Project Noah

Project Noah is a tool to explore and document wildlife and a platform to harness the power of citizen scientists everywhere.

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Frequently asked questions

General questions

What is Project Noah?

Project Noah is a fun way to explore and document wildlife. The technology platform and community we’ve built also provide a powerful way for research groups to collect important ecological data. The purpose of the project is to mobilize and inspire a new generation of nature lovers. It began as an experiment to see if we could build an app for people to share their nature encounters and has evolved into a powerful global movement for both amateurs and experts. The name “Noah” is an acronym that stands for networked organisms and habitats.

How do I start?

You can start by signing in with any of your existing online accounts including Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo!, Windows Live and Aol. If you don't have one of these accounts, we invite you to sign up for one to quickly join the project. Once you've logged in for the first time you'll be presented with your "My Noah" dashboard. Here you can upload, manage and view your spottings and browse spottings submitted by the community. If you have an iPhone or Android smartphone, we have mobile applications available to help you connect to Project Noah on the go.

Why do I have to use an existing account to join Project Noah?

At Project Noah we value your privacy and your sensitive personal account information and that’s why we rely on trusted services like Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft to validate and authenticate your accounts. We do not store your passwords. In fact, we don’t even get to see them. We feel this is the safest and most secure way of handling your personal account information and that is why we require you to have an existing account in order to join.

Why should I fill out my profile page?

Once you have joined Project Noah you can change your user name and avatar (profile photo) by clicking on the “settings” button under your user name on the home page. You can also add some information about yourself that will appear on your profile page.

Your profile page is what everyone sees when they want to learn more about you. We encourage you to fill out your profile page so people know where you’re from, what you’re interested in, and what your background is. Your profile page is also a great place to promote your website or blog. If you want people to be able to contact you, you can add an email address as well. Our community is really the heart of Project Noah and by filling out your profile page you allow others to get to know a little bit about you.

Viewing spottings

Before you start to add your own spottings, you might like to take a look at some of the spottings added by other users in our community. You can view other users’ spottings by clicking on them in the newsfeed, which shows thumbnails of all spottings as they are added, commented upon and favorited by other users.. You can select whether you wish to view all spottings or just those added by the users you have chosen to follow. By right clicking on a spotting you have the option to open it in a separate window so that you don’t have to come out of the newsfeed every time you wish to look at a spotting.

The Organisms page shows thumbnails of all the spottings added by the community. You can use the modes at the top of the Organisms page to view spottings chronologically, depending on when they were added, or last commented upon, or by popularity. You can also use the search bar to search for a particular species, or for a particular geographic area using keywords. You can further narrow down your search by selecting spottings from a certain region and/or category.

Commenting and Favoriting spottings

We encourage users to show their appreciation for spottings by leaving positive, interesting or educational comments on other users spottings and by favoriting those they like best by clicking on the heart icon below the photo.

How do I follow people and why should I follow people?

When you sign up to Project Noah, we encourage you to follow users who interest you. For example, if you love reptiles, you can follow Project Noah members who contribute great reptile spottings. To follow someone, just click on his or her profile photo. This will take you to their public profile page where you will see a “follow spotter” button you can click on. By following people, you can customize your Project Noah experience and control what kind of spottings come into your activity feed for viewing. When you’re logged in and on your home page, you will see some options to filter spottings above the activity stream. If you click on the “following” filter you’ll only see contributions made by the users you’re following.

What is a Project Noah Ranger and how can I become one?

Project Noah Rangers are an important part of our active community. Rangers welcome new users, help identify species, remove inappropriate content, and ultimately support our mission to bring awareness to our planet’s biodiversity. Rangers are selected based on their knowledge and contributions to the community and receive a special Ranger patch that can be seen on their patch pages or when they leave comments or suggestions.

You can learn more about the ranger team here. If you think you have what it takes to be a Ranger or if you would like to nominate someone to become a Ranger, please email us at rangers@projectnoah.org.

Documenting wildlife

How do I create a new spotting?

In order to create and submit a new spotting, you must first be signed in. Once you are signed in, you can tap on the “New Spotting” button if you are using our mobile app or click on the “Add a new spotting” button if you are using our website to get started. Next, you will fill out the new spotting form and attach at least one photo before saving and submitting the spotting.

What should I add to my spotting?

We encourage you to share as much information as possible about your encounter. Add a clear and accurate description of the organism and its habitat as well as any relevant notes. The most important piece of information is where you found it. Make sure you record, as precisely as you can, the exact location where you found the organism. Remember to tread lightly and always respect the wildlife you encounter. This includes not handling any organism that may be harmed or stressed unless you have been trained to do so safely.

