Announcing Changes to Projects on iNaturalist

We’ve introduced some new functionality for projects on iNaturalist! One of the most-requested features related to projects is the ability to *automatically* include all observations in a particular place or taxon across all time and in a continuously updating manner. Unfortunately, associating observations with projects has been a computationally expensive process, so we have limited “the aggregator” to a small subset of trusted projects, or to time-bound bioblitz projects, to protect site performance.  Another common request is the ability to associate two or more projects together under an umbrella, such as all of the projects associated with a single organization.

Starting next week, users can create two new types of projects using automatic collection and umbrella projects. Here’s what the page will generally look like when you go to create a new project (some text will still change):

We can convert many existing projects to the new ‘collection’ project type, providing that its parameters match those on Observations Search, such as taxa, places, dates, and users. We are not able to convert projects that have a “Must be on list” rule. Existing projects that meet the criteria above can be converted to the new ‘collection’ project type by project administrators when you go to edit your project by contacting with the URL of the project you would like to convert (updated on 4/25/18).

Existing projects (let’s call them traditional) came in several flavors.  Most (82%) are ‘regular’ with a significant minority (12%) as ‘bioblitz’. A tiny fraction (<4%) were some experimental project types that never really worked well.

The vast majority of projects are created for one of these purposes:

  1. Run a BioBlitz (i.e. collect all observations within space and time boundaries).

  2. Collect interesting observations which couldn’t otherwise be found using Observations Search (e.g. Amazing Aberrants, Observation of the Day).

  3. Gain access to true locations of obscured/private observations and/or filter observations identified by project curators.

  4. Collect additional data using observation fields.

  5. Create a repository of all observations for a place and/or taxon that can be branded, shared, and used for outreach (e.g. to encourage participation in a park or observations of specific taxa).

  6. For educators to assemble observations made by students.

The status quo for projects has been especially difficult for the last two purposes. The limits on the aggregator have been frustrating for people who want all observations from a given place and/or taxon continuously updated. As a result, project owners, managers, and/or curators have had to manually add observations or rely on users to add their observations themselves. Educators have had to rely on students adding their observations to a specific project, which is laborious for the students and/or the educators. New ‘collection’ projects should be an improvement for both of these purposes because you can use standard search parameters to automatically include observations by date added or observed, place, or user (and more).

For example, a professor could add the usernames of all of her students to a project that will automatically capture all observations made and added to iNaturalist during the semester. Then all student observations from the entire semester will be easily visible for her review, enabling her to ensure that the observations are appropriate and identified.

These changes were made in advance of the upcoming City Nature Challenge (organized by the citizen science teams at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and the California Academy of Sciences), which is a perfect use case for an umbrella project. Sixty-four different metropolitan areas around the world will submit observations to iNaturalist made during April 27-30. The umbrella project allows you to easily compare the numbers of observations, species, and participants across several projects at once. For an immediate sense of what it will look like since the event has not started yet, we also created an umbrella project for last year’s City Nature Challenge.

In the near future we plan to include the ability to use observation annotations as additional project parameters, e.g. to only pull in observations from a particular insect life stage. We plan to combine this feature with improvements to the observation search filters tool.

As with any new features, there are always trade offs, and we know that these new projects will not work for all projects and needs.  Here are some major differences with new, collection projects (compared to traditional projects):

  • Collection projects do not provide access to private and obscured coordinates for project admins.

  • No links on individual observations to the collection projects in which they are included.

  • No ability to associate additional observation fields with collection projects (fields can still be added to individual observations).

Once we open the new project creation tool, everyone who goes to create a project will be offered a choice between creating a ‘collection’ or ‘umbrella’ style project. If you want to create a traditional project because you need one of the features lacking in the new collection projects, there will be a link to the old project creation page. The aggregator will also be disabled for new ‘traditional’ projects. Eventually we hope to phase out the creation of new ‘traditional’ projects, but we are aware that the aforementioned needs must be addressed (especially access to private and obscured coordinates). We are exploring other approaches to those needs.

The iNaturalist staff have created (or converted from existing) a few projects for you to explore. Please let us know if you encounter any problems with these as we prepare to fully release the functionality.


City Nature Challenge 2018 (umbrella with 64 projects)

City Nature Challenge 2017 (umbrella with 16 projects)

Southwest Texas iNat-a-thon (collection with 23 users over 4 days)

Below you can see the design of the project creation page for new ‘collection’ projects (note: the text below will be updated for consistency with the descriptions above).

Posted on April 13, 2018 01:41 PM by carrieseltzer carrieseltzer


Awesome! I am excited that the new projects can be arranged by user, if we can get teachers to use that for classes it will be great.

@kpmcfarland any interest in setting up an 'umbrella project' for all the towns in Vermont that have projects and want to be? It could help deal with those. Just a thought. The Montpelier project will probably get a big boost with the bioblitz, right now it has tons of obs but almost all me and @erikamitchell and north branch.

The umbrella project also illustrates how San Francisco's city nature challenge sprawls over vast areas of land, multiple ecoregions, and multiple counties, which is the only way they can compete with LA :)

Posted by charlie almost 6 years ago

Haha yeah I was just comparing the areas set up for Chicago vs Vancouver!

Posted by upupa-epops almost 6 years ago

Look forward to exploring the new changes!

