** IF THE PROPOSAL BELOW SOUNDS APPEALING, ADD YOUR SIGNATURE (FWIW) HERE: A Plea for Observation Sharing Functionality ** We’ve all been there – out hiking with a group of other naturalists, all with slightly
different interests and taxonomic specialties and patterns of attention. We find organisms,
we point them out to one another, and we have a communal experience of biodiversity on that
day. All of us sharing a general desire to see creatures, and to have documentation of
those encounters represented on our iNat profiles.
… that latter point typically resulting in every one of those naturalists taking their own
photo of the same lily, the same mushroom, the same snake, and every one of those
naturalists then uploading separate observations of the exact same individuals.
The downsides of this state of affairs include:
1. That snake being held/detained for just a little bit longer so that everyone gets their photo.
2. That rare mushroom being uploaded 10 times, skewing the apparent abundance and phenology data for that species, however slightly (not so slight in the cumulative view after a decade…)
3. That lily being variably georeferenced to number of different points (especially if there’s a DSLR shooter amongst a bunch of phone-users), resulting in shotgun-scatter maps.
4. The general but not trivial frustration accompanying duplication of effort.
As a solution, we proposae: Functionality to enable single observations or batches of observations to be shared with lists of usernames.
The original user’s observation would be the “original”, and the shared “copies”
propagated to other user’s accounts wouldn’t show up on maps or in phenology charts
(which would address the currently data duplication issue).
Ideally, each copy would be reciprocally linked to all other “copies” in other user’s
accounts as well as the original – perhaps visible as a list following a link to “Twin
Observations” or some such phrasing.
The reason for the above reciprocal linking would be to help solve another problem – For
example, a user will find and upload an interesting mushroom, and then send a dried
specimen to someone more adept with microscopy. That person will take photos of the
mushrooms’ spores using a microscope, but would have to send those photos to the
original observer to have them added to the observation. That person would then have to
change the copyright info to be accurate, and might have to change licensing for that
individual photo as well.
The “copy” observation could retain the original user’s preferences for the shared photos,
but any new photos added by the second user would import the settings associated with the recipient user’s account.
eBird has a good infrastructure for sharing checklists with members of a
party, enabling multiple photos from different users to be associated with the same
records, and crucially, also enables individual users to remove species they didn’t see, as well as to add species that other members of the group did not see.
This last feature will be very desired by those obsessive-compulsive among us who wantto keep our personal lists as accurate as possible… “overly-educated Golden Retrievers”, to paraphrase Liam O’Brien.
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