effect, wastes the time of an expert. Allowing users to opt-out of community IDs has a similarly negative effect, but at least those can be pushed to Casual Grade. Allowing users to opt-out of taxonomy updates is an even stranger policy... and did you know that when you combine a community opt-out with a taxon swap, the former takes precedence. Look, here's one...

The latter point was something that I tried to raise on the forums (multiple times, in fact), but my posts were never approved by @tiwane. The community mods there are bizarrely strict in what they deem to be acceptable discourse and will not hesitate to stifle speech if they feel that it's just griping. They might tell you to post it as a Feature Request, at which point it'll be denied for not really being a Feature Request. There is, in fact, very little recourse for providing feedback, and essentially none for providing feedback that might be construed as negative, but that's a gripe for a different day. BTW, if you're wondering why I am writing this as a Journal Post and not posting it to the forums (where it would have more visibility with the community), it's because it would be immediately deleted by a mod. In fact, I'm curious to see if it'll get deleted from my own Journal.

As it stands, I am not willing to let iNaturalist have it both ways. They don't get to ask of me to freely share my expertise (thousands and thousands of hours of uncompensated labor, from someone with irreplicable taxonomic expertise) and then in the same breath deny me the ability to properly curate, all because some random user decides it's their right to block me, in clear violation of site policy and with zero administrative oversight. That is a bridge too far, and I am on a taxonomy strike until that is rectified.

While I had initially requested from @tiwane that I simply be unblocked from @old-bean-adams, I no longer consider that adequate. I am fighting this stupid fight on behalf of all of my fellow experts on here, who may not even be aware that they are blocked. There is, of course, no notification alerting a blocked user when this happens. I only figured this out when observations from @old-bean-adams lingered in my search results (but only as red dots on the map) after I had gone through and added identifications to all available observations. Only by clicking on the red dots can I reach those forbidden observations, revealing that they are from a user that has blocked me. If you are a prolific identifier on here, odds are that you have your own @old-bean-adams. Frustrating, right?

I will return when iNaturalist has realized the error of their ways and has improved upon their process for blocking users. The most logical way to solve this is to simply make blocking apply to comments and messages, NOT identifications.


PS Noteworthy that the user renamed their profile and deleted/reuploaded the observation in question. Here's the new one, sans identifications.

PS Noteworthy that this user renamed their profile a 2nd time and once again deleted-reuploaded the observation in question... [edit: once again, deleted]

Posted on 21 de janeiro de 2023, 03:37 PM by joe_fish joe_fish


@joe_fish Very sorry this has happened. I wouldn't be surprised if I were blocked by someone as well. It would be handy if one's profile listed users that he or she was blocked by.

Publicado por huttonia mais de 1 ano antes

@joe_fish That is very odd that blocking can apply to IDs. I perfectly understand blocking a user from messaging you or something, even if it's not for harassment and they just don't want to talk to you.

The argument for blocking people from IDing coming down to protecting people vs. protecting the work seems fatuous. People have to work with people they don't like all the time. That's part of being an adult. This is like the difference between telling an employee they can't harass another employee or just outright firing them for actual misconduct, and telling an employee they can no longer use the break room because another employee doesn't like them and keeps their lunch there.

Most of the hypotheticals people were using in that thread didn't apply to you in the slightest (and some seemed to be implicitly accusing you of wrongdoing, which I am very not okay with) and appear to be cases of advocating for overreaction because somewhere, sometime actual problems happened. But these issues could be easily separated mechanically by simply removing blocks for IDs or outright banning actual harassers, which I'm sure already happens.

This seems to have happened months ago and I had no idea. tiwane did say in the thread he messaged the user and resolved the issue, however, so I'm not sure why this blew up now, unless you remained blocked or something else occurred The user in question doesn't even appear to exist anymore.

Publicado por blue_lotus mais de 1 ano antes

I've already made my thoughts clear on the issue of blocking generally (, but you make a valid point. I hope things can be sorted out in a way that satisfies you, or that you'll reconsider your decision. I'm already missing having your assistance :)

If any staff are paying attention to this, I would add the following. If I visit iNaturalist as an anonymous user (not logged in), I can:
-search for a user by their full name if they've provided it

-view that user's entire profile

-filter observations by username

-view the date, time, location and all other relevant details in the observation

So if I'm blocked, all I need to do is log out to be able to see all this info.

This means blocking has very little real impact. All it would seem to do is eliminate direct abuse via messaging/comments, or nuisance IDs. How about refining blocking so that the blocked person can interact with the user/observation in the same way as an anonymous user, but in addition, provide the ability to ID, but without comment? This ability to ID could be further limited to curators if you're concerned about nuisance IDs (I think curators would/should be naturally averse to giving nuisance IDs).

PS, I haven't been blocked (that I know of), so I'm making some assumptions about how it works exactly.

Hope to see you back soon. Matt.

Publicado por mtank mais de 1 ano antes

I appreciate everyone's support. I've been inundated with kind messages from my fellow iNaturalists. Glad to know that my curatorial efforts here have not gone unnoticed.

To answer your question @blue_lotus, I had actually had 2 users that had blocked me... one of these was reversed without much drama, as that user had apparently been misusing this feature to block people without cause. But the other user cited in this journal post is a "Curator" who apparently has specifically taken issue with me, for reasons beyond my comprehension. iNat staff have refused to intervene, claiming that they don't see a pattern of misuse.

Curious that the user has renamed their profile twice [edit: 3X] since I published this, and also twice deleted/reuploaded the observation that sparked this nonsense. But apparently none of that raises any red flags for iNat staff.

sigh taxonomy strike continues...

Publicado por joe_fish mais de 1 ano antes

I agree wholeheartedly (again). Blocking comments or mails or even profile sight ect. .... is very understandable.
But blocking IDs is effectively tempering with the dataset. It is 100% unscientific behavior, and then iNat should decide wether it wants to be taken seriously by scientific communitiy or not.
Changing names and reuploading just to avoid being corrected needs to be flagged and adressed seriously by curators.

Publicado por stefadrian mais de 1 ano antes

Hi @stefadrian,
I'm comforted that I'm not the only user engaged to fixing the taxonomy who has problems with incorrect users. :)

About blocks according to iNaturalist's indications it isn't allowed to block a user just because they don't like the IDs but I'm not surprised that in fact this rule is ignored by iNaturalist.

In general, however, blocks are useful to me, in fact some particularly obtuse and aggressive users which they didn't like my IDs (which later turned out to be correct), they have started to attack me personally.
For example an user started attacking me on every my Aplysia ID while another entered my profile and deliberately disagreed with my taxa on several of my G. incognitus IDs, just to spite me.
I had to defend myself with the user block, in fact I'm using all 3 blocks.

I have also been threatened by an iNaturalist moderator with suspending my membership because I thought that a bad photo in which no living beings were visible I had flagged that no living beings could be seen and I had to give explanations because the user complained about this.... and it didn't matter that I had more than 36.000 IDs or that one photo was so bad that you couldn't see anything.

I understood and accepted that the logic of iNaturalst is to be able to manage an enormous amount of records with a minimal commitment in terms of moderation so the rules are very generic, moderation almost non-existent and the logic is based on not giving rise to any conflict rather than making the reasons of those who work correctly. This approach has its advantages and disadvantages, iNaturalist doesn't seem like a place where there can be "an always fair and positive environment" but without this logic such a large site would probably be unmanageable.

I think it is important to use iNaturalist in a light and serene way, we not pretending that it is an "optimal" or "right" site, but only a particular site managed by algorithms and poorly moderated which in concrete terms can lead to interesting and positive situations but even in dull situations.
If a user blocks me it's not a problem for me, this means that iNaturalista will receive 60,000,100 wrong IDs instead of 60,000,000, the important thing is that the iNaturalst logic can manage another 70,000,000 photos with correct IDs, even better than well-moderated and ethically correct sites (such as Naturamediterraneo).

I therefore hope that you will soon resume having fun with iNaturalist and giving intelligent users the possibility of appreciating your always useful and interesting interventions, not asking iNaturalist for the "justice" it cannot give.

Publicado por rpillon mais de 1 ano antes

I have nothing to add, just that I agree.
Blocking on comments or private issues, oke.
Blocking ID's and data is a no-go for me.
Thank you @joe_fish for explaining this problem here very well.
Thank you @stefadrian for pointing us out here.
I hope this will get resolved quickly and gets the attention that is needed.

Edit: @rpillon got a point there as well yes.
Good to have this topic open for discussion.

Publicado por dennisthediver mais de 1 ano antes

I fully agree with the the comments made by @rpillon!

Publicado por manavgio mais de 1 ano antes

Personally, I don't how to feel about this topic, and, to be completely honest, I didn't even know that it was possible to block users here in iNat prior to reading this post.
I agree with all the points made so far, especially since I know very well how even a single incorrectly-identified observation can have a large negative impact on the website's dataset, when not properly curated.
However, I'm not sure that removing the effect of blocking on identifications is the right solution to the problem.
Before adding any more comments, I'd like to ask a few questions regarding this blocking feature, as I don't know very well how it works.
*When a user gets blocked, are they also automatically reported to an iNaturalist's moderator?
*When blocking a user, are you given the opportunity to elaborate on why you are blocking them?
*I'm assuming the effect of a block on a user extends to identifications in order to prevent nuisance/retaliation IDs. Are there other simple ways to prevent this issue that don't necessarily involve a user-block?

Thank you @joe_fish for bringing this problem to light, I hope you will soon be back to help the community, whatever the solution to this issue may be.
Also, thank you @stefadrian for sharing this journal post with me and other identifiers. It's very nice to have as many different views as possible on this topic.

Publicado por esant mais de 1 ano antes

When a user is blocked, are they also automatically reported to the iNaturalist moderator?

When you block a user, are you given the opportunity to dig deeper into why you're blocking them?

I assume the effect of a block on a user extends to IDs in order to prevent ID harassment/retaliation. Are there any other easy ways to prevent this problem that don't necessarily result in a user lockout?
The effect of blocking a user is that neither you nor he can intervene or identify each other's records and they do not appear in your searches. As far as I know the only way to stop an inappropriate user is to block him or contact the moderators but the latter are not very present and not very lucid. So the only effective and autonomously managed way is blocking.

In my opinion the distortions due to reciprocal blocks, such as those of ID system by the majority, such as IDs of photos with insufficient quality, etc... are typical mechanisms of iNaturalist logic and in the very bige number of records managed by the site they have a few relevant effect. Moreover even if 1 user is blocked there are always another 100,000 users who, if they think so, can intervene and make IDs. I understand that they can be unpleasant mechanisms but these are also the basis of iNaturalist, they are functional to its logic in which the site must self-manage.

iNaturalist is a site that should be taken with great serenity and patience ;)

Publicado por rpillon mais de 1 ano antes

Thank you all for leaving your thoughts. I admit this is a topic I am invested in more than I would like. Since I entered iNat I felt an enormous wave of gratitude for this possibility, being a biologist myself. I am especially grateful to those expert or knowledgeable identifiers who step in where I have no clue, therefore likewise improving my data and my knowledge. So, my opinion may be lopsided when it comes to people blocking expert IDs.
Thank you @rpillon for your insightful words, bordering at wisdom. Helped me relax a little bit. ;)

Publicado por stefadrian mais de 1 ano antes

hey @joe_fish
I'm very sorry to hear about what happened. I hope the administrators wake up and change these strange rules..
I am grateful for all the identifications that have helped me. don't go anywhere.. :)

Publicado por rafi1 mais de 1 ano antes

I am very sorry that you feel you have to go that way... but I do understand. It is frustrating. I really hope that a solution can be found that will motivate you to come back... I don´t know where all my red-sea-cnidaria would be without you!

Publicado por ajott mais de 1 ano antes

Hello Joe,

I’m so sorry to hear that you feel forced to go on strike to make yourself heard. Your work is appreciated so much, by myself and I’m sure by many members of the community. Without people like you INaturalist would be an empty shell. I think the matter can be solved quite easily by disabling the blocking of ID’s done by curators. @tiwane : Hello Tony, would this be an acceptable solution and is it technically possible? Many thanks for your help in this 🙏.

I hope that you return soon Joe. Don’t forget that you’re not doing all the work for INaturalist, but for all the people that use it and that benefit from your great knowledge. Because of you I look at corals in a completely different way and I’m sure that there are many people like me in the community. I’m truly very grateful for the way you helped me to connect to the underwater nature.

Best regards,

Publicado por jeanpaulboerekamps mais de 1 ano antes

@jeanpaulboerekamps I appreciate your support and kind words in this. I would say that your suggestion (to disable the blocking of IDs from Curators, but not the IDs from non-Curators) is an imperfect solution. For instance, I'm not a Curator on iNaturalist, even though I have provided much of the actual curation for corals (and several other difficult groups). I think a more holistic approach to resolving this is needed.

I don't know how extensively used the blocking feature is on here, but perhaps this is something that should be directly administered by iNaturalist staff or the Curators. The onus should be on the Blocker to provide convincing evidence that a user warrants being blocked (versus some other remedial action, such as account suspension or deleting a comment, etc). Allowing blocking without any oversight is ripe for abuse, as I feel has happened here, and was simply a lazy design descision on the part of iNaturalist.

In my brief conversations with @tiwane and @loarie, the impression I got was that they regard this site more as social media than a serious research tool, and so heavy-handed tools like Blocking fit their viewpoint. But there is a fundamental difference with how iNaturalist functions from Twitter, Facebook, etc. If I block a user on Twitter, it effects nobody else but myself. If I block a user on iNaturalist, it indirectly effects every other user, and can trickle down to the broader scientific community through Research Grade observations that get exported to GBIF.

Science should never take a backseat to Social Media here.

Publicado por joe_fish mais de 1 ano antes

Hi Joe,

I completely understand that it’s an imperfect solution, but I guess in a multi-purpose platform like iNaturalist (it’s both a way to connect people to nature and a great research tool) perfect solutions are hard to find. I guess it would be very logical to make you curator (like all other specialists that are clearly having knowledge of a certain family or order) and then the solution would already be a bit less imperfect. If a specialist like you gets blocked, it’s bad for the whole community. If a layman like me gets blocked, the effect is nihil. I think the most important thing is that we realize that we all need each other. There’s no great research tool without people that upload observations and there’s no connecting with nature without the knowledge of specialists.

Best regards,

Publicado por jeanpaulboerekamps mais de 1 ano antes

@joe_fish Lol I wasn't a curator forever either. But I got tired of having to keep asking for a curator to add new sponge taxa as it came up too frequently. I often forget you're not a curator, though I'm not sure why you never applied since you easily dominate the Cnidarians. While I personally agree that blocking shouldn't work here the same as on basic social media and that the data on a site that provides scientific information shouldn't be controllable by personal opinion (outside of taxonomic disagreement - and that's enough drama all by itself lol), I can understand the admins attempts to find some kind of balance. Personally, I favor the science and I've always felt the admins play up the social media aspect a bit more than is warranted. I've actually included iNaturalist in my public talks educating the public on tracking species for conservation purposes, but the thought of doing this for facebook or instagram-like purposes never entered my mind.

Publicado por blue_lotus mais de 1 ano antes

My thanks for all of the identifications you have done out here in Micronesia, you have been important to identifications in this region and your identifications helped spark my son's interest in marine photography, observations, and identifications. Again, my thanks for the positive impact you have had out here and on my children.

Publicado por danaleeling mais de 1 ano antes

Throughout history, strikes have been effective ways to bring about change: Gandhi and Suffragists come to mind. Currently, you can be compared to 'Tank Man' who stood up to the Chinese communists in Tienanmen Square. Hopefully the power of the individual will gain momentum through the contribution of millions of citizen scientists demanding change.

During your absence, your ID assistance will be sorely missed. iNat will not be the same without you.

Publicado por fiftygrit mais de 1 ano antes

I just found out today, that you are on a strike,(me beeing focused the last days uploading Cnidarians on iNat)....I am so sorry on how this developed. I fully understand your point and accept it, but am really sad about your abscence. Thank you very much for your past support as it was a milestone on my journey of understanding the ID of stony corals....I really hope that this strange policy of blocking identifiers will be changed and you will return. iNat would not be the same without you...

Publicado por ingorogalla mais de 1 ano antes

This issue -- in general, not your case specifically -- is currently under discussion on the Forum.

Publicado por jasonhernandez74 mais de 1 ano antes

I just saw this post today, and agree with most of the opinions expressed. Responding to one point, I agree with others about the forum administration. Anyway, as a compromise for the issue being discussed, what about updating the website so that if a user blocks you their username and icon will display as anonymous, you can't view their profile, and their observation location and date display as obscure or private? Also, the point people made that you can already simply log out and see all the observations is relevant, since a majority of bad actors may be outside of the website, which is a problem in it's own right, unless there's evidence otherwise that I'm unaware of. In summary, the location and username could in principle be hidden with a website update, which would protect users as our first concern, so why hide the observations?

Publicado por bdagley mais de 1 ano antes

I'm glad to see the community discussing this issue.
I'm disappointed (but not surprised) to see that no meaningful change has come about.
To wit, any harassment stemming from misuse of identifications should be dealt with via account suspensions.
Allowing users to block identifications fundamentally breaks the community ethos of this site and spits in the face of the experts working to improve data quality here.

Publicado por joe_fish mais de 1 ano antes

"there are a number of policy decisions made that actively inhibit the desire of experts from contributing their time here"


Two big ones for me are 1) lack of provisions to safeguard the work we put in (at present, those who do not make substantial positive contributions can delete or unhelpfully modify content with impunity) and 2) lack of effort to promote the idea that contributors should be acknowledged for large-scale efforts, properly credited and, if appropriate, consulted and directly included when users (sometimes data miners and rival colleagues) monetize the resource.

It is also unacceptable that when conflicts do arise dedicated experts may be assumed a priori to be in the wrong, whereas those blocking or complaining may be assumed to have a legitimate grievance, even if the latter have made near-zero contributions to the site and likely do not understand its functionality or culture. It seems at times that maximizing participation (even by those making little or no positive contribution) is a higher priority than is retaining the most dedicated experts.

Publicado por johnascher mais de 1 ano antes

I am glad to see you identifying again.
You left a large gap.

I admired your kind and tactful response to - what's the blue thing? And the stone? Given the daunting picture quality for those 2 obs.

Publicado por dianastuder mais de 1 ano antes

@johnascher hit the nail on the head. agree with all of this.

Publicado por nomolosx mais de 1 ano antes

It's important for all of us to ask for the staff to both be fair to scientists as well as to seriously consider experts concerns and suggestions for the website and for staff to treat us fairly in how they moderate the website. I was previously and recently mistreated by certain staff members and certain curators, and today they announced they're taking away my curator status on false charges. If anyone wants to look into this or potentially express support for me and my innocence ( Thank you in the event that anyone does see my side of how they've been unfair to me, and not only me, many others including many great identifiers as well.

I'm essentially the only person who has currently been carrying out all of the curation for bees and wasps. Including old flag requests that no other curators completed. Without me, bees and to some extent wasps will have no active curators, which is a loss to the whole community including the observers. I've also been one of the only curators brave enough to help resolve difficult conflicts between users, in flags between users having disagreements, and many people have thanked me for being a fair moderator on those flags as well, including for many flags the staff declined to ever comment on. And I've been one of the few brave users and curators willing to state when the staff themselves have been unfair and that we expect better of them. Now you see the price of speaking honestly about their unfairness, they unfairly remove people's curator status. I'm willing to pay this price to stand up against their misconduct, but also believe that my curator status should be restored.

Publicado por bdagley cerca de 1 ano antes

I understand the issues, I too have the feeling that if we try too job hard and we have too many expectations we end up being hindered and disappointed in this site.
My advice is to use iNaturalist with a light mind, to take it as entertainment, a sort of game that can often give an excellent scientific result but is sometimes hindered by the logic of the site.
It is not a site that pays much attention to correctness or to the gratification of experts but if taken in the right way it can lead to very interesting scientific results and it can to be a space where meet several nice, interesting and intelligent users.

Publicado por rpillon cerca de 1 ano antes

Sad. If we lose identifiers then iNat is simply Pretty Pictures. Another Instagram or Flickr.

Publicado por dianastuder cerca de 1 ano antes

What is going on on this site lately? I didn't even know ID'ing the first image when different species were present was even frowned upon. It seems like only recently a lot of long-time experts are getting targeted for stupid things.

Publicado por blue_lotus cerca de 1 ano antes

I missed when people decided to ID the first image.

There has been discussion in the forum. It is confusing and unhelpful if taxon images include random other species. If the first species goes to RG that wobbly data gets exported. If we can catch observers before they leave, we can hope that they will resolve the multiples for us.

Publicado por dianastuder cerca de 1 ano antes

There really needs to be some kind of control of drive-by users, but it seems like a lot of the policies are being tailored to them, oddly. I feel like admins don't want to alter people's uploads in any way, which I understand, but that really should be done in the case of deleting duplicate observations, since about 99 times out of 100 people refuse to delete their dupes, or people who've posted twice then disappeared for 5 years and have obs that are screwing up data, especially when they have a group of friends that do the same and now there are 3 bad ID's for something which sometimes can never be rectified, or as in this case, when a user uploads a bunch of clearly different, identifiable species and refuses to break up the obs. These are things which could easily be done by mods of some sort. And the types of users that do this sort of thing aren't likely to cause long-term issues with the site anyway, since they're almost always drive-by users.

I don't mind papers using our data. My own ID's have shown up in papers. I feel like that's kind of the point of doing what we do. It does seem like a lot of experts are being punished lately in order to satisfy odd personal feelings though. I think the admins are seeing a trend and coming to the conclusion that experts are just assholes, rather than perhaps that there could be improvements in site policies.

Publicado por blue_lotus cerca de 1 ano antes

Supporting the recommendation to allow users to link or unlink the photos in observers observations, I once did an experiment with observations that were made casual due to the location or date being missing, where I identified the photos and reminded the observers to correct the observation. Essentially 100% of the observers who responded complied and were grateful for the reminder, indicating that observers, for one, by and large respect and appreciate extensive identifiers.

Publicado por bdagley cerca de 1 ano antes

It really depends on the error. Wrong dates or locations missing typically are actual error and I've seen regular users do that and yeah they do tend to correct them. But the sorts of people that don't understand how the site works and upload a bunch of images of different species, then go silent and do nothing when corrected for literally years is pretty high.

Publicado por blue_lotus cerca de 1 ano antes

I've made recommendations for that as well, such as to provide more guidance upfront when user join, or require them to complete a training module, to avoid problems occurring downstream. Many new users who make mistakes aren't aware that they are doing so. But in general, observers overall still seem mostly to be receptive to help and advice, especially since we're volunteering to more precisely identify their photos.

Publicado por bdagley cerca de 1 ano antes

"As demonstrated for many years at Bugguide."

A lot of these issues have already been solved by other sites.

"when it was proposed to ban further agreeing identifications"

I'm not aware of this, like to ban further agreeing IDs beyond those that bring something to RG? That would be terrible.

"The point of an academic scientist identifying all observations for a taxon-area combination is for the same records to be extracted without serious credit if any, and often without a simple thank you, by other (rival) academic colleagues to be used as fodder for their academic output?"

I mean I expect this information to be used by the scientific community. Don't you? There are many ID's I've made that have expanded ranges of a great number of species. I would very much like to see the scientific community use this data. Personally, I'm not that concerned with credit for ID's, although it would be nice to see if it was relevant to the paper. Now having said that, I would like greater respect shown by this site to its major contributors/specialists.

Here's the crux of the issue: you can't have the data on your site used for scientific purposes, while also not wanting that data curated in a scientific way. You don't get both. At some point, the admins of this site are going to have to make a choice whether they want this to be Twitter 2.0, with all the toxicity that entails and none of the virtues (because Twitter doesn't have any) or whether they want this to be a serious citizen science site. The two are not compatible, because the twitter crowd will always produce an endless stream of imagined complaints with ever greater demands regarding "solving" these non-issues - like totally imagined "harassment", which is why we're all here to begin with.

