Thoughts on attracting and retaining "power users"?

iNaturalist is growing in leaps and bounds, which is really exciting! The summer of bioblitzes (largely thanks to @carrieseltzer ), the xKCD mention ( http://xkcd.com/1692 ) , #pokeblitz, and then NPR article have all brought us more new users. For those who have been here for a while, it's both exciting and disconcerting.. though mostly the former at least to me.

The iNat admins have done a wonderful job adding features and updating the look of the site. It's come so far since I started using it in 2011 and even more so, i'm sure, since it started. While most of the changes are positive, there is also the hope that iNat remains anchored by our "power users': research ecologists like @polemoniaceae and @erwin_pteridophilos , field-naturalists and land managers such as @cathybell and @ctracey and @botanygirl and @cullen as well as dedicated "pro-amateurs" (people like @erikamitchell and @finatic and @silversea_starsong who aren't trained in or working in the science field but who contribute hugely to our community) and last but not least our very active and wonderful site admins such as @loarie and @kueda who are vital parts of the community not just in the admin work they do but in their observations and IDs as well. (apologies if i mixed up anyone's training or experience above, the point is to illustrate the many different places people start from).

The sense of wonder and diverse views brought by the true amateurs are a crucial part of this community but we can't forget the backbone of the community - those who are adding countless IDs, sharing data from field days and research projects, participating in Google groups, creating species lists, and curating projects. As we grow, in my opinion we need to make specific efforts to attract 'power users' as well as the general public.

I wanted to share some ideas about this, but I'd found that my feedback and participation mostly came in the form of reactionary dislike of change and sometimes poorly thought out and frustrated comments. So I want to start a more meaningful and positive conversation full of ideas. I will share some of my ideas in the comments so my thoughts are not prioritized above other people who wish to post here. If you have thoughts please do share, and also feel free to tag some of the many users I am forgetting.

Thanks for any thoughts!

Publicado por charlie charlie, 11 de agosto de 2016

Comentarios

For me, contributing both observations and IDs is its own reward, and will likely remain very satisfying for a long time, because I always learn new things in the process. Of course, receiving the occasional thanks, either from power users like yourself or from other observers whom I have helped with IDs, goes a long way too.

Are you concerned about attrition of power users, or just feeling the need to find more power users to help deal with the growing backlog of observations needing ID?

Publicado por tsn hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

Here are some features I think will help attract power users. I realize most of these are right off my own 'wish list' s if others think they are not a priority, do feel free to pipe in!

the app: overall the focus has been on making the app easy to use. Right now it's the most easy easy to use and least buggy it has ever been. However I think the app could use some additional features to make it even more powerful.

-Plots functionality - the ability to set up a plot or transect or something similar and mark all the species within. the way i imagine it is you press a button to 'start plot' and then add all the species you see and press 'end plot' and the site would keep track of each different plot.

-More fields/tags capability in the app - this is very limited and mostly only applicable to projects right now. It would be great if there were more functionality for tags, maybe in association with plot functionality. For scientists and land managers it would be neat to be able to mark things such as percent cover, number, tree canopy height, etc right in the app.

-Deal with auto upload. I know i already complain about this too much.. but i've talked to a couple of people who thought it could not be turned off, or even thought the app could not b used without cell service. I'd prefer a prompt on download to ask if you want auto upload (like android - but iphone doesn't have this). Auto upload also gets confused when you add several observations in a short amount of time. And... the bandwidth use is not surprisingly very large. In one day of a bioblitz i went through almost a gig of data. In short i ca't see auto upload as usable at all for moderate to high volume users and i think it should be more clear that it is optional and can be turned off. Even better would be just to delete it... but i doubt that will happen.

-On a related note... an old version of the app allowed you to see not-yet-uploaded observations on the map (for those who were not using auto upload). I found this to be incredibly helpful and would love to see it again... but maybe that's just my wish list.

Website:
The obscuring/private feature works well now but it could be improved. At the moment it is easy to infer possible locations from other observations on the same day. It would be a big help if the time stamp for both observed time and upload time were themselves obscured to month or something similar. I understand that iNaturalist isn't really built to be 'secret' but i see this as a really easy change that would make a huge difference and have little or no downside. Why not? I'd contribute more observations if this were i effect and i don't think it would hurt anyone. Those obs wouldn't be on the calendar but it seems a small price to pay.

private places - it would be really nice to be able to make our own private places. That sounds weird... but what i am saying is this: I want to be able to add my property or someone else's property to iNat so I can create easy species lists, but I don't want a public map to our property sitting on iNat. Why not allow people to make their own places for internal use?

Those are a few to start... but i will think of more later. Good ideas? bad?

Publicado por charlie hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

@tsn the latter... i want to make sure the community gains power users as fast as or faster than it gains other users, or else the other users will get lessened value out of the site as well.

and btw thanks! your IDs have been super useful!

Publicado por charlie hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

I have a few ideas that I've posted on the Google group.

The Social Side of iNaturalist
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!msg/inaturalist/QhpzDxtocr0/04FiP37KAwAJ;context-place=forum/inaturalist
I would like a central place where people can go to get regional information and join up with other iNat users. For those of us who tend to be a bit on the social side this might help keep people using the site. For those that want to stay on their own they can still do that. @silversea_starsong put something together but I would prefer to see it reside inside the iNat site so that a user would have to be logged into iNat to use the message board.

This would also be of great value in getting the word out about bioblitzes.

I really like data, and charts from that data. On two occasions there has been a chart put out showing the number of observations in each US county. Link below for the first of these times.
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!searchin/inaturalist/bouteloua/inaturalist/CeFQAumJAm4/owd4gWiDlxkJ
I would love to see this be kept posted on the site with as close to real-time data as possible. For people like me, I'll search out counties with little to no coverage in observations and when I'm traveling I'll try to hit one of those counties. This is my most desired enhancement.

Game-ifying iNat
This doesn't do anything for me, but it might keep some people interested in the site. A simple way to do it might be something along the lines of what Yahoo does for those doing fantasy sports. A link from the profile page will go to a "badges: or "awards" page. These can be made up of anything you like; 10 observations in a day, observation of the day, observation favorited, 10 identifications in a day, 25 observations in a day, badge for each bioblitz attended with observations, etc.
This might work for those inclined along the Pokemon spectrum.

Publicado por finatic hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

I'm not speaking for anyone here but in my eyes I feel /many/ "power users" are self-motivated, and were very enthusiastic about recording and documenting well before finding iNaturalist. This makes it difficult to encourage power users to join -- if they are going to join, they are most likely to value an easy observation upload experience, which iNaturalist has already accomplished.