@bouteloua I know you just use the places feature to get your records for the the Botanists' Big Year Challenge, but this Umbrella feature might be a neat way to connect and interact with multiple Big Year Challenges? @wdvanhem

Posted by calloftheloon almost 6 years ago

the other urban nature issue is that for northern areas, there isn't much up yet. I know there's never going to be a good global time of year for it. but I considered trying to spearhead a Vermont one but I doubt there'd even be much to see - few plants, no insects. We still have frozen ground and patches of snow and are expecting an inch or two of icy crud this weekend. Not gonna be much until we get into May. Of course, by midsummer California's dried to a crisp. And the southern Hemisphere is in winter...

Posted by charlie almost 6 years ago

I'm so excited for this! All the Parks I've been visiting for CNC have been asking for something like this function. I also can't wait to group all of our annual BioBlitzes together under an umbrella!

Posted by klodonnell almost 6 years ago

This is incredibly exciting. An umbrella project would perfectly unify my current projects. Beyond that, it looks like traditional projects are undergoing a fresh and new overhaul.
You guys are doing amazing work for this community. Thank you so much!

Posted by bobby23 almost 6 years ago

I dont see how the new projects cater for purposes 2 and 4, and if these are to be phased out, how will these be done?

The new projects are effectively projects for "filters". While I perfectly see how useful these are (over and above the filters all already being available and producing most of the summaries), and agree that observations in "filter projects" cannot have project icons displayed. These new projects also add the option of having a journal for "places" which is really useful - and I predict will be an important use of these projects.

But there is still a huge need for classical projects: i.e. projects to which observations are manually added, or added by virtue of observation fields that are required. To my mind these are "tagged" projects. (in iNat logic one traditionally "added observations to projects", but for similar projects on iSpot we added tags and created projects to filter on the tags - the net effect is the same, a lookup table of project-tag and observation, that can be used as a filter - either alone or with other filters).

The addition of a project-tag filter to the new projects will make the "traditional" projects into "collection type" projects too, while preserving the Project Icons on the observations.
((the additional functionality of defining observation fields from within a project is an extremely useful feature.))

A nitpick: is the central filter a Location filter (using google places) or a Place filter (using user-created iNat polygons) or both? It would help if the terminology was standardized with the observations pages and its filters.

Posted by tonyrebelo almost 6 years ago

@tonyrebelo , you're right that collection projects won't fulfill purposes 2 or 4 (or 3). We don't have a plan yet for how to meet those needs, which is why traditional projects will remain available for the time being.

To your question about location vs. place, the version released next week will say "Places" instead of "Locations" for clarity (and other changes needed to be consistent with the explanation text—these were the designs used to create the feel and core functions, but not the final copy).

Posted by carrieseltzer almost 6 years ago

Does this mean that users don't join a project, or are not voluntary contributors to a project in any meaningful sense?

Posted by eknuth almost 6 years ago

@eknuth, I suppose that depends on how you define "meaningful." For the new types of projects that Carrie outlined, it's true that one doesn't tap or click on something to specifically add one's observation(s) to a project, and one's observations will not have little icons and notes saying they're in the project.

But until now, some place like a park might have started a project and asked people to make observations there and add them to the park's project. This resulted, mostly, in a small number of observations actually being in the project, even if park goers had good intentions - just too many hoops for many of the more casual iNat users to jump through. Now a park visitor might be inspired to make observations at a park (by a poster or by a staff member there) and purposefully make observations at the park for the project - which seems meaningful and voluntary to me, and should result in more inspiring numbers when a park gives out the URL for outreach. And course there will be plenty of instances where one doesn't voluntarily contribute to a project as well, but I'd argue that's the situation we have now when project curators add other users' observations to a project.

As for "joining", one doesn't "join" but rather "follows" a project now, meaning you'll get updates in your dashboard when a new journal post is made by the project. So the onus is on the project owner to do the outreach there, which I think is a good thing.

Posted by tiwane almost 6 years ago

@tiwane, Hmm, I'm not sure I like that. It sounds like projects will work more like places. I can see the new system being beneficial in the case you mention, and also for classes. But it means that my data is just sucked in by whoever sets up a project. It doesn't challenge me to do something because it interests me. And I will not discover projects through links from my own or other people's observations.

Posted by eknuth almost 6 years ago

I do see the value in still listing what projects suck up an observation. For instance while traveling I am not likely to peruse all the projects wherever i go but it's neat to see the icon pop up in the project. But on the other hand, I found having to add observations to projects manually to be super annoying to the point where i often didn't bother, since i make a lot of observations. TAnd the aggregator was nice in terms of easy for users but clearly slows down the site which no one wants

Posted by charlie almost 6 years ago

@tiwane, this might be a small thing, but I don’t understand why individual observations cannot have little icons signifying the observation is part of some project. That’s how I learned of projects in the first place, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that were true for other users. A project owner can make as many journal posts as they want, but if no one learns of the project in the first place, a project will essentially serve as empty space. I also feel having those little icons may help a more casual user feel like they are contributing to something important (almost as if they were collecting badges), which simply makes them feel good and may encourage them to keep remaining active on iNaturalist. I’m afraid that following a project might feel more passive and less engaging.
A few follow up questions:

1. I think the inability to require observation fields for a project is the biggest loss to this new 'collection' project model. What is preventing new ‘collection’ projects from having individual observation field requirements? Why couldn’t it be a toggled option to have observations manually added, rather than automatically, but with some of the same benefits of the new ‘collection’ project model? For example, I’m sure a lot of traditional projects would still benefit from having a “stats” tab. Can ‘traditional’ projects that do have observation field requirements be converted to ‘collection’ projects?