Publicado por blue_lotus cerca de 1 ano antes

The forum has a 'paid nanny' who says, too many likes, come back tomorrow. With privileges that you earn, slowly. iNat has almost nothing reserved for people who have learned to use the site properly. No motivation to learn how to iNat.

I would like iNat itself to encourage identifying. I am daunted by a user who has been on iNat for one month only. And has over 1K obs. Mostly trees ... with no IDs for others. Observers should be encouraged to engage and to give back. Broad IDs so the taxon specialists can filter for them.

We are just days away from this years' City Nature Challenge

Publicado por dianastuder cerca de 1 ano antes

"Scientists, experts, who needs them anyway? They are gatekeepers and killjoys who are only happy when they can dunk on us. About time to give them the boot so we can have a liberated (insert your favorite institution here), where at last everybody is respected for his personal opinion without being corrected by a weird set of rules we don't understand in the first place!"

... nope, I don't think it is a specific iNaturalist problem. It is a Zeitgeist problem.

"Help, help, they are oppressing my wishful thinking by facts!!!"

People tend to feel harrassed just by being corrected. Shame that iNat is supporting this notion.

"Experts think they are so clever. What do they think I am?? Stupid???"

Scientists are perceived as gatekeepers of a cashcow ideology due to an utter lack of comprehension of natural sciences by most people. A notion that is hyped by Graham Hancock et al., promoted by Netflix or History Channel. We can see it in every part of society.

"I don´t need science, I use my common sense instead."


Publicado por stefadrian cerca de 1 ano antes

It's unfortunate that the iNat staff are more concerned with the site being essentially another social media platform as opposed to 130 million observations. It's kind of ridiculous that they brag about the scientific contributions of this site, but when scientists ask for changes to improve the science, then all the sudden it's just about the observers.

I really wish that they'd realize that the main users of this site aren't the observers, it's the identifiers. We spend significantly more time on the site and are the much bigger users of the site. But identifiers needs seem to get marginalized.

Publicado por neylon cerca de 1 ano antes

One improvement we fought for. And won.
Plant + var or ssp used to UNhelpfully = plant. Not, thank you.
Plant + var or ssp = species. Which fits human logic, and is filterable for taxon specialists.

I am struggling with, encouraging newbies to just add any ID - pick one at random from the Pretty Sure list.
Followed by fighting the CID algorithm. Must. Find. MORE. Identifiers.
Undermined by Ancestor Disagreement. Must. Find. EVEN. More. Identifiers.
Give me honest Unknowns!

I guess that all worked for a small group in California when they started?

Publicado por dianastuder cerca de 1 ano antes

Thanks for helping with that.

Publicado por bdagley cerca de 1 ano antes

One general note here, was that yesterday a curator made a strong argument here in my defense that I was unfairly treated and unfairly punished to lose my curator status, and I agree with that assessment whether or not the comment will be restored.

Publicado por bdagley cerca de 1 ano antes

hesitant to post here, but I'd like to express my support for some (albeit not all) of these thoughts.

without getting too much into the nitty gritty and specifics, I do believe that iNat has a cultural issue when it comes to how experts are treated on the site and the say we have in certain situations. if experts and identifiers are so valuable to the site, why is it that they are so limited? I agree with the points made by @stefadrian and many others—experts on here are often treated as "elitist" and this is a viewpoint encouraged by some of the function of the site in the name of making user's individual observations more important than broader science. there are instances where no matter how incorrect a user is, they are still able to be right and an expert must move on. when I've made complaints to staff, there is always a reiteration that the priority of iNaturalist is not to be a scientific site, but more of a social media platform for sharing a love of nature. it's incredibly frustrating when these priorities become apparent.

I believe that this site offers quite a lot to the scientific world, but it has a far greater potential that is frustratingly being ignored. Making this site more scientifically accessible would not sacrifice the over all user base and it's frustrating that there is the concept that making such changes is of detriment to equity of site users. It is a flawed notion. I don't believe that this is just some other complaint and that there are always things to complain about—I hope the staff see and understand that experts on this site need to be treated with more value, especially for the time and resources we've dedicated. It's not transactional, but we should have more of a voice.

Publicado por nomolosx cerca de 1 ano antes

And frankly non-scientists (me too) who come to iNat from other social media, are hoping for an informed ID. If that function is not supported and encouraged - there are plenty of other places to get WOW great picture!! and who cares what it is, it's wow end of. It is identification that makes a niche for iNat on social media.

Publicado por dianastuder cerca de 1 ano antes

There are Facebook groups for posting pretty pictures of nature. And some of those Facebook groups are good about identifying, too. The question is, what sets iNat apart?

Publicado por jasonhernandez74 cerca de 1 ano antes

"It is not a science platform, it is a social media platform."
I always found that notion to be far out on the weird side tbh.
It is a social media platform for biologic observations and taxonomic biology. This is not at all mutually exclusive! Like a chess site is a sm-platform for chess players. It doesn't matter if you are a champ or a newbie, but in order for this specific platform to work, everybody has to attend to the rules of chess. Wanna play checkers instead? Sorry, dude, wrong social media-platform here.

Uttering this notion about the social media platform seems to be a parrot reflex by staff/curators, a "portcullus-answer" to almost every idea of enhancing the scientific output of the site. I fully acknowledge that some staff members really put an effort into it, answering to questions, discussing those ideas and so on, but in the end ... always "portcullus", it seems ... ;)

Publicado por stefadrian cerca de 1 ano antes

Back to basics. From iNat's own About

iNaturalist helps you identify the plants and animals around you. Get connected with a community of over a million scientists and naturalists who can help you learn more about nature! What’s more, by recording and sharing your observations, you’ll create research quality data for scientists working to better understand and protect nature.

Publicado por dianastuder cerca de 1 ano antes

BTW - out of all observations, what percentage of observations is this discussion about?
Is the percentage meaningful enough to require data cleansing?
Can one easily data cleanse the miscreants observations?
Could a tag be added to mark such observations?

Publicado por fiftygrit cerca de 1 ano antes

@fiftygrit this discussion has expanded to cover a few different grievances with iNat's administration

1) observations where an expert has been blocked from identifying
2) observations where an AI-suggested ID has obviated an expert's ID
3) observations where an expert hasn't IDed, due to them not participating in this platform

all of these are serious issues and difficult/impossible to quantify, but #3 is the biggest problem that this site faces.
how many experts simply avoid iNaturalist due to its toxic attitude towards them?
how many experts avoid iNaturalist due to the proliferation of bad data?
this is a feedback loop that increasingly disincentives participation from the users whose participation is most needed.

here's a relevant thread that I saw yesterday...

Publicado por joe_fish cerca de 1 ano antes

I think that iNaturalist doesn't want to change, it doesn't want to be a predominantly scientific site and therefore it will not be. I think it's instinctive to try to suggest changes towards what we want it to be but it's not what the admins want.

I think that having expert users with more weight in the IDs would be a choice that brings with it not only advantages but also new problems. Who will spend time and energy selecting and monitoring experts? How do you decide who is an expert? For example, if there is a user with more than 1,000,000 identifications on all Phylum (of which 99.99% has only copied the previous ID even if it is wrong and has never argued for a single ID) he should be considered an expert (genius?) or a mythomaniac? If there is a very experienced user who has ID only 100 records but for very hard and rare species how do we understand it? If a well-known university professor accustomed to examining dead specimens makes many misidentifications in identifying live specimens, is he an expert?

I think iNaturalist will have many problems in the future, I don't think the main ones will be those of the semi-automatic logic for the IDs and for the (very little and very bad) moderation but for having an ever larger database (continuously growing) with too high a percentage of bad photos qualities (often unidentifiable) with too few experts willing to dig through bad photos to find one interesting photo.

I think an expert must take iNaturalist with its strengths and weaknesses, understand that it is not a scientific site (it pretends to be one just to distinguish itself), and certainly it isn't a site for protect nature (it pretends to be one but photos that required harm to a living organism are welcome), must it is a site that to need to have patience and the right spirit. With its strengths and weaknesses, it is still a particular site that can be very useful and interesting, if not taken too seriously.

Personally, it would be enough that the site moderators in the event of conflicts to have the intelligence and education to understand if one of the parties in conflict should be protected more for having demonstrated over the years that he is a serious and expert user that he is acting for the good of the site or not.

Publicado por rpillon cerca de 1 ano antes

"it is not a scientific site (it pretends to be one just to distinguish itself)" -- honestly, I think that from the beginning I sensed this. In hindsight, I think that's why I never was on the same with the eager people on the forums encouraging, "document everything." I never saw the point. If I was doing a scientific biodiversity survey, the iNat methodology is not how I would do it.

To me, uploading pictures here feels more like philatelists showing each other their stamp collections. I do it for the same reason a philatelist shows the stamp collection to another philatelist instead of to their family members gathered for the holidays.

Publicado por jasonhernandez74 cerca de 1 ano antes

@joe_fish I enjoy submitting to citizen science and hope that my observations could provide some contribution to this.

If however, there is a better site, I am happy to transfer my observations there and close this account.

Thought#1: it appears that the moderators are ignoring the issues in this forum. Whilst having a whinge-fest may be cathartic, one has a choice as to whether or not to use the data. If you chose to use the data, given items 1, 2 and 3, data will need to be cleansed.

Thought: Could a tag or project be created and applied by an expert/ curator that would inform users that specific observations (your list 1, 2 or 3) needs to be cleansed?

Publicado por fiftygrit cerca de 1 ano antes

In general, all experts need to consider that not only are they contributing to the dataset of iNat, but experts as well as uploaders contribute to the research of numerous private projects around the planet. I have a private project going on, which frankly would not be possible without the observations of all the other people in my area, and without the input of our experts and semi-experts. So, while the whole iNat dataset might be flawed, the observations aren't, the experts IDs aren't. Still we are contributing to science, just not on the level iNat is advertising.

@fiftygrit Please don't close the accout, even if you move on and delete all of your observations. Because if you delete the account, all of your identifications would be gone, too. This would be a punishment of users for the flaws of the site ...

Publicado por stefadrian cerca de 1 ano antes

iNaturalist can certainly have a scientific utility, in these years I have been able to make 3 peer-reviewed scientific publications using it: one on the distribution of two species (but I had to personally identify the 1100 records used and in any case discard a hundred of them) and two for the just by having met other experts on this site.
iNaturalist is only a tool, if used in the right way it is useful (for me mainly to relate to many kind and intelligent users and to find little known species), if instead we dedicate ourselves entirely to the site we risk disappointments. There are many spaces in iNaturalist that cannot be fixed but it has also managed to create niches of excellence.
Getting angry with iNaturalist is like getting angry with a toaster, in my opinion it makes little sense, we need to accept it for what it is and try to use it for what it can do.

Publicado por rpillon cerca de 1 ano antes

If you are a scientist and can see the flaws, we iNatters NEED you to help. We need taxon specialists.

Especially the kind ones who leave brief comments. It is species A because ... Not species B because ...
Remember the Pareto principle on social media. One person, the observer posts an obs. 9 more visibly engage, ID comment fave. But always remember the silent majority, another 90 - who are not 'lurking'. They are reading along, looking and learning, and your knowledge ripples out. I rely on @joe_fish which is why I landed on this post. And I remember he once asked for help with a taxonomy muddle on the forum - which was resolved almost overnight.

Or not. Ivory tower? Publicly funded and giving back to society? There are so many kind and helpful scientists on iNat. And so many taxon gaps. CNC23 started today. Please help to ID for us?

Publicado por dianastuder cerca de 1 ano antes

I really like and support @rpillion s take.
I get frustratetd sometimes .. especially when moderators and admins seem to lightheartedly take the risk to drive prolific IDers such as @joefish or @bdagely away.. think that will harm the site an it´s goals on the long run.
It is for sure a good thing to try to change thing that can be improved.

However, in the end it will cause problems if you try to use the site in a way it is not really built for. It is a compromise and yeah, one needs to think about what is the most important goal and what are maybe site goals.
I think the most important goal is to connect people with nature, motivate them to spend their time with it. I feel the science aspect is somewhat secondary.. which is ok. However, it is also important to keep the balance. I don´t know how many people will continue to want to connect with nature via this site, if their observations will not be evaluated anymore, because the IDers feel unhappy and leave. Uplaoding your observations and not getting any feedback might not be very motivating for many users.

And I am rather opposed against the idea of experts getting another status... it is really hard to impossible to easily evaluate what an expert is. A degree does not really need to mean anything compared to personal interest and experience...

Publicado por ajott cerca de 1 ano antes

@joe_fish, I have not posted observations for a while, therefore I did not noticed that you were on ID strike. I am sorry to know that inat has been so frustrating for you this year. I am very grateful for your many IDs and the knowledge you shared so generously with me.

Publicado por clairegoiran cerca de 1 ano antes

If we calm down and refrain from grandstanding this may help iNat admin to find more bandwidth to improve the site

Publicado por johnascher cerca de 1 ano antes

@johnascher I guess you named the problem there. It is frustrating for experts to have to point out their expertise and why it obviously matters for iNat, just to be called grandstanding (or gatekeeping or elitist or similar phrases, I read 'em all). It is exactly "why we are here". Some of us would love the administration to show more interest in improving the site (in a scientific way, that is).

I agree that calming down is always a good thing. But do people in this post really give the impression of an aggressive and irrational mob to you?

Publicado por stefadrian cerca de 1 ano antes

Not an 'expert' but having googled, the others on this thread are not 'grandstanding'

Publicado por dianastuder cerca de 1 ano antes

How would you characterize stirring up of so much drama based on deficiency of a particular site tool (when there are very many shortcomings of the site, both technical and in terms of site culture)? @dianastuder

I also wish the admin would place a much higher priority on supporting experts, for exampling taking steps to ensure that our efforts are properly credited when iNat data are mined en masse by rival academics. I also wish that various site tools could be improved, especially through implementation of a means to efficiently flag duplicated posts and also cases where multiple taxa are unhelpfully and accidentally confounded.

I was not intending to comment on all "people in this post" and certainly was not intending to characterize them as aggressive or irrational @stefadrian. I do, however, think that threatening to go on strike due to shortcomings in a single tool is overly dramatic and not especially helpful.

Publicado por johnascher cerca de 1 ano antes

@johnascher "taking steps to ensure that our efforts are properly credited when iNat data are mined en masse by rival academics"

I'm curious how you would implement that request?
My curation of anemone observations has been used in another researcher's comparative study...
I wasn't acknowledged in any way by those authors (despite having communicated at length with one of them), but I also wasn't the only user to provide IDs on the observations.
Who deserves to be "properly credited" for iNaturalist data, and what does that entail?
Are you looking for a brief acknowledgement or coauthorship?

Publicado por joe_fish cerca de 1 ano antes

@johnascher I agree. the conversation also ends up becoming rather circular—if change is desired I am not sure this is the best way to achieve it. the feature requests channel in the iNat forum may be a good start as well as other options for discourse there. I used this thread myself to echo some thoughts and even air some adjacent grievances, but in the end I do not believe a taxonomy strike is the best course of action. that said, I empathize with the frustrations and share many of them.

Publicado por nomolosx cerca de 1 ano antes

"I'm curious how you would implement that request?"

I suggest that site admin and others connected to iNat make public statements to the effect that 1) these are valuable scientific data that are being used for high impact research and policy and that therefore 2) data quality is important and 3) any large-scale, sustained, and thorough efforts by experts to render datasets publication quality should receive due credit. Then there need to be improved site tools, much more reliable data sharing and use agreements (esp. involving GBIF, which has its own issues!), and greater emphasis going forward on the scientific merits of the site in addition to its participatory aspects (which are also very important).

Many additional ideas are presented here

"I also wasn't the only user to provide IDs on the observations"

In some cases IDs (and observations) are truly crowd-sourced and it is not feasible to separate major vs. minor contributors, but in many cases there are obvious outliers among identifiers in terms of volume and/or originality and reliability of identifications who certainly merit particular mention (esp. if working as a team in a coordinated way as we do for bees, e.g., @neylon, @bdagley, and I and others have worked together to upgrade North American Bombus whereas @azhagu and I upgrade Asian images; the problem is that major Bombus projects to date have not fairly credited major identifiers of specimens or images). In such cases it should be quite clear simply by checking ID statistics who is doing large-scale work with intent to upgrade the dataset as a whole to publication quality. It seems disingenuous for colleagues who know who we are and who even solicit ID help from us and who routinely apply advanced statistics in their papers on a large scale to claim to be unable to determine who is and who isn't a major contributor. How is it that sophisticated scientists cannot apply basic statistical thresholds when determining if and how to individually credit data owners/providers/upgraders/validators? Why should it be difficult for quantitative ecologists or conservationists to notice when someone has contributed an order of magnitude more IDs than others? Several colleagues focus on detecting subtle shifts in populations (e.g., of bumble bees) but then claim to be unable to detect extreme outliers in ID effort even when iNat conveniently provides summary totals (at least in Explore mode).

"Are you looking for a brief acknowledgement or coauthorship?"

Of course this entirely depends on whether iNat data was central to the paper (or other research product) or supplemental and whether there had been coordinated effort by an identifiable set of identifiers working as a team (this is frequent in the bees) or if ID effort has been dispersed (truly crowd-sourced as seems to be the default assumption). The main reason to include the most important identifiers as authors is that they surely have unique insights into the data that could improve the study. Failing to include identifiers leads to suboptimal and potentially misleading use of recordsets. see

I am not myself very interested in perfunctory thank yous (especially as part of an undifferentiated collective) but I am very interested in seeing some recognition, even if not in the preferred currency of Academia, of the strenuous efforts of non-academic scientists and especially of emerging experts (often students, including those from under-resourced institutions and countries). @joe_fish

Here is an example of a paper that mined all iNat records of Euglossini for the USA but did not credit or even thank those of us who collectively (and in one case individually) checked identifications of 100% of these records (vs. 0% by the authors).

Even though this species ID is "obvious" there was much need to clean up records confounded with Augochlorini, to reject unverifiable reports of this species from Mesoamerica, and to otherwise ensure that these data were fit for use.

Many changes are surely desirable but I think we need to be patient and not get too fixated on certain local issues such as individual tools that are lacking or are counterproductive. These can be dealt with in time. I think there are some big questions to answer regarding whether iNat is or should be a serious scientific resource or whether it should value participation and collectivism above all else?

Publicado por johnascher cerca de 1 ano antes

There is one idea regarding this situation. Why not prohibit the blocking of curators? And allow curators to mark a user (e.g. after correspondence through messages) who makes correct identifications, so that their definitions have "more weight" than those of other users.
In my opinion this would solve the current problem.

Incidentally, I recently found myself in the same situation as one of the few bumblebee identifiers in Eurasia.
Thanks @johnascher for inviting me into the discussion.

Publicado por sibnaturalist cerca de 1 ano antes

... has been proposed before (in fact, by me as well). In the past there have been a lot of reasonable ideas to fix this issue, proposed on various occasions by various people (in the forum and via pm to admins/curators). It is why I support this move by Joe, because all that happened in response to this specific issue was polite variations of the staff comment "We hear you, but we are not gonna change anything concerning your ideas."

If there is an issue, it should be brought to attention so it can be adressed properly and maybe even fixed. But yeah, I guess you could also call it "stirring up drama". ;) I don't think that this problem is just like any minor deficiency of the site, I think it is a main issue. I think it is scaring off specialists (academic scientists who would spend their time and expertise on iNat for free) both from continuing to participate as well as joining iNat in the first place.

I agree it is a circular discussion. But only the argument is, not the users involved, some of whom hear about this issue for the first time. It was not that Joe jumped on a strike the very second he was denied a request. This has been an ongoing issue for a while now (longer than I am part of iNat, it seems), with ample feature requests by different persons, discussions with staff, discussions on the forum .... but as I said above, the answer of choice always seems to be something like "We hear you, but we are not gonna change anything concerning your ideas."

Publicado por stefadrian cerca de 1 ano antes

Strange and illogical.
The platform should evolve, especially as this change will only benefit everyone.

Publicado por sibnaturalist cerca de 1 ano antes

I sympathise with @joe_fish - it may not, be the best response, but it is his despairing one.

I am neither a scientist nor employed, so I'm free to express my own opinions - but various threads make me realise that use of iNat is very different for working scientists @johnascher Those 'cautious comments', but not committing to an actual ID for example (not you!)

Chewing over iNat is social media first with the deliberate lack of support for identifiers in favour of observers. I wonder if iNat targets vanity metrics for A Word from Our Sponsors? Easy to explain and justify rising obs and observer and species numbers. Not so easy to to justify to NON-scientist funders ID to taxon and taxonomy convolutions. (Disclaimer - my camera case is National Geographic - but I paid - to advertise for them)

Not acknowledging people's data from iNat lurches down to - I found it on Google and now it is MINE. People scrape text and images (even slicing off the watermark) and are DEEPLY offended when I whine about theft of intellectual property. Copyright? What, is that?

Publicado por dianastuder cerca de 1 ano antes

"Not acknowledging people's data from iNat lurches down to - I found it on Google and now it is MINE"

A problem here is that for some the relevant people to be acknowledged are only the observer(s) but for others it could be the identifiers too. This is one of many "main issues" that I think need to be duly considered before we can move forward harmoniously.

Just today I found out that my PhD adviser's lab (which is not heavily involved in iNat bees as far as I know) has recently initiated a community science project focused on mapping (and ultimately conserving) aggregations of ground-nesting bees using the iNaturalist platform. They are advertising this as their work on the US Bees Listserve (documenting bee nests is an obvious thing to do with the aggregated image data).

Here is the website:

This seems like an attempt to leverage the extremely strenuous work of major iNat contributors, including identifiers, for the benefit of a PI who does not fit to respectfully engage with the site's leading identifiers from the outset (leading to questions about whether they can expect to be credited).

Here is the iNaturalist project:

I added this Flag, "Seems like rebranding (as a project) by a lab not contributing much to iNaturalist of strenuous long-term, large-scale work (e.g., identifying the nesting bees) done by other academics who are major contributors to this site." @jordan_kue

@dianastuder I hope you can see that there is something of a "land grab" for iNat data at this time, and those most aggressively seeking to monetize this work may have done little or nothing to build the community resource. Surely this is an issue requiring further discussion.

Publicado por johnascher cerca de 1 ano antes

Somewhat curious how this new project was even able to be created. Isn't there a 50 observation requirement before you can create traditional projects? The creator in this case has: 1.

Also interesting, 1000 observations in the project already that they presumably want to use for research, and in the identification department, has placed: 1.

It does kind of look like the plan is to take no part in this community, add nothing to it, but reap the benefits of the work we've done. If the project owner(s) does become an active identifier and spends time finding and improving observations, then great! That's wonderful, we need more experts on here placing ID's, and I wouldn't in that case have a problem with the data being used. But right now, it looks like that's not what we're going to get, we're going to get a project that collects our work and leaves when it has sufficient data for a publication for someone else.

Publicado por neylon cerca de 1 ano antes

I would flag that project to help at iNat @johnascher and @neylon. A form of plagiarism?

A nastier attack, than simply scraping photos for a field guide. Somewhere between social media naivety (they will never know) and professional malice?

Publicado por dianastuder cerca de 1 ano antes

A more charitable interpretation @dianastuder is that an overly enthusiastic student (and lab) may rightly perceive the value of the resource (as fodder for research publications and as a way to increase outreach) and wish to advance an ambitious project without duly considering the existing participants and their existing efforts (e.g., the existing project on meeting bees). Since none of the people involved seem to have engaged much in the site in any capacity (see above comment by it seems very plausible that naivety is a big part of this. Also, being charitable @neylon, there may be a plan to take part, but it would be better practice to actually engage with the existing community in a serious way before launching an ambitious project branded to a particular lab.