That makes it a waiting game...eventually future power users will join. I don't think any changes to the site will really help. What would help though is spreading the word of iNaturalist, especially to people you think can contribute to the site a great deal.

Publicado por silversea_starsong hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

oh great ideas. @finatic you are right that most of us are data nerds, i love the idea of more graphs and charts and stats and (in my case) especially maps! But i have a special map affinity. One thing I'd like is more map symbology, perhaps ways to filter out or display observations with low certainty in location, no location certainty added, or app vs camera. Also speaking of which, @bouteloua is another really high value inat user and one i haven't seen online much lately (maybe i've just been out of it)
Also, i agree some sort of forum if well done would be awesome. Though they can also be awful if not done well. Someone could start a sub-reddit, speaking of places that are often awful. (reddit can be good or bad, depending).
For gamification, i think it's less important to power users if anything, and i think it could be done well or badly, but one thing I think would be neat would be an 'impact score' for observations that takes into account things like number of other observations of same species, proximity to other observations of said species, firsts in state/county, high priority species to monitor, etc. For instance me taking the time to key out an unusual carex and document the characteristics on inat probably adds a bit more to the site than another highway photo of a white pine :)
@silversea_starsong those are great thoughts too... perhaps changes are not needed as things are going well overall... i am always trying to recruit new people but i do find many of the best scientists, etc are reluctant... often as you imply it's just a huge amount of data they already have and it's a chore to move it all over.

Another related wish: more integration with natureserve and other data/conservation organizations. I know it's been discussed and is probably moving forward.. that's a good thing.

Publicado por charlie hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

Certainly I'd love to see a move to try and integrate with other sites with the same interest. Project Noah is such a site, as is iSpot.

Publicado por silversea_starsong hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

yeah it would be nice to link somehow. There is some of that through gbif, but project noah for some reason doesn't participate. and it's annoying because you can't click on the gbif points to get to the source and apparently that is a gbif issue not an inat one.

Publicado por charlie hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

The phenomenon of "power users" is not unique to iNaturalist. There is a common trend in online communities called the 90-9-1 rule (aka the 1% rule). Basically, 90% of users will contribute very little, 9% will contribute somewhat, but the majority will be contributed by 1% of users. It is shocking how pertinent this "rule" is across many different domains and iNaturalist is no exception, and I'm not sure any additional features will change that ratio. I think the real goal should not to lure "power users", but to make this a vibrant community for all users.

And whatever enhancements that are made to the site should be targeted toward whatever audience we want this community to be comprised of. Make it about "games" and you'll get people who want to "play" (maybe what we want, maybe not). Make it more citizen-science focused (as I and others would desire) and that is the community you'll attract, power users included.

As to what attributes make a successful citizen science project, there has been some research on this. I haven't delved into the literature in a few years, but as I can recall, it includes things like (1) making participation easy; (2) requiring an appropriate skill level for the desired users; (3) providing the necessary training to properly collect data; (4) Providing a way for users to ask questions and receive feedback; (5) Making the data users collect accessible to them, as well as any results/consequences of that data collection. I will provide a reference for these attributes, which provides more detail, when I manage to track it down.

Part of why I, and other users have landed on iNaturalist given the many options out there is that it is simply the best I am aware of at meeting the above characteristics. Keep up the good work, folks!

Larry

p.s. No huge surprise that there is a wikipedia article on the "1% rule": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1%25_rule_(Internet_culture)

Publicado por larry522 hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

@charlie (or anyone) out of curiosity, how do you define power user?

Publicado por muir hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

I have so many thoughts on this! First let me also credit the NPS data rangers @forester93, @kellycoy, @geobudde, @biogeek5, @alliepetersen for making the BioBlitz happen in a much bigger way by going through the governmental hoops to officially use iNaturalist for data collection (and everything else they did for the NPS BioBlitzes, which haven't finished yet).

I think the improvements made this year to upload and identification tools will go a long way towards empowering and enabling super users. For someone to really get engrossed in the site, something has to resonate with them, and it's not going to be the same thing for every person. Maybe iNaturalist solves a problem for them (e.g. how do I keep an all-taxa life list?), connects them to interesting people (e.g. all the amazing Texas projects, e.g. @cullen, @sambiology), makes them feel useful (people appreciate their deep knowledge of particular taxa or places), or they're getting help with IDs. I think there's a certain percentage of users (~1%) that are going to become super users as long as the platform doesn't totally suck (e.g. in my casual perusal of other similar kinds of sites, almost every site has someone who leads the pack as a contributor—i.e. everyone has a @finatic ;-). Then there's another group that has high potential if they see that iNaturalist can be really interesting/useful to them.

This awesome space is powered by people and enabled by the technology. I think that people who create projects on iNaturalist are especially well positioned to become and to cultivate other super users. It would be great to devote some resources and staff time to supporting and convening those people in particular so they can learn from each other. I know that I learned a lot about how iNaturalist worked while I was managing the Great Nature Project and I've informally helped steer a few fledgling project leaders in more productive directions. People like @cullen, @jakob, and @sambiology have done a great job recruiting new users and supporting them. I think specifically bringing active and interested project managers together (even just virtually, but even better physically) would foster greater exchange of ideas. The same could be done specifically for BioBlitzes, and that's something that we might do at National Geographic to continue our involvement in BioBlitzes (no decisions made yet though!). Similar to supporting project managers, I agree with @finatic that it would be nice to crack the nut of how best to encourage more in-person meet ups of iNaturalist users. Showing someone in person what you can do with iNaturalist seems to be much more effective than just telling them, and enthusiasm is contagious.

I suspect even more projects would want to use iNaturalist if it had a fully developed sampling functionality to infer absence (like eBird) instead of just presence. This would be incredibly useful, but it's a significant undertaking to do well (I know @loarie, @kueda, and @pleary have thought about this way more). It really needs something like a big NSF grant to support its development.

Holy moly, have you looked at users on the stats page?! The NPR bump is HUGE. It's bigger than the BioBlitz bump (scroll back to May to see it in comparison), and that was record-setting at the time. WOW. @kueda can we get a way to filter by users with fewer than 10 observations? I want to welcome these new people! I'd better stop rambling here and start trying to find them.

