iNaturalist Tips & Tricks

General Tips

  • It’s totally ok to just leave an identification at a broader level, like “sunflower family” or even just “plant.” If someone helps identify something further, don’t “agree” with the ID until you’ve confirmed the identification seems correct. Otherwise observations may become “research grade” mistakenly.
  • Take the automated species identifications with a grain of salt. Sometimes it provides suggestions for organisms that are only found halfway across the world!
  • Turn off “confirming identifications” in your account settings (only receive notifications about identifications that don’t exactly match your own). It greatly reduces the number of unnecessary notifications you receive. You’ll still get notifications if there is a comment attached to the agreeing notification.
  • Join the iNaturalist Google Group.
  • View recent comments.
  • View recent journal posts.
  • Show scientific names first, set your preferred common name place, or completely hide common names in your account settings.
  • Use the Data Quality Assessment section to mark observations as cultivated, that they lack evidence of an organism, or that the community can’t improve them based on the photos provided. A few of us have prepared some frequently-used responses for new users and problematic content.
  • View “Marked Atlases” – species that have observations falling outside of their known distribution (read more about Atlases).
  • You can always download iNaturalist data and manipulate it as you please.

Special Searching Tips

There are a lot of ways to check out the data on iNaturalist. Most are included in the filters at the Explore page (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations), but some are hidden! You can always use the API directly to search for quite a variety of things, but there are also a few that you can access directly from the iNat website:

Getting More Help

Don’t hesitate to reach out to the site staff or the Google Group if you have any questions/feedback about iNat. If you want to get in touch with me, feel free to @ tag me in a comment (@bouteloua). For longer queries, email is better: cassisaari@gmail.com.