2. Would projects that encompass a large geographical area really function as ‘collection’ projects? Many of my projects encompass entire continents (example:

3. Can ‘traditional’ projects still be under ‘umbrella’ projects?

4. What is preventing projects that have “must be on list” requirements to be converted to ‘collection’ projects? Is this something that could be addressed in the future? Most of my projects have this rule, as they focus on very select taxa – not just families of organisms. I don’t think they would ever become ‘collection’ projects without that functionality.

Posted by bobby23 almost 6 years ago

Will you be able to put an umbrella project inside another umbrella project? Additionally, can traditional/collection projects fall under multiple umbrella projects?

Posted by mws almost 6 years ago

Great new functionality. But I don't see how you can phase out traditional projects. What about projects like Found Feathers, Dead Herps, and Vermont Animal Tracks, that is, projects for special types of observations (animal tracks, dead things, animals found at bug lights)? Without the option of creating traditional projects, it would be really hard to pull this information together.

Posted by erikamitchell almost 6 years ago

I agree that traditional projects could never be phased out, because that would remove all of the most unique projects. At best, the aggregator could collect potential observations for the project, and the curators could choose which ones get added.

Posted by mws almost 6 years ago

Can you put umbrella project A in umbrella project B, and then put umbrella project B in umbrella project A creating a circular umbrella project? This is crucial functionality.

Just kidding. But yeah i do think traditional projects should stay. Just not as a prominent choice so the default is the new kind. I just got asked to join this: and was saying noooooo wait make it into the new kind of projects, i'm not gonna add my 20,000 observations to that.

Posted by charlie almost 6 years ago

I am part of the Southwest Texas iNat-a-thon project, and it has been very interesting to see stats and updates from other people who participated. BUT, even though I am "following" the project, I have had to bookmark it and not close the tab for it in my browser because without the exact link, there is no way to find it. I think following a project will put project updates in my feed, but if the project admin doesn't make updates, it's invisible. It's not listed in my list of projects, and the project isn't linked to any of my observations. There needs to be some way for people to find the new project types.

ALSO I really hope the traditional project types are not phased out. I don't know what I'd do without

Posted by nanofishology almost 6 years ago

I agree with @nanofishology. We have several projects on iNat that are specifically designed around additional observation fields and being able to extract these data with correct coordinates directly into the national database. These feed into our national Red List evaluation programmes, and are designed to collect data to enable this. The current projects cannot do this - either collect the data or deliver the correctly located data - by any stretch of the imagination.

Posted by tonyrebelo almost 6 years ago

Just remembered another comment I have!
In the aforementioned Southwest Texas bioblitz project--I would LOVE a general discussion board/comment area to interact with other participants outside of specific observation pages. Currently, we've been doing this in various people's journal entries, which gets a little out of hand, especially when the journal entry is several months old and buried beneath newer entries.

Posted by nanofishology almost 6 years ago

I don't see a way a badge or icon system on the observation record could efficiently work, a single observation could now end up in dozens or more of projects, and that list could change daily. Keeping that in synch would likely be a bigger strain on the server than simply allowing the aggregator to run on all projects.

I do agree that some better way to track new style projects you are interested in other than following them would be great. Adding a browser bookmark seems an ugly solution.

Posted by cmcheatle almost 6 years ago

I see only one glitch, will there be a way to exclude observations that do not have accurate location data? Two particular sightings in one of our project areas have the wrong locations and are known entities. The observer has either refused to change location or is no longer active on iNat.

Posted by natureali almost 6 years ago

I would like to be able to see who is managing a project and also who is following my projects. Is that available somewhere I'm not seeing?

@nanofishology one workaround might be to add everyone involved as admins of the project so that they can post to the "news" section.

Posted by bouteloua almost 6 years ago

I didn't notice this when I left my first comment above, but how do people follow projects now? I can see from the phone app that I can join, but I don't see that on the new desktop page. Thanks!!

Posted by klodonnell almost 6 years ago

@bouteloua "one workaround might be to add everyone involved as admins of the project so that they can post to the "news" section."
I presume that that means the admins can no longer see obscured localities, otherwise you will be compromising sensitive data.

Posted by tonyrebelo almost 6 years ago

It clearly states that to be the case in the announcement text. :
"As with any new features, there are always trade offs, and we know that these new projects will not work for all projects and needs. Here are some major differences with new, collection projects (compared to traditional projects):
Collection projects do not provide access to private and obscured coordinates for project admins."

Posted by cmcheatle almost 6 years ago

It's been a week. Will the new projects become available today?

Posted by mws almost 6 years ago

Alright folks, the new project creation functionality is live for all users! We made some additional tweaks thanks to feedback, e.g. you can see how many people are following a project and who they are. Traditional projects can indeed be included under umbrella projects...(edited to add) long as the traditional projects have observations that have been added according to project rules (rather than purely manual addition of observations).

There is an issue where umbrella projects will display the counts following the underlying project rule(s), rather than the actual project observation count.

Traditional projects that have no project rules will not show up in search at this time (i.e. they can't be added to umbrella projects yet).

Posted by carrieseltzer almost 6 years ago

Y'all are probably fixing it as I'm typing this but when I try to access I get an error that says "Only administrators may access that page"

Posted by bouteloua almost 6 years ago

@bouteloua they should be working now. Let us know if you see any other issues, folks.

Posted by tiwane almost 6 years ago

One question - if an existing project is converted to the new collection style, are people who had joined the existing one automatically switched over to following the new one ?

Posted by cmcheatle almost 6 years ago

I've been playing a little tonight and so far everything looks fantastic. Overall a really superb addition to the site functionality. I do agree with points made above that there really, really needs to be a way to track which projects you are following other than waiting for posts to appear on the dashboard.