What types of photos should I submit as spottings?

The best submissions are of an individual species with several clear photos and detailed notes. This remains true whether you’ve encountered an orchid or an orca. We understand that sometimes you might not have the chance to snap multiple photos or even one properly focused photo and that is OK, but please make sure that the species involved can be clearly seen and is recognizable. Our community enjoys learning about the circumstances leading up to your encounter and providing more information along with more photo angles can help tremendously with identification.

Although sunsets and landscapes make for beautiful photographs, we are focused on documenting specific species so unless there is a sea gull flying across the sunset or a grouping of pine trees in the middle of the landscape, please refrain from submitting those types of photos. There are other great sites for that sort of photography.

We also request that photographs are submitted in as natural a state as possible. We appreciate that often there will be a need to carry out minor improvements such as cropping, lightening and sharpening an image so that we can better see the detail of the organism it portrays. These minor improvements are perfectly acceptable but we do request that heavily Photoshopped or otherwise manipulated images are not shared on this site.

Please also refrain from posting spottings of people; we appreciate that on occasions you may have a wildlife spotting that includes a person in the photograph - in this instance please crop your photograph so that the animal or other organism remains the focus of the image.

As we are a community of wildlife lovers, we request that you do not post any images that may cause offense to other users, such as hunting or fishing trophy photographs. We also ask that you do not add dead organisms except those taken as food by living organisms in their natural habitat.

Our primary focus is wildlife, and although we do accept pet photographs, we do not encourage it and we ask that these spottings be assigned to the "Pets" category.

Remember, any photograph you submit must be your own work, or you must have permission from the original photographer to use the image. Photographs copied from the Internet or other sources may infringe copyrights so we cannot accept them.

What do I put in the fields?

Common name: This is the name that you would use to describe the species. For example, Monarch butterfly.

Scientific name: This is the Latin name used to identify the same species no matter where in the world you might be. For example, the scientific name for the Monarch butterfly is Danaus plexippus. Wherever possible, please include a scientific name for your spotting as this helps us link your spotting with others of the same species. If you know the common name of the species, it is usually possible to find a scientific name by a quick Google search. If you don't know the identity of the species, please complete as much information in the description and select the "Help me ID this species" box. We have many experts within the Project Noah community that will help identify spottings, however we do encourage you to try and find out the identity for yourself using the many resources available on the Internet.

Description: This is where you can add details that may not be clear in the photograph, such as approximate size, which will help in identifying the organism. For animals and birds, you could describe their actions as you saw them, e.g. did they run, walk, hop, swim, dive; were they alone, in pairs, small groups large groups. If there are differences between the males and females but your photo only shows one you could explain these. It is not necessary to copy lengthy descriptions from reference sources here as there is a 'reference links' box for this purpose.

Habitat: Please state the actual habitat where you photographed the spotting - this information can then be used to track changes in habitat, such as those caused by human intervention or habitat destruction. Again, it is not necessary to state published habitat information here, this can be referenced in the 'reference links' box.

Notes: Here you can tell us about your encounter with the spotting and add anything not covered in the above fields. We would also like you to state here if the spotting was made in a zoo, aviary, wildlife center, or other similar establishment.

How do I add my video to my spotting?

Right now we support YouTube and Vimeo links only. This means you must have already uploaded your video to either site. In order to add a video to an existing spotting click on "Edit this spotting" and then add your video link in the "Add a video" section. Once you're done, click the save button. When submitting a new spotting, you can just add the link directly to the "Add a video" section. At this time, you can only add one video to a spotting so pick a good one! Remember, we are only looking for videos you have taken that are directly related to your spotting.

Did Project Noah update its organism categories?

Yes we did. The former "Invertebrates" category is now labeled as "Arthropods". Arthropods are mainly land invertebrates including insects, arachnids, myriapods and crustaceans. We feel this is a much more accurate title for the category. Furthermore, mollusks (e.g., squid, slugs, snails, worms, etc.) and other remaining marine invertebrates (e.g., nudibranches, jellyish, starfish, etc.) will now belong in the "Other" category.

How do you handle submissions of endangered species?

Project Noah was created to help people reconnect with nature and learn more about biodiversity around the world. We celebrate global biodiversity and we want to make sure we protect ecosystems for future generations. At this time, if we find out that a submitted spotting is of a critically endangered species in the wild, we will zoom out the map and drop the location pin at a different location. This way, exact coordinates will not be available. In the future, we will try to automate this process by comparing submissions to a list of known endangered species. If you have more questions or are part of an organization that wants to work with us on this, please email us at info@projectnoah.org.

Why is my spotting in a draft state?

For your spotting to appear in the activity stream and other public areas of the site, you’ll need to make sure you’ve completed all the required fields when creating a new spotting. When you create a new spotting, your photos are immediately uploaded. However, these photos will remain in an unpublished draft state until you’ve completed adding all the required fields. The spotting needs to have a photo, category, location and common name or "Needs ID" selected, in order to leave a draft state.

Can I submit pet and zoo animal photos?

Although we technically do accept pet photos, it is not our focus. The reason why we created a pet category is because many users share pet photos when they are getting familiar with our website or experimenting with our mobile apps and we wanted to give our users some time to get comfortable and see what our community is all about. Once settled in, we ask that you focus your sights and your cameras on true wildlife. When submitting photos of zoo animals, we ask that you make it clear in your notes. Zoos play a key role in exposing us to a wide variety of plants and animals and many zoos are instrumental in rehabilitating injured animals and protecting endangered species. Sadly, as more species go extinct in the wild, zoos are becoming a last refuge for many plants and animals and it’s important to highlight those efforts and bring awareness to those species. Whilst we do welcome captive animals in zoos and aquariums, our aim is to share wildlife spottings in as natural circumstances as possible, which is why we request that you do not post photographs of animals being used purely for the purpose of entertainment such as dolphins and whales in marine parks and circus animals.

How about houseplants and garden plants?

Again, as our main purpose is reconnecting people to and documenting wildlife, we prefer that spottings for all organisms be taken in their natural environment wherever possible. House and garden plants are often very hybridized and bear little resemblance to their wild cousins and sadly many of these cultivars have escaped cultivation and now present problems as invasive species in parts of the world.

Can I add a watermark to my photos?

You are allowed to add a watermark to the photos you share but we request that this is unobtrusive and does not dominate the image in any way.

Earning patches

How do I earn patches?

We have four classes of patches available for you to earn. "Spottings" patches are earned by the number of spottings you've contributed overall to Project Noah. To earn "Mission" patches you'll have to join and contribute spottings to specific missions that have special requirements on the category and type of submissions they're looking for. "Special achievements" are earned through interesting relationships between the spottings you submit. For example, if you upload spottings from at least three countries you will earn the “Globe spotter” . "Specialist" patches are reserved for people who submit a significant amount of spottings for a specific wildlife category. For example, if you upload a significant number of fungi spottings you will be deemed a specialist in that category.

What are patches for?

When creating our patches, we were influenced by the merit badges from the Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts. These patches help identify the specific strengths of our members. They also encourage new members to continue contributing to the project. Ultimately, awarding patches is a fun way for us to recognize our community members and all their contributions.

Identifying wildlife

What are Species Suggestions and Species IDs?

We want to help you learn more about the wildlife that's around you. When you submit spottings, other community members can make species suggestions (also known as species IDs) to help you identify species or to point you toward helpful species information. All community members can then decide if they agree with the suggestion by voting for it. If you do not know or are unsure of the correct species in your spotting you can request help by ticking the “Help me ID this species” box during the submission process. The ID suggestions process, in addition to helpful comments from our community members and Project Noah Rangers, is a powerful way to crowdsource the identification of species. After experts and/or other community members have suggested a species ID for your unknown spotting, it is up to you to decide whether or not you agree with the suggested species ID. If you do, we ask that you update your spotting to reflect this new information.

What does it mean when a spotting is “identified” or “not identified”?

Submitted spottings are categorized as either “identified” or “not identified” throughout our site. Spottings are defined as “not identified” when the user checks the “help me ID this species” check box during the submission process or when a user leaves the spotting title blank.

Spottings are defined as identified when they have a scientific name entered in the scientific name field and a reference link. Because we have a global user base and sometimes many different common names for the same species, the system uses the scientific name to link similar spottings.

If you have received a species suggestion for an unknown spotting, you should check the reference link provided in the suggestion to make sure you agree that the suggestion is correct, then update the common and scientific names and add the reference link. If the suggestion has at least 3 votes, if means that other users agree with the species ID suggestion.

What if someone doesn’t update their spotting to reflect a species ID?

We have many generous community members who dedicate their time to help you identify your spottings. When someone suggests a species ID for your spotting, take a look at the suggested information and do some of your own research to see if you agree. If you do, update your spotting to reflect this new information. If you suggest a species ID that you know is correct and the spotting never gets updated, leave a comment as a friendly reminder to encourage the user to check out