Publicado por carrieseltzer hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

Thanks for this great conversation, all. This has been on my mind a lot, especially recently. I've been working out a journal post of my own on "why I believe in iNaturalist." Recently I've been getting a bit of criticism from my academic friends, which is kinda a bummer, but overall, the growth of iNaturalist from the bioblitz to the Pokemon effect is a good thing. I want to elaborate a lot more, and I probably will sometime, but lately I've been fortunate enough to see how important "public opinion" is. The engagement of the mass audience is more of a positive thing than a negative thing (again, I've heard otherwise by some of my friend in academia).

I do think that the 90–9–1 principle is totally valid one. One of the ways to grow the 1% is also by growing the 90% and 9% as well. I'm someone that sure as heck started out as a 90 then 9%'er, but it wasn't until later on that I wanted to devote more and more time to generating data/observations.

Anyways -- enjoying the conversation -- thanks for the tag to bring it to my attention!

Publicado por sambiology hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

Speaking from the 90% perspective, I second to sambiolgy's note and side with the old forgotten dialectical materialism in which quantity ultimately transforms into quality (and vice versa).

My question goes a bit wider: has any effort been made to reach out to potential cell phone armed naturalists outside of the urban US, English speaking world, and global eco-tourism attractions? I don't know how one goes about it in what is basically a crowd sourcing app, probably it would come down to personal initiative.

I recently went on a business trip to Serbia, and despite wanting to reach out to one single contributor who is covering what would be the whole country, didn't have time to make it happen. Alas, the only observation I made myself from that part of the world was an invasive species.

In other words, how do we help map biodiversity in places around the globe where there are no iNaturalust users whatsoever; where the possible users might not speak English at all?

How do we grow iNat into a bioolympics of sorts? Should we (or whoever in charge) try to do it?

Or should I just sit in my back yard and snap photos of butterflies?

Publicado por echosmama hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

Interesting discussion here, and thanks for tagging me in, @carrieseltzer. A few thoughts:

The steadily growing number (and increasing rate) of submissions is wonderful to see. I'm mostly screening those submitted from Europe and Africa. My main concern at the moment is a potentially growing disparity between submitted observations and how they are taken care of by specialists in terms of IDs. I'd be curious to hear whether there's any detectable trend that the number of research grade observations is proportionally decreasing. I know of a bunch of specialists being probably in that 1% bin of power users in terms of observations shared with iNat while rarely contributing IDs to other observations. Sometimes I reach out and try motivating them to contribute more IDs,, including a link to the new identification interface set to their taxonomic group and/or region. I see it a bit like academic peer review: if you publish a lot, you should be also prepared and willing to handle a lot of manuscript reviews. Of course this should be driven by the fun of it and not seen as a burden on iNat. Overall I wonder how we could encourage more active participation by specialists - motivating those already signed up with iNat as well as others who might be unaware of iNat.

Another point concerns fostering newbies when they start submitting their first observations. Obviously, many struggle here and there, and usually appreciate active support during that initial phase. Probably many newbies go unnoticed, and might drop out because they get frustrated in the beginning, so it might be nice to have an automatically generated 'newbie badge' to encourage the initiated to give such support.

Last but not least, and despite the amazing progress achieved by the development team, I'm getting really frustrated that a simple 'language switch' is still missing. This has been suggested multiple times and over several years now, and relates to @echosmama comment above. If iNat strives to be a truly global platform, it should be made as easy and obvious as possible how to change between available languages. And frankly I don't understand why this seems to be of such a low priority...

My 2 and a half cents!

Publicado por jakob hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

As a power-identifier of mollusks, I agree with @silversea_starsong that most power users tend to recruit themselves, and perhaps the most constructive thing we can do is to spread the word about iNaturalist.

Most biology professionals are so busy that they cannot spare the time on a regular basis to put a lot of effort into something that does not get them more "publications", which they need to move their career forward.

I am not convinced that adding a lot of new features to the site will help attract new power users. I think making the basic functions of the site very fast, very smooth, and perhaps most important very easy to understand, should always be the primary concerns.

I do think that a bit more documentation for beginners would be good., especially for older new users. Retired people have a lot of spare time, and if they have a solid interest in natural history, iNaturalist would be perfect for them.

I have noticed one odd thing: if you look on the People page, you will see that by far the majority of curators on here don't actually curate, and I wonder if that is at least partly to do with their finding it unclear how to do various complicated curating tasks using the forms provided? Even though I have been doing it for a while, I still something can't work out how best to jigger the taxonomy.

It seems to me that many curators are potentially power users, so if we make things easier for them perhaps that would have a multiplying effect.

Publicado por susanhewitt hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

I second the comments of @larry522 that the emphasis should be on citizen science, not so much on gaming. The more we can all see maps, stats, reports, scientific publications, etc., that make good use of our collective efforts, the more exciting and gratifying it will be for everyone. I have seen citizen science organizations work best when the professional community fully embraces and supports the effort, realizing that it would be impossible for the professionals themselves to gather the data that they need (in quantity, quality and geographic extent) to do their research. The best example of which I am aware is the AAVSO (American Association of Variable Star Observers), which brings together a global group of passionate amateur astronomers who monitor the brightness of variable stars every clear night from their backyards, and professional astronomers who use the collected citizen data (after appropriate verification for quality) to write scientific papers.

I also second the comments of @finatic and @carrieseltzer that it would be nice to facilitate a way for users to get together for social connection and learning from each other.

How about organizing a conference that would both bring observers together to meet each other in person and also engage selected professional biologists in conversation about how to make our citizen data optimally useful for scientific purposes...??

Publicado por tsn hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

Great discussion! I’m an iNaturalist newbie (my serious participation started 6/24/16), but I’ll plunge in anyway. At age 67, I am semi-retired. I earned my degree in geology in 1970. We used stereo-nets to analyze structural geology features. Computers? Ha! No such thing – at least, no such thing for an undergrad to use (and I think not for the profs either). But now, here we are only 46 years later with platforms such as iNaturalist. It leaves me in awe.

Now to some of Charlie’s questions. For starters, I third @tsn 's "second" of "the comments of @larry522 that the emphasis should be on citizen science." I was a member of the ninety percent for a year and have progressed to the nine percent. It was a circuitous route through Facebook, the last step’s being my posting a photo of an unknown flower to the “Native Plants of New England” group (and you, Charlie, responding to put it into iNaturalist) that first brought me here.

It still took me a year to engage and move beyond the ninety percent, but I did because of the Vermont Atlas of Life PROJECT and the fact that I realized there were iNaturalists I’ve met in person, liked, and admired who are serious participants. This suggests to me that PROJECTS do play a key role in increasing participation. (I'm thinking of starting a project but want to know my way around iNaturalist better before I do.) As well, one or more mechanisms providing the opportunity to meet other iNaturalists in person (both of these ideas have already been suggested by earlier commenters) would seem important, too.