I suggest that we have a serious discussion about these issues in general, such as ongoing industrial scale scraping of biodiversity data by some prominent research labs worldwide, as opposed to focusing too much on this particular example (which after all hasn't achieved much yet).

Publicado por johnascher cerca de 1 ano antes

Regarding the potential for professional malice, some people may think that this cannot happen in the case of an "amateur" crowd-sourced site because the data are amassed by the public and should be fodder for anyone to use as they see fit, but in reality much of the content has been validated (rendered publication quality) by certain credentialed experts in direct competition with ambitious data mining academics. The site and others (e.g., GBIF) had better come up with better means to enforce existing agreements (e.g., GBIF data use agreement) and to expand these to include new stakeholders such as large-scale identifiers and content curators (in addition to observers, who already have in theory some minimal protections).

Publicado por johnascher cerca de 1 ano antes

Uncharitable on my side, since I'm not a working scientist. How do you deal with plagiarism? Avoid being plagiarised? Away from iNat.

The amount of data now available on iNat moves to generation 2 level, where fresh guidelines need to be established. Within iNat as well. Some barriers and rewards - my focus is on encouraging people to work thru the ID backlog. Instead of the iNat default - bring us - thousands of obs - the identifiers are waiting eagerly!

Publicado por dianastuder cerca de 1 ano antes

I prefer to err on the side of sharing data, identifications, and expertise with the public, and am not too worried about how non-academics cite or fail to cite my work. However, I pay close attention to what rival academics may be attempting to do with recordsets they did not build and may not understand and am in no mood to see colleagues rebranding datasets or leveraging them for non-inclusive publications.

New guidelines are certainly needed! We are in uncharted territory.

Regarding the ID backlog, I wish there were more enthusiasm for making obvious identifications at high volume to higher taxonomic levels from this backlog. Instead, many identifiers seem more keen to attempt highly speculative species IDs for a seemingly arbitrary set of selected records. Why not look harder in the backlog for 1) high value records (I find diamonds in the rough in the backlog all the time) and 2) low hanging fruit such as honey bees, bumble bees, etc. among the "bees" backlog.

Publicado por johnascher cerca de 1 ano antes

I agree there are gems to be found. And a lot of low hanging fruits also.
That is not the problem. The problem is that there is no motivation for users to become identifiers, no reason for identifiers to strive for expert status, and absolutely no reason for experts to join iNat ... besides maybe from personal reasons like being interested in IDing difficult species to a speculative subspecies level (which is then frowned upon) ...
Basically I am annoyed when after another night shift of reviewing and identifying Bivalve species I keep on reading how identifiers should do better ... ;) no, not really annoyed .... but yes, I think the identifiers are doing a great job, they are singlehandedly keeping this website alive and thriving. No, not the observers are, the identifiers are. I think the next step is up to iNat administration to recognise this and react accordingly. But instead I perceive this friendly condescending attitude of "oh, we are doing fine here, weirdos complaining is part of the game, nothing to phone home about." In the meantime, unidentified Anthozoans are piling ...

Publicado por stefadrian cerca de 1 ano antes

"No, not the observers are, the identifiers are."

Was this inspired, in part, by the "lazy observers" thread? Because I agree with you that much of the current ethos of iNaturalist is for observers to think, at best, that it is enough for them just to photograph and upload, photograph and upload, and this will somehow magically result in a useful dataset.

Publicado por jasonhernandez74 cerca de 1 ano antes

I chose not to login for 3 weeks, and will continue to reduce my identifying (and curation) somewhat until the issue over my curator status is corrected. Anyway, one thing I noticed while I was away is that Joe is shown as being suspended on the forum, which I don't know the details of, but that the staff later said on the forum that he could come back if he wants. Which would seem to suggest that sometimes users are punished too harshly or unjustifiably, and without the review or agreement of the greater user community or oversight groups. Although to be clear, I do approve if punished users are given second chances, and especially if the original punishment was unfair. I also noticed two sections of the curator guide and terms of use that I didn't remember, which may explain a lot about how some identifiers often feel ignored by the staff.

Which essentially state that any decisions made against users are only made at their own discretion, and that any user can even be suspended or have their account deleted on inat or the forum, with or without cause, with or without notice. This was surprising to read. I also noticed that once on the forum the staff publicly commented that sometimes they do or will make mistakes. But the solution they offered was just to tell them if you think they made a mistake. My main point being, if someone can punish users in any way at their own discretion but also says they'll sometimes make mistakes, is there sufficient accountability to protect the rights of contributors? Ideally, I'd prefer those terms of use and curator guide to be updated to ensure fairness toward curators and all users. Feel free to share if anyone has feedback on these topics.

Curator guide: If you demonstrate by your behavior on the site, forum, or other communication that you are unwilling to abide by these curatorial policies, abusive to us or members of our community, or otherwise unreasonable, the staff will revoke your curator status, or just not grant it in the first place. What constitutes abusive or unreasonable behavior is at the discretion of the site staff.

Terms of use:Termination. iNaturalist may terminate Your access to all or any part of the Platform or Services at any time, with or without cause, with or without notice, effective immediately. If You wish to terminate this Agreement or Your iNaturalist account, You may simply discontinue using the Platform and delete Your account. All provisions of this Agreement which by their nature should survive termination shall survive termination, including, without limitation, ownership provisions, warranty disclaimers, indemnity, and limitations of liability.

Publicado por bdagley cerca de 1 ano antes

I presume Joe Fish is not interested in fighting to be readmitted to the Forum.
But I remain glad to see him back to identifying. Marine life is where I need ALL the help I can get.

Publicado por dianastuder cerca de 1 ano antes

"With or without cause" is a huge red flag for me, because by definition, it encompasses "because I felt like it" or any other capricious, bigoted, or biased reason. If I see that proviso, it is safest to assume that there is no accountability.

Publicado por jasonhernandez74 cerca de 1 ano antes


Publicado por bdagley cerca de 1 ano antes

I was also just told that there are no plans to reinstate my curator status, supposedly because I've been flagged "19 or more times." Yet, all of the recent flags were proven to be invalid, and on many of them curators or even Tony and Scott themselves actually resolved the flag as that I didn't violate site policy. So in other words, it's preposterous to tally up flags when almost all of them were invalid and dishonest, which was conceded by the staff themselves. This is a kangaroo court, no pun intended.

Publicado por bdagley cerca de 1 ano antes

Disappointing to hear that.

Taxon curators, and 'resolving flags' curators should run separately since the responsibilities and skills are different.

Publicado por dianastuder cerca de 1 ano antes

Thanks. Well, the idea to separate those two functions in the future is actually already planned by them, although I don't think it would be good. Because it basically just takes away powers from only certain existing curators, which could make curator flag resolutions less fair. I also remember on the forum it was once suggested to remove the curator status from all curators who hadn't completed any or many curation tasks. People pointed out in response then, that doing so would be unfair because some curators focus all their time on ID, but if that suggestion had been taken many of them would have lost curator status.

So, there has been a history of powers being removed from some or all curators over time. An even earlier example from before I joined, was that users were once granted curator status more readily, and curators could on their own make other users become curators, which was an option that was taken away later. Currently, it can be hard for many users to get approved to become a curator, but not everyone has the same chances as others.

For example, when I first applied a year before the second time I applied (which was when I became a curator), staff said that I had a communication issue with "user." I responded that this was false, to which they apologized and corrected themselves. Still, they didn't make a curator at that time and stopped replying. Similarly, recently another Hymenoptera identifier applied to become a curator, and staff even said he was accepted, but then didn't update his account and stopped replying. It's things like that, and how the terms of use say that anything can be done to any user with or without cause, that make me concerned about honesty, fairness, and accountability. As someone said above, the ability to block expert IDs, and as I'm adding to demote or suspend them without cause, does seem to be tinkering with the dataset. However, I'm not intending to just complain, but would like these things to be improved in a constructive manner.

Publicado por bdagley cerca de 1 ano antes

One relevant fact related to our discussion here is that, among the staff/admin-related issues raised here, multiple people have independently noticed or experienced and noted the same admin-related issues, which counts as corroborative evidence. For example, forum moderation issues were also raised here by others as well as me, such as feature requests being blocked, unfair standards of flagging, and the use some of the time of invalid "off topic comment" claims to users, which sometimes splits their comment onto a new page, topics being closed extremely quickly or de-listed/hidden, etc. All or nearly all of these issues were also documented in 2019, a year before I joined, as demonstrated when reading the full threads in the links below. And, unfair admin practices on the forum also indicates unfair inat admin practices, and vice versa, even for people who don't use the forum. So, the unfair conduct is not necessarily specific to any one of us, although has been specific to a few of us.

Publicado por bdagley cerca de 1 ano antes


Nothing that I received let me know why my post was flagged and removed. And no, I don’t want to know who complained about it. The language of the post may have been a bit vague, but I was talking about a blurred photo that a person was kind enough to reply to in a constructive manner. I didn’t insult anyone, or mention names. Or even links. One of your guidelines says ‘Assume people mean not harm’. I’m seriously ticked off by this.

That does surprise me. Flagging one of the kindest and most helpful people on iNat. RIP

Publicado por dianastuder cerca de 1 ano antes

I would like to share some facts about @bdagley's contribution which should be considered when evaluating the potential loss to iNaturalist should he be further marginalized.

He is the 2nd most prolific identifier of Hymenoptera on the site with a very impressive 325,936 IDs:

He is the most prolific identifier of some very important taxa on the site such as Vespidae:

He provided a unique service among curators by promptly resolving difficult taxonomic problems for aculeate wasps.

He has shared with me and others valuable insights into identifications and tips on how best to employ site tools.

It is to be expected that someone working at such a high volume as both an identifier and curator while also advocating for improvements of site tools and culture (see followup message below) should run afoul of certain curators, esp. those demonstrably prone to spiteful flagging, sarcastic retorts, and unearned claims of authority.

Publicado por johnascher cerca de 1 ano antes

It seems that @bdagley was demonized by some curators for preferring to identify the first image in a series precisely, but why should our valuable ID work (on the primary image) be rendered least common denominator (rendering it inaccessible for downstream use) just because 1) the observer is unable or unwilling to achieve timely deletion of off-topic extra images in accordance with site rules (even after being notified explicitly of the problem) and 2) the site lacks continues to lack the tools and culture to address the problem efficiently and harmoniously?

There is a genuine problem here, but the identifiers are not to blame, especially those who have worked tirelessly to annotate erroneously linked images (too often a thankless task having no effect since observers rarely seem to make prompt corrections to their submissions) while also sharing constructive ideas for how to improve the site.

It is the responsibility of the observer to delete/repost erroneously mixed images yet few do this. The site needs new mechanisms to address the problem that do not entail loss of identifier effort. Why should expert contributions such as species identifications including novel records of biogeographic and conservation importance be assigned near-zero value as seems to be the case when a lowest-common denominator solution is mandated? Why should identifiers be blamed for downstream problems caused by the chimeric records when it is the observer who is supposed to delete off topic images, especially when explicitly instructed to do so?

Publicado por johnascher cerca de 1 ano antes

Coupled by the fact that it is very difficult to delete pictures. Many, many times, I have asked users to delete an image, they respond later that they did, but when I check, the image is still there, or they deleted the wrong image. Meaning I have to spell out step by step how to remove an image. I know how to remove images and have done it myself occasionally, but it took me quite a while to figure it out too. Considering how many times I have had users willing but unable to remove images, it can only be concluded that it is one of the least user friendly aspects of the site.

In this situation, we have a sizable amount of identifiers who are trying to work around a part of the site that's unworkable. I really don't think we should be punished for that.

Publicado por neylon cerca de 1 ano antes

I created a petition-like excel file vote for anyone who'd support me regaining my curator status, feel free to pass it on to others. For clarification, I also learned that there is no third party or employer to speak to if disagreeing/appealing punishments like having curator status removed. To vote, just add your username or name under the first one in the shared document (link), or you can publicly or privately tell me and I'll add it. Thanks very much in advance, hopefully this will be effective and my issue can be settled soon, allowing us to resume discussing the other community needs and requests. I'll also publicly defend any other users this happens to in the future, and although I do make website suggestions or feedback at times, will be careful not to even potentially be flagged in the future, hoping that there will be no more conflicts.

Publicado por bdagley cerca de 1 ano antes

I'm not a curator and I don't even want to become one because I immediately saw the great potential of iNaturalist but also the great limitations and incoherence.
As a very active user trying to improve IDs I'm totally agree with what @johnascher @neylon writes. I console myself reading their observations because that's what happens to me every day too. On iNaturalist working to improve the site is a task full of hurdles, site management and some rules of operation sometimes make the task very hard and if someone try to work hardly to improve the site it is easier to end up being prosecuted instead of supported by iNaturalst.

For these reasons I preferred to give precedence to my serenity and I prefer not to commit myself excessively to iNaturalist, to use it only for what is useful to me and as a tool to improve other truly scientific sites, however I admire and understand your choice to try to improve iNaturalst, even if I have serious doubts that it wants to be "improved ".
I think it is clear that iNaturalist, even if for reasons of image it proposes itself as a scientific, democratic site that aims at the quality of IDs, is actually a site that has different targets as to have many users, achieving notoriety and managing the complexity of the database without committing too many resources. I think it is achieving his targets and doesn't want to be "improved". For many of us it is important if iN has 90% or 60% of right and significant IDs but for iN's targets I suspect it is not very relevant.

I am pleased to endorse bdagley. 😊

Publicado por rpillon cerca de 1 ano antes

Thanks very much @rpillon and others who endorsed me, the votes are now over 70 although I'm still waiting to find out if my curator status will been reinstated.

By the way, I just learned that a taxonomist was flagged multiple times at once, which was similar to what previously happened to me. In case you want to comment on the flags:

Publicado por bdagley 12 meses antes

I mentioned this discussion to Bug Guide identifiers, in a somewhat similar discussion that may be of interest to read: ("a word of warning"...). I like BG forum because it has no moderators, although it's somewhat less active and the way comments are organized can make it difficult to read in long discussions. One of my comments is currently shown below the forum topic text, although the discussion began with earlier-dated comments and was written by the author of the forum topic. Bonus if anyone happens to have or make a BG account (focus: North American insects and bugs), then they could also comment there if they want.

Publicado por bdagley 11 meses antes

In case you missed this

25% of IDs made by 130 users (top 0.06%)

50% of IDs made by 545 users (top 0.3%)

That is a blunt quantity tool - my insect equal to your taxon specialist ID. I am torn between gratitude to identifiers. And horror that it rests on so very few shoulders!

Publicado por dianastuder 11 meses antes

This is another very strong argument that iNat should treat our "specialists" - and identifiers in general - with care and respect.

Publicado por stefadrian 11 meses antes

Also - tool built for us by an active iNatter. With yesterday's shiny new added feature!
If you install it, you can see
3 IDs by Diana - ignore
3K IDs from bdagley - either he is VERY active, or he knows whereof he speaks - and we quickly learn which it is.

If 3 more use it, we will be another elite band of 300 ;~)

Publicado por dianastuder 11 meses antes

There is a further problem, unfortunately making many IDs is not synonymous with being an expert. I hope it is often but for sure there is those who have the record of the IDs but in the area in which I am an expert (fish) he is certainly doing only damage: randomly quotes only the previous IDs, never argues and never modifies IDs (even if explicitly requested), does not reply to private messages, etc. I don't understand the logic for which a user makes IDs on all Phylums, in quantities impossible even for an expert, mostly at random to have record numbers but in iN there is also this. It is one of the many distortions of this site, which has its strengths but also its weaknesses.

Publicado por rpillon 11 meses antes

'Many IDs' is a tool to use. If an identifier is unknown to me - I try their profile - working on the taxonomy of ... okay.
What do they observe?
What do they identify? Where?

For example
166 for tonyr who wrote the book on proteas and can tease the hybrids apart. He calls them Frankenflora
11 for nigel - interested in protea species
3 for me
That puts a number on what I know. Ask tony, but not too often - he is swamped in notifications, as he curates protea obs across iNat.

I have heard of, but haven't yet tripped over, someone who IDs to rack up to the top of a leaderboard.

Publicado por dianastuder 11 meses antes

I don't know if someone who piles up a lot of IDs on all Phylums, randomly repeat the previous ID, without ever to fix them, without to argue, sometimes even if there are already 2 wrong IDs he feel the need to repeat them, etc... is doing it to get to the top of a leaderboard, or because that way they feel useful, or whatever, but judging by your link I'm not sure if you've never stumbled upon someone with these characteristics...

For me it's not a problem, each user can do and to be happy what he wants, but being at the top of the global ranking doesn't necessarily mean being an expert... it's probably more significant if you look at the top of the ranking on a specific species or species group as in your example.

Publicado por rpillon 11 meses antes

I am not disagreeing with you. If I would come across that behaviour, I would flag it for iNat staff.
(And Tony is forthright but polite, about knocking optimistic protea identifiers back in line!)

Looked at a few of yours (and will be aware of who to be cautious of in future, one is already on my maybe not list) - What about amestwooceans ? Lately I have been asking her for our marine life.
This shows 376 for you - WAY ahead of every one else!
I will pick 'fish' out of Unknowns. That is my limit.

Publicado por dianastuder 11 meses antes

Thanks for sharing the first links for the Chrome extension, it's interesting and I wasn't aware of it. It reminds me somewhat of an idea I or others raised in the past, if there could be something like a user ID score, which would be based on a few different ID related factors. Although, overall I've found most observers or identifiers to be reasonable and to improve their IDs over time, so I consider many suggestions to improve the website to be helping identifiers and observers, especially since most identifiers also observe. And I haven't checked the other observation links above, but if there ever is a case of guessing too many species IDs that can be dealt with by commenting or sending them a message, or by emailing the website if nothing else works.

Publicado por bdagley 11 meses antes

I don't have a great opinion of the efficiency of the moderation done by the iN staff (and judging from this post I'm not the only one), furthermore if a user doesn't explicitly violate the rules and I hope he makes also useful IDs, so I have nothing to report.

However, even though I haven't reported anything to the iN staff, all the fuss I've made to fix many hundreds of randomly made IDs blocked by users who don't care about the right IDs hasn't escaped the attention of the iN staff. In fact, the iN staff intervened by scolding the user who according to them behaved incorrectly: they therefore scolded me because I asked other users ignorant about fish to help me support my IDs based on links to scientific publications. The providential intervention of the staff has angered the supporters of the IDs argued by me (who disliked being called arbitrarily ignorant of fish) and convinced me to suspend my deleterious task to fix South Africa's fish species.

If you want to live peacefully and use iN (which also has many positive things) the important thing is to take things lightly and with a lot of patience...

Publicado por rpillon 11 meses antes

Any reactions, re: extensive identifiers doing most of the website work?

I have a feeling they're going to invest in identifiers.

Publicado por bdagley 10 meses antes

I hope you are right. Perhaps we should make a wish list for Santa?

Ancestor Disagreement
(vanishing) Placeholder text
Notification Management
Prevent global Opting Out

Publicado por dianastuder 10 meses antes

Those are interesting suggestions. My comment may have been vague but was intended to express uncertainty over whether identifier-related corrections, suggestions, or other needs would receive more focus. I'd rephrase my above discussion topic as that, and also including any general reactions to the news over the website receiving more money. It's also a good idea to list identifier-related ideas or suggestions. I have an excel spreadsheet where I've been listing various ideas from me or others over time.

Publicado por bdagley 10 meses antes

I raised some identifier-based ideas in the currently most recent comment on this journal post today:, in case anyone wants to read or consider commenting.

Publicado por bdagley 10 meses antes

Hi all, I just wanted to share something identification-related that I noticed yesterday. A couple of months ago, an extensive identifier and curator uploaded and misidentified a potter wasp observation. I then added the correct ID and tagged robertzimmermann, another extensive identifier, who confirmed my ID. The curator observer, unlike himself, didn't comment and didn't withdraw his wrong ID. He's also often insulted and been bullying to me in the past, although I didn't comment anything to him on this observation.

Then yesterday, I checked the observation I'd bookmarked and the observer had deleted it (, clearly indicating that he deleted it to hide his misidentification, as well as most likely to hide the fact that I corrected his ID. I then brought this up to curators/staff, and staff, who usually don't reply to my tags or emails, did reply, but only to unpersuasively and sarcastically say "Thanks for assuming people mean well." Yet, they use a double standard where they often use that line to deny that people they like or are neutral toward did something wrong, but they don't use that standard when they want to punish people who didn't do anything wrong. This is wrong in several ways, but the largest way is that the curator observer's conduct, which staff have protected, wastes the time and effort of extensive identifiers, secretly deleting our work just because we corrected their wrong ID. Very disappointing.

Publicado por bdagley 8 meses antes

You have all my solidarity, similar episodes happen often, my advice is always not to take iNaturalist too seriously. It would be natural for me too always try to improve it but it's a losing battle: iNaturalist remains a poorly moderated social network that cares little about the scientific aspect or correctness.
Many times in improving the site I have come across rude or incorrect moderation interventions, but in my opinion the best way it is to be able to ignore them to remain calm. It's absurd but wanting to do science too well or seeking justice in iNaturalist can be unnecessarily stressful.
Stories like yours have helped me understand that I'm not the only one who suffers from certain absurdities of the site and has helped me live it more peacefully.
Despite this, if taken in the right spirit iNaturalist can be pleasant and often, but not always, give positive scientific results

Publicado por rpillon 8 meses antes

"Power tends to corrupt" -- George Orwell

We should not expect moderators to be any different in their sphere of power than anybody else in a sphere of power.

Publicado por jasonhernandez74 8 meses antes

Thanks for your comments. I also like Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm.

Publicado por bdagley 8 meses antes

I think the approach of @rpillon is a wise one, and not only on iNaturalist. If we are pondering literature ... I'd like to point to Don Quichote and Michael Kohlhaas ... both are model roles for "how to ruin your mental health by trying to go up against the red tape", one way or the other.

Publicado por stefadrian 8 meses antes

I agree. I'll have to check out the second book that was mentioned but have read Don Quixote and am a fan.

Publicado por bdagley 8 meses antes


Publicado por rpillon 8 meses antes

Has anyone ever seen something like this? I was reviewing my old bee and wasp needs id obs. from 1 to 2 years ago, to add IDs or make obs. with the best ID they can get RG. Ichneumonoid wasps are among the hardest hymenopteran (bee/wasp/ant) groups to ID to species level. As I was viewing one of my old ichneumonid obs., I noticed an identifier had added a leading genus ID in the past. I was about to ask them if they could explain their ID, but then noticed curators or staff permanently banned them. I'd never noticed that identifier so don't know why they got canceled, and can't find anything about them.

The last time I noticed an ichneumonoid identifier get banned was entomokot, a South African identifier and observer. I never knew either of them, and had occasionally noticed entomokot be out of line in comments, but remember he knew many specific ichneumonid and braconid wasp IDs few others knew. To be fair, the one time he commented to me I didn't like what he said, but also didn't see his comment as worth replying to. He was banned 2 to 3 years ago, which set back a lot of ID progress in that wasp group. Anyway, my takeaway from just now noticing that another identifier was banned is that the ID skill, investment of ID or observation time, and relationship with community members (good and/or bad) should be taken into account when admin decide whether to ban users. Including, that the community of identifiers and observers who're familiar with a flagged user from their IDs, obs., or comments or messages should have a say in whether they get banned. Feel free to discuss.

