New Requirements to Sending Messages, Making Projects, and Making Places

We've just made the following changes

1) To send a message you must have 3 verifiable observations or 3 identifications added for others. New users who haven't met this requirement will still be able to reply to messages.
2) To make a traditional project or a place you must have 50 verifiable observations. New users who haven't met this requirement can still make new collection and umbrella projects.

A verifiable observation is an observation that has a date, a location, media evidence (image or sound), and has not been voted captive/cultivated.

There are a few reasons we're doing this, but first and foremost is to emphasize that iNat is about observations and identifications. Everything else is secondary, if not tertiary, and folks who want to use iNat's other features should always understand the iNat experience from the perspective of an observer and/or an identifier. We see a lot of people signing up for iNat and trying to make a project right off the bat, which often leads to some confusion on the project creator's part about the behavior of their participants or what all the various settings mean. I would have preferred to apply this restriction to collection and umbrella projects as well, but that seemed to get a lot of pushback. Places have similar problems, largely because of people creating place records for places that already exist.

There are also some technical reasons for doing this, particularly regarding places. Making new places that encompass lots of observations kicks off automated background jobs that can take a really, really long time, and sometimes that affects site performance for everyone. One could argue that no one should have the ability to do this, but we feel pretty strongly that new users definitely should not be able to do this.

Regarding messages, recent phishing campaigns have convinced us that we need to make it a *little* harder for new users to send messages. We don't think three observations or three identifications is a very high bar, but hopefully it will dissuade some bad actors.

As with everything else on the site, this is all subject to change, so if we need to raise these barriers higher, or remove them again, we'll reconsider.

Posted by kueda kueda, May 16, 2019 19:11



This seems very sensible. Thanks for explaining it clearly.

Posted by sullivanribbit 2 months ago (Flag)

This is good. I just got a spam/phishing message today, for example.

Posted by raymie 2 months ago (Flag)

Totally reasonable and appropriate. Thanks.

Posted by lagoondon 2 months ago (Flag)

Very reasonable indeed except for the poor bat that gets the blame ;-)

Posted by jakob 2 months ago (Flag)

Sounds good to me

Posted by shauns 2 months ago (Flag)

I now fully support this. In the brief month and half that I have used iNat I have already seen two users with no observations, no identifications, who tried as their very first act to set up a project. When the project did not work as expected, in at least one case that same day, they posted to the forum. In both cases a lack of familiarity with iNat was the underlying problem. Despite pushback, I think the rule should be expanded to all projects.

Posted by danaleeling 2 months ago (Flag)

Very reasonable, although I think requiring three Research Grade observations should be the threshold. I understand why the bar wasn't set that high though.

Posted by sandboa 2 months ago (Flag)

Sounds great to me. Totally reasonable.

Posted by cthawley 2 months ago (Flag)

Yes new users should not be able to create places and project. Exception can be handled on a case by case basis.

Posted by gancw1 2 months ago (Flag)

Thanks Ken-ichi -- I think these are really good ideas.

Posted by susanhewitt 2 months ago (Flag)

Excellent, thanks, Ken-ichi, very reasonable, well thought-out, well communicated.

Posted by mira_l_b 2 months ago (Flag)

Well done!

Posted by ellen5 2 months ago (Flag)

Fully agree~! And, yes, 3 observations is a very low requirement indeed. Thank you!

Posted by katharinab 2 months ago (Flag)

I think 3 observations is very low and I would make it five at research grade or 10 observations total. I don't think people who use the site for spam or phishing will have any trouble entering three observations, but they will just throw anything up, so you will end up with a lot of wasted observations and wasted time identifying them or trying to teach people how to use the site who have no intention of becoming useful members.

Posted by juliereid 2 months ago (Flag)

Well done Ken-ichi, thanks for striving to keep this forum true to what it was meant to be!

Posted by zabbey 2 months ago (Flag)

Nice changes

Posted by finatic 2 months ago (Flag)

Perhaps it can be made clearer to beginners, that almost everything that you can do with projects can also be done with filters on the Explore menu. Commonly used filters can be bookmarked.
Projects should only be used if you are prepared to actively promote the project, coordinate users and activities, actively make and verify identifications, and are prepared to give regular feedback in the journals.

Posted by tonyrebelo 2 months ago (Flag)

The more I think about this, the more value I see in mandating the observations be research grade (or at least reviewed). This way any potential spammer has to pass the test of other iNat users "approving" their full membership. This should make it a little harder to just throw up three pictures of animals/plants from the internet and getting access to pollute the project.

Posted by sandboa 2 months ago (Flag)

Thanks for your continuing efforts to keep iNat a useful and reliable tool for sharing and learning and especially for keeping the fun in it.

Posted by connlindajo 2 months ago (Flag)

thank you. I have been an iNaturalist contributor for over a year now and I have kept learning from the site and from the generous Identifiers for all that time. iNaturalist is a very rich and layered resources and You have established reasonable measures. I agree with those who recommend three Research Grade observations.

Posted by lissamartinez 2 months ago (Flag)

These are great improvements! Like others have said I think the observations bar could probably go a little higher like 5 research grade or 10 total observations.

Posted by rogerbirkhead 2 months ago (Flag)

These are intelligent changes. The bar may need to be raised even higher in the future.

Posted by argyl 2 months ago (Flag)

Is this really a zooniverse13?

Posted by angelajoan13 2 months ago (Flag)

I'll agree as well -- these are logical requirements, and I'm happy to see these changes. Many times I've tried to convince people to not create a project, especially one that is just taxa and place based. As always, many thanks.

Posted by sambiology 2 months ago (Flag)

I'm a new user and 100% agree !! It's going to take me a while to get proficient . If anything I would raise the requirements .!

Posted by paulinerosen about 2 months ago (Flag)

Yeah, I would also say it's a good idea to raise the requirements even more. I don't think anyone will object.

Posted by susanhewitt about 2 months ago (Flag)

I run advanced courses for beginners (I know - I am full of contradictions, but others do beginners courses for beginners) to iNaturalist for CREW. Within the first hour of the course total novices are expected to upload 10 observations. If ever there is a need to raise the bar substantially higher, there should be no hesitation in doing so.

Posted by tonyrebelo about 2 months ago (Flag)

Hello, Thank you for all the comments. I understand the restrictions on projects. I created a project for a small community of people in my town that would all like to join our observations together through a project. Unfortunately, the 50 verifiable observations will take a lot of time. While iNaturalist allows me to create a project, it does not warn of whether it us usable... I just cannot attach any of my verified observations to it, and there is no explanation. I think it would be helpful if the site communicated these types of things more clearly.. Bryce

Posted by bbarnes01 4 minutes ago (Flag)

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