Posted by cmcheatle almost 6 years ago

@cmcheatle, I agree and it's something we're working on. Thanks for the kind words!

Posted by tiwane almost 6 years ago

I'm having a problem with my new umbrella project. I set it to collect the projects Dead Birds, Dead Herps, and Dead Mammals, but it seems to be collecting all bird, herp, and mammal observations instead of just the ones in the 3 projects I mentioned. This makes the project virtually useless. Is there any way I could change this?

Posted by mws almost 6 years ago

@jason_m, would you mind sending the URL of the project to so we can take a look at it, please?

Posted by tiwane almost 6 years ago

Sure, will do.

Posted by mws almost 6 years ago

I'm encounter an issue with my umbrella project. Instead of restricting itself to the observations exclusively contained within the projects, it encompasses all observations on the site that fall within the location perameters of each individual 'traditional' project. For example, instead of just featuring the observations of organisms featured under "Megafauna of North America", all organisms from North America are displayed.

Posted by bobby23 almost 6 years ago

Wait, I'm seeing that I'm having a similar problem as @jason_m. I guess I should have looked at the previous posts before posting!

Posted by bobby23 almost 6 years ago

Hey folks, we're looking into the Umbrella project issue, thank you for bringing it to our attention. We'll have a fix out as soon as possible, but that may not be until Monday.

Posted by tiwane almost 6 years ago

That's completely understandable, @tiwane. I hope you and the rest of the the iNat team enjoys their weekend. I thank everyone for all of these wonderful changes that help iNaturalist improve, grow, and continue to run like clockwork. When I saw that the new projects were available today, it felt like Christmas in April.

Posted by bobby23 almost 6 years ago

feedback, as i am in one of the affected projects: CNC Amarillo.
By removing the link to project members, it is now impossible to coordinate in advance with others. Most participants will be from outside Amarillo and do not know one another.
I think this is a serious oversight, and inconsistent with the stated goals of building collaboration and community

Posted by ellen5 almost 6 years ago

@ellen5, when I go to and look at the about section to the right of the banner, I see a user icon with a number next to it indicating the number of people following the project. When you click on it, you can see (and click on) all of the usernames. Is this not what you see, or is it insufficient for your needs?

Posted by carrieseltzer almost 6 years ago

OH HO. They freaking hid that. To my way of thinking, it's more important than a picture of skyscrapers

Posted by ellen5 almost 6 years ago

Above it states:
"Collection projects do not provide access to private and obscured coordinates for project admins."
But the message when adding admins says:
"Just a reminder, since you may have given project curators permissions to view the private coordinates of your observations in this project."

Posted by tonyrebelo almost 6 years ago

I just want to agree with the chorus of voices that have expressed the need to somehow continue to have a means for doing #3 and #4 as stated above. As a state agency working with landowners where over 95% of land is privately owned, giving project admins access to private/obscured coordinates that have been shared with the project is critical to us being able to continue (and hopefully expand) our use of iNaturalist. Same with searching for curator-vetted observations and being able to create projects with custom fields; we have a real need for this to continue!

That said, I'm very excited to see the cool things we can do with the umbrella projects, especially as we try to get a handle on the extent of our public participation and project stats.

Posted by taniahomayoun almost 6 years ago

yeah, it is a bummer too that obscured observations are being excluded from our little Vermont town projects, though i understand the reason for it. Maybe at some point some sort of solution can be found. In the mean time, I don't think there is any proposal to delete or ban 'traditional' projects.

Posted by charlie almost 6 years ago

@ellen5 and @carrieseltzer - I just found the shortcut for opening people's profiles from that drop down list, which was something I was missing in the switchover and might help you, too. If you're on a Mac (using Chrome) and looking at the list, you can hold the command button and click on a name and it will open that person's profile in a different tab. In the old version, I used to open the full member list in a separate tab to look at who was in and who I could recruit for more involvement.

Posted by klodonnell almost 6 years ago

cool! Thanks very much for sharing that. I will have to experiment with control-clicking. Who knows what's lurking there?
I have been a pretty steady iNat user since 2015, but i gotta say so much of it has been redesigned that i don't understand much about this site anymore.

Posted by ellen5 almost 6 years ago

My question, which may not relate to this discussion, but it's a glitch that bugs me, is the seemingly inability to merge data from a project I started into data for the same location that was later started by the agency managing the location.

Posted by tpalmer almost 6 years ago

@tpalmer that sounds like it should be a post to the Google Group with specific links.

@jason_m and @bobby23, your umbrella projects containing traditional projects should now be displaying correct counts.

Posted by carrieseltzer almost 6 years ago

@carrieseltzer yes, it is. Thanks for the help :)

Posted by mws almost 6 years ago

A few little nice-to-haves:

When a traditional or collection project is included in an umbrella project, add a link to the umbrella project on the main page of the traditional/collection project. So if one starts at the umbrella project and jumps to one of its child projects, one can easily jump back up to the umbrella project in one click.
Be able to customize the organism groups in the Stats section of a collection project page. Mammals, fungi, etc. aren't very useful in a butterflies-only project, for example, but listing a few families or subfamilies would be useful.

Add a link to the taxon list
so one can quickly see that page and reach the Download CSV link if they want to export a taxon list for the project.

I saw that in the Observations tab of a collection project, the Identify button is located at a much much better place: next to the Map/Grid/List buttons. I've always wondered why it can't be prominently located there in a general observation search page instead of buried in the Filters.

I think the new collection projects will be nice for some of my purposes, where I want more of a custom home page and journal for a project that could be summarized by an observation search bookmark. I think this will be a good project type to have, and I'm looking into converting a couple existing projects of mine to this type.