Moving on - since June 24, I'm at 189 observations with 180 of them Research Grade. This is thanks to folks like @tsn and @susanelliott who have been generous with their time in reviewing my identifications (I agree with @carrieseltzer about the importance of mentors for newbies). My research-grade numbers are also thanks to folks in far-flung parts of the country. Truly wonderful! At this rate, however, I’m not sure I’ll ever become a power user, but I'll proceed with my line of thought anyway because I AM committed to providing high quality data to iNaturalist. This means submitting completely recognizable photos and/or sound recordings that someone else can look at/listen to and say, “Yup, this organism is such-and-such a species [or class or order or family or genus or even sub-species, etc.].”

This leads to the issue of having ENOUGH identifiers, a topic about which @carrieseltzer has already written extremely well. I have started to ID species I know and am at 285 IDs. Last night, I came across a Kalmia procumbens record that had been hanging out there for two years! Gorgeous photo of a gorgeous plant in bloom! Completely recognizable in its correct location. Why was it unreviewed for two years? I’m not sure that the lack of review deterred this particular participant, but I would still venture to suggest that increasing numbers of power users means ensuring enough power IDers, too. And certainly having enough identifiers to foster the newbies is crucial to loyal participation and to value of the data.

Lastly for now, here's something on the tech side that would greatly help (me, at least). I love the auto-generated list of taxa choices as you start to type in a taxon. Could the same feature be added to the “Associated species” field? I.e., after you click on “Associated species” and then you start typing, the same kind of list of choices would drop down? Now that would be truly awesome!!!

Hey Charlie, thanks for posing the question, and thanks to all who have responded!

Cheers!
Charlotte

Publicado por cgbb2004 hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

PS - I corrected my embarrassing ninety percent/one percent reversal in previous post (if any of you had noticed it!) it reads right now!!!
:)

Publicado por cgbb2004 hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

Attracting more 'power users' would be awesome. I think it's tough, though, because people are attracted to iNat and other citizen science projects for many reasons (willingness to share one's expertise, ability to increase one's knowledge of the natural world, innate curiosity, fascination with technology, obsessive-compulsiveness, whatever). I suspect many of the power users also participate in multiple projects outside of iNat that are in their areas of interest.

In my opinion, the feedback is probably the number one driver for return iNaturalists especially when the identifiers include information on why a particular species is a particular species when the observer either doesn't know or has made an error. Recognition for 'photo of the month,' the highest number of submissions in a particular time period, etc. would be helpful. Maybe feedback from the various project managers on how the project is being used or what it is revealing might be encouraging.

I think, too, we need to encourage newer users from entering broad categories (Unknown, Life, Insect, Bird) to making an educated guess as to ID. Having identifiers provide resources in their identifications might help (links to BugGuide, Moth Photographers Group, Cornell Lab's All About Birds, Odonata Central, GoBotany, etc.). Maybe a list of vetted resources either at iNat itself or attached to the various projects within iNat would be useful.

P.S. Thank you, @cgbb2004 !

Publicado por susanelliott hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

To elaborate on what motivates people to get involved and stay involved in citizen science, I just read some nice thoughts on the topic from the leader for Australia's iNat-like Bower Bird site. Scroll to about midway through the very long pdf to find his musings on motivation. When we announced the close of the Great Nature Project, we also asked people to fill out a short survey and one question was "would any of these make you more likely to participate (if the Great Nature Project wasn't ending)?" Among the several options, by far the most popular (60/71 people) was "seeing how my observations are used for science and conservation." When observations get shared with GBIF and then downloaded and used from there, it can be HARD to follow the dots and track it back to specific iNaturalist observations (I've spent a lot of time trying with limited success!). This is a role that project managers could do much more effectively in most circumstances, but sometimes they struggle for a long time to get a critical mass of observations to be useful. Even just showing people more examples of the kinds of discoveries that come from inaturalist (even if they aren' theirs personally) can be motivating. iNaturalist could create more flags for "firsts" like first on iNat, first of that species in the country, state, county, park, whatever. I'm always excited when I get an iNat first, and although it's not sophisticated science or cutting edge modeling, those records are the foundation of plenty of more complex science. I try to walk a fine line of not overselling the scientific contributions from BioBlitzes while still reminding people that it's not just an outreach event just because we didn't use plots or transects.

All really great comments. To respond to a couple specifically:
@jakob, the stats page shows the growth of overall and RG observations. It doesn't look like the proportions have changed much, but I haven't looked closely. I also agree that the language switch option on the home page should be a higher priority.
@invertzoo, I too have noticed that it looks like many curators aren't curating. However, those numbers only show a subset of what you can do with curator status. For example, I don't do much with taxonomy unless I find something really obvious, but I do things like edit places, contribute to the help pages (I'd do more if I didn't have to navigate the html), and unflag users, none of which is captured in the curator stats but you have to be a curator to do it. Perhaps too many things have been lumped into that role and separate designations would be better (or maybe just more inclusive stats so curators don't falsely look like duds).

Publicado por carrieseltzer hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

Thank you all, this is so wonderful! This discussion went a different direction than I expected, in the best way. I don't have time for a long post right now but a few thoughts...

it seems like the biggest thing here is community! And perhaps less putting users into categories and more just fostering involvement of any kind. More IDs would be good. More scientific tools would be nice but not crucial. More stats and info would be wonderful. and meetups in real life are great. I've already been to a few and all were amazing. A conference would be neat, though my travel options are limited due to having a new baby, I'm sure lots of people would be interested. This is just such a wonderful community!

I agree that the curator system could use a bit of updating. For instance i was looking the other day and noticed there are a LOT of curators to the point where it is kind of confusing. And everyone does seem to do different things. I don't do much with taxonomy, mostly I fix bad species names and deal with the occasional flag.

More to come, thanks so much! Feel free to tag others to post

Publicado por charlie hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

Excellent summary, Charlie! Wish I could click on a thumbs-up "Like" for this and every other post in this thoughtful thread!

Publicado por cgbb2004 hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

I didn't even know I inspired you to come here! That's awesome!

