21 de enero de 2023

Taxonomy Strike

Friends, if you're wondering where I'm at... I am on a taxonomy strike.

This stems from a very particular poorly implemented policy from iNaturalist that I am fighting against. Did you know that users have the ability to block up to 3 of their fellow users on here, and doing so prevents a blocked user from adding any identifications onto their observations. When this happens to a de facto curator such as myself, it effectively prevents me from curating those taxa. How do I know... because this is precisely what happened when a fellow user blocked me for no perceptible reason.

[edit: this observation has since been deleted and reuploaded by the user]

That brief exchange is the only time that I've spoken with @old-bean-adams [edit: AKA @j_stauffer, AKA @j__stauffer, the user has repeatedly changed names in response to this post] on here, but despite the dozens of identifications that I've provided this user, they felt the need to violate site policy (https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/community+guidelines) and block me. When this was pointed out to iNat staff (specifically, @tiwane, the Outreach and Community Coordinator), the response was to ignore it.

"I don't know why that user blocked you but I don't see the same pattern of the user blocking people for just IDs. Unless it's pretty clear-cut, asking someone why they're blocking another user is not something we usually do."

Why is this important? Why is this worth fighting about? Because this stretches far beyond whatever grievance @old-bean-adams might have felt they had with me. When I am blocked from interacting with that user's observations, they are essentially un-curatable, at least on my end. And seeing as I am often the only user curating coral observations, that means that any misidentifications linger on, visible to every other user. Thus the actions of this one user have a direct effect on everyone else here, and potentially on the larger scientific community, who might encounter this user's potentially erroneous data on sites like GBIF.

iNaturalist asks a lot of its experts. The workload involved with curating a taxon is daunting and continues to grow as the site does. From my perspective, there are a number of policy decisions made that actively inhibit the desire of experts from contributing their time here. For instance, allowing an AI-generated identification to count as the equal of a human-generated ID is a profoundly bad policy, especially since many of the users who select those IDs are ephemeral and never bother to update their IDs. This, in effect, wastes the time of an expert. Allowing users to opt-out of community IDs has a similarly negative effect, but at least those can be pushed to Casual Grade. Allowing users to opt-out of taxonomy updates is an even stranger policy... and did you know that when you combine a community opt-out with a taxon swap, the former takes precedence. Look, here's one...


The latter point was something that I tried to raise on the forums (multiple times, in fact), but my posts were never approved by @tiwane. The community mods there are bizarrely strict in what they deem to be acceptable discourse and will not hesitate to stifle speech if they feel that it's just griping. They might tell you to post it as a Feature Request, at which point it'll be denied for not really being a Feature Request. There is, in fact, very little recourse for providing feedback, and essentially none for providing feedback that might be construed as negative, but that's a gripe for a different day. BTW, if you're wondering why I am writing this as a Journal Post and not posting it to the forums (where it would have more visibility with the community), it's because it would be immediately deleted by a mod. In fact, I'm curious to see if it'll get deleted from my own Journal.

As it stands, I am not willing to let iNaturalist have it both ways. They don't get to ask of me to freely share my expertise (thousands and thousands of hours of uncompensated labor, from someone with irreplicable taxonomic expertise) and then in the same breath deny me the ability to properly curate, all because some random user decides it's their right to block me, in clear violation of site policy and with zero administrative oversight. That is a bridge too far, and I am on a taxonomy strike until that is rectified.

While I had initially requested from @tiwane that I simply be unblocked from @old-bean-adams, I no longer consider that adequate. I am fighting this stupid fight on behalf of all of my fellow experts on here, who may not even be aware that they are blocked. There is, of course, no notification alerting a blocked user when this happens. I only figured this out when observations from @old-bean-adams lingered in my search results (but only as red dots on the map) after I had gone through and added identifications to all available observations. Only by clicking on the red dots can I reach those forbidden observations, revealing that they are from a user that has blocked me. If you are a prolific identifier on here, odds are that you have your own @old-bean-adams. Frustrating, right?

I will return when iNaturalist has realized the error of their ways and has improved upon their process for blocking users. The most logical way to solve this is to simply make blocking apply to comments and messages, NOT identifications.


PS Noteworthy that the user renamed their profile and deleted/reuploaded the observation in question. Here's the new one, sans identifications.


PS Noteworthy that this user renamed their profile a 2nd time and once again deleted-reuploaded the observation in question...

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/148202218 [edit: once again, deleted]

Publicado el enero 21, 2023 03:37 TARDE por joe_fish joe_fish | 139 comentarios | Deja un comentario