Posted by treichard almost 6 years ago

two preferences please:
The Observations > Map-View does not show the project boundaries. Can it not please do so?
The Overview > Map (at the bottom) does not zoom in/out with a mouse-wheel or control mouse-wheel, like almost all other maps on iNat do. One has to enlarge the map to be able to do so. Can this not please be standardized to almost all the other map windows on iNat.

Using Chrome on Windows 7. Project used is:

Posted by tonyrebelo almost 6 years ago

Thanks @treichard and @tonyrebelo. I've passed on those requests. Customizing the organism groups in stats is tricky, but I definitely understand the interest for projects focusing on specific taxon groups.

Posted by carrieseltzer almost 6 years ago

I have been trying out the new options for collection and umbrella projects, and have observed the following quirks that hopefully be addressed:

Following a new collection project via the web does not automatically add it to a user's "Your projects" page, but "joining" the same project using the iOS app does make it then appear on one's "Your projects" page. Furthermore, the button is labelled "Join" in the app even though now it can be used to follow new collection projects as well as join traditional projects.

The new view of observations when the observation tab in a collection or umbrella project is selected no long displays any notation that observations have reach research grade.

Posted by friel almost 6 years ago

I agree with Tony that the map should function like otehr maps do, i dislike not being able to zoom in also.

Unrelatedly, how about the ability to add places to umbrella projects without having a separate project for each? For things like it may not make sense to make projects for all of them.

Posted by charlie almost 6 years ago

I've found another error with umbrella projects. I made the umbrella project Humans Feeding Animals ( to coalesce Bird Feeders ( and Hand Feeding ( into one project. However, when I try to type the project names into the observation requirements section of Humans Feeding Animals' edit page, the two projects don't show up. How can I fix this?

Posted by mws almost 6 years ago

Apologies if I have missed this in the comments or announcement. Is there a limit to the number of child projects that can be covered by an umbrella project ?

I think it would be neat to do something for the provincial park system here, but if I am going to hit a numerical limit, then I will need to just do a standard collection project with places listed.

Posted by cmcheatle almost 6 years ago

@jason_m projects seem to often not work if they don't have any 'rules' set. I'm not sure why.

@cmcheatle i think there is a limit, somewhere around 250?

Posted by charlie almost 6 years ago

@charlie I'm fairly sure both feeder projects already have a "Must be animalia" rule, but I'll check to make sure.

Posted by mws almost 6 years ago

maybe some other sort of bug then

Posted by charlie almost 6 years ago

Nope, apparently neither did. Thanks for the help :)

Posted by mws almost 6 years ago

The best way to get rid of bugs is bug spray. I wish it would take care programming bugs.

Posted by trollslivesmatter almost 6 years ago

you could try it but it makes the mouse hard to use

Posted by charlie almost 6 years ago

maybe it's already been suggested but it would be great to have these new projects searchable by field.

Use case:

I track natural communities (ecosystem types, basically, but on a fine scale) in Vermont. When i make an observation in a known natural community, or some human modified landscapes, i mark down what it is. See

It would be great to be able to have a project for Red or Silver Maple-Green Ash Swamp, and every other natural community, then an umbrella project for all the natural community types, based on these fields.

Maybe i'm the only one who would use this but it seems useful.

Posted by charlie almost 6 years ago

A couple of minor suggestions to improve:

in umbrella projects it would be nice if the list of child projects was listed alphabetically rather than in the order added. It would make seeing what is there much easier
on umbrella projects, it woul be nice to have an option to toggle the labels of the map of the child projects on or off. For instance this is already getting busy, and only a few are there :

Posted by cmcheatle almost 6 years ago

@ellen5 Another thing I just figured out about the member list. If you add "/members" (without the quotes) to the end of the project URL, it will take you to the old style member list. I find this very useful. I would like it to be sorted by when they joined the project, but that's a small thing.

Posted by klodonnell almost 6 years ago

I updated the text above to reflect the fact that we added a button for converting eligible traditional projects to new collection projects, so you no longer need to send an email.

@cmcheatle, are you referred to the order in which child projects are listed when you're editing an umbrella project? Also, the umbrella project limit is quite high, 200 I think.

@charlie we've talked about including the ability to include in projects based on annotations, but not observation fields.

Posted by carrieseltzer almost 6 years ago

doing natural community type ecology has been on my wish list since i first found iNat, but from my understanding annotations can't ever have habitat or natural community info because they are supposed to be things you can see in the observation photo and about that organism. Still holding out for more natural community functionality, one day. It's a really important part of ecology...

Posted by charlie almost 6 years ago

@carrieseltzer - yes the black "slugs" that list the projects within an umbrella.

Can you please clarify this "Collection projects do not provide access to private and obscured coordinates for project admins.". I interpreted it to mean that a project admin could neither see nor export true co-ordinates of obscured records. However, it looks like obscured records are not collected at all?

Or is there some kind of size requirement that a place associated with a project has to be a certain size etc ?

For example, this project of which I am a member is picking up obscured records (and showing them as obscured) :
For example Azure Bluet is an obscured species, the observations show as obscured, but are there.

Yet this one is not :
I know I have several observations of obscured species from within the park. When I open the observation, the curated places list shows the park the project is for, yet those records are not there in the search results.

Posted by cmcheatle almost 6 years ago

obscured observations aren't collected into really small places especially if they are on the edge. Otherwise it's kind of a loophole in the obscuring because you know both the place and the bounding rectangle, it might be really easy to tell where it was seen

Posted by charlie almost 6 years ago

Please provide a direct link back to the project's homepage from journal posts.