Publicado por charlie hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

Thanks, Charlie, for the questions and for your own thoughts. I am an infrequent user but devoted fan of inaturalist. I look forward to contributing more, but mostly hope to see it grow in support of biodiversity and education.
I encourage friends, no matter what level of expertise or "power" they have, to sign up and experience taking a photo of something they see and putting it out to the community for an ID. When I do this, by the way, I encourage them to use the website version only. My experience with the iPad app is that it is not powerful enough; but perhaps I need a more recent version.
Anyway, I will look into upgrading my technology and into following a few of the people you mentioned. Thanks again,
-Mit

Publicado por mitwanzer hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

I wouldn't use the app on an ipad, really. It works great on iPhone 5S. I use it for almost everything. But... that's more a matter of personal preference. I would say though that for newbies it's recommended to have a GPS with your camera or take gps points if you aren't going to use the app. mapping seems the biggest source of error on the site and one the photos can not verify usually.

Publicado por charlie hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

Now I'm curious to hear why you think the app isn't working as nicely with an ipad vs an iphone

Publicado por jakob hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

i just mean because the camera isn't as good and many ipads lack gps. but maybe the newer ipads are better? Also I don't really want to lug an ipad on all my hikes :)

Publicado por charlie hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

Anger is what motivates my citizen science efforts. About 10 years ago, I stumbled across the story of how the USDA funded a project by the American Horticultural Society to update the plant hardiness zones map, then decided the updated maps would not be released (http://archive.azcentral.com/style/hfe/outdoors/articles/2006/05/18/20060518gardenzone0518.html). It appeared that the USDA was not releasing the updated maps because they showed visible evidence for climate change. My gut reaction to this story was that we need an army of citizens collecting masses of data, so that if there is evidence for climate change, it cannot be denied or suppressed by governments. Since hearing about potential government suppression of climate change data, I have sought out ways to personally contribute to the masses of data.

A web search for ways to contribute climate change data led me to the National Phenology Network where I quickly became a top contributor. After a few years, though, I dropped out because the interface for data submissions was too clunky and slow. Collecting the data was no problem--I would simply grab a clipboard before heading out for my daily exercise walks and note what each of my tagged plants were doing as I walked past. But when I came back indoors, it took hours to input the data on the project's web interface. I wrote to the project's director and asked if there were any other ways to submit the data, could I even send in the paper data sheets? "No" was the simple answer. I couldn't find time to submit my data during the spring and summer, and when I finally got around to it in the fall, the project's seasonal maps had already been produced, without my data. I gave up on the project, with several year's of unsubmitted data still waiting on my clipboards. Thus, if you want contributors, data submission must be easy and fast, and requests from power users to streamline data entry need to be given proper attention.

Moths and social media got me back in the fight. A few years ago, several friends began posting moth photos on Facebook, and then I caught the moth bug, too. But when I began looking up my moths in the new Peterson's guide, I noted that many of the range maps didn't appear to have data about Vermont. I decided that I needed to somehow report my moth sightings somewhere. I tried submitting a small batch of photos to BAMONA (www.butterfliesandmoths.org). The interface was clunky, and then I got no response, for weeks and weeks. The only news on my submissions that I got was that there had been a security breach with passwords stolen and submissions lost. I asked the Facebook moth group why I never got a response from my BAMONA submissions, and the folks on Facebook surmised that the Vermont moth section of BAMONA was moribund--no one was reviewing Vermont submissions. Instead, the moth folks on Facebook suggested submitting my photos to the Vermont Atlas of Life. So that's what I did. I don't have time to submit data to several different sites, so BAMONA is history as far as I'm concerned (even though their Vermont moth section is now active again). Thus, if you want contributors, it is vital for submissions to get prompt feedback, so that contributors don't feel like they're dumping their data into a black hole. And it is also vital that the website be stable, without frequent downtimes or security breaches.

Before submitting any data to iNaturalist, I hunted around the net to find out what its reputation is. I wanted to make sure my efforts would be accessible for research, and that my data would be likely to last, not get deleted in a year or two if the site closed down. The tie-ins between iNaturalist and the California Academy of Sciences and the Encyclopedia of Life (www.eol.org) convinced me that this was a project worth contributing to. When I later learned about GBIF (www.gbif.org) and Smithsonian links to iNaturalist (http://www.si.edu/apps/EOL), these ties confirmed my decision that iNaturalist was the right place for my data. Thus, it is important to show users that their data will used and accessible to scientists, and not deleted or lost due to loss of financial support or lack of interest in the scientific community.

Publicado por erikamitchell hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

One of the biggest surprises after my first iNaturalist submissions was the almost immediate feedback, with experts confirming or correcting my IDs. This was highly motivating! I then realized the advantages of one site that could accept data covering all forms of life--I could submit not only moth photos, but also birds, plants, bees, you name it! And the method for submissions was uniform across all species, as well as fast. Also, old photos were just as welcome as new ones--at last I had a place where I could submit data from across my archives, going back 20 years or more. These are great advantages of iNaturalist: one site that covers all forms of life, uniform and rapid data submission, and no time limits for submissions.

So what could be better? How to attract and retain other contributors? First, get the word out. Media stories and bioblitzes help. Still, there is more to be done, especially for potential users from academia. I attended 2 advanced naturalist courses this summer at Eagle Hill Institute in Maine this summer, and iNaturalist was virtually unknown amongst the course participants and instructors. Those are the folks we need--how to get them to contribute? One concrete suggestion might be to update the iNaturalist about page: http://www.inaturalist.org/pages/about. Right now, the page sounds like iNaturalist is geared towards beginners, with no links to research. Even if just having fun in nature is the underlying mission of iNaturalist, the links to research are real, and could be highly motivating to potential academic contributors. In my own experience, I have been contacted 3 times over the past year about projects related to my iNaturalist submissions. I'm sure other users have similar experiences.

And then, giving feedback to users, especially new users, is vital. I got my niece who is trying to learn Virginia trees to submit some tree photos for ID. If she were here in Vermont, she would have had all of her trees named in a day or so, but in Virginia, where there are comparatively few users, she only ever got one answer. So she gave up. It would be great to have a way to prioritize identification/confirmation tasks to give new users extra attention, so that they know that real people really do look at their data. And also to get as much data confirmed as possible so that it can go on to GBIF. One researcher who contacted me about a plant sighting in my town only knew about 1/3 of the sightings, because only 1/3 ever got confirmed. Time is the issue there--I don't even have time to download photos off my camera in the summer, let alone look at other people's photos. Still, when I do have time to identify/confirm other people's submissions, I find it most efficient to choose a common species and pull up all unconfirmed sightings of that species at once, rather than to go through a list of most recent unconfirmed sightings of random species. It would be great if focusing on unconfirmed sightings of single species were a simple streamlined task in the system. (Like, if you identify/confirm a red maple, you could be offered a button that will show a list of 50-100 other red maples that also need confirmation).