Publicado por bdagley 8 meses antes

entomokot was banned due to a consistent, prolific history of not only insulting/disparaging/belittling comments made to other users, but also multiple blatantly sexist and homophobic comments among others. His moderation history alone contains 30+ instances where such comments were flagged by many different users, including those being targeted and others who chanced upon the comments, and there are more instances of such comments that weren't formally flagged. For a number of these comments, he either deleted them entirely or edited the text after being flagged so that the original offensive nature of them is either wiped out or not apparent. He was warned multiple times but continued to make such comments, and thus was suspended.

the suspended user kottentott that you noted at is also entomokot, one of his many sock puppet accounts he has continued to make since his main account was suspended. Note that he has also continued to make his insulting and often offensive comments with these sock puppets. Even outside of these comments, employing a sock puppet account on iNat is grounds for immediate suspension, as was the case here

it does not matter if you are the supreme expert of the universe in a taxon or taxa and contribute millions of IDs, his behaviour was completely unacceptable, in any context, iNat or otherwise, and his suspension (and continued suspensions of his sock puppets) entirely justified. ID skill and investment of ID or observation time are entirely irrelevant if someone is making many highly offensive, sexist/racist/homophobic comments on a regular basis (or at all).

Publicado por thebeachcomber 8 meses antes

If the description you give of his comments is accurate, I haven't seen many of his comments, then I wouldn't disagree with your description and am not agreeing with him. Regardless, I don't know the user's history so was never imlying I was defending the user, and even said they were rude to me the one time they commented to me. My general point is that in most cases most people who contribute most to ID and/or observation don't know what other banned people commented or why they were banned, and that the community of people could ideally be involved or made aware when a user is going to get suspended. That said, I agree that some offensive users should get offended, which would also be what the community of users would most likely agree on.

Publicado por bdagley 8 meses antes

I note that it's been a while since Joe has commented on this post. Given that the discussion has wandered far from his original topic, I wonder if it's appropriate to keep going, and whether @joe_fish is happy with the discussion and for his journal to continue to be used as a rogue forum of sorts?

Publicado por mtank 8 meses antes

I notice you haven't commented for awhile, but wrote this comment seemingly directed at me. Despite never saying you disagree with my earlier similar comments. As for me, I've only commented time to time on here, often with months in between. I didn't misuse the thread, as the comment history will show. We also all agreed with joe_fish that it would be better if identifier IDs could be prevented from being blocked. I dislike your comment, and wasn't distracting the similar focus of the thread, but am done commenting for the time being.

Publicado por bdagley 8 meses antes

Not to defend the user under discussion, but I can see the logic. Can't we all think of personages who had to fly under the radar, bending or even breaking rules, to accomplish a greater good within a corupt system? I'm not saying that iNaturalist staff are a corrupt system; but if I was on the receiving end of censure from them, I would believe that they were. I can see the logic of using sock puppets to continue important work after being silenced, much like an underground resistance using assumed identities.

Publicado por jasonhernandez74 8 meses antes

Possibly relevant, I shared this old forum example in an earlier comment. I heard that user made sockpuppets at some point, I think on the inaturalist side of the website, but don't know if it was before their forum post. Some of the comments and flags between the forum mods/admin and the user suggest mods justified misusing user flagging/punishment based on other separate things they disliked about the user. Without fully knowing that situation/history, my takeaway has always been that admin still shouldn't be unfair or nontransparent, period. It also seems to set a general precedent that could be used toward any users, that admin can bend or break rules, or modify what's said to be "true," like 1984.

When I deleted my forum account, Tony warned me that creating forum sockpuppets could result in suspension. I didn't need a warning, why would I waste my time doing that? I even said I'll never come back under my own account. But, I like most of the regular users on the forum. So, it does seem disruptive how some forum mods in a sense divided parts of the community by marginalizing some people who gave website suggestions/feedback.

As for mtank's comment above, we briefly spoke and there's no conflict between us.

Publicado por bdagley 8 meses antes

Long read the correspondence in this thread, and decided to add my own story of relations with the administration. Alas, it is not positive.
There is in our group of bumblebee identifiers makarii_loskutov. This is a Russian identifier, who for some reason decided that he is an expert on bumblebees all over the globe. I, as a person who works with bumblebees in the scientific field, cannot afford to define bumblebees where I have never collected them or worked with collections. Therefore, I put definitions only when I am 100% sure or after confirmation by a local expert. But makarii_loskutov thinks he is smarter than everyone else, and as a result I got into a verbal altercation with him a couple of times, and sometimes (to my own shame) overreacted. In addition, I am very annoyed by the fact that he writes not in modern Russian (please note that in English he writes quite normally), but with the use of the outdated Cyrillic alphabet, in which no one has written for over a hundred years! Of course his writing can be read, but it irritates not only me, but also other Russian-speaking people.
As a result, one day, after our verbal altercation in one of the observations, I received a letter from Tony. He warned me that if I didn't stop harassing him, I would be banned. Of course I was scared, as all my current activity is directly related to Inat, I have uploaded thousands of photos here and found almost 2k species, and done about 40k definitions for other users. I also give lectures at my university to popularise the platform and promote Inat in every way possible anywhere. But despite all this I have been warned. Well, I passed this information to John Ascher and decided that I'd rather keep quiet (and not try to argue with makarii_loskutov) than lose everything. For a long time (almost half a year) I didn't make any definitions, but I started to receive messages from regular bumblebee watchers asking me to help them with their definitions, and I couldn't give up on them.
Such a story.

Publicado por sibnaturalist 8 meses antes

My taxonomy strike is to deliberately refrain from adding any ID to duplicates and / or multiples.
I will not ID each duplicate, I will leave a comment with links to the other obs.
I will not ID multiple species as the lowest common denominator - so taxon specialists can see them. NO! Thank you.
I will not ID one specimen which has its field marks scattered over many separate obs. Again a comment with links, flowers are here ... leaves over there ...

Finally I won't use broad planty IDs unless desparate. My politely following iNat guidelines 5 years ago comes back to haunt me today. Still. Sitting. At Plantae. If I had left them at honest Unknowns someone else would have seen them in between.

I check Kingdom Disagreements for Africa. Also plant IDs above family for the Cape Peninsula.

I had a nice workaround. Life + Life + Good as it can be = Casual, which took problem children (needing to be resolved by the observer) out of Needs ID as a service to our small pool of active identifiers. Not acceptable to iNat staff. Multiple species are not Life. Go figure ...

Publicado por dianastuder 8 meses antes

@mtank I did not expect that this nearly 1-year old post would continue to generate discussion. Clearly I'm not the only user here that's got a bone to pick with the iNat admin.

The taxonomy strike continues. I've gone from spending many hours every week providing mass identifications to all anthozoans, to just a few minutes spent selectively identifying groups of interest and replying to comments. I think this is ultimately the only sane way for me to engage with this site. Though it's painful seeing formerly well-curated taxa fall into chaos at the hands of AI-generated misidentifications. shudders

Publicado por joe_fish 8 meses antes

It sounds like you're happy to continue to see where the discussion leads, which was all I was checking. As I messaged @bdagley privately, I didn't have an issue with any particular comment, and I didn't mean it to seem like I was singling any comment out.

It's too bad you haven't been able to get a resolution to this yet, and I'm still missing your expertise.

Publicado por mtank 8 meses antes

I have experience the same problem. I identify (as far as possible), all southern African Proteaceae. Except that for some reason @dXXXr has blocked me. So, I identify all southern African Proteaceae (257,028 observations), except for the (extra) 2,450 observations by @dXXXr.
Because iNat blocks these from me, I am not even aware of them (unless I log in anonymously).
It was quite amusing when I was asked to ID one of these in the prelude to the "Experiments to estimate the accuracy of iNaturalist observations" - of course, I could not access it.
Perhaps the Blocks should only be for comments, and not for identifications (or at least not for users with over "say" 1000 identifications in a particular taxon)?

Publicado por tonyrebelo 6 meses antes

I had a user disagree with an ID from a couple of us to the point that he insulted us, and called in a friend to fire insults at us. When I fired back at his friend, the observer said how rude I was and that he was blocking me.

Annoyingly, the curator hid all inflammatory comments, except the one where the observer said how rude I was. So it looks like there was this poor innocent observer and then I came roaring in and had to be blocked. I complained that leaving that comment open while hiding all the rest makes me look bad, but the curator said he didn't see anything wrong with it.

Here's what the observer's friend said to us:
"do you think when they blinked the bee flew away and a different bee magically appeared?"
"some bee expert you are if you can’t see that sometimes things look slightly different when light hits them different."
"do you think when someone puts something behind their back it’s gone forever too?"

Publicado por neylon 6 meses antes

iNat as a (monstrous) whole loses out.

And the blocker is shooting themselves in the foot. It is hard, or frankly impossible, to find taxon specialists who are (both competent AND) active on iNat.

Publicado por dianastuder 6 meses antes

I agree about the blocking points, I've been blocked by only one or so user that I noticed so far, but have come across their observations and it's inconvenient not to be able to add an ID. I also noticed something strange, that if I added an ID to a user's obs. who later blocked me, I can no longer withdraw my ID but I can still delete my ID.

On a separate subject, I noticed there was a discussion today about the RG accuracy experiment results, which I added a few comments to near the end ( I think that the RG accuracy is difficult to estimate but seems to have been at least slightly overestimated and that a larger experiment would be needed to learn more.

Publicado por bdagley 5 meses antes

"I can no longer withdraw my ID but I can still delete my ID." But why do that? That just gives them the satisfaction of not having to see your ID there anymore. I'd rather leave it up and visible whenever they open that observation. "You can block me, but you can't make me disappear."

Publicado por jasonhernandez74 5 meses antes

I agree. I tested it out once, not knowing if it would allow me to delete it. The result was that one of my IDs is now deleted but I wish I could take it back.

Publicado por bdagley 5 meses antes

Hi all, happy friday.

I like many have found this post and the kind of alternative forum discussion in it useful. Focusing on not blocking IDs, while also discussing related matters. Chronologically, many of these discussions and viewpoints are a continuation of ones that began on the forum or on inaturalist. I chose to delete my forum account about a year ago, but still like the forum and inat communities. As mentioned, my curator status was also removed about a year ago, for reasons proven to be invalid. My petition to regain it is now approaching 200 votes, but there's still no change.

Part of why certain staff, mods, non-staff developers, and curators unfairly disliked me since around 2021 is because I with good intent took the time to consider and point out website bugs/issues and made helpful website improvement suggestions. Yet, later in 2023 I documented bugs in Identify that the staff via email actually confirmed, although didn't indicate if they'll fix. Similarly, the experienced programmer cazort previously pointed out in detail why the website programming seems to suffer from issues including "bloat," wasting users' and iNat resources and slowing the speed, which many didn't seem to care about or criticized cazort for sharing. With the recent 10 million iNat grant, plus past, present, and future donations, including likely additional large future grants, you'd think more could be done to improve things. To summarize my recommendations for improvements, it's to invest in fixing bugs and others issues in the foundational aspects of the website before adding new features on top of it that could later make fixing the foundation impossible.

Publicado por bdagley 5 meses antes

Anyway, I've been working for awhile on a shared spreadsheet compilation doc of inaturalist community requests, of all categories, including not blocking expert IDs. Think of it as a "best of" the taxonomy strike and of similar past discussions. Similar to feature requests, you can vote on each request (which requires using a gmail account), and even add additional requests. They also include some of my past feature requests that Tony censored on the forum, yet ones that didn't (and he didn't say) violate guidelines. I hope that at least, you'll enjoy reading, voting, or adding to these, at least to give an indication of some of the goals or requests we have for the website if/when they become possible to implement. I don't have any "plan" for this beyond that, but anyone's free to share the public doc link.

One suggestion I'd give is that it would be most effective to share the doc link first with those who would likely be interested in contributing to it, but maybe waiting to share it more publicly (e.g., on the forum) once a decent amount of votes are added to it. I'm also going to share it with like-minded Bug Guide contributors. I also want to remind that my intent and that of this doc is constructive, to help the community and improve the website. I, who joined in 2020, have also by now grown tired of the way people who made helpful suggestions or pointed out bugs, and have contributed extensively to ID and observation, have often been dismissed or mistreated at times by certain admin and admin-related people, so it's possible that this may represent my last word on most of these matters, in any venue. Thanks everyone for all your hard volunteer ID, observation, and curation work, great ideas, resolve, and fun and cooperative attitude, cheers. I'm proud of everyone here, and many who aren't on this page, for willing to stand up for good ideas, their rights and originality, and for their general community spirit and fascination in exploring nature and contributing to biodiversity and conservation research.

iNaturalist Community Requests (

Publicado por bdagley 5 meses antes

Lastly, one note, I regret that my spreadsheet list is so long (part of the reason is that it's a compilation of user ideas), but do appreciate anyone who does take the time to read most or all of them and consider voting on any of them. And as mentioned, I include not blocking expert IDs in it. I also just made slight tweaks, added color, and deleted a few rows to (slightly) help the "too long to read" issue. You can also note by private message or otherwise to me if you think any request rows are "duplicates that could be merged" or any other feedback, thanks.

Publicado por bdagley 5 meses antes

I struggle to read that as the line of text scrolls off the screen. (I can scroll from side to side, but)

If you could write the text
on two lines so it fits better?

On second viewing, I found the Voting columns.

Publicado por dianastuder 5 meses antes

Sorry. Double-click on each cell to read the full text inside it (each portion of text, of all kinds in the spreadsheet, are only in 1 cell each, which will be the left-most cell where the text begins for text that spans multiple row cells). If you double click on a request that's long, the cell will first show you the request text midway through, so then scroll up inside of that same cell to read that request from the beginning. This, and other details, are explained in more detail in the yellow highlighted Rules and Notes cell near the top, in column A. But, I agree it's kind of hard to read, and that other people have better excel formatting experience than me.

Fittingly and funnily, I like how when people are editing the document it automatically shows their avatars at the top of the page as anonymous animal names and icons, like "anonymous hyena."

Publicado por bdagley 5 meses antes

I only found this now, but I was blocked by the same user you were over DQA votes. In fact, I originally assumed they were changing their username to prevent ME from finding them.

Publicado por raymie 5 meses antes

Honestly, some of you in here complaining about being blocked... i've seen you act pretty horrible to other people. I'll leave it at that and not name names because i don't think it's productive. But it's a lot more complex than "i am being oppressed for differing taxonomic views". Sometimes when someone is blocked... there's a reason. And yes we all make mistakes. I've made my own as well. But it's in all our responsibilities to work on how we present ourselves to others and if we don't choose kindness... we can't expect others to. And if we think we are being kind but others say we are not... it may be we are not being kind.

As i said i'm not perfect at it either... not by a long shot. But i'm on a semi-strike of ID help on here too but the reason is the opposite... not too much blocking but rather admin tolerating some pretty horrible behavior by 'experts'.

Publicado por charlie 5 meses antes

also iNat has NEVER presented itself as a academia site. I've been told many times in the early days of the site not to worry over bad mapping, bad IDs, etc because the purpose is to 'connect people to nature' not to generate data. 'the data is just a byproduct' is what i was told. Which i find it hard to rectify with the current taxonomic policy to add cryptic species taxonomy that can never be identified without genetic analysis to a site that primarily uses photos as its mechanism of confirming ID.

Publicado por charlie 5 meses antes

I agree that there is a bad discrepancy between "connecting-people-to-nature" versus "used-for-academic-purposes". It creates a lot of friction and also a lot of bad data. Since a lot of taxonomic sites are referring to this iNat data nowadays, the site has obviously outgrown the policy of early days, but doesn't want to let it go for perfectly fine reasons.
I think a split of iNat into two subsites would be neccessary to ease those problems, one site for the general use, and another site for academic purposes. (How to do that? I don't know.) But imo the horrible acting @charlie is referring to comes from a frustration of taxonomists and laypeople. (I'd like to add that it is definitely NOT only taxonomists who loose their calm every now and then.) Both sides of this iNat coin tend to act disrespectful towards each other at times, because frankly both sides are not really compatible.
This friction will prevail as long as iNat tries to do it both ways simultaneously.

Publicado por stefadrian 5 meses antes

I don't think it's only taxonomists who lose their cool at all. I know i'm an outspoken critic of taxonomic policy, but i also know several 'extreme splitter' academic types to whom i do disagree with them classifying certain taxa to the species level but they are wonderful people and other than my annoying comments, it doesn't cause problems. We can disagree and that's ok. When people act out and bully based on taxonomic views, or anything else, it isn't appropriate. And like i said i've made mistakes too, so i am not trying to be hypocritical here. Just it's more complex than taxonomic splitters and experts being blocked out of some sort of manipulation of the algorithm. I think that form of blocking does occur, but i think it's rare.

And to be clear i don't really fully agree with the 'connecting people with nature... data is a byproduct' view either. I think the site needs to be realistic about taxonomy and i think experts need to be respectful same as everyone else - no free passes to people because of their social status. Beyond that, i think accuracy is VERY important, it's precision we don't always need on a site like iNat. If something has 20 cryptic species, do we want a citizen science site to designate them all as species and make everything lump into a much larger genus? I'd say no. Do we want subspecies or some other entity so experts can track these things when identifiable? Sure. And there's middle ground like subgenera groupings too, when we can get support for them.

Publicado por charlie 5 meses antes

@charlie "iNat has NEVER presented itself as a academia site. I've been told many times in the early days of the site not to worry over bad mapping, bad IDs"

If I could suggest, that statement is a bit inaccurate and ignores the fact that things change over time. When I was 6 my mom told me I was not allowed to drive the car. Did that mean I was never allowed to drive the car? No it simply meant at that time. Let's look at the current state of the site:
1)This paper published in 2022 which includes several members of iNat's staff would seem to say that the site is very much a scientific database
2) Currently there are three pages of wikis on the forum boasting of all of the papers that use iNat data.
3) We have a GBIF portal
4) We have guidelines for educators wishing to use this,

Given all this, I'd say that iNaturalist has evolved well beyond it's beginnings and is very much in the realm of academia and we should be worried about mapping and bad ID's.

On blocking though, to briefly address your line here: "Sometimes when someone is blocked... there's a on how we present ourselves to others and if we don't choose kindness... we can't expect others to. And if we think we are being kind but others say we are not... it may be we are not being kind."

I've only been blocked once as far as I am aware The first hidden statements are from the observer and a friend that the observer called in: I fired back at them after they insulted us. So based on your analysis I must have been rude to them when I said "yep...different species"? If you're interested I screen shot the whole conversation before it was hidden. In this case I was very nice, but the observer (who later blocked me remember) chose to be rude. Can you come up with a way I wasn't kind before the two of them insulted three identifiers?

The identifiers spend hours working on here, and while most people are appreciative of the work, we also have people dismiss us, be rude to us, treat us as if we don't know what we're talking about. After a while it can be grating. What's the observer's excuse?

Publicado por neylon 5 meses antes

By the way, that situation really pissed me off. Especially how the comments were hidden: the curators left the comment up where the observer says how mean I am. So if you're looking at that thread, it looks like everything was peaceful, and then I came in roaring and had to be blocked. I complained about leaving that comment up since all of the context was being hidden, but they said they didn't see any problem with that statement. So an observer can call in a friend and the two of them insult three curators, and afterward say how rude I am? I'd say that the concern over the observer is frequently coming at the expense of the identifier.

Publicado por neylon 5 meses antes

i'm not interested in getting involved in your interpersonal drama, and don't have the context to determine if you were kind or not in an interaction I wasn't involved with. Worth thinking about it on your end, but it seems like you already have. Is anything i say likely to change how you feel about it? If not, doesn't seem worth either of our time. Especially given the first part of your post which was a bit over the top as well. In regards to that and your rather overstated metaphor, when a 6 year old turns 16, or whatever the driving age is where they live, they are given training and a drivers license. There was no announcement in an iNat change of policy, so you can't assume any change is at all similar to a government-instituted driving training program for teenagers.

Publicado por charlie 5 meses antes

it may very well be you are in the right in the situation you explain, i've seen some pretty biased and inappropriate behavior by curators, who were usually selected for their taxonomic expertise not for their ability to navigate conflict. I just don't see any upside in getting me involved in it too since i'm not necessarily the most tactful person on the planet either. I'm talking about broad systemic needs, not individual arguments here.

Publicado por charlie 5 meses antes

"...don't have the context to determine if you were kind or not...."
Well, yes you do have the context (I included links, for context). It's interesting that you say that people blocking us is because of how rude we are, but when I give a counter example, you don't even examine it, and still imply that I was rude? Perhaps consider when someone says they were insulted, it's a bit strange to imply they must have been unkind first. One might say: that's a bit unkind.

"...the first part of your post which was a bit over the top as well."
You had the word "never" in all caps, and I was over-the-top? Of course it was the top. And you still haven't countered the four points I made after the analogy.

Publicado por neylon 5 meses antes

To your point 2nd though, I do agree that conflict curation and taxonomic curation should be separate. Skill in conflict resolution does not translate to taxonomic expertise anymore than taxonomic expertise translates to skill in resolution.

"I'm talking about broad systemic needs, not individual arguments here."
Well on this thread there also some broad systemic changes that get discussed, but it seemed an example would helpful in this case.

Publicado por neylon 5 meses antes

I'm creating a boundary here. I, an inaturalist user who isn't a curator any more and hasn't been for years, am allowed to contribute into this conversation without immediately responding to a query from you about a specific issue i had no involvement with. I'm not all all implying you were rude in the conversation you linked. I don't imply you personally were rude or unkind, i am autistic, i don't really imply anything. If you took my statements as saying you were rude in the exchange you linked, i apologize as that was not my intention.

But on that note... i do consider how you are replying to me now to be rude. You're demanding attention and that i stop all that i am doing to personally address a conflict you had which i have no stake in, and you seem to also be demanding i 'counter' your analogy. I don't think your broad point that iNat needs to change as it grows is wrong, but i do certainly think how you are acting now is problematic. If you aren't meaning to come off that way you've got a chance to think about that, but if you're going to demand things from me, i'm going to just ignore you. Not block you, no, but i'm not going to engage. I don't owe you anything. If you act this way to others, i think they are likely to perceive it as rude as well.

And in terms of context, if two people i have no knowledge of are having a dispute, reading links only one party sent would not be unbiased context. I'd have to talk to the other people involved as well. Which i am not going to do because it's none of my business.

Publicado por charlie 5 meses antes

@stefadrian wrote, "I think a split of iNat into two subsites would be necessary to ease those problems, one site for the general use, and another site for academic purposes."

Honestly, I think that would be a very bad idea. The academics would retreat into their ivory tower and the laypersons on the general site would be disconnected from the knowledge and understanding that the academics currently bring. Which would simply resurrect the problem that iNat was originally trying to counteract.

Publicado por jasonhernandez74 5 meses antes

@jasonhernandez74 Agree. One of the nice things about this site is that it does bring the academics and the laymen together.

Publicado por neylon 5 meses antes

A couple points. One, as in the title, this post is mostly re: that we (most here) don't want at least the IDs of identifiers to be blocked, whether or not users can still be blocked. Some of us suggested alternatives for how this could work. For e.g., a blocked user could still add IDs to a blocking user's obs., but not be able to tag them, comment to them, or send them direct messages. And/or, the blocking user's profile page, profile icon on obs., etc. could become blank or anonymized, and/or their obs. location could become obscured. I'd further suggest blocking be retired completely, but with an alternative. This would be to send (significant, worthwhile) user conflicts or concerns to the staff (or whomever designated to do this). The latter would then either suspend true offenses (e.g., stalking or threatening), make no action (if non-applicable), or give a warning and recommend that the users typically don't talk to each other and don't "overly focus" on each other’s IDs all at once (but they can still ID their obs.). In short, blocking becomes retired and truly offending users just get suspended, which still preserves users' comfort and safety (e.g., of stalking, harassment, or threatening). Muting is also currently an option (although I'm unsure I like it).