Posted by bouteloua almost 6 years ago

Is there any value in having an "embed project widget" option? Or is the widget from the Places sufficient enough? I am using the widget on our preserve webpages (ex. Might be nice if they can also/or instead link to the project I am creating for each property. But this can be accomplished with a hyperlink, too.

Posted by calloftheloon almost 6 years ago

Can we not just please have a little more "power" with projects:
At present we can choose (filter) for Taxa / Places / People

Can we not also please have the addition of:

Conventional Projects: e.g. we have a Project "Larvae & Juveniles" and it would be nice to have a New Project on "Larvae & Juveniles" of Lepidoptera (yes, we can filter, but we have people who want this project). The only way to do this at present is to create a new conventional project which requires that for Lepidoptera, users now have to add two projects ("Larvae & Juveniles" & PIllar Pirade), instead of one.

But if we could create a project based on "Project" & "Taxon" that would solve that problem, and the observations would be added to the project automatically.

Posted by tonyrebelo almost 6 years ago

@tonyrebelo - I understand this is planned already and is in the development pipeline for phase 2. From the announcement text :
"In the near future we plan to include the ability to use observation annotations as additional project parameters, e.g. to only pull in observations from a particular insect life stage. We plan to combine this feature with improvements to the observation search filters tool."

Posted by cmcheatle almost 6 years ago

@cmcheatle - The example above was for a field that happens to be an annotation, but there are many others that are not. e.g.
Project = Roadkill & Taxon = Birds
Project = Alien-Early-Detection-and-Rapid-Response & Place = City-of-Cape-Town

Perhaps I was silly to use a Project that was also an annotation: it just happened to be the one that triggered the query. It has now muddied the request. It is the filter on Projects that I am requesting, the annotations would be nice, but far less powerful.

Posted by tonyrebelo almost 6 years ago

i think the annotations would be way, way more useful and powerful than projects filtering other projects. It all depends on what you are using it for but my point is yes, please add annotations. I want to be able to create collection projects for different natural community types.

Posted by charlie almost 6 years ago

All annotations can do is sex and age. Whereas conventional projects allow things like.
Biocontrols, Aliens, early detection, ant mimicry, avian influenze, personal and regional and national and internationally run projects, blue community, catskill, powerkill, roadkill, poolkill, champion trees, diseases, extinct, first and last seasonal records, galls, habitats, harvesting, interactions, invasions, keys, larders, mating, monitoring, moulting, nesting, myrmecochory, rhinomyiophily, post fire, reared from larval stage, scats/dung, spoor/signs, skulls/skeletons, strandings, undescribed species, used-medicinally, vegetation types, water-insects, trees., etc., in addition to age and sex.
Of course, conventional projects are nothing more than special "tags", as are annotations, and even observation fields, so a filter based on tags sensum latum would be the same thing.
Obviously, we mean different thiings by powerful.

Posted by tonyrebelo almost 6 years ago

I guess i am mixing annotations and fields. Fields are the ones i really want though plant annotations too.

I'm sure you mean something different by 'powerful' but pointless to discuss further.

Posted by charlie almost 6 years ago

Fields I agree!!! They are a problem though: there are so many

Posted by tonyrebelo almost 6 years ago

yeah there is a huge issue with standardizing those... but one that probably is too divergent to get into again here :)

Posted by charlie almost 6 years ago

I have set up a collection project using the new set-up for a school bioblitz. Just want to confirm a couple of things to get this straight in my head! the administrator has to add users to the project to ensure that their observations are included, right? Any observations made that fall within the 'place' set up for the project will also be included?
I have added my personal iNat user name to the project but on my phone App I can still not see the project?
If guests come on the day for the event, how do they follow the project? Will they be able to see it on their App when they are on site?

Posted by hhbioblitz almost 6 years ago

Actually I'm also wondering if there is an Android issue here? My colleague who has an iPhone was able to join the project today, but I cannot with my android phone, though I have joined many projects in the past?!

Posted by hhbioblitz almost 6 years ago

You don't have to join or manually add any observations to the collection projects. It's automatic once you set up the project rules.

Posted by bouteloua almost 6 years ago

Hi--I am following up on the discussion of the usefulness of observation fields in projects, pointed out above by @tonyrebelo and @bobby23. Custom fields are important for our project as well. Has a way been figured out to include observation fields in the new type of collection project? Thanks.

Posted by sarahpartan over 5 years ago

@sarahpartan - I dont think that is possible.

The new projects are "filter" projects. observations are automatically added if the observation has a taxon, user or place.
Projects needing Observation Fields often (usually?) require the submitter of the observation to especially add extra data. It is theoretically possible to use the Observation Field as a "tag" and thus 'filter' these observations into a project. But that wont work for projects with more than one observation field, or observation fields that are not compulsory. The best method for these is the old style project, where the project name is the "tag" used on the observation to 'filter" the observation to the project, but the project and its requirements are still needed to manage the data input, especially projects that require many Observation Fields.
Personally, I think too much has been made about the traditional projects being "traditional" and thus old and requiring a special input. All that is required on the Projects page is a panel for traditional projects - just like those that exist for "Filter" and "Umbrella" projects, except that I suggest we give them a new name, such as "Curatorial" or "Managed" or even "Field" projects.. I also vote, that we dont change them very much, especially not the curation and management aspects, nor the downloadability aspect (which is most useful - although can easily be done in the Explore Menu, using the Project as a filter item - provided that curators there have special privileges to see obscured data.).