In my own iNaturalist workflow, I've found the phone app too slow for rapid entry. Stopping to type in names takes away from limited field time when I could be photographing other plants. Also, it always seems to take multiple tries to get my phone camera to capture the details needed for photo confirmation. On the other hand, I've found the app very useful for working with unfamiliar species, when I either key out the species on the spot or am told the ID by an expert. If I type in the name on the iNaturalist app to go with the picture, I'll have the name and photo matched for future reference. I've also found app entry also useful for taking site notes, like habitat, abundance, etc. But then, it would be much more useful to have direct access to field codes in the app. Right now, the work-around for field code access is to create a project (like Flowering Phenology: http://www.inaturalist.org/projects/flowering-phenology) that requires the relevant field codes. And then for bulk photo entries from the website, right now, there is no way to directly enter observations into projects, add field codes, or specify private locations directly from the submission page. These limitations slow the data entry process, and slow data entry discourages users.

Publicado por erikamitchell hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

As for making iNaturalist more game-like, with badges and virtual awards, on the one hand, it's a good suggestion. Everything from the Amazon review system to Duolinguo (language learning app) to Yahoo Answers has badges these days, and they do motivate participation. On the other hand, since this is scientific data, it is vital that the data be accurate. It is possible that making iNaturalist more game-like with badges and awards could encourage some users to go for points rather than accuracy, or to collude on confirmations to get points. We could end up with confirmed sightings of kangaroos hopping across the Canadian plains! Thus, if iNaturalist were to add badges and awards, the system would have to be very carefully thought out and implemented to prevent fraudulent submissions/confirmations. Also, the presence of badges and awards could be off-putting to academic or expert users, who might find their use demeaning. Thus, any badge/award system should be on an opt-in basis.

Publicado por erikamitchell hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

For me personally, badges might encourage me to submit more observations. However they would also make me more likely to submit lower quality photos and data for the sake of said badges. I'm not alone in this I'm sure. I like having small achievements, such as "recorded 1000 species", but lets be very careful with how something like this is decided.

Publicado por silversea_starsong hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

@erikamitchell that is such a wonderful story. I'm so glad you found us here. I had a similar path... I first encountered the idea through the 'whats invasive' app which was neat but too limited in scope as i wanted to add other things too. I later tried project noah but it didn't work for me... for a variety of reasons the main one being it didn't work without cell coverage and made you do auto upload. Also it doesn't (or didn't) have as good a system of databases and tagging and seeing the data and maps. I wish I remember how I found iNaturalist but I don't... however i can tell when because I immediately started adding a ton of stuff. Someone must have shared it on social media or else i found it when doing research on a grad project.

Anger motivates me to some extent too. I saw way way way too much of southern California ruined in my life. And I'm only 37... between when i was able to observe things and when I left in 2009, vast swaths of coastal and canyon habitat were ruined and replaced with suburbs and lawns and other junk. I wanted to at least be able to bear witness to what is being lost. In Vermont that is not as much the case, though certainly things like tree diseases and climate change will still bring us negative change. But mostly... as a spatial ecologist, more or less, i am fascinated with where things are and why. especially plants and in particular old ones like trees - for a 100 year old tree to be alive in a place it means the conditions had to be suitable for that species continuously for 100 years. Pretty neat stories.

Well-done badges would encourage me, though i am already obsessive here, i'm not sure it would increase my already large input. It might help motivate me to do IDs but again i already do a lot of those. Poorly done badges would annoy me.

Publicado por charlie hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

also i find the app to be really fast and way easier than taking photos and going through them later. But I've gotten really fast with it. It seems a matter of personal preference but also seems a lot of high volume users don't use it.

Publicado por charlie hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

I have shared this with the site owners before, but I think iNaturalist could significantly enhance its overall observation count by attracting people with extensive collections (insects, shells, plants, etc) to upload all of their many years of observations to create a sort of digital record. If these individuals (and perhaps institutions) handled their collecting scientifically, they have dates and locations for every specimen. I myself have an 8,000 specimen insect collection that I have been meaning to document here, but haven't had the time since I am out all the time photographing new observations. The benefit of this to them is that they would now have a format where they could search them quickly, have a digital copy of their efforts in case of a loss/disaster and most importantly, share their observations with the greater scientific community.

Additionally, I feel this site will attract the top talent over time just through growth. I have personally invited several of these individuals to iNat with varying success. The biggest issue I run into is the "time" excuse, where they just can't add something new to their busy lives. I think this is because they fail to see the value, but I think they would if there were a greater number of observations within their particular field of interest, as then they could use the site to mine for population trends and distribution, among other things. I myself poo-pooed the site's value for a couple of years as @finatic pushed me to join, and finally decided to do so a couple of years back because I realized the value. Now I am addicted and can't stop, with over 23,000 obs and counting! THANKS A LOT BJ! :-/

Jay Keller

Publicado por jaykeller hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

Wow! @erikamitchell your story is fascinating and I never would have expected anger to be such a motivator for using iNaturalist, but I get it! I love that you researched iNaturalist before you started contributing, which makes sense especially given your discouraging experiences with other projects. I worry about the people on iNat whose observations fall through the cracks, which is why about 90% of the time if I don't recognize a username I click to see how many observations they have (makes me a slow identifier!) and comment if it's not many or if they're new.

Publicado por carrieseltzer hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

One of the more remarkable things to me is just how well iNaturalist holds on to power users. Most the people I remember seeing when I started two years ago are still here. The general lack of drama here has been somewhat remarkable for an internet community. Because of how well the site holds on to people, the real effort seems like should be on getting people to their 100th submission. That is where most people drop off.

Since people are saying how they ended up here, I may as well jump on the band wagon.

I have had some life science involvement for quite some time, going as far as completing a biology undergraduate major before running off to be an engineer. I also started on citizen science programs quite a while ago. For example when I discovered Snapshot Serengeti I wasted countless hours. I started doing a lot more when I discovered the Calflora website. I was trying to identify edible plants and one day spontaneously searched for Calflora on the iphone app store. Quickly I became hooked, and submitted something like two thousand plants while going on hikes around southern California.

The limitations of Calflora became pretty clear to me after a while. There just wasn't nearly enough community ID going on and I was constantly finding myself out of state and wanting to go hunting for interesting plants. Then I read an article about how little is known about urban insect populations, so I decided to log all the insects in my house and yard. After some searching online, iNaturalist seemed like the place to go. So for a few months I was simultaneously submitting insects and plants outside California to iNaturalist and plants in California to Calflora.