One of the newer commenters here who referred to "horrible behavior" by unspecified users (maybe me, John A., or others?, but I won’t assume; I don’t know) previously demanded I not talk to him, but didn't block me, although I don't know if that's allowed since the staff didn't mandate that and I don’t think it’s in the guidelines. Another user also said the same thing to me, without blocking me. I don't believe there's currently a rule where a user can ask another (who the staff haven't told) not to speak to them at risk of punishment, nor that there should be. I think a user could request another not talk to them, but it would only be truly enforced if staff said they can't or risk punishment. Or, if the user repeatedly continued to talk to them (excepting flagged user or curation request discussions, where it’s always fair for everyone to talk), then at that point staff could determine whether punishment is warranted. Yet, I’d also prefer that user punishments by admin incorporate additional feedback from the community, not only admin (who've in some proven cases behaved unevenly), and that punished users can appeal punishments (if applicable), where appeals also incorporate community feedback. Or for an HR-like third party to help resolve such punishment appeal issues, but there is none. If iNat were likened to a govt., it would be a top-down admin, lacking checks and balances (conflict of interest).

Re: neylon, he didn’t seem rude, and is at least correct that certain curators sometimes are uneven in how they hide comments or flag users. Re: the website goals, I was glad to see and (surprisingly) agreed with Scott's recent confirmation that "One of iNaturalist's core goals is generating high-quality biodiversity data to advance science and conservation". So, the staff themselves have settled that "debate," and in the way most of us here prefer. As a side note, I and others believe the estimation that RG is 95% accurate is an overestimate and that Scott should've consulted more (if any?) identifiers before designing the experiment, to prevent it's limitations/flaws. That said, I agree it's generally good that the community and at times admin are trying to think about and calculate accuracy.

To me, it’s not necessarily required or helpful to try to distinguish between which users are experienced or expert identifiers, although it is fair to point out if one has expended a long time volunteering, which will naturally increase their experience or expertise.

I was also somewhat surprised to see certain users (even before recently) jump into this discussion that seem not to share some of the viewpoints on blocking or on emphasizing data quality of many here, but of course it is public and so anyone can. I've also appreciated how this thread, while primarily focusing on not blocking IDs, has functioned as a kind of alternative forum that has slightly different focuses and moderation. In my opinion/experience, the forum mods sometimes overly-, unjustifiably, or unevenly flag (or split off) user comments, so I am glad this isn't on the forum. Also, unlike the forum, I appreciate how the community here has allowed us to discuss related topics, meander or speak tangentially to some extent, etc. (the dreaded forum mod “off topic” crime, which has also been used unevenly at times there), while at the same time remembering and always eventually returning (after other discussions end) to the main topic raised, handing joe_fish back the mic so to speak.

Publicado por bdagley 5 meses antes

Re: related and overlapping topics, as mentioned, I created an alternative feature request-like voting system, iNaturalist Community Requests (which Bug Guide/GBIF/COL/EOL, sites iNat originally took influence from, users and admin are also invited to vote on). The purpose is open-ended, but includes documenting good ideas and indicating community goal requests and priorities, which has a value in itself regardless of whether they’re implemented. I also consider vindication: in my experience certain (but not most) users were unfairly dismissed, given silent treatment, or criticized for making site suggestions or noting bugs or bug-like issues by certain admin or admin-related users, on the forum and on iNat.

The request list is long so I’ve suggested people just read a portion at a time per day. People in the past (e.g., re: signing my petition to regain curator status) privately told me they’re afraid to do so and to speak up about many things in case the admin would punish them. My shared spreadsheet is written appropriately, so that shouldn’t be the case. Voting on it also doesn’t necessarily indicate that you know or like me or agree with all of my other views. It’s also a compilation, including ideas others came up. I invite people, if they choose to vote, not to be afraid. In the impossible event that the document would be criticized by admin, I’ll personally take all responsibility and clear everyone else’s. Most of the requests are identifier- or ID quality-based suggestions.

A small number of requests near the end are about increasing fairness and equality in user-admin and user-user relationships, e.g. whether or not users should be punished in specific circumstances. Also, bear in mind that any request re: fairness etc. means that I’ll be held to the same standards. Now that a still small but increasing number of users have become aware of this spreadsheet, I’d like to suggest that people if willing mention and link to it one or multiple times somewhere on the forum in about a week and onward (I can’t because I deleted my forum account). The requests also include not blocking user IDs (current row 183) and other things we talked about here. Thanks for considering.

Publicado por bdagley 5 meses antes

@jasonhernandez74 I didn't think about separating them totally without any connection. More of an "academic upgrade" for observations. The term "Research Grade" is implying too much in the current usus, bordering on being utterly ridiculous in many cases. There should be a way for researchers and taxonomic websites to distinguish wether an observation is just "confirmed by others" or is really "RG" in a strict sense (academic-taxonomic). Maybe by means of some additional rules applied for identification, such as: you may opt out of taxonomic opinion any way you like, but then your observation will not reach "Academic Research Grade" status, just "Confirmed By Other Users" ... something like that.
And btw being of the academic persuasion myself ... I would not at all retreat into any ivory tower, but still try to drop IDs on laypersons observations. On the contrary, in the current situation I see too many taxonomists retreat from iNat or not joining up in the first place, Joe being just one example.

Publicado por stefadrian 5 meses antes

@stefadrian We kind of do have a way for researchers to find trustworthy observations: Who identified them, and how many identified the set.

Consider a discussion that came up on the forum recently regarding Genus Papilio; Someone came on saying that the set for eastern US had a high level of inaccuracy and he thought it was because the major identifiers of that taxon were not identifying carefully enough. That theory though has a rather significant hole though considering that between the top ten identifier of Papilio for Eastern US, all of 40% weren't ID'd by one of the top ten. Based on that, I'd say that dataset isn't in a fit state for use. But looking at the same area for Genus Bombus the top six identifiers have 100% reviewed.

The problem is many researchers wishing to use the data on the site, aren't willing to take the time to learn the site, and we end up with distrust in the data when there should be confidence, and confidence in the data when there should be doubt. An aggravating example of researchers using the data without understanding was this 2022 article that defined Research Grade as: "observations identified by 2 or more experts." Great, so glad you guys took the time to examine and understand the database we put so much work into.

But really, look at GBIF, many of the datasets on there are so riddled with errors and questionable records that they should be held to the same standard. Who placed the ID's? It would be interesting, if certain datasets were prioritized for research use by on who placed the determinations.

Publicado por neylon 5 meses antes

yeah the big advantage iNat has is documentation and accountability. While there are a fair bit of fled users, here on iNat you can often contact the observer, and you can also judge the merit of IDs based on the community and the people involved. You can't do that in most GBIF datasets. And as a person who's worked with other ecological data, i think inat data when the user is familiar with the data is every bit as good as the normal 'official science' data collected by underpaid seasonal field techs .

Publicado por charlie 5 meses antes

@charlie Yeah exactly. Seeing the pictures, who posted the observations, who made the ID's allows people a much more "warts and all" look at iNat than other databases. For specimen collections on GBIF, it's much harder to track down details like that. And worse, even when those details are present it may not be right. I just recently found a dataset that included pictures, and it was shockingly inaccurate, and strangely were listed as identified by a rather well known expert. I know a guy who knows the expert, and when he saw those records he was surprised; he had never placed those ID's!

Publicado por neylon 5 meses antes

Right, here I can disagree with an ID and while yes sometimes people block or ignore, overall there's usually a positive response from that person or the identification community. It's often impossible to track down field techs, grad students, etc who create a lot of the other data on GBIF.

Publicado por charlie 5 meses antes

@neylon "The problem is many researchers wishing to use the data on the site, aren't willing to take the time to learn the site, and we end up with distrust in the data when there should be confidence, and confidence in the data when there should be doubt." Ye olde Wikipedia problem.

"You can't use Wikipedia as a reference."
"But Wikipedia lists its sources."
"What's a source?"

Publicado por blue_lotus 5 meses antes

@blue_lotus And then when they have sources it's amazing how often they're woozles.

Publicado por neylon 5 meses antes

Well, wikipedia is a wiki like this site is in a way, so in theory the information and links can be improved by becoming a wikipedia editor.

I just recently found a dataset that included pictures, and it was shockingly inaccurate, and strangely were listed as identified by a rather well known expert. I know a guy who knows the expert, and when he saw those records he was surprised; he had never placed those ID's!

That's probably because most digitization of museum records is done by volunteers (because museums don't get enough funding, at least for digitization), who overall are doing a good job, but who overall make more mistakes due to lack of experience. Or if the misidentifications were from an expert, maybe he just forgot how to ID the species or got too drunk. Or if it was a volunteer, if they never learned what the species looked like or if they got too drunk.

One good thing about the inat RG system is that when inaccurate records get corrected, they become non-RG and get taken back off GBIF. Also, when assessing overall inat data quality, it can be helpful to mostly define it as the RG-obs data quality (vs. all obs. data quality), despite that 95% RG accuracy still must be an overestimate and the sample size (etc.) were insufficient for that recent related experiment. Side question: are most people in agreement that the 95% is overestimated?

One issue for GBIF is that despite that it's actually a mosaic of different datasets submitted to it, (e.g., inat RG records, Bug Guide, museum collection datasets, etc.), that the GBIF homepage global map shows all the datapoints together. Similarly, if I search for a genus like bumblebees (Bombus), GBIF will show a list of all the Bombus species, and all the datapoints on the maps, from all the datasets. It is possible that there's some way to select particular datasets to turn off or on to view on GBIF's map (I haven't looked for it yet), but the issue I see is that many at least beginner users (but not only beginners) typically just see it as it seems to be presented, "one global dataset."

Maybe it would be an ideal improvement if a certain dataset turns out to be really bad, like 50% or lower accuracy, to no longer display it at all on GBIF until it improves. By the way, the situation is no better (and may seem even more so like only "one global dataset") on GBIF-synchronized websites like Discover Life (the DL Global Map) because they receive the same records from GBIF. On the one hand, I agree that people/researchers using the data "should" read and learn more about it before using/interpreting it, but these websites are also somewhat complicated and confusing (in some ways unjustifiably or puzzlingly so). But on the other hand, we already know that many people either won't read into how the data works or will try to but still misunderstand, including some people like beginners, high school students, and college students, but also even some grad students, professors, or taxonomists.

Publicado por bdagley 5 meses antes

So, I'd favor GBIF (and any similar site) to provide more of an easy-to-see disclaimer upfront on their homepages explaining that it's global map of data is actually a collection of different datasets that vary in accuracy, collection-methods, expert verification, etc. inat itself (and/or the inat RG records dataset page on GBIF) could probably also benefit from a disclaimer like that. Bug Guide (which has higher accuracy than inat)'s homepage does give such a disclaimer at the bottom of it's own homepage (although maybe not on it's BG dataset page on GBIF).

If anyone's interested, I created a discussion about GBIF trying to prevent data submitters from submitting inaccurate or out of range data to GBIF, back in September, here. The GBIF admin are very nice and have been grateful for all of my volunteer suggestions, work, and bug reports (unlike certain members of certain other site admin). That chat hasn't really kicked off yet, but in theory anyone could create a GitHub account and chime in (or create your own “Issues” topics for GBIF or inat). My main suggestion as neylon also agrees with is that ideally records would include at least some kind of photos with them. The better and more photos the better, but even a cellphone pic is better than nothing. Unfortunately, many of the GBIF museum specimens that did include photographs are distant aerial views looking down at a specimen.

One other side-note about an inat-GBIF synchronization issue I noticed. I assume that inat didn't originally have "infraranks" like subfamily, tribe, subtribe, subgenus, and complex, they just had family, genus, species, and probably subspecies. The latter RG inat records currently matriculate to GBIF correctly. Yet, later on in inat's original history, I assume maybe inat identifiers or staff or devs decided to add infraranks like subgenus. Which have been an improvement on our end. But, GBIF still doesn't include them. Hence, GBIF currently has nearly 7,000 bumblebee "genus Pyrobombus" (which is actually a subgenus) records on it's site, mostly from the inat RG records GBIF dataset. I also mentioned this to them, but am inferring that it may be difficult, costly, or time-consuming for GBIF to update to add infraranks like subgenus, so it may take a long time (or more requests) for that to change. GBIF admin would like to add/fix that in time, though. I raised that last March here. To me, that issue isn’t only GBIF’s (despite occurring on GBIF). It would seem that inat should’ve checked with GBIF what would happen on GBIF if inat added infraranks before they added them, which I assume didn't happen. So, I suggested that the two websites' admin or devs discuss that issue and what could be done about it (no word from inat yet). In the meantime, hopefully no one will publish a new paper about "the new genus Pyrobombus."

Publicado por bdagley 5 meses antes

@bdagley "...or got too drunk." HaHa! I have always wondered what my drink limit is when ID'ing.

"Side question: are most people in agreement that the 95% is overestimated?" I believe that entirely depends on the taxa and region. With Eastern North American Bombus, I wouldn't be surprised if the accuracy rate is higher than that. North American Birds are probably also in pretty good shape. With North American Millipedes, I'd be shocked if it was anywhere near that high.

" ideal improvement if a certain dataset turns out to be really bad, like 50% or lower accuracy," Personally, if a dataset is lower than 90% accuracy, I wouldn't use it, and if it's than 75-80% than it's completely unusable. That would mean 1 out of every 4 records is potentially giving mis-leading ranges.

"My main suggestion as neylon also agrees with is that ideally records would include at least some kind of photos with them." Concur, I would also add that including shots of the label would help to check for mis-coordinated records, and always listing the identifier should be a must.

Publicado por neylon 5 meses antes

@neylon Agreeing with most of your points. I guess the effects of drinking vary by person and limit. A few years ago someone recommended "don't drink and ID," while a few others said sometimes it's okay, that their IDs can still be accurate. But unless you're at your own place, it doesn't make much sense to drink and ID on inat if you're in a social setting anyway. Unless it's at an inat identification party or something (could be an idea, even over zoom or something?). But if someone does drink (or do whatnot, not everyone drinks, or not everyone only drinks) and ID, they should definitely check the next day to make sure they don't need to correct any misidentifications haha. I once talked to a museum curator who was in the process of retiring, who had a joke. Someone calls up a retired curator a few years later and asks them a entomology taxonomy question. He replies, "I don't remember anything - I've been an alcoholic for four years!"

Although just a joke, certain other people seem to remain more functional or to even consider it a kind of superpower.

Re: 95% RG accuracy, I agree and said elsewhere that I believe certain very well-reviewed groups that have a lot of identifiers may indeed be at or above 95% accuracy, although no one's ever checked. But I think the iNat experiment was estimating that for all global wildlife taxa, on average, the RG accuracy is 95%. That seems to be a clear overestimate, since we know that certain wildlife groups aren't reviewed/identified nearly as much as others, or have fewer experienced identifiers working on them.

Commenters on that RG accuracy experiment also pointed out issues like that the sample size was far too small and that the threshold to consider a user a validator was set far too low (someone merely guessing enough IDs could meet the criterion). That subject also came up elsewhere in a discussion re: Bug Guide (which is only about North America insects and other "bugs"). On BG, they actually do distinguish between users, so 90% of the people making IDs are considered experienced identifiers/experts/curators (called contributing editors), which is part of the reason the BG useres and I (who am a BG editor) maintain that BG still must have a higher overall % RG accuracy vs. inat (when considering all included taxa).

Publicado por bdagley 5 meses antes

Personally, if a dataset is lower than 90% accuracy, I wouldn't use it, and if it's than 75-80% than it's completely unusable

Yeah, people made this point on the inat "we estimate 95% accuracy" post, that even 95% would mean 5% of all inat records sent to GBIF are misidentified (a massive number, numerically), so that it wouldn't necessarily be anything to consider very good, and Scott actually seemed to agree with that. Plus, I think it's really lower than 95%. But for GBIF, I was suggesting something even further, that if a dataset had 50% accuracy or lower (let's now say 75% or lower) that their dataset should literally be pulled off of GBIF, at least until they improved it.

Concur, I would also add that including shots of the label would help to check for mis-coordinated records, and always listing the identifier should be a must.

Definitely. Labels (which although are often still hard to see even in some fairly good specimen photos, and some systems use two layers of labels, one on top of the other, making them harder to see) are a good way to confirm or disconfirm many things. Collector, determiner/identifier, locality, date, etc. Although I noticed that a lot of even good 20th century bee and wasp taxonomists re-used labels, or didn't fully fill them out, or did other kind of "lazy" seeming things (or maybe they just ran out of labels in the field or something), which can also make it harder to see the details. Sometimes on inat I see that an observer's observation date or locality doesn't match that of their label, so I inform them and temporarily use DQA to make the obs. casual grade.

Publicado por bdagley 5 meses antes

Following the format of how @dianastuder mentioned things that are her "taxonomy strike," I recently decided (re: my lost curator status) that part of my taxonomy strike will be to typically no longer make curation requests, even to add newly identified species on the website for the first time. Most global vespid wasp taxonomists in real life who use inaturalist aren't curators here, so I've already been unable to help them add their first species IDs for the last year (except for rare cases where "search external name database" allows any user to add a species, but then that that species is sometimes ungrafted or doesn't have the most precise parent taxon anyway). Yesterday, a newer vespid curator who the staff seemed to intend to replace the void left by me said I'd been the best vespid curator (although, I don't claim to the absolutely best vespid identifier).

Similarly, for bee taxonomy, curator johnascher mostly focuses on identifying, and some taxon changes are truly difficult to learn how to make due to the way the How-To documents are written, so there was also a bee void left there with me gone. The staff seem to have tried to replace me with egordon88 (who I like) for bee curation and insectobserver123 for wasp curation. Yet, neither of them have had much time or otherwise haven't made some curation requests for other reasons. So, the void left by Scott/admin rashly and invalidly removing my curator status (before the users who know me best even had a chance to comment, and with no option to appeal the decision, despite nearly 200 voters on my petition) remains. Another factor involved in this is that it wastes much more time to have to write curation requests to newly add certain accepted species to the website vs. in some cases curators can validly just add new species immediately.

Lastly, many of my (mostly bat) curation requests made around 2021 before I was a curator were ignored and never fulfilled for years, if ever, and even some of my recent bee/wasp curation requests (or requests to merely close concluded flag discussions) have also been ignored. That said, I will still indicate in new species observation comments, and my Project for First Bee and Wasp Records, that new species may or have been observed and identified, which would make them easier to add to the website later. My one other exception is that I may rarely make curation requests if they regard a genus I'm writing a research manuscript about, e.g., I'm currently writing about the global distibution of potter wasp genus Delta species. But, even there, given my often being ignored, it may actually be more effective for other people to make those curation requests. An e.g. (for the potter wasp genus Eumenes) from today is here.

Publicado por bdagley 5 meses antes

We do - have a new DQA - for obs of multiple species

Tick one off the long list ?

Publicado por dianastuder 5 meses antes

@dianastuder Yes, fortunately, which is current row 40 in the spreadsheet. I highlight "successful" request rows in gold. (Incidentally, the lack of this feature previously was what led bouteloua and a curator-who-shall-not-be-named by his own request to flag me a year ago, which was part of what led to loarie removing my curator status!). Yet, there is another even better second stage of that request, represented as a separate request: to be able to unlink the unrelated photos to generate two "children" observations, one per species. That's how Bug Guide works, and works much better. This is current request row 41.

Publicado por bdagley 5 meses antes

If we're talking about new features, I would love to have the ability - maybe just for curators - to split off observations to ID rare species in photos that aren't the focus without praying the user will comply. They could even get a notification or something that it had happened so they realize they didn't separately upload it.

Publicado por blue_lotus 5 meses antes


Publicado por bdagley 5 meses antes

@blue_lotus I'm astounded that this wasn't implemented from the beginning. Observations should have been made to correspond to multiple identifications, rather than whatever the user designates as the subject. This deficiency is acutely felt in coral reef ecosystems, where dozens of species might be identifiable within a single photo.

Publicado por joe_fish 5 meses antes

I feel your pain for splitting off rare species.
But with multiple species - only the observer knows which was where when.

Publicado por dianastuder 5 meses antes

Ancestor Disagreement not on the spreadsheet?
But that is also moving

loarie 25 Feb - I think we can make a small change that would make it so if the taxon that an ancestor disagreement is disagreeing with has been withdrawn or deleted it is counted as a non-disagreement.

Publicado por dianastuder 5 meses antes

If either of the three of you can clarify how best to phrase the 2 (or 3?) newer requests you just mentioned, either I or you can add them to the spreadsheet, and then I or you can tell us what row number those are listed on.

re: to split off observations to ID rare species in photos that aren't the focus without praying the user will comply.

One thing to look out for is if critics would say that would violate the observer's photo copyright license. I can think of a few possible alternatives (and alternatives can be mentioned in the requests, in anticipation of critics). One is if the original observation (obs.) is simply duplicated a second time, but for the ID to be for the other species. The duplicated obs. would still be the copyright/owned by the original observer. Something like a new DQA option may allow for such splitting. In a second alternative, a new obs. is created by cropping part of the original obs. This, too, could retain the original observer's copyright/ownership, but may be harder to implement (unless the observer consents) since it may be conisdered a "modification" of the observer's original photo.

By the way, not that anyone has to do so, but I've been a little puzzled that no one but me on this thread about not blocking expert IDs voted on that spreadsheet request (current row #185). (And that many people here didn't vote on my curator petition, which people are welcome to contact me privately about to ask more details about, or give me feedback on, given that I'm putting myself out there sticking up for a lot of issues/people and got punished in the process; although, I also don't like to belabor/repeat my curator petition issue too often.) As a clarification, people are free to privately tell me if they think I should rephrase any of the spreadsheet requests, or for e.g. if they disagree with the wording of my request 185, they could write their own alternative version of it on another row.

Publicado por bdagley 5 meses antes

@bdagley Just so that I understand -- voting on the spreadsheet is a matter of adding my name and updating the count number?

Publicado por jasonhernandez74 5 meses antes

Oh, so were you that "anonymous alligator" or someone editing? haha.

Yes, adding your name to the cell to the right of the last person who added their name (not over it). The highlighted Rules and Notes cell near the top of the spreadsheet also explains everything in more detail.

Lastly, I just went through and partly edited many of the requests that no one but me had voted on yet. One thing that does occasionally make my writing difficult is that I can write in too much length sometimes (but often think people might misunderstand what I mean otherwise). On the other hand, I've often seen people (also including me at times) write things so briefly that they come across as vague or unclear. Most of the requests near the end are about ensuring the admin including staff, mods, etc. use fair practices. I for one am very unhappy that they can read our private messages... let them only read them if they get flagged, we can't read theirs (current request row: 54). One thing I did when editing various requests was to change certain references to "staff" to "admin" and to quality "certain admin sometimes" have done this or that, so as to not make it seem like someone considering voting on it would be hesistant to be criticized as "challenging" or "criticizing" the staff. Overall though, I left references to the staff where necessary, and most of my edits were just to make the requests more concise.

Lastly, to explain unlinking photos (current request row 41), see the following comment that I cross-posted to the new Experiment post today:

Given that the concept of the new DQA vote option of whether the ID subject is in every photo of the obs. has come up in this discussion, and that I (as in the past) suggested that it would be even better to allow the obs. to be unlinked (split) into two verifiable obs. (vs. rendering both photos unverifiable), that terminology that some identifiers like johnascher use originates from the similar website and early inat influence Bug Guide. This is an example of how it works there:

Publicado por bdagley 5 meses antes

The new DQA vote is specifically for
an obs - with many photos - each of a different species.

Is the subject in every photo - is a different issue.

Publicado por dianastuder 5 meses antes

1 of 2

I'm a little confused by what distinction you're making. In any case, I'm suggesting that the new inat DQA option be replaced with one that would work exactly as Bug Guide does it. Here are examples of what would happen on BG in different scenarios.