Posted by tonyrebelo over 5 years ago

Something I noticed is that other peoples' new projects are nearly impossible to find. It would be really useful if new projects showed up on observations like they do with the traditional projects.

Posted by mws over 5 years ago

I agree: projects are impossible to find. The search is not particularly useful if you are not aware of a project and trying to find useful projects. Similarly the Projects banner page is not helpful: it only shows featured projects (which is boring after your first look at the page), recently used and recently created. It does not include projects based on any of their stats (e.g. lots of postings, lots of data). There is nowhere for instance that shows "all projects".
What would be useful is a panel of projects "in your area". Where your area is a map extent or Place.
These would have to be two types:

projects centred or contained in your "area"
regional or global projects that include your "area"

One can find some of these on the site: e.g.

but these are "conventional" projects - the new filter projects do not have a "place" option that adds the project to a particular place. So the new projects are "invisible" if you try and find projects in a place.
these include childs (e.g. western-cape is included in South-Africa, so all western-cape projects show in place = South-Africa), but do not include places within projects: i.e. projects run in "South Africa" which includes western-cape do not show up in the western-cape place. This is a nuisance because South-Africa wide and Africa wide projects are relevant to place=western-cape or even place=cape-town.

It would be nice if the new projects could be adapted in some way to be part of this functionality.

Posted by tonyrebelo over 5 years ago

I have noticed something with this new feature that I am not sure was intentional. Vulnerable species that were automatically obscured by the site (as opposed to being obscured by the user) are not showing in projects with location boundaries. I understand why user-obscured observations would not be included, but automatic ones where the true location is still viewable on the observation's page seem like they should be included.

For example:
There are many alligators observations in Barataria Preserve. It is probably the most observed species in the area, although now I can't tell. Here are a couple of mine:

However, in this project that should include these alligators and many others, there is only 2 alligator observations, neither of which include my dozen or so observations:

Posted by audubon23 over 5 years ago

That is as it should be. The localities in your project are the obscured-randomized ones. So their exact locality is irrelevant, the projects detect them based on their obscured localities. Similarly, observations outside the area obscured to inside will show up even though they are not present.
An artefact of obscuration I am afraid.
Note that for your own observations you see the correct locality, but the projects only include them on their obscured localities - which you have no ways of knowing where they change to for your own observations (your own obscured localities have their obscured localities obscured from you)..

Posted by tonyrebelo over 5 years ago

@tiwane, I see that the line about emailing support for traditional project conversion has been struck through - looks like I should be able to make the switch myself from the edit project page. However, nothing there says "collector." Do I want project type = assessment? Confused by the different terminology and don't want to screw it up. My goal is to convert traditional project to a project that automatically collects observations within parameters (including new annotation parameter option, woohoo!), with no timeframe (i.e., not a bioblitz type). Thanks!

Posted by eraskin over 5 years ago

@eraskin can you email with a URL for the project so I can take a look at it? Mentions, unfortunately, get lost in the shuffle and I don't want to forget this.

Posted by tiwane over 5 years ago

@eraskin freaking me conversion is still there, I did mine yesterday. I'm doing from memory, and I have no others I can check the exact wording on, so if I slightly misrepresent the wording hopefully you still find it.

If you open the project and I believe go into edit project there will be two links at the top, one about appearing this can be converted to a collection project, the 2nd about previewing it as a collection project. Choose the 2nd.

When you get to the preview, from there you can do it, you don't use the dropdown to pick a project type or any of the options there.

Posted by cmcheatle over 5 years ago

How do I add members to a project I created? I am a teacher trying to get students to do a digital lichen/fungi collection, but I need to restrict who can access the project (I have created one for each of the 4 separate classes of students I have). I was hoping to send an invitation to them via email.

Posted by dhergert over 5 years ago

@deannaher can you email and provide a URL to the project in question? We can help you out there.

Posted by tiwane over 5 years ago

thank you @tiwane . Will do.

Posted by dhergert over 5 years ago

I'd like the traditional project to remain available. Last year I used iNaturalist to make a set of reference observations of "rare and significant" plants and animals. i.e. organisms or their habitat that can be considered Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas (ESHAs) in the Coastal Zone of California. There are no blanket categories that I can use to capture all the observations that I want, while excluding the ones I don't want in the project. Manual inclusion is the only way that really makes sense.

Posted by asabspade about 5 years ago

The traditional projects cannot be removed. They are a totally different concept to the collections project: this has been explained above if you read the thread.
Basically traditional projects could be made into collections project be the addition of a filter (like species, place, user) that filters on an observation field. One could then say create an Observation Field "Roadkill" and a collections project that filters on that field. To convert those traditional projects using manual "add to a project" to a collections project, the conversion process could simply create an observation field for that purpose (which the user could afterwards tweak).
((in theory tags would also work, but only the observer can add tags))
So the two are not totally incompatible, but it will take quite a bit of programming to accomplish this.

Posted by tonyrebelo about 5 years ago

I just changed my project to “collection”. It is not doing quite what I want. How can I change it back to “traditional”?

Posted by sarka over 4 years ago

Which project? I presume (as its sister project is still Traditional).
Email at help below (or and log your request. I hope that they can do it. The point is that traditional projects are added to observations (or vice versa: same thing). But you have now converted it to a filter, so unless iNat preserved all the project-observation links, it will not be possible to revert without having an empty project. But the guys do perform miracles often, so lets keep our fingers crossed.

Posted by tonyrebelo over 4 years ago

Thank you. I sent an email.