This dual use finally ended when I bought a GPS enabled superzoom camera to take on my hikes. Now I was taking lots of pictures of birds and reptiles which also went to iNaturalist. It was clear that iNaturalist was the better tool for an amateur. For a professional botanist working only in California Calflora is probably still better. It certainly is still the better tool for identification. But as someone who could use lots of help making identifications iNaturalist was clearly the better platform.

Publicado por glmory hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

@glmory what is the advantage of CalFlora? I've never used it since it didn't exist as a citizen science site before I left CA.

I've also used 'specialist' sites like what's invasive and always end up with the realization that inat is better (among other reasons) because you can put any taxa in from anywhere. The New England Wildflower Society made a plant observation (mini-inaturalist) also but I don't use it becuase it's redundant and has way less people than iNat. (though I do use their ID resources a lot).

@jaykeller I've wondered about big piles of old data too. For instance at a job where I used to work we collected thousands of points for plant presence and cover in the Santa Monica Mountains. The park service has the data but I am not sure what they did with it... it never showed up on GBIF. It would be neat to put it on iNat someday (if they gave me permission to do so anyhow) but the problem is most of the observations would lack photos and that might be annoying to people.

Publicado por charlie hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

Thanks everyone for this good discussion.

As others have mentioned, one of the most important things for high volumes of observations is ease and speed of entry. I think iNaturalist has done a good job of balancing those against the need for things to be verifiable.

Rather than being focused on particular taxonomic groups, I'm very interested in everything that shows up in a fairly narrow region. I created the place "Southeast Alaska" and review any observations from within its boundaries. While I'm not really a general expert on plants, or birds, or whatever, I have been learning the flora and fauna of this region, and recognize most things that are posted. The challenge for me more generally is that I wouldn't know if there was a similar looking species somewhere else, so my knowledge is not so easily applied to a broader area. Still, I feel like it's a good contribution to adopt my home region (and from the comments here, it sounds like others have taken a similar approach). I really appreciate the new-ish identification interface that allows me to quickly see and review observations in my home region.

Personally, I actually record far more observations for myself using a CyberTracker (http://www.cybertracker.org/ ) based sequence I developed for my region and purposes than I ever include on iNaturalist. I have regional species lists for many different groups (plants including bryophytes, birds, lichens, fungi, moths, and more) and can quickly enter observations using 4 letter codes (simply GEnus SPecies or the 4-letter banding codes for birds) and selecting the desired species if there are multiple matches. This is very fast/efficient for me, but there are generally no associated photos or recordings, so I do not tend to import these to iNaturalist.

Over the past few months, I've been making more of a concerted effort to add observations from 2012. I had set myself a goal of observing 1000 species that year. I was able to record many I already knew (in the CyberTracker application I mentioned above), but may others I simply photographed with hopes of getting identifications later. I discovered at the time that keeping track of these things was challenging, and had started to develop a wiki-based approach to recording my observations in a way that I could more easily keep an accurate count. However, data entry was slow, and I still had to post photos to bugguide, etc. in order to get identifications. This is why it's 2016 and I'm still not sure whether I got my 1000 species (though I'm getting closer to finding out). :)

Based on my experience so far, I would really find it nice if there was a way to link my account at a more specialist site like bugguide.net with my iNaturalist account so that I could automatically have an iNaturalist observations posted to bugguide. I suspect this isn't really possible at this point, but it would definitely make things easier for me (bugguide has active users/experts in a number of groups that usually get little or no attention here on iNaturaist), but I find adding observations to iNaturalist far more efficient than adding them to bugguide.

For current observations, I have found that with a recent upgrade of my cell phone it's pretty efficient for me to make photo-based observations in the field using the iNaturalist app (though I definitely like, and would probably use the idea @charlie had for some sort of plot functionality) . I still won't use it as much as my routine use of CyberTracker application (especially for things like birds which are easy to identify, but not so easy to take pictures of with a cell phone). I think for things I'm less concerned about getting the best pictures of, the mobile app will work more efficiently than taking pictures with my dedicated digital camera and uploading them separately. The main reason for this is that I'm much less fussy about the cell phone pictures. The actual uploading of observations from a bunch of photos is quite efficient (it's just the time taken in the field, plus the additional time selecting/editing, etc.).

For the future, I'm working with some friends on an idea which we hope to pull together for 2017. So far we are calling it the All Species Community Big Year - Sitka. It's basically a year long bioblitz (so not really a blitz, but taking the all species part of the bioblitz with the year-long push of a big year in birding) with as much of the community as we can muster. iNaturalist is going to play a central role, so we'll need to figure out how to get things set up for the project, as well as get (new) folks up to speed with adding observations as efficiently as possible. I'm sure as we contiue to work on this idea, I'll have more questions and/or suggestions related to this topic.

Publicado por gwark hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

Calflora has taken a huge number of observations, many decades old, from a wide range of sources. Because of this, it has a depth of data which is impressive. As an identification tool, I still find the What Grows Here? site from Calflora( http://www.calflora.org/entry/wgh.html ) to be the most powerful tool out there. Also, more professional botanists check there so it is a good place to submit really invasive species if you want them to be noticed.

The iPhone app was primitive compared to iNaturalist, but once you configure it right it is extremely fast. It lets you make a list of things you commonly see and save their names. This avoided typing the name again every time you find that species. So I would for example save California Buckwheat, Malta Star Thistle, and about twenty other common species on a list. Then when I find one, I just need to click on the name of the species I see, take a photo, and hit save.

You may want to consider giving that list of plants you have directly to Calflora, it fits much better into the way the site is set up. A list of thousands of plants checked by an expert, but without photos, is the bulk of what they do.

Publicado por glmory hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

@gwark very neat! if you find yourself observing a lot of birds without photos, you might consider ebird if you haven't tried that yet. it's set up for listing birds you identify during a given trip, usually by ear. i don't use it really, because my primary focus is plants, secondarily insects, but a lot of iNat 'power users' are on there too.

@glmory I might ask NPS if they would be interested in that! I think that would then mean I could see them on iNat if i clicked the gbif display. Though I am remembering now that I am really pissed at calflora because they hid all their data and you can only see it by creating an account. I have really bad account fatigue and am really tired of creating accounts and coming up with passwords for everything. I'm annoyed too that data i shared on iNat under an open license ends up on there. I didn't agree to have it hidden from people like that. So yeah, for that reason I am disinclined to work with CalFlora, but maybe I should be more flexible.