Obs. 1. Photo 1=bee and butterly, photo 2=bee and butterfly (the observer specifies which subject to ID). Solution: no "unlink" needed (no violation of rules), yet the observer could optionally upload the photo(s) twice, so that each species would get it's own record.

Obs. 2. Photo 1=bee, photo 2=bee and butterly. Solution: no violation of rules, the ID subject would have to be the bee. Yet, the observer could optionally re-upload the second photo to make it a butterfly record.

Obs. 3. Photo 1=bee, photo 2=butterfly. Solution: "unlink" to create 1 bee record. and 1 butterfly record. [which on inat if done this way would make the obs. remain verifiable, vs. the new DQA option makes everything casual grade]

There are probably a couple other variations that I can't think of right now. Basically, I'd suggest replacing (deleting) the new iNat DQA option with the "link and unlink" option, which would also be a new DQA option, asking if the ID subject organism is in every photo (regardless of whether additional species are). Yet, for the time being, and even before this new DQA option, I and ohers had "unofficially" been marking obs. with one species in photo 1 and another species in photo 2 "no evidence of organism," making them casual. There are several benefits to that approac: no wrongly IDed photos get sent to the inat or GBIF species galleries, and the fact that the obs. becomes casual actually is among the mos effective ways to get the observer's attention. And then if the observer does fix it (deleting photo 2, typically re-uploading it separately as as different record) I make their obs. verifiable again.

On another related matter, I recently contributed several long, thoughtful analysis comments to loarie's posts about the recent and current experiments. In one, I mentioned that I'd been invalidly flagged one year earlier for IDing photo 1 in an obs. that has a different species in photo 2, and pointed out that your link demonstrated (as I demonstrated in the past) that "use the broadest ID that encompasses both species" is actually only a suggestion, not a mandated rule. Therefore, I was wrongfully flagged a year ago. When I was flagged back then, the user singled me out, only flagging me and not flagging multiple other active identifiers who also like me only identified photo 1 vs. use a broad ID. I commented to an identifier that the curator had chosen to skip over flagging, "did [the flagging user] get you too?"

By which I meant, the flagger singled me out unfairly. Then, loarie then mischaracterized what happened as that I "insulted the flagging user" (another curator also inaccurately chimed in that I should assume the flagging user, who had a history of bullying and mocking me, "meant well," which was untrue since they singled me out. Secondly, as mentioned, we discovered IDing photo 1 isn't against a mandated rule. Yet, that was part of the reason loarie claimed I had to lose curator status, because I'd "insulted" a curator by pointing out that they singled me out and also were inaccurate that I'd broken a rule.

Publicado por bdagley 5 meses antes

2 of 2

I then mentioned some of this yesterday on the Experiment results post, not referencing the flagging curators names, and a curator and mod flagged that comment, despite that it could be implied from loarie replying to me after that comment that even he didn't consider my earleir comment flaggable himself. The flag is still open, in case anyone wants to offer a comment of support (or resolve it my favor, if anyone's a curator):

I then just now before commenting here wrote another long thoughtful analysis about loarie's most recent experiments (not mentioning the flag matter this time), which required me to have to dig up an older experiment loarie did in 2017 that kueda had written interpretative notes on. I'd earlier in the Experiment thread asked if anyone (including loarie) could link to this earlier experiment, but there was no reply. The earlier experiment sufferend from similar design flaws, only used "expert" as validators, a very small sample size, and estimated 85% accuracy, and very low CV/AI accuracy. You can see my detailed commentary on that newest Experiment post.

A couple takeaways:

I have no time for such long reviews of admin experiments and practices, especially if some of them mostly just dismiss or don't reply to what I say, or even flag me for non-inappropriate comments.

Both writing long comments about experiments (or other comparable site subjects, like on the forum years ago), or writing to defend myself when I get invalidly flagged and am waiting for them to become resolved, wastes way too much of my time, I barely even make any IDs during that time, and it can be stressful to be accused because it can harm one’s social and academic/career reputation and opportunities (even if the flagged user is found to be innocent).

I'm glad I deleted my forum account (note that a forum mod and curator flagged me today, on inat). It simply wastes too much time to try to reason (with many comments or long comments) with some admin who never listen or reply anyway. I also have proof (ask if wanted) that the mods have been unfair to some users, including me, another good reason (for me) to abandon the forum. Yet, I like most of the forum community themselves, and still do talk to many of them, on inat, in journals like this, the Experiment post, in curation flags, and if someone ever rarely flags me.

The recent inat Experiment post threads were unfortunately similar to forum posts (e.g. the blocking, the singling out of users, the criticism of users who felt that the experiment's results were overestimated or nearly useless).

I'll continue to attempt to stop writing at such length (or have to find some faster way to do it, like an app I speak into that writes a transcript of my comments) throughout my use of inaturalist because it’s too tiring, time-consuming, and most admin seem to take little interest. I basically didn’t even sleep at all overnight partly due to this, although sometimes also get insomnia in general.

Publicado por bdagley 5 meses antes
I basically didn’t even sleep at all overnight partly due to this,

Almost invariably less is more.
to be honest tl:dr

Publicado por tonyrebelo 4 meses antes

@tonyrebelo Not a very helpful comment in my opinion, although I'm not offended either so no worry. Note also that the inaturalist policy around blocking, flagging, etc., and the recent accuracy Experiments discussions people commented on here and elsewhere, are inherently complex matters and ones that the admin have been extremely reluctant or refused to budge on. Therefore, we in some cases must make at least somewhat longer arguments merely to explain/effectively "argue" for why we believe improvements to these policies, or the accuracy Experiments, are worth the staff considering, or (in some cases) to correct or refute some of the claims they've made against ours. Note that joe_fish's text at the top of this post is similarly a long argument, but also shouldn't be called "too long to consider."

Anyway, the flag that a curator-mod made against me was resolved as "not an insult" by the staff, so I'm glad of that. I hate false accusations.

Lastly, I'm curious if anyone has an opinion on that staff can read all of our private messages/DMs all the time, even if they don't get flagged, despite that we can't read theirs. I mentioned this to tiwane years ago and his explanation (excuse?) was "inat is about transparency." But by contradiction, we can't read their private messages, they can already read our private chats if they get flagged, and they've banned adding private group messages altogether. (And if they did add private group messages they'd be able to read them, so they wouldn't be private...unless they were their private group messages...). The fact that they can peep in on our private messages is actually a little known fact (it's indicated in the fine print that displays when someone sends you a private message for the time). When I mentioned this to a taxonomist he said it's unethical, which I agree with. Or, if they must insist that all private messages be public (i.e., not private), then they should let us read the staff's/admin's private messages too. They shouldn't be able to have it both ways (but they set up their terms of service/legal aspects of the site so they can do whatever they want).

Publicado por bdagley 4 meses antes

@bdagley I've definitely broken the "use the broadest ID that encompasses both species" rule as well. Often in fact. I usually decide what to do based on the situation. If it's multiple species present in a photo (ie, of a sponge garden) and there's no clear indication of what the subject is, then the broadest ID usually works well. If it's multiple photos of multiple species, then I usually ID from the first photo and suggest the observer split off the rest. I think it's odd if there's something wrong with that approach, or even that there's rules at all! I agree with you that it should be read as a suggestion.

Overriding this thought process is that it's the observer who owns the observation and I will usually defer to their (reasonable) wishes.

On unlinking or splitting observations, I'm (appropriately) split on the issue. I don't think an identifier should be able to unilaterally modify another active user's observation (or create a new one on an observer's behalf, which is what splitting ultimately is). However, most of the problematic ones are from users that just do an observation dump and never use the platform again (ie, for a class project), so it will never be fixed no matter how many comments get added. In that case it is a good thing if an identifier can make the split. Maybe a compromise solution is that an observation can be "opened up" for unilateral modification (splitting/combining) if the user has less than X observations and has been inactive for at least Y length of time.

For context, I've accidentally combined photos of multiple species in one observation. If I get told of my mistake via comment, I can simply split them and it's fine. However, if someone can just split it for me, then a new observation is created on my behalf without having going through whatever processes I attach to uploading obs (ie, like tagging, adding to projects, determining if it's captive or wild, etc.)

Publicado por mtank 4 meses antes

@mtank On unlinking or splitting observations, I'm (appropriately) split on the issue. I don't think an identifier should be able to unilaterally modify another active user's observation (or create a new one on an observer's behalf, which is what splitting ultimately is).

The practice/tool began on Bug Guide, which I think inat is originally based on (or if someone might less politely say, "ripped off"; many BG users are unhappy because the better photo quality (etc.) of inat essentially drove away probably 75% or more of the current or would-be future BG users; but I continue to use both). On BG, they distinguish curators ("contributing editors") as having more expertise/experience. It's usually they who do the unlinking, although actually they usually just request that the observer ("contributor") unlink it themselves. Same thing for if an editor tells a contributor their photo is male or female, they usually request the observer edit it. But, editors also have the ability to directly edit contributors' photos, so I usually directly annotate male/female or unlink, but only when I'm certain and when I leave a clarifying comment to the contributor.

For my similar "unlinking" request for inat, I anticipated that we wouldn't want just anyone to be able to unlink just anything - some mistakes would be made. So, the caveat I think I included in my spreadsheet or other descriptions of the request is that the unlink tool/action would be a DQA option users could vote on. E.g., it may take 1 vote to initially unlink it (creating 2 obs.), but then if someone like the observer votes no, they get re-linked back into 1 obs. Or, if more caution was wanted, the DQA option may require at least 2 votes to unlink with 0 votes against to unlink the photos. One key thing is it's adaptive (it's also this way on BG), meaning a mistaken unlinking can be fixed.

Re: the terminology itself, I mostly noticed johnascher saying things like "unlink 2" (meaning, "unlink photo 2 of 2 because it's a different individual") on BG and inat (already, even though there's no inat tool yet except for any user except the observer to do it), but think that many inat users may find the "unlink" term confusing, especially if they don't use BG. "Separate photos" or "re-combine photos," or "split/unsplit" might be more universally understandable terms.

Now less seriously, the terminology reminds of "spread out!" when a user wants to unlink photos

But then if another user disagrees and think they're all the same individual afterall and vote on DQA, it's like:

Publicado por bdagley 4 meses antes

'If it's multiple photos of multiple species, then I usually ID from the first photo' @mtank

But - frog, daisy and bird IDed as frog - doesn't make sense.
For that we have a shiny new DQA

new DQA Feb 2024 - only one species please

Publicado por dianastuder 4 meses antes

If it's multiple photos of multiple species, then I usually ID from the first photo' @mtank
But - frog, daisy and bird IDed as frog - doesn't make sense.

In chronological order. Myself, identifiers like johnascher, and others would typically ID photo 1 in such situations, while commenting tot he observer to please delete the extra photos that don't show the subject and to upload them as new obs. We (at least me) also suggested inat add the "unlink" tool long ago, which works great on BG.

I later (before the new DQA) slightly modified my approach (as I think I did describe above earlier), realizing like you that if photo 1 becomes RG but the obs. isn't fixed, photos of the wrong species are sent to inat and gbif photo/record galleries. My update (with US bumblebee IDers agreed with) was to mark the obs. "no evidence of organism" (meaning: no evidence of the subject in some of the photos), which makes it casual grade, and comment to the observer to ask if they could fix it). I also somewhat anecdotally find that making observers obs. casual in that way was the best way to get their attention (they often didn't see comments, esp. if they weren't tagged in the comments).

Now, re: the new DQA tool. I agree that it's an improvement in some ways, but the downside (vs an "unlink tool") is that it makes the obs. causal grade. So, essentially, the new DQA tool is just the same as my most recent "unofficial" method I've been using that I described above. But is better because by making it DQA that makes it more "officially allowed" and uses a more precise DQA option to do it (even though only IDing photo 1 was never technically prohibited).

But, I still think it would be even more ideal to add an DQA option to "separate photos" and "recombine photos." I said yesterday that maybe that would be best "instead" of the current new DQA option (replacing it), but possibly it would also work to keep the new DQA option and just add this additional DQA option as well.

Publicado por bdagley 4 meses antes

many BG users are unhappy because the better photo quality (etc.) of inat essentially drove away probably 75% or more of the current or would-be future BG users

Really? What drove me away from BG was that my observations get frassed if they aren't publication-quality photos.

Publicado por jasonhernandez74 4 meses antes

@dianastuder Yes, you're right, and now that there is the new DQA category I will change that practice, but previously the rationale was that those 3 species had no business being lumped into the same observation, and they would/should be separated. Based on that, I considered the subject of the observation to be the first species, which would also provide a starting point for the observer to ID that first species once split (I might even include IDs for the other species in the comment to help further). This is helpful because in observations like this, it is usually a) an inexperienced observer who may not be able to reliably ID the organism even to a high level and b) probably didn't add an ID to begin with so once split it would be hard to get the visibility of the correct experts if I do too coarse an ID.

@bdagley, your comment is interesting. I know that only the first photo is used for the computer vision model, but didn't consider that all of the other (incorrect) photos might be sent to external datasets. I might have changed my approach if I knew that (but no need to now with the new DQA)

Publicado por mtank 4 meses antes

Although as I said, I'd prefer that "the Bug Guide DQA option" be added, whether it replaces the recently added iNat DQA option (which is a slight improvement) or whether both remain. Because they do different things. In the iNat DQA option, photos of all species become casual grade and may stay lost there forever, and by definition if the observer has become inactive. Versus the "BG DQA tool" would create multiple verifiable observations for each species. But if an observer is permanently inactive (e.g. a student) or dead (unfortunately) the current tool will only relegate their photo to "wastebin of casual grade."

Someone once asked on the forum, is, or why are people, treating casual grade as a wastebin? And the near unanimous answer was that's because that's pretty much what it's functioning as. With the exception of good photos of cultivated plants, animals, or humans (used sparingly), I'd say. I upload maybe 3 casual obs. per 100.

Casual grade is somewhat analogous to the Frass section of Bug Guide that Jason alluded to. In which, they actually recycle (delete) the photos in there over time. It does also seem to me that there's a lot of sheer clutter (blurs, duplicates, etc.) in the inat casual grade category that it might be good to at least recycle certain kinds of "frass"-like photo (the meaning of frass is excrement, as BG intended). Jason, I think if you take decent enough photos on BG either no one will frass them or you can "appeal" it by commenting to them, or telling me (I'm a BG curator). You could consider re-joining BG, you all could. I like their forum much better: zero moderation but also virtually zero user conflicts, imagine that. Sometimes it seems that the excesses of inat and inat forum moderation/punishing is (unintentionally) actually driving divisions and conflicts in the community.

Publicado por bdagley 4 meses antes

@mtank leaving the various IDs in a comment for the future is useful.
But multi-species obs which have already been IDed as Species one remain a confusing problem.
It leaves pictures of random other sp on the taxon page.

Publicado por dianastuder 4 meses antes

yeah i'd probably leave the site and possibly delete all my observations if they started 'frassing' photos on here, outside of copyright infringement and such.

Publicado por charlie 4 meses antes

Although, the BG contributing editors are and are told to be very kind. So what happens with Frass is they move photos that are unidentifiable, only identifiable to a very broad rank, or (sometimes, editors vary in methods) very blurry photos. Those photos remain in Frass for 30 days or so before being deleted. Typically, the BG editor frassing photos takes the time to by comment provide the contributor with their best guess of what taxon it is. Also, I believe in some cases they ask the contributor to for e.g. crop the photo, and then the editor moves it out of Frass and back into the regular "taxa guide" pages. So, it's not all that bad in my opinion.

I think in earlier years for BG, there was also the thought that (even identifiable) "too blurry/distant/etc." photos don't need to be categorized in the guide. Because they think of BG as a field guide, and therefore wanted to only use good photos. Yet, about 2 years ago the current BG head John VanDyke of Iowa State University (and there are a couple other people helping him admin) I think said "there's no longer any reason to frass any identifiable photo," which I do agree with (although am not sure if all BG editors follow).

Also, as mentioned, Frass is in many ways analogous to "casual grade as a dustbin/wastebin on inaturalist," minus the part where the frassed photos eventually get deleted. But in a similar way, a huge portion of the inat casual grade obs. (esp. e.g. obs. without photos) are basically useless clutter. I've suggested that the inat casual grade become newly separated into subcategories, e.g., one for obs. with photos that can become verifiable if the observer adds date/location, and others for ones that have no photos, were inappropriate or copyright infringement, etc. In such a system, I'd favor not deleting the former subcategory but eventually deleting the second subcategory. I'd also assume that so many "clutter" casual obs. on inat must be wasting some inat resources in some way, increasingly over time as their count accumulates.

Publicado por bdagley 4 meses antes

Anyway, here's the current BG Frass collection. As I immediately notice and am somewhat surprised by, some of the photos seem to be in clear or clear enough quality so as not to frass, like this. Except, the editor gave the rationale: "damaged, poorly curated specimen," so that may be debatable (in past years, BG didn't even allow any specimen photos at all), and reinforcing the point that BG editors sometimes curatore "their" preferred groups differently, but it's also possible to debate with an editor whether a given photo should be frassed. This is another e.g., frassed by the same editor, presumably because it's blurry, difficult or impossible to ID to species. When I first started BG in 2021 I frassed, but became annoyed by the lack of "standards for frassing" and typically no longer frass. And finally, this is a frassed bee image (probably for poor quality and difficult to ID) that I disagree with (John, I, or others can probably ID it at least to family), so which I'll explain my reasoning and now remove from frass. So, it is possible to "appeal" your photos being frassed, or to debate it on the BG forums, so I wouldn't recommend anyone leave just due to the frassing.

Overall, I always still recommend everyone make an account on both BG (whose admin I think are fairer) and inat (despite that I think admin fairness needs to improve in some way). inat also owes a lot to BG, I think inat is basically based on BG. And, having a BG account doesn't obligate people to use it for X number of hour per week or month, so many of us actually only check in on it infrequently, and there are also far fewer obs. uploaded. Other highlights: more educational towards beginners including children, virtually no moderation, no flags (and thus no flag debates), no forum moderation/censorship, live in-person member events (although I've never been near enough one to attend), many other things, and observers (contributors) that tend to be overly grateful and thankful for the identifiers' time (yet the last is also true of many inat observers as well).

BG is also planned to be updated to BG 2.0, which hopefully will improve it's navigation, image quality, speed, etc., but that's been delayed for many years. Reciprocally, when some of the BG editors criticize inat, as I also partly do, I actually also recommend that they all use both sites too, but with the caveat that I understand why some people may choose not to use inat out of data quality concerns/principles (re: the AI and RG system, is their main complaint). Both sites have unique features and pros and cons. I've often heard and agree with the description that BG is like an field guide and inat is like the citizen science portal (yeet technically they're both citizen science portals) for the "clearninghouse" GBIF. Both sites have unique features, pros and cons. And of course, BG is only for people who like insects and other "bugs."

Publicado por bdagley 4 meses antes

I wasn't sure if I was going to comment more on this thread soon, but had a few recent thoughts. The accuracy experiments are interesting, and I assume most of us that were selected have/are/will participate in them. But, my feedback is the design of each experiment seems to be decided without consulting identifiers/experts. Furthermore, in the experiment comment threads, a lot of the feedback (re: experiment limitations, how to interpret results, etc.) isn't replied to or incorporated into future versions of the experiments.

That itself has been similar to my experience of the way e.g. feature requests and other site plans or changes are discussed/decided on. There always seems to be a gulf between admin (staff, also certain mods, devs, and curators) and "users." Where things are decided upfront or before user feedback, or if are decided or modified after user feedback don't take much if any of it into consideration. Another e.g. are that there are feature requests a large number of users voted for, going back years, but which admin didn't implement (excepting requests that are currently too difficult to implement for resource/logistical reasons).

Publicado por bdagley 3 meses antes

About a month ago I created a spreadsheet of community requests. I'm glad a few people read and vote on some of the requests, although overall few did, which can limit whatever impact it might've had, although I didn't necessarily expect much to come from it, it's kind of just like a poll. But, connecting to my thoughts, I think, and a few people have actually told me in the past, that many users are actually "afraid" to voice even neutral feedback/suggestions or especially differences of viewpoint, not only re: my document but on the forum, or in the comment threads of the inat. journal posts, etc. This is unfortunate but unsurprising, since it's been my experience, and my observation of others', that users who give feedback are often dismissed, not replied to, or even argued with or criticized for making website feedback. Or claimed to ask for "too much" or make "too many" requests. Meanwhile, some mods have created more feature requests than anyone and no one criticizes them. Overall, and including the issue of not blocking expert IDs, it seems there's still an unhelpful gulf between admin and (many) users, and that certain users are typically dismissed and/or criticized more than others, particularly those who've given the most feedback, even if they gave it neutrally and respectfully.

Lastly, there seems to remain a lack of transparency into site decision making and actions. E.g., I believe the staff have been able to read private messages between users, which one taxonomist called "unethical." My memory is the "warning message" you get when a user first sends you a private message used to indicate staff can see the messages, and that I once emailed staff and they justified it as "inat. is about transparency," yet we can't see their private messages. I incidentally brought this up recently in one of the accuracy experiment threads. Since then, the "warning message" when a user sends you a private message the first time no longer says staff can see the messages. I wonder if this was a result of my comment. Regardless, the problem is that that just obscures whether the staff can see our private messages, which is an e.g. of a lack of transparency. And if certain of us merely ask them, they probably won't even reply. If anyone does find out, please share. We at least deserve to know whether our messages are private, even if they won't be. And flagged private chats already become visible to staff, which is a good reason why no one (staff, or others) should need to be able to view them otherwise.

Publicado por bdagley 3 meses antes

I notice all the last comments here were by me, so anyone else can feel free to comment, or to continue discussing the main identifier blocking issue. Although, one last science/curation-related matter came up, which another identifier first partly made me aware of. Currently when iNat sends RG obs. to GBIF the obs. ID is sent, not the community ID (CID) as I'd assumed. So, if an observer IDs a species and then you ID only the genus or subgenus and make the obs. RG via DQA "CID good as can be" (CID=genus or subgenus), GBIF gets a species rank record. The fact that many authors of articles based on iNat data download the data from GBIF makes this problematic, since some of those records aren't the species they're labeled as. Also, even when using iNat, if you search for obs. in Explore using filters for RG and high and low rank=species, it will show some RG obs. with obs. ID=species but CID=genus or subgenus. I wonder if that means the same issue would occur when authors directly download iNat data from iNat, if anyone knows? I'm currently working on my first co-authored papers (about Bombus and Delta) but have never downloaded data yet. Further info is here, but without further answers or a status update yet.

Publicado por bdagley 3 meses antes

Do you have an example?

Publicado por tonyrebelo 3 meses antes

In the link - further info is here
In the last line above

Publicado por dianastuder 3 meses antes

This journal post is impressively long and I have not read every posting (sorry).
Does iNaturalist have a formal user group that influences the iNaturalist software roadmap?
If not, why not? (This is usually the case with software based tools and could concievably address several issues presented herein.)

Publicado por fiftygrit 3 meses antes

@fiftygrit we have ... feature requests on the Forum. (We have looked at the issue, and decided to leave it as an issue ;~( Too complicated / confusing / slow. But we have won some small improvements down the years.

Also the github link above. More techie.

Publicado por dianastuder 3 meses antes

Many of the website issues, or the fact that they weren't addressed, or occurred and needed to be raised in the first place, have also unfortunately resulted in the people who raised them to become criticized, ostracized, or punished. And it's hard for a person to bring up the issues in the first place, even though everyones intention in providing website feedback was to constructively help the website and community. So it's not just the issues themselves at stake but also the community members who are affected. And it can certainly take a toll on their website reputation, academic/career reputation opportunities or futures, etc.

