Squelching of Taxonomic Discussion on iNaturalist Forum

So for those who ask me to post about my taxonomic views on the forum, here is why i do not. I've been told I 'talk about it too much' (which really, i barely was even using the forum any more so hard disagree on that one)

Below is the post that I had hidden. I'm going to stop using the forum because i really disagree with how it's moderated. Posts are deleted when they are 'off topic' which really seems to mean the moderators disagree with the posts or feel that the disagreement is too 'distracting'. However, other behavior that clearly is off topic or violates the rules outright is allowed. It seems to rely heavily on social norms and unwritten rules that as an autistic person i am never going to understand. So it's not a healthy place for me to be. I hope the iNat admins someday allow me to share my views again, before the crisis accelerates and just destroys inat outright. But at this point there isn't much i can do except back up my data often.

Post below:

there are a few, mostly funded grad school. unfortunately it’s mostly concerned with splitting and re splitting taxa to very fine levels of identity with little emphasis on conducting inventory or finding true undescribed species (most ‘new’ species you hear about are minute variations in existing species that it’s now considered appropriate to elevate as their own species, but there are true undescribed species out there that are getting missed in that mess). Actual field inventory and monitoring are under assault from all sides while policymakers won’t fund it, universities won’t do it because it’s flashier to describe a ‘new’ species, developers and such actively obstruct it because they don’t want anything protected found near their proposed developments, and taxonomists increasingly make field inventory harder and harder with their changes and refusal to create field-ready monitoring units. So yeah the future is pretty dark. iNat offered an alternative in that anyone could do passable field inventories, but increasingly the taxonomic push to force micro-type species, even of common vascular plants and such, has spread to iNat so this site becomes significantly less powerful and useful by the day as well. The changes shrink the field time window shorter and shorter as most of the new ‘species’ can only be identified for a few weeks a year if at all, or with dissecting scopes not everyone has access to, and name change makes database management an increasingly bloated task that keeps people out of the field. For reasons i don’t understand the taxonomists on iNat also refuse to create holding bin groups for the existing species when they split them, so basically all old data is made unusable by splits. So i don’t know where the answer lies. I used to have a lot of hope iNat would be the solution but i don’t any more… however the reason isn’t the AI algorithm but what people are doing with taxonomy and forcing onto this site. iNat has a major personality conflict where it aims to be the answer to these questions, allowing anyone to inventory taxa and understand their world. But the actual trajectory of the site, led by activist taxonomist curators, linkage to dysfunctional ‘authorities’ like Plants of the World Online, and apparent staff inability, unwillingness, or lack of resources to see the problem, seems to be setting up for a big crash in the next few years. iNat is being torn in two directions, and i see one fragment of it basically becoming a customized but rarely used Survey123 solely for academics with a very robust taxonomic database perfectly mirroring POWO and such, and the other fragment becoming Project Noah - pretty pictures with no actual value in tracking biodiversity.
Download and back up your data on your own device, i guess.

Posted on May 29, 2024 09:18 PM by charlie charlie


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