More broadly: Collaboration and connection between iNat and other similar websites and databases, especially small and specialized ones... that's a consistent theme here and one I can get behind too.

Publicado por charlie hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

@gwark I'm interested in your insights about CyberTracker. It sounds like I should add it to my list of biodiversity observation platforms. I'll tag you into that journal post.

Publicado por carrieseltzer hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

Something that would help me to add identifications is to be able to save multiple preset combinations of filters, so I could easily and quickly see what observations with those filters need i.d. Perhaps this exists already, but if so, it's not clear to me how to do it. At the moment, if I want to look at what observations of birds in Brazil need i.d., I need to manually check the filters on the Identify page. Then if I want to see recent observations of any taxa in Ireland, I need to reset them again. I'd really appreciate being able to save different pre-set combinations which I could access with one click.

Publicado por deboas hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

@benphalan have you tried bookmarking the site after you put in the filters? I think that works... or it used to in any event. I have a bunch saved.

Publicado por charlie hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

@charlie Thanks! You are right, that works. I should have realised there was a simple solution :)

Publicado por deboas hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

the simple ones are often the hardest to find, i think :)

Publicado por charlie hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

@charlie someday I will probably eventually import my bird observations into eBird, but for now there are a couple of reasons I don't use it. First is that I record a lot more than birds, and it's preferable to have a common interface for recording everything. Second, eBird seems geared towards reporting things as location checklists, or something like that. The vast majority of my records are entered as I go. I literally just have my phone out and am adding birds and other things (flowering plants mostly) as I walk around, no matter what I'm doing. I'm sure folks assume I'm texting, using Facebook, or playing some game with my phone like most people, but that's not me. :)

@carrieseltzer I'll take a look at the other post and respond more fully there, but in a nutshell CyberTracker offers a flexible and powerful way of constructing your own apps for collecting data. As such, it's not really a tool for most people, but it can be invaluable for particular projects if someone is willing/able to build the application. (It was originally developed to allow illiterate but highly skilled native trackers in Africa to effectively collect data useful for scientists through an icon-based interface.) I suspect it would be possible for to integrate my CyberTracker application with iNaturalist via the APIs and such, but I'm not interested in that effort at this point, plus it's fairly straightforward to import my records into iNaturalist via .csv if I have a reason to.

Publicado por gwark hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

I personally think you should do it, even if it floods the site with non-verifiable observations. There are filters to block those if people don't want to see them. Or if not, find a way to get them to GBIF.

I think @sea-kangaroo may also do something similar with a second app? Or was that someone else? maybe @jon_sullivan ? I wish it were all on inat or gbif! Data wants to be free! :)

Publicado por charlie hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

I certainly have a lot of non-verifiable observations on here (mostly backyard birds), which may not be RG/shared with other databases, but I still like to have for personal list-keeping or seeing seasonal trends. I've also occasionally used other people's photoless observations to find particular species I want to see, so they're useful in that regard.

The only app I use for this kind of thing is iNat, and soon a GPS track logger for embedding location into photo metadata.

Great discussion!

Publicado por sea-kangaroo hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

Wow. What an amazing thread! I just found it. There's lots of great ideas here.

As @charlie hinted at, I am someone who collects most of my own observations elsewhere (an app I built for myself that runs in FileMaker Go). I've got well over half a million observations, in various stages of data curation, and I would like to get it all up into iNat at some stage. Still, it's a bit of an uncomfortable contortion at the moment getting it to fit into iNat without losing information.

That's because it's all in the structure of a start time and a stop time, a set of pre-determined taxa I looked for (so I can infer absences), a GPS track of exactly where I went, and observations made along the route. As an academic ecologist, that's what I'd see the data collected by a "power user" looking like. They're the kind of data you need to reveal changes in species in space and time. (You can infer some of these changes with masses of "casual observations" like on iNat but it's imprecise and inaccurate even with really hairy stats.)

I upload all my species photos to iNat (backlog aside, which I'm steadily chipping away at), and I spend lots of my time identifying and curating. I see iNat as such a fantastic way to hook people into taking more notice of nature. Also, the occasional observation is exceptionally important (e.g., we've had hundreds of new species to New Zealand reported through iNat's New Zealand chapter, NatureWatch NZ, and some of these have been important discoveries for NZ biosecurity).

For the "power user", it would be great to eventually see a progression available on the site for keen users to take that step up from casual observations to monitoring. It should not be a big jump in complexity, just the ability to state where you went within a start and stop time, and what you set out to look for (e.g., one of your iNat species lists), and any conditions during your trip relevant to finding what you were looking for (like weather, the gear and methods you were using, and who you were with). It's pretty simple.

I know @kueda and @loarie have thought about this and even built a prototype, but we'd need to get them a big grant to get this done right. I'm also not sure if the debate is settled about whether this would be a useful or confusing addition to iNat. I'm strongly in the "useful" camp here, and I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

With this kind of data collection, we'd only expect a small fraction of your observations to have photos, and your observations with photos would build your reputation for assessing the reliability of your non-photo observations. I would hope that this approach could then assign an equivalent of "research grade" to non-photo observations. For example, if I add a non-photo observation of a house sparrow in New Zealand, and I've already added lots of correctly identified photos of house sparrows, plus correctly identified lots of other users' photos of house sparrows, then I reckon some level of "research grade" certainty can be placed on my non-photo observation.

Also, I agree with the idea floated by several people above about how great it would be to have the ability to make more detailed graphs and maps that display the results of a project's activities. It's an excellent way to motivate people to add observations, especially for community groups forming around projects with a specific purpose in mind. That dovetails with the monitoring ability, as it would lock in a standard data structure (when, where, what looked for) that could then feed into automated analyses and results (simple graphs and tables through to shiny whiz-bang visualizations). There's the ability to do this off-site using the iNat API and rinat, which I'm keen to explore, but it would be great to think that eventually a module like this could exist within projects on iNat (e.g., for monitoring type projects, users could choose to display a graph of change over time, or even an animated heat map of changes in time and space).

Those are my thoughts as one power user. I also love iNat just as it is.

Publicado por jon_sullivan hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

Thanks!!!

Yeah, I would love to see more functionality like that, Jon. I think the ability to conduct a plot would be really really useful. it would probably be a tipping point that would allow me to make iNat a regular part of my work duties as an ecologist as well as something I mostly do on my own like it is now (I sometimes add things from work but most of my obs are from my own time).

Publicado por charlie hace alrededor de 5 años (Marca)

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