And many people already had a hard or disadvantaged life even before joining the website. The website community is essentially a kind of society, and the fact that significant issues and resulting division has occurred is an indicator that something has gone significantly wrong or is in need of fixing. Re: community coordination, I'd like to thank @dianastuder for displaying leadership qualities for years on inaturalist and the forum, in caring about the issues and the people and trying to help the entire community cooperate.

Publicado por bdagley 3 meses antes

bdagley you bring up a lot of really good points here and i want to say that, because i know we've had disagreements in the past to say the least. But i think it's important to recognize that how you treated me also felt like the way you describe being treated - i felt attacked heavily for trying to help you. This isn't meant to be a criticism, but i think i too struggle with things like that sometimes and if you want to be a force of well-needed positive change on inat you need tob e self aware as well. I think the curator system is a giant mess but i also feel like there were valid reasons you were removed from curation. Maybe that doesn't mean it needs to be permanent. And i say this as someone who self-removed from curation because i'm not suited for it in its current form either.

Basically if we can't look inward we will have no chance of making a change here. I'm offering this one post, and revoking my request you not talk to me, but am adding the caveat that if you do attack me over this i'll go back to no interaction.

Publicado por charlie 3 meses antes

@ charlie But i think it's important to recognize that how you treated me also felt like the way you describe being treated - i felt attacked heavily for trying to help you.

I never attacked you, and you never really helped me in my opinion, certainly not in any flags. In our past disagreement, I first noted one of your comments (originally about someone else) violated guidelines for using name calling and was inaccurate (which was more important to me), and that tiwane ignored it being a violation by leaving it unflagged/unhidden. You then made other inaccurate criticisms toward me and another user and repeat-flagged me, inaccurately claiming I was "following you." Also, over a year earlier, you were among a few mods who at times criticized me for noting site issues and making feature requests.

E.g., when I asked whether drawings should be considered verifiable grade, or noted problems with site loading speed/functionality (as did cazort), you suggested I should donate if I want changes. I think you should reflect that since you're friends with the staff (like certain other curators/mods) you have an outsized influence on them and the community when you spoke to me that way. By the way, I actually can't donate. You also said you dislike me off-site, which I won't go into any detail about, but was public so is fair to note. I'm not saying you're all bad or did things like that all the time or to many people, but you still did do them toward me, whether you perceived yourself to be wrong. Vs., I never acted that way to anyone, and even my comments to you were all neutrally and accurately written.

i also feel like there were valid reasons you were removed from curation.

There weren't. It was about personal reasons among the staff/admin, and also largely due to previous events. One main reason, aside from our interaction that began from me noting you'd made that inaccurate name calling comment, was another curator-mod staff-friend bullied me by selectively flagging me for a non-guideline "not to ID photo 1" in obs. where photo 2 is different, despite not flagging other users who made the same ID. I asked trebelo if the curator had "got him too," since he'd made the same ID (which they didn't flag). loarie then inaccurately mischaracterized the event as that I'd insulted the flagging curator-mod, who actually clearly bullied me (as they'd done in the past on multiple occasions). Bullying by them, especially from a position of power is wrong.

Lastly, the main reason staff and some of their other curator/mod friends (but not most curators, and not all mods) disliked me all along, before all that was due to another curator staff-friend who for years kept flagging and making insulting comments to me when I joined, claiming I was copying and guessing IDs, and for not always replying to requests for ID basis (vs., commenting is actually only optional per guidelines). tiwane disproved that I was guessing IDs, but refused to discipline the curator or resolve his later related flags, said he was bored hearing about it, and claimed he didn't think the curator was focusing on me. Later, tiwane conceded the curator was, but still did nothing. It took dallon to become a curator to resolve those flags accurately.

Not intending to brag, but I've made a significant ID, and observation, contribution, but when staff and certain admin originally spoke poorly to to me (c. 2020-21) maybe they assumed I wasn't going to (and I didn't donate), hence misportraying me as someone merely "asking for too many requests" or "complaining too much about problems" without making much contribution (or donating). As for me pointing out bugs, that's on them. They claim to ask the community for requests, bug reports, and even website and moderation feedback, but as many here know, that's not the way it plays out. They often ignore or dismiss things, or get defensive, take it as insults, or maybe as challenges to control. E.g., they also removed the previous power of curators to make other users curators, and seem to plan to remove the power of some existing curators to moderate in the future, to only let them curate taxonomy.

Unlike the admin of GBIF, COL, and BugGuide (where I remain a curator), who appreciate my similar feedback to their websites. Check out the extremely long list of inat Github issues inat staff have made themselves. The site has always had many programming issues, which aren't wrong to document. I believe tiwane and loarie (etc) know they mistreated me, e.g., in mischaracterizing me as insulting the curator-mod over the "don't ID photo 1" matter. As for why you lost curator status, I don't know, but it's not analogous. Anyway, the thread on this post isn't only about me, I'm only re-telling my story since you suggested I should've lost curator status. It's about blocking users, but also to me is about all the issues afffecting multiple users. I'm glad I chose to leave the forum. Enough said.

Publicado por bdagley 3 meses antes

So I'm not special friends with the staff and i don't think they like me very much after i called some of them out for allowing bullying. I used to kind of know some of them because i was active on the site when it was tiny and new, mostly Ken-ichi who doesn't seem that involved in moderation-related stuff. I liked them as people when i interacted with them in person, but i have disagreements with some of them on how they deal with site moderation and taxonomy. I do not think i carry even the slightest bit of extra weight in my opinions, in fact i think it's the other way around and now i'm an annoying critic. But your 'feature requests' were absolutely massive multi page documents, often sending multiple ones per day, and there was no possible way for any of the mods or staff to possibly deal with that. Like i get it, i get like that way sometimes too (I am not diagnosing anyone else but i myself am autistic and send big fat infodumps sometimes and overwhelm people, not saying that is why you did it, but the effect was the same), all i was trying to do was explain it was too much for us to process and needed to be summarized or at least have some patience while we sort it. I actually wanted your ideas to get attention and i agreed with some of them, though others read more as attacks on the site to me than actual ideas. Anyway that feedback got a really bad response from you and given i am not Jesus or Gandhi, when i get attacked i sometimes get mean back, yeah it isn't productive but it's kinda what happens with most people. I don't remember saying i disliked you offsite, do you mean the discord group? I may have been blowing off steam after being attacked. But if so, yes it wasn't a good thing to do and i'm sorry. Tony Rebelo is one of the worst bullies on the site, whereas i was mad at you at that time and i think it was justified, i see trebelo as a whole other level and actively malicious rather than just really frustrating and rude. But i'll leave it at that because i don't want him targeting me again.

Anyway i said my piece and if it's just angering and you don't want to hash this stuff out i will respect that and leave you alone, you did also leave me alone when i asked so it's maybe not reasonable for me to jump in like this, sorry.

Why i 'lost' curator status - i removed it myself because of staff tolerance and even support of a very heinous issue of bullying and violation of the rules. I didn't want to be a curator of a system that acted that way, so i removed my own curator status. Perhaps they would have removed it for me if i hadn't, i don't know. Same with the forum moderation. i am not asking or rallying to get my curator status back because i don't want to be a part of it. And also i strongly disagree with how taxonomy works on the site and don't want to be a part of that either but that's a whole other rant. I think they need to treat moderation and rule making/enforcement much more seriously as bullying and abuse of the rules of the site are rife, and i think moderation should NOT be synonymous with taxonomic curation. There are people who are suited to one but not the other, and honestly some of the taxonomist curators use their moderator powers to leverage on people who disagree on their taxonomic policies. And yeah Dallon is really helpful in a lot of cases because they were actually addressing the behavior and emotions involved instead of just being a taxonomist who somehow also was given mod powers. A good example of why moderators who deal with bullying and behavior should not be the same as taxonomists.

I'm sorry you got bullied. I believe you, and as for the remainder of your post i won't comment on it because i don't actually disagree with it. I don't like how you lashed out at me when i was trying to help, but i also recognize i may have done a bad job of it and should have approached it differently. I don't see you as a bad or harmful person, but i also kinda question why you'd even want to be a curator given what has happened and also you are just as bothered by the bullying as i am.

Publicado por charlie 3 meses antes

I do not think i carry even the slightest bit of extra weight in my opinions

You have 511 followers, which is much more than most users, and the forum community often did agree with you in those past years when you were a mod. You also often "defended" the staff in your responses, and were often the first person to reply, usually critically or negatively in some way, whenever I made a post. As for your current influence, I have no idea, I essentially don't even read the forum.

But your 'feature requests' were absolutely massive multi page documents, often sending multiple ones per day, and there was no possible way for any of the mods or staff to possibly deal with that.

This is very misleadingly untrue. Also, I don't want you to vet any posts, nor for the staff to. People should be allowed to just make posts, and vetting (a form of censorship) should come after (if any, and if truly necessary, but I'd prefer free speech except for anything extreme or bullying). I disliked and disagreed with your opinions on my posts. I'd prefer you weren't involved at all.

it was too much for us to process

Sounds like politics and censorship. I'd prefer no middleman interfering with our posts. Note that the current thread here happens to be somehow somewhat uncensored (and unvetted in any way), and that BugGuide forums have no vetting or censorship at all, and that there are virtually no conflicts between any of the people on this page or on BG.

Tony Rebelo is one of the worst bullies on the site

I don't know everything he's said, especially in the past, and am aware some of his comments have been considered controversial. That said, I myself have never actually seen him bully anyone, nor "get mad" as you describe yourself, and I've seen him get along with people or use humor. Not that I need to defend anyone else or compare them to myself (since I didn't say or do some of the things some other people did), but I've personally seen much worse (at least in certain ways) from you.

Anyway i said my piece and if it's just angering and you don't want to hash this stuff out i will respect that and leave you alone

I never post in anger, unlike you. I rarely get angry at all, even in real life, because I learned to control anger a long time ago, long before I joined the website. I also don't get why you acted like it would be some bonus or favor to me to be "able to" talk to you again, in your first comment, since your past interaction mass-flagging me on invalid grounds was the main reason leading up to me losing curator (but not the original or overall main reason). I'm open to "debate" (discuss) anything further, say whatever you want.

i think moderation should NOT be synonymous with taxonomic curation. There are people who are suited to one but not the other, and honestly some of the taxonomist curators use their moderator powers to leverage on people who disagree on their taxonomic policies.

As I mentioned, a curator once used their power to falsely claim I was copying or guessing IDs, despite that I cited ID keys when I made those IDs, etc. But, there's still a problem with the staff's plan to remove existing powers from existing curators. It would mean they're taking away a power curators already had, including curators who didn't do anything wrong. Existing powers shouldn't be taken away from people until or unless they're (accurately) found to be "guilty" of something that would truly warrant removing the power.

I don't like how you lashed out at me when i was trying to help

Do you mean today? I didn't "lash out," my comment is neutrally written. You also never helped me in the past according to me, virtually everything you said to me was negative.

And yeah D. is really helpful in a lot of cases

Although hasn't always been fair. I fault you and some others for overly flagging people over petty matters. Versus, I actually spent a long time in private discussion with so-called "problematic" users to try to improve their communication. Flagging can be used unfairly or as a form of bullying in some cases. And wastes a lot of time.

I also would fault you on bringing up private matters so often. For example, you (here and on your older off-site comment I referred to) posts I tried to make on the forum that you and other mods privately vetted (or censored), which you're not supposed to do (and you still were a curator-mod at the time of the earlier comment). I myself have occasionally made reference to private chats (e.g., with staff) but was more conscious that it's not usually good to, and felt justified to because I believe Tony and Scott were unfair to me (in also punishing me).

Publicado por bdagley 3 meses antes

i also kinda question why you'd even want to be a curator given what has happened and also you are just as bothered by the bullying as i am.

For the same reason I joined the website. I consider the website a scientific tool, and arguably the main citizen science platform, and it's also a community. So, it makes sense for anyone interested in, or especially studying, wildlife to want to use the website and curate taxonomy. I don't consider myself to have been overly involved in moderation, but it's an existing power of curators, and I want to be a curator. I've always voiced disagreements with bullying in contexts where admin seem involved, and have also intervened between some user to user conflicts, as a curator and as a non curator.

Not always by rushing to flag everything though. But, I don't always try to change the conduct of people who won't change, whether they're users, mods, curators, or staff, because it's just a waste of time. I recommend people stop flagging each other so much, or in other words to save flagging (if using it at all) for truly necessary instances. Also, it doesn't work that essentially only one or a few people are moderating everyone else, with no third party or community opinion "vote" on who should be punished. Because then if one person wants to punish someone for the wrong reason they'll get to, even if many other people give good reasons why it's wrong. It's a basic conflict of interest. But, I also don't expect everyone or the website to be perfect, either. Being or wanting to be a curator doesn't mean everything has to be perfect. I like the system BugGuide uses much better, and we have virtually no conflicts there.

Publicado por bdagley 3 meses antes

i see this is going nowhere good and i think it's clear to everyone reading this what is going on here so i won't be responding to you again. have a good life!

Publicado por charlie 3 meses antes

It's up to you whether you want to talk, now or in the future. To clarify one thing, me losing curator status, and the bullying, and having to have a petition on my profile, could hurt my chances of getting into a PhD program, on top of prior real life disadvantages for my career (unrelated to the website, and since before I joined in 2020). Compared to, I assume you already have a PhD and a more established science (ecology)-related career. So in your comment, you said why I'd even want to be a curator, as if it's dispensable. To me, my inat volunteer work since 2020 to present would be a major part of what I reference in a PhD application, and this website would be what I'd use as part of my PhD research; I'm also currently working on papers based on inat data. So for me, anything that happens to me on the website can also have a negative effect on my career/life, beyond the website itself. Anyway, that's all for me as well for now. If anyone else wants to comment on our discussion today, they can. Or just leave it. I don't mean to perpetuate any disagreement, and I don't usually talk about the curator status issue anymore, I just was neutrally expressing my view on what's happened. You did suggest that I should've lost curator status, so me responding in my own defense should be understandable.

Also, it's already been over a year, so it's pretty uncertain that they'd restore my curator status, despite that you suggested they might. I do think there's some value in some of my recent comments here anyway, and that the discussion is interesting to some of those present, not merely a "disagreement" between us. Eventually, at least in future days, the thread should ideally return to the original or earlier focu(ses), plus you don't seem to want to continue discussing these things. Overall, I want to emphasize or in part agree with anyone that thinks greater reflection, fairness, and cooperation re: admin/moderation and re: user-user interactions would be ideal. At the same time, it's okay for people to disagree or express disagreements about some things. Especially whether we should've been punished by admin or what happened when we were, or about other website issues seeming to be ignored or dismissed. This is all just an unavoidable or inherent part of any community/society. I also like this thread since it's open ended and less vetted; e.g., we don't have to get someone else's permission to speak. Lastly, re: my recommendation to reduce or avoid flagging users, people should remember that to flag someone is to risk them getting punished, even suspended in principle, so not something that I recommend except maybe in egregious cases. Actually talking to people, including privately, is in many cases more effective and less divisive. Also, no one's perfect, so we all including the admin should be slow to want to flag or punish anyone.

Publicado por bdagley 3 meses antes

Lastly, in part of the body at the top of this entire long thread, joe_fish wrote BTW, if you're wondering why I am writing this as a Journal Post and not posting it to the forums (where it would have more visibility with the community), it's because it would be immediately deleted by a mod. In fact, I'm curious to see if it'll get deleted from my own Journal., bringing us all full circle.

Publicado por bdagley 3 meses antes

Sorry if this is too blunt.
This post is exceedingly long and I don't understand its purpose. Somewhat of a sounding board but going nowhere.

What is necessary is a user group that will:

be an interface between the broad iNaturalist users and the iNaturalist developers
compile and pioritise new functionality to the developers (as a recommendation)
Advise on reported bugs
collect user issues (several listed above) and propose resolution.

Until formally recognised, it will need to operate informally. I still suggest having stated objectives, a charter and monthly meetings/ minutes, etc. It is worth giving it a go rather than venting in this post. The worst that can happen is that the user group is ignored.

Suggest looking at:

An iNaturalist champion is necessary - perhaps a curator with clout recognised by the developer. Who should that be?

As well a secretary is necessary. If no one else is interested, I can act as secretary.

Publicado por fiftygrit 3 meses antes

i think my issues are you still seem to want me to take some sort of accountability for how moderation and curation are done when i quit a long time ago largely for the same concerns you bring up. I mostly agree with you aside from your personal comments about me and am trying to put that aside, but if that isn't an option i just am not going to talk to you. And no i don't have a PhD. But from my last experiences in academia they viewed iNat with illogical contempt and i've never been aware of any PhD program that would care about someone's inat curation. (i suppose a PhD program might reject me for my views on taxonomy if i were to apply to one like that, but that's not gonna happen)

Actually talking to people, including privately, is in many cases more effective and less divisive.
definitely not true in my experience. i think flagging is important, though yes i don't think the flags are always resolved well. It's part of the site functionality and i am likely to use it again because it serves a purpose.

Also: in regards to one bully i mentioned... @bdagley i do have to say it really concerns me how you responded. You basically said 'but he was always nice to me'. Bullies are always nice to people who aren't their targets. Outright abusers often act the same. Many, many abusers get a free pass beacuse their targets aren't believed and people just say 'that person was always nice to me though'. Yes there's subtelty and my point isn't that person is evil or something. And sometimes bullies themselves deflect and accuse others of being bullies so you have to be aware of that. But it's important to pay attention to the words of others and your dismissal doesn't sit well with me. Maybe that person's behavior has changed, that does happen sometimes. But in the past.... yeah pretty bad stuff far far worse than the stuff I did that made you made at me.

I'm gonna try not to get dragged back into a big argument which isn't going to be good for either of us... so i am trying to limit my responses.

Publicado por charlie 3 meses antes

@fiftygrit 1 of 2 Sorry if this is too blunt. This post is exceedingly long and I don't understand its purpose. Somewhat of a sounding board but going nowhere.

The original or main purpose is explained at the top by the journal post author, joe_fish. Although since then in the comments/thread, the discussion has continued and at times broadened. The long length isn't necessarily a problem, since the main purpose (of the author) is explained at the top. People can choose whether or not to read all the comments. For the additional issues, as noted, there are several venues to raise/discuss them, which I'll add to: the inat forum; comments on inat staff journal posts; user journal posts or comments on them (like here); and general comments on obs. (there are also some obs. with massive discussions); and on the inat github.

What is necessary is a user group that will: be an interface between the broad iNaturalist users and the iNaturalist developers, compile and pioritise new functionality to the developers (as a recommendation), Advise on reported bugs, collect user issues (several listed above) and propose resolution

This is what the inat forum was supposed to or claims to be (to ask users for this feedback), and what the inat github is supposed to be (although barely any users post there, and my posts were ignored by admin). But, as I and others noted, the admin often simply don't even reply to certain/much feedback, regardless of the user and whether they phrased it politely, neutrally, and constructively, and certain users get some admin criticism or dislike merely for fairly bringing up certain real issues. And, even if or when admin do reply, the feedback is rarely implemented or takes a long time to be (months, a year, years, or never). So, there's an impasse or gulf, especially on the forum, which is why I've described it (e.g., the feature requests, bug reports, and feedback sections) as claiming to be something it isn't.

Publicado por bdagley 2 meses antes

@fiftygrit 2 of 2


The body text at the top of this post raises a fair issue, and frustration that the staff basically won't even discuss considering alternatives, even in the past and elsewhere. Yet, it (like some of the comments) could be more effective if it removed mentioning the blocking user's name, since we're not "supposed" to talk critically publicly about people. With the exception that, it's fair to at times reference the admin themselves, in contexts where they (mostly in public venues) ignored, dismissed, or unfairly criticized or punished users, some of it in my experience including bullying, used unequal standards (e.g. not punishing user A for doing the same thing they punished user B for), or failed to intervene on others bullying.

Overall, I assume all here are aware that this post and the comment thread cover somewhat heavy issues or is "controversial" in some senses, although the issues themselves are more problematic. Also, some of the info. shared here would be blocked from publishing on the forum. The mods even blocked some of my innocent feature requests from being published, like requesting that guidelines suggest (even if not require) that observers don't put watermarks or logos over the species in their photos.

What is necessary is a user group [...] An iNaturalist champion is necessary [...] As well a secretary [...]

I, and I assume at least some others, think this post and comment thread, despite possible perceived "controversy," is raising some awareness of some things in a helpful way. The staff also must be aware of it. But, I also agree that the more people who raise issues, on any of the venues I listed or in new ones like you suggested, could all help. Generally, I also agree that the most effective way for an issue to (possibly) be considered by staff is to write it neutrally and constructively. E.g., for a new forum feature request or bug report, to not phrase it as a "demand" that "must" be fixed/implemented asap. E.g., when I previously used the forum, I always caveated my requests as that I understood there are constraints/limitations for changing the website (e.g. resources, time, personnel), so I'm merely helpfully documenting things to fix if/when posssible.

But, admin (including some non-staff admin and developers) still mischaracterized my requests, when not ignoring or dismissing them, as if they were demands and I was "demanding" for them to be fixed/implemented asap. Anyway, overall, I agree that it would be helpful for more people to voice issues and to explore additional venues in doing so. Also, while such a user having "clout" (= being a staff/admin-friend, or to lesser extent but only in some cases being a major ID or observation contributor, or donating?) is most influential, it also helps to be a user who's making requests for the first time and had no prior criticisms from or disagreements with the staff.

E.g., they ignore virtually all of my posts, even going as far as to ignore GBIF admin when they tag staff in inat github posts just because I was the one who wrote the post, but they might not ignore your posts. One related issue is that e.g. on the forum, at least some of the mods (most of whom are also curators and staff-friends) have created more feature requests and bug reports than anyone (e.g. more than I once did), and they get far more response and consideration from the staff/related admin, and they (at least seem) not to get vetted. In other words, at least in the past, a mod can simply speak freely on the forum, vs. if a user, or especially a user they dislike, tries to post a feature request, it first goes to a private room where admin often ask for it to be changed or explain that they refuse to publish it at all. Lastly, although we mostly agree on things, and since you are new to this post/thread and haven't read it all, I think you should be a little less critical and not portray it as venting.

Publicado por bdagley 2 meses antes

@ charlie 1 of 2 i think my issues are you still seem to want me to take some sort of accountability for how moderation and curation are done when i quit a long time ago largely for the same concerns you bring up.

Yes and no. I disagreed with your past forum mod conduct, in that you made critical comments on many of my posts and suggested I should donate (which I can't) if I want changes. I also disagree that forum posts should be vetted (and sometimes blocked). I think any possible flagging, hiding, or requests to edit posts or comments should only come after they're freely posted, and only if truly necessary. Of course, the more major thing is I disagree with your interaction/conduct with me re: the events leading up to me losing curator status. I've already told that story (unnecessarily mass-flagging me, etc.).

And just recently, you indicated you think I should've lost curator status, and (indirectly) that you think forum posts should be vetted (and potentially forced to be edited, or outright blocked) before they're posted. You should also see how that would be hard for me to easily "forgive," it's been a year or more since losing curator status alone. I'd consider getting over that more if you were to reverse your opinion that you think I should've lost it, including adding comments to those involved flags that you think I wasn't wrong, shouldn't have been mass-flagged, or at least that it was a misunderstanding, and maybe sign my petition. All of that is mostly only referring to your past interactions with me. I don't think you interacted with most or many other people that way, and am unaware of most of your moderation activity and history, although I did occasionally notice you seem to overly criticize or flag other people as well.

And no i don't have a PhD. But from my last experiences in academia they viewed iNat with illogical contempt and i've never been aware of any PhD program that would care about someone's inat curation.