Posted by sarka over 4 years ago

I don't know if you have talked about this problem I'm having. I wanted to add my observations to a collection project I just recently create, but the name of it didn't appear in the options. Then I check for a traditional project and I modified it to a collection project. I checked again to see what projects appeared as options to add my observation and I noticed that I could see the new modified traditional projects but I still can see the new created collection project to add my observations....

Posted by fernamontana about 4 years ago

It helps if you tell us more. Which are the projects concerned? It is not quite clear which of these you are referring to:

Posted by tonyrebelo about 4 years ago

you shouldn't be able to add things manually to a collection project, they should just automatically appear there if it qualifies. However, unless you 'follow' or join the project the icon won't show up on your observation.

Posted by charlie about 4 years ago

Hi @tonyrebelo
In this moment I have 4 projects. Four of them where created before you change the traditional projects toward Collection and Umbrella, those are: Biodiversidad del Venado de Oro, Soy Naturalista Iguaque, Soy Naturalista Chingaza y Soy Naturalista Otún Quimbaya (I have turned already three of them into a collection projects).
Recently in December I created two more projects: Exploración florística del PNR Serranía de las Quincas (V. Altazor, Boyacá), and Exploración florística del PNR Serranía de las Quinchas (V. Quinchas, Boyacá), 12-2019. But it happens that neither of these workout when I was in field. I decided to upload the pictures as observations so I could then join them to the projects later. When I get home I tried to do it but I found out that as options to add the pictures only appeared the traditional projects that I had changed to a collection project.
I don't know how to solve these. I need the people I'm working with in this can be able to see the results of this day and they can also start adding more observations. I hope this time I've made myself more clear :) Thank you a lot!

Posted by fernamontana about 4 years ago

@charlie what do you mean by "if it qualifies"? This can be a clue for this problem. I also don't understand why should I follow a project that I have created. Moreover when I'm logging I don't have that option...
Thank you!!

Posted by fernamontana about 4 years ago

i mean that if something 'qualifies' for the filters of a collection project it will automatically be added to it, unless the user has set the settings otherwise, but you won't see the icon on your observation unless you join the project yourself. Does that make sense? Maybe i am not explaining it right.

Posted by charlie about 4 years ago

Unless I am mistaken, you don't have to join a project which you create, you automatically are set to follow it. If you are not seeing records you think should be in a project, then likely they have some factor (date, species, location) which does not meet the criteria of your project. The most common issue is obscured records which are blocked from being included in collection projects. @fernamontana

Posted by cmcheatle about 4 years ago

Thank you, I think I got the idea. Now the question is what is blocking the projects of being seeing in the pictures as a choice to add them? Also, now that you mention the location I've found out that the choices I'm looking for such as Parque Regional Natural Serranía de las Quinchas, Vereda Quinchas or Vereda Altazor aren't shown as an option. I thought the app would do it automatically set up the region or place. I understand that now the data for collection projects will have open location.
More ideas? Thank you :)

Posted by fernamontana about 4 years ago

Now I'm feeling really frustrated. There is no way I can visualize the projects I created recently to add the observations I need to, Also ¡'ve found out that I can't add a new place if I don't have more than 50 observations for the place. even though for Otanche (Boyacá) there are many observations...
Any idea how can I move forward? I thought I could use this app to promote locals to use it as a group through feeding one project, but it's been a nightmare...

Posted by fernamontana about 4 years ago

let us take one project.
It is not working because it does not have a place set.
So: click Edit and under Places add: Chingaza National Park (
Also: please change Quality Grade = Casual, Needs ID and Research grade
Your project will then work fine.

BUT: If you want the locals to see the project on their observations, then THEY must join the project. IF they do so then the project will display on their observations if it qualifies. But even if they do not join, you - and they - will be able to see the observations if they go to the project.

Posted by tonyrebelo about 4 years ago

Now Otanche - is this what you mean?
You dont seem to have a project for Otanche yet, so here is one:
You are manager on this, so please fix it if it is useful, or delete it if it is not.

Now if you look on this observation:
You will see that the project "otanche" is automatically added to your observation

Posted by tonyrebelo about 4 years ago

I noticed that some of my observations were added to a project and decided to join, but I am not sure how am I exactly going to contribute to the project if my observations are being already automatically added. What are the benefits/reasons to join a project?

Posted by ginaglezi about 4 years ago

One of the benefits is that the project will display in the projects panel on all your observations that are eligible. A reminder, and an advert for the project.
And also if the project holder posts any news or summaries in the project journal, then you will be informed on your dashboard.

Posted by tonyrebelo about 4 years ago

Is there any project for observations of home animals during the COVID's Quarantine?

Posted by fcstraube almost 4 years ago

it's not specifically quarantine related but try Never Home Alone

Posted by charlie almost 4 years ago

Love it, but what do we do if the location is not showing up (e.g. I tried setting up a collection project for a nearby Roosfontein Nature Reserve, but it's simply not popping up as an option, so I had to go with a traditional project)? @tonyrebelo Perhaps you would know.

Posted by suncana over 3 years ago

@suncana please take a look at the Managing Projects page:

Posted by tiwane over 3 years ago

@tiwane Ah thank you, that helps a lot.

Posted by suncana over 3 years ago

@suncana - please contact me directly. I dont think that you have it ...
Roosfontein is not working correctly: it should be collections project on a place, but it wont work because you dont have a place ...

Posted by tonyrebelo over 3 years ago

I would like to start a project for an area around Smith Park, Miller County, Arkansas. I am working with a friend to provide observations on birds, insects, plants, and other animals. How can I specify an area around the park that includes the park? I'm Mike Dillon

Posted by mdillon444 almost 3 years ago

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