Tech Tip Tuesday: Editing Profiles

Today doesn’t feel as much like “walking in a winter wonderland” as it does “slogging through an early mud season”. If you live outside the Upper Valley on the border of Vermont and New Hampshire, I hope you’ve had better luck maintaining snow cover. I realize that I often begin a post by commenting on the weather. Monitoring patterns in the natural world, including paying attention to factors such as precipitation and temperature, are important because they drive a species’ ability to persist in an area. As weather patterns get increasingly erratic, plants, animals, and fungi that we’ve long accepted as common in our area may shift farther north in an attempt to keep pace with cooler temperatures or disappear completely. By paying attention to the weather and monitoring biodiversity, we are staying connected with the rhythms of nature and alert to potential problems.

As humans, we are wired for connection, both to other humans and our surrounding environment. Today, these connections help us tackle some of the biggest threats facing our species and our planet. They allow us to identify what’s normal and what isn’t, and come together as a community to learn and problem-solve. Nowadays, there are countless ways for people to connect with each other. While this is a double-edged sword in some ways, many examples of technology improving connections exist.

This Week on Tech Tip Tuesday

iNaturalist is one such example of how modern technology can help us connect to nature and each other. While there are many ways to connect through iNaturalist, today we’re talking about profiles. I know, profiles may not seem like the most pressing issue to address when it comes it iNaturalist use, however they are surprisingly important. Besides individual observations, your profile is how you will make a first impression on other users. Ultimately, iNaturalist is a social media site – it’s a way to connect and communicate with other nature-enthusiasts. Your profile is how you can display your skills and interests to others so that they know who is sharing observations and who is providing identifications.

I realize that profiles are very personal, so feel free to take whatever tips resonate with you and leave others behind.

  1. Your name. There’s a space where you can add your real name (not just your username). I recommend doing this because it makes it easier for others to cite your photographs (if your copyright settings allow) and makes your profile feel more personal.
  2. Profile picture. Similar to providing your real name, having a profile picture makes your account seem more personal. It puts a face to the observations and identifications. It’s also a great excuse to show off one of your fantastic naturalist adventures.
  3. Provide context. One of the most important components is providing some information about who you are and why you use iNaturalist. This could include what you do/did professionally, how you got started on iNaturalist, what you like most about using it, etc. In general, these are any details that illustrate you as a naturalist.
  4. Talk about taxa. It’s always good to list what taxa most interest you and/or which one(s) you would consider yourself proficient in identifying. This is helpful for those who like to identify other’s observations because knowing that you’re well-versed in the taxon you’re identifying will help other users gain confidence in your identifications. A fun bonus is adding a “Favorite Taxa” list to your profile. To add “Favorite Taxa”, go to your lists (found in dropdown menu under profile icon in the top right corner) and create a new list titled “Favorite Taxa”. Whatever taxa you add to that list will automatically appear on your profile.
  5. Add resources. It’s also great to list resources that you find helpful when identifying plants, animals, and fungi. These could be the names of books, online guides, or any other source that is accurate and informative. If you have other naturalist resources that are not specifically for identification but that you find helpful for better understanding the natural world, definitely include those as well!
  6. Professional links. Besides the resources listed above, your profile is also a great place to provide links to your nature photography website, the nature-focused organizations you work for, projects that you’re involved with, or important publications you authored. However, your profile shouldn’t be your CV, so just pick links that you feel are most important for others to check out.
  7. Keep your profile nature focused and professional. Really, you can provide whatever information you want in your profile, however providing details that are relevant to your experiences as a naturalist will help you make the best connections with other users.

If you’re curious about what some example profiles that follow these guidelines might look like, check out these iNaturalist users:

Greg Lasley
Cedric Lee
Denis Doucet
Jason Michael Crockwell

At this point, you might be thinking “This is all great, but how do I even edit my profile?”. The good news is that it’s quite simple. Go to the dropdown menu under profile icon in the top right corner and click on “Profile”. Once on that page, click on “Edit Account Settings & Profile” under your picture. Once you are on the “Edit” page, you can change many different parts of your profile. For today, I recommend sticking with your name, profile icon, and the “Tell everyone a little about yourself” textbox, but feel free to explore other possible settings.

TTT Task of the Week

Start out by exploring the profiles listed above. Think about what you like and may want to incorporate in your own profile. Then go edit your own profile, including at least one of the suggestions made above. Take a look at the other areas you can edit, but for now focus on your name, picture, and description.

As always, thank you for helping us map Vermont’s biodiversity and happy observing!

Posted by emilyanderson2 emilyanderson2, December 10, 2019 20:21

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