Well, your bio says you're an established spatial ecologist. Also, many of the other researcher-curators/mods do have PhDs, so it is at least a real factor in the community. Re: PhD admissions caring about iNat, at least in my particular case it is relevant, since I'd reference my iNat volunteer ID, observation, and curation work as essentially part of my CV in my application letter, and I plan for my research (some of which I've started on already) to utilize iNat. So, the admissions people would see my profile, then see from my curator petition that I lost curator status. Furthermore (although possibly less likely), if they somehow read further into some of the inat matters and found that the staff and some related admin dislike and have criticized me, that would also look bad, even if the admin were wrong. Those things wouldn't necessarily mean I can't get accepted, but it could only hurt my chances. I also just want to be a curator because I often add first species IDs to iNat, but now can't even add the species to the website to ID.

Publicado por bdagley 2 meses antes

2 of 2 @ charlie Actually talking to people, including privately, is in many cases more effective and less divisive.
definitely not true in my experience. [...] flagging is important, though yes i don't think the flags are always resolved well. It's part of the site functionality and i am likely to use it again because it serves a purpose.

Flagging in at least some cases risks users getting criticized, punished, or suspended, and worsen/perpetuate unnecessary conflicts. And, staff-friends get to have most all flags made against them resolved as that they were innocent, right or wrong, even for the same things other users get punished for. Some staff-friend admin have also "piled on" in a bullying way, mass-flagging users in concerted efforts, or rushing to resolve flags as that the user was wrong before anyone or the user even have a chance to reply or realize they were flagged. So, flagging (can be) problemic or bullying, yet is also appropriate sometimes. Temporary/permanent suspensions or hiding comments (only where truly warranted) could helpfully (mostly) replace flagging.

Also: in regards to one bully i mentioned...[...] i do have to say it really concerns me how you responded. You basically said 'but he was always nice to me'.

What I actually said is I haven't seen those chats you refer to (or many others by him or you), and don't know how you lost curator or mod status (I thought staff removed at least one or suggested you step down). I'm willing to read your chats with him, although am unlikely to comment much if at all on them on here, it's best to avoid talking about people re: past matters. While he's been controversial at times he never did anything to me or that I did see, but didn't mean that necessarily means nothing ever happened. Note also that I mentioned a curator persistently claimed and flagged me as guessing/copying IDs and not replying to every ID basis demand for years, wanting me to get punished (which was also why tiwane denied my original curator application). Dallon did later correctly fix that issue but neither you nor staff did. I also vaguely noticed that Tony R. had some past disagreement with that curator who accused/flagged me, and that the former lost curator status but the latter didn't. I haven't read those full chats/flags either, although that makes the situation more complicated, since the latter curator's conduct ( at least) at least towards me was truly unacceptable.

When you refer to bullying, I also wondered if you were referring to John (the bee curator) or other colleagues or friends of mine, who you (and others) have seemed to occasionally publicly criticize or flag before (unsure if you flagged them). I noted that I've spent a long time privately advising/helping some people who'd been warned or flagged by admin or users (not Tony R.) about their public communication and avoiding being flagged. I'm suggesting that overall that, at least in many cases, is less divisive than flagging, and can nip user-user issues in the bud (if effective) rather than perpetuate conflicts or grudges. I also, again, am not necessarily fully defending anyone else or comparing them to me. I've had enough that I needed to defend re: myself in the face of admin criticism, bullying, or punishment, and haven't done or said some things some others have.

The actual instance where loarie removed my curator status (his inaccurate portrayal that I insulted a curator-mod in the "don't ID photo 1" matter) was one where an admin staff-friend intentionally bullied me (as in the past), and so loarie and tiwane themselves also did, in overlooking that and blaming and punishing me. Such top-down bullying or unfairness from people in power is worse than ordinary user-user or curator-curator bullying/arguments, even if both are nonideal. Lastly, your claim (about a private matter) that I years ago "sent you pages and pages" of feature requests is misleading. You're referring to the private forum room where mods vet users' feature requests.

My requests weren't that long. You're referring to when mods wanted me to edit or not be able to publish them, my responses in reasoning why I should be able to. Which were also discussions, not just me commenting (except when I was ignored). I prefer BugGuide's forums model where people can simply publish without vetting. I called the inat vetting/blocking "political or censorship" because it's trying to change or silence what people say, and wasn't only referring to you, also to staff-mods. Anyway, you say you've reflected on some things and improved in some ways, although your comments also indicated you still think you weren't wrong to unnecessarily mass-flag me and for me to lose curator status (which involved your flagging, but not only that). Lastly, I've even privately offered solutions/cooperation to some people that tried to discredit my academic reputation as an identifier.

Publicado por bdagley 2 meses antes

I will apologize for saying you should donate. Everyone's financial and other life situations are different and donating is not something everyone can or should do. I don't specifically recall saying it but i often don't have a great memory for past conversations so i believe you that i said it.

Re moderation: i said " I think the curator system is a giant mess but i also feel like there were valid reasons you were removed from curation. Maybe that doesn't mean it needs to be permanent. ". which didn't mean 'bdagley should be permanently banned from curation". I think there should be hand picked moderators who deal with emotional issues, bullying, etc. They need to consistently apply the rules without arguing or getting drawn in, and work really hard to avoid bias. Then there's curators who maintain the taxonomy. I don't think the two should be combined like they are. For me to comment further on the curator thing i'd have to understand better what you think you should be doing. I'm not going to go dig through old flags now especially since i'm not a curator any more either, but i am not advocating for you to be permanently banned from curation which i thought i made clear on the first comment i quoted above, but maybe not.

i guess if you're worried about PhD programs seeing these issues on iNat you could just not link the petition to your profile. I kinda doubt that would be a factor but i'm no expert on PhD admissions. I'm not really a great fit for academia. My career situation is a little atypical but i don't tend to post about it because it could invite harassment. I've mostly absented myself from social media in general, due to real life matters that don't relate to iNat. But i can see why you might think I have a PhD. I'm not an academic.

I don't think the staff consider me a staff-friend. I think there are cases of bias though i don't feel like they center around friendships with the staff nearly as much as they do around people's perceived academic or social importance off of iNat. To be honest when i still was a 'staff-friend' type person i feel like they were harder on me than others if anything. I agree with you there's bias but disagree of the nature of it i guess.

. Note also that I mentioned a curator persistently claimed and flagged me as guessing/copying IDs and not replying to every ID basis demand for years, wanting me to get punisheid (which was also why tiwane denied my original curator application). Dallon did later correctly fix that issue but neither you nor staff did.
I don't recall being involved in this situation at all, though my memory isn't always great for that stuff. My comments about whether you should be a moderator weren't based on that and i don't know the situation. I'm not going to dig into rebelo drama here because i don't want to re awaken it just i don't associate with that person and find concern with anyone who does. Maybe he's changed his behavior and if so that's great, but i am skeptical. Thank you for recognizing that just because you didn't see the bad actions doesn't mean they didn't happen.

There seems to be a double standard on 'public criticism' where i've been ripped into by lots of these people without any efforts to stand up for me most of the time either. For sure it's a toxic environment. I hear you are saying i flagged too much, i'll consider that in the future, but i am still going to flag things if i feel they violate the rules as i understand them. But it will probably be rare as i am a lot less involved here than i used to be. I mostly stopped doing IDs for others except people i know in real life, and most of my forum conversation revolves around my (probably futile) attempt to rein in rampant taxonomic revisionism and species-level splitting. I don't care if you believe me for the circumstances of the moderation/curation or not, but i left of my own will, and of reasons that did not have to do with you, Tony Rebelo, or other people in this thread, but rather a separate issue of a user behaving absolutely heinously and being allowed to remain because of their social status... i am not even bringing it up here further because it makes me too mad. I don't know who John is, undoubtedly i interacted with them but under their user name. There are some people who were acting pretty awful who i argued with, maybe it was one of those cases, or maybe i made a mistake, i dont know.

Publicado por charlie 2 meses antes

Lastly, your claim (about a private matter) that I years ago "sent you pages and pages" of feature requests is misleading. You're referring to the private forum room where mods vet users' feature requests.
Yes that is the instance i am referring to but i don't think it's misleading. nor am i still bothered about it or anything. What made me mad is i felt like i tried to help you and was immediately attacked. But i don't feel like that needs to continue to be hashed over, since i don't think either of us are feeling heard or getting anywhere with that. I actually don't like the top down control of the forum, i've been really frustrated lately with my limited interactions there getting called 'off topic' any time a moderator doesn't like the topic, whereas other very off topic things are allowed. Again, i quit moderating and greatly reduced my use of it so i am not really the one to defend or advocate for it. However, i take just as much issue with bugguide with their 'frassing' and control over what people post, so i will never use bugguide and would probably stop using iNat if it started to be managed like bugguide.

I think maybe neither yourself or i am suited to be a moderator in the sense of dealing with flags and bullying. I get way too riled up and so it's not right for me either. In terms of taxonomy, or your academic credentials or ability to identify things, i was never taking issue with those. I don't have the knowledge base to know if your IDs are good or not, since you don't seem to do plant IDs much and that's my area of focus. In terms of taxonomic curation i think the whole thing is broken and the changes should just be reverted to a few years ago and frozen entirely. Which is a very unpopular opinion here so not ever gonna happen...

Publicado por charlie 2 meses antes

I really feel your discourse is very misplaced here .. sounds like something for PMs

Publicado por ajott 2 meses antes

Agreed, this is tantamount to hijacking someone else's journal post.

Publicado por stefadrian 2 meses antes

ok. i'll stop.

Publicado por charlie 2 meses antes

@bdagley - thank you for your responce
Unless each item in the forum/ github is addressed by admin, it is not an effective interface to users. Why bother?
I will unsubscribe from this post.

Publicado por fiftygrit 2 meses antes

@fiftygrit You could still try with the ideas you had, maybe it will work.

To clarify, some issues are addressed or considered, although not all, and often with long delays, and issues written by certain individuals seem to be ignored or dismissed (although the admin may still privately take them into consideration). So, it may be worthwhile for some people like you to still raise issues, or think of other ways or venues to do so, as you suggested. And, despite that it doesn't always feel like well-spent time, posts like this, and the additional issues people mentioned in it, remain useful as documentation or logs of issues for the community and admin to be aware of, "in principle," regardless of whether they're acted on.

Publicado por bdagley 2 meses antes

Thhough I’m essentially done commenting here unless called on/referred to, I want to bring up one last matter, that though unrelated to the journal post's body text is somewhat related to the recent comment discussions and iNat generally, and may be interesting. This isn't directed at any particular admin/people. Years ago, I mentioned that the pandemic origins, a scientific matter, aren't currently known. That comment wasn't censored or vetted, although a few replies to it seemed to dislike that I'd said it (yet it's also hard to say, for those reasons). For background on me bringing that up, I'm non-partisan, not registered to any political party, and wasn't aware that the matter had been considered "politicized" when I first studied it. I consider it an important scientific question, and one that affects global wildlife and societal safety. I also have some academic background in conservation biology, which is somewhat related to the (ideal) goals of coronavirus research.

The staff also brought up the pandemic several times, since many users joined during it (although not the reason I joined). Many will remember the biggest iNat news article to date, the Sep. '22 NYT piece. I, and at least one other here, were among the people who discussed aspects of iNat with the author prior to it. I also believe, although know no details, the author discussed and received feedback mostly from the staff. In the final piece, I was surprised to find reference to pandemic origins (which I hadn't discussed with the author): "Many users also joined during the early pandemic, when a virus that likely jumped from a bat to other wildlife to humans may have driven home the interconnectedness of species […]." I wonder if the staff had influence on that, although don't know, and am not blaming the author or anyone for writing or believing that sentence. Yet, as a scientific claim, it seems misleading.

That sentence hyperlinked and mostly referenced the article Worobey et al. (2022) (also see Worobey comments here). The title and multiple sentences and interview comments by Worobey state with certainty that "The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan was the early epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic." To this day, Worobey et al. is often cited as a very convincing indication or proof that the pandemic had a natural zoonotic origin. Yet, as the very relevant coronavirologist Ralph Baric recently pointed out (as additional authors have) here: "Worobey’s geospatial study has a “major problem” with its timeline. [...] The only thing we have really solid data [for] is that the market was the site of amplification in late December, January. That’s still two months from the origin date, based on a molecular clock, which means it was circulating somewhere before it got there. And the question is, where was it? [...] Clearly, the market was a conduit for expansion. Is that where it started? I don’t think so." Baric also noted the prior coronavirus research was known to be reckless, so shouldn't have been conducted, regardless of how the pandemic originated or if we'll ever learn the true origins.

Worobey also inaccurately said Baric “possesses essentially no expertise in the subjects of the papers he is commenting on…. It is irresponsible for him to share these views with anyone without also making it clear that he is in no better position than the average educated person to judge this work.” To me, Worobey overstates his claimed evidence and tries to dismiss other even highly-qualitied scientists from pointing out basic flaws in it. I actually have also long planned to publish an academic or magazine pandemic origins piece (which maybe Worobey et al. will try to dismiss or criticize), although writing and editing takes me a long time, especially for a such a complex matter. Anyway, I thought this may be interesting, topical, and iNat- and biodiversity-related. Feel free to discuss before returning to the main journal topic or recent comment topics, or to just return to them now.

Publicado por bdagley 2 meses antes

I fail to see how bringing up a Corona discussion here is topical..🤷

Publicado por ajott 2 meses antes

I noted and qualitifed that my comment, "though unrelated to the journal post's body text is somewhat related to the recent comment discussions and iNat generally, and may be interesting." To further clarify, charlie and I just discussed forum moderation on here, and I just mentioned that my years-earlier similar pandemic forum comments got some pushback when I first posted them c. 2 years ago. I also noted that I and another person here, and the staff separately, privately had discussions with the NYT iNat article author, and that we were surprised to see the mention of the "likely origins" of corona in the final NYT version. I speculated that that may have been due either to staff input and/or just to the author and/or NYT's belief leanings (see: other NYT articles by other authors around that time period). Almost certainly, the NYT article draft received input from, and final review prior to publishing, the staff, who seem to lean toward natural pandemic origins theories (again, note the past seeming admin pushback, although not censorship, to my earlier forum comments).

Basically, the NYT iNat article (the biggest press iNat's ever gotten)'s mention of the "likely" origins seemed somewhat "off topic," although is also a scientific matter so is fair to mention. Also, the pandemic (and it's origins) has occasionally, but repeatedly, come up in iNat discussions, including by the staff, since many users joined during the pandemic. What I just said explains the (at least tangential) connection of my above comment with this journal post and (more so) with the discussion comments. I finally added just a general scientific note that the actual evidence doesn't suggest that a natural origin of the pandemic was most likely, it at most indicates that we don't know the origin, but that the market (natural origin) was certainly never proven.

Actually, there were additional (partly public, partly private) past forum disagreements re: pandemic matters. E.g., discussions of whether it's safe to handle bats with bare hands in viral spillover zones, which science says No, but is unfortunately common practice in bat research and on iNat. Aguilar-Setién et al. (2022) even directly mentioned iNat in noting this problem, which is ironic given it may be one of the only papers about both bats and iNat (I agree with staff that this isn't iNat's jurisdiction, but also agree with Aguilar-Setién et al.). I recall that charlie (etc.) once seemed to dislike my similar past mention about observers handling bats in viral spillover zones on the forum, although that's a complicated matter, and nothing to really debate now. So basically, the fact that this thread (including Joe's body text) references the forum and mod unfairness, and that this again came up in me and charlie's discussion, reminded me of these things. I was also just sharing an interesting biodiversity (and partly iNat-related) matter here, since I don't have a forum account, and my forum posts were often censored or blocked anyway.

Finally, I ended my comment again indicating it was somewhat tangential, and recommended returning the discussion to the original focus soon or now. I'd also note that "detours" in this thread, like the recent discussion between charlie and I, and many previous comments by various people, are partly related to the original thread focus (which noted admin unfairness, dismissal or ignoring of user views, censorship, etc.) but also valuable or interesting. One reason I dislike the forum is certain mods claimed many users' comments were too "off topic," and moved them to different parts of the forum, and censored many posts (which no one else ever saw, so were unaware occurred). Re: "off topic" mod claims, my much earlier comments in this very same thread provide links proving mods bullied users like Stephen T. with false "off topic claims" of actually on-topic comments. If you scour the forum, e.g. Feedback section, you'll find many users expressed disagreement with mods at times censoring and bullying conduct, including the at times dishonest "off topic" policing.

That's why I thought it was okay to write one comment (that was actually partly related) here. I also said it didn't necessarily need to be discussed further, so am disappointed that your comment minimizes it, as if it should be ignored or was meaningless to say. That said, you've always been kind and reasonable, so I don't want any disagreement. I'm also not interested in "debating" charlie (we seem to agree on some things now, maybe including some past mod conduct, despite his involvement in me losing curator status), unless he were to indicate wanting to discuss/debate things (I'm open to discussing issues with anyone, neutrally). Lastly, I actually strive for shorter comments, but as Kueda once said, some matters just can't be explained in less words. Good day, all.

Publicado por bdagley 2 meses antes

1/2 I want to give a summary of the iNat. admin. moderation problems. Charlie’s recent discussion here, including his partial admissions (not only about himself but also conduct of staff and non-staff admin) and partial apology, further suggest that the time is now well past due for Tony Iwane and Scott Loarie to be honest, fair, respectful, and to correct past wrongs, with regard to multiple community members. In my months up to a year or so-earlier comments here, and on additional public iNat and forum pages I linked to from them, I (and others) provided demonstrable, independent-of-myself proof of certain curators, moderators, and staff members unfairly treating or punishing, or making demonstrably false statements about, or even bullying, multiple users (I also have a folder of corresponding screenshots).

The particular case and claimed justification for the staff removing my curator status was particularly egregious. Leaving out for the moment Charlie’s comments and flags toward me prior to that punishment, the other two curators whose interaction with and flags toward me occurred after, most immediately before that action (re: the claimed but nonexistent “don’t ID photo 1” Guidelines requirement), were actually “demonstrably spiteful,” as other commenters noted. Those curators, one of whom is also a mod who’d demonstrably bullied me on the forum and iNat even prior to that event, and the other who’d made accusations and flags of me over years that I was guessing, copying, or not providing sufficient basis for my IDs (which Tony himself disproved, but wouldn’t stop), self-evidently and demonstrably repeat-flagged me in a concerted effort to get me punished on false claims.

Contrary to Scott’s claim that it was I who was “escalating” there, their concerted efforts of repeat-flagging (when I wasn’t flagging them) to try to get me punished on false grounds was itself a form of bullying misconduct. And Scott’s “escalating” allegation was unreasonably directed at the fact that I merely defended myself, using neutral reasoning, in comments on flags (accusations) made against me. Finally, Scott, as part of his claimed reason for removing my curator status, was demonstrably inaccurate in stating I’d insulted the curator-mod. In actuality, I’d only asked another identifier who’d made the same ID as mine but wasn’t flagged if the curator had “got him too.” That isn’t an insult, and I was the one who was being insulted and bullied by that user.

This lack of admin truthfulness and fairness is of course all very disappointing. What also occurs to me is, beyond it being wrong, and damaging to my social and public reputation or career, it must also represent a legal form of defamation/libel, which I could in principle make a legal matter (but haven’t). Although not in a comment referencing me, Tony’s even publicly said “pettiness [in punishing users] is reserved for the staff.”

Contrary to Scott’s claim that it was I who was “escalating” there, their concerted efforts of repeat-flagging (when I wasn’t flagging them) to try to get me punished on false grounds was itself a form of bullying misconduct. And Scott’s “escalating” allegation was unreasonably directed at the fact that I merely defended myself, using neutral reasoning, in comments on flags (accusations) made against me. Finally, Scott, as part of his claimed reason for removing my curator status, was demonstrably inaccurate in stating I’d insulted the curator-mod. In actuality, I’d only asked another identifier who’d made the same ID as mine but wasn’t flagged if the curator had “got him too.” That isn’t an insult, and I was the one who was being insulted and bullied by that user.

This lack of admin truthfulness and fairness is of course all very disappointing. What also occurs to me is, beyond it being wrong, and damaging to my social and public reputation or career, it must also represent a legal form of defamation/libel, which I could in principle make a legal matter (but haven’t). Although not in a comment referencing me, Tony’s even publicly said “pettiness [in punishing users] is reserved for the staff.”

Publicado por bdagley 2 meses antes

2/2 Despite my proven mistreatment/defamation, I’ve made offers to cleanly resolve it. E.g., to speak with staff and admin by video/audio call. My curator reinstatement petition also indicates I’d be willing to have all the associated flags and Moderation History notes by admin against me erased, meaning evidence/indication of their misconduct would be erased. I have in actuality never violated any guidelines (and certainly not by comparison to certain other admin who staff never flagged of faulted but actually made multiple violations), and have always been truthful, in all my comments from joining to the present.

I don’t know what lesson to draw from this, aside from that it’s wrong for people, especially in power, to mistreat and make false statements about people who did virtually or literally nothing wrong. Another lesson is that the old concept that “might is right” is of course incorrect. It’s unreasonable that there’s no H.R.-like third party or even Community vote for disputed moderation actions (instead, your only option is to consider legal action, which no one wants). Finally, I guess people should remember that if something like this ever were to happen to them, it in some cases may actually constitute defamation, and that they’d be justified and may succeed if they made it legal matter. Unfortunately, since as you see I haven’t taken legal action (although did previously contact their prior employer, but who also made untrue statements and gave silent treatment), “might is right” seemingly wins for now.

But, these admin problems go far beyond my case. There’s public, demonstrable proof (that I linked to in earlier comments) that certain mods, curators, and staff mistreated certain iNat forum members (for example) in years since before I even joined. So, it doesn’t even require you to trust, like, talk to, or support me to know that there’s at times been misconduct among admin toward multiple people on multiple separate occasions, and that that’s wrong. Furthermore, the broader discussion that Joe’s journal post has led to has included many members raising many related issues with admin moderation or website policies. Of course, the rightful action (even if no legal action is taken) would be for staff to refrain from treating any users unfairly or making false statements, set up an H.R.-like third party and Community vote for moderation disputes, and to apologize or at least fix all past instances where they or other admin did wrong (it would also be ideal if they more seriously and respectfully considered the multiple additional community concerns here, vs. just giving silent treatment).

In the event that they ever were to truly fix things re: my case (including, retracting, correcting, or erasing false statements made against and about me), which Charlie for example has at least taken a step in the right direction toward, I’d (surprisingly, and not that I’d need to) actually forgive all of them, just to set a good example and help the community cooperate better. And that’s where I’ll leave it, for now.

Publicado por bdagley 2 meses antes

As people are aware of, the staff recently changed the website font. Overall, many people seem to agree that it's harder to read and doesn't fit as well as the older font, which I'd recommend switching back to.

Publicado por bdagley cerca de 1 mês antes

I like it - and they will sort out the Bolding.

Publicado por dianastuder cerca de 1 mês antes

I guess the preference is somewhat subjective. Although a few people on the forum post about it essentially pointed out the same thing, that the italic words looks more curved like cursive writing. That seems to objectively make the words slightly harder to read. The cursive-like appearance is also more reminiscent of something other than scientific names/taxonomy, like poetry or restaurant menus. The justification the staff gave for changing the font was to align with their philosophy or goals of using open source software and resources. But the thing is, a reason can always be found or stated for making any change, but changes like this actually involve multiple considerations, so shouldn't be based only on one factor.

Lastly, this is yet another instance where a change is simply made without discussing it with the volunteer community/contributors. And, extensive identifiers are the ones who're probably reading the scientific names the most on the website. That's why I've always said it would best for contributors to be treated more like stakeholders in website changes, at least to some extent. Not that the contributors will dictate the website policy, but that there could be more of a discussion or vote involving them, and recognizing that they make up most of the website community. For example, the staff could hold a community vote over what font to use.

Overall, the font isn't the biggest of issues though, I guess.

Publicado por bdagley cerca de 1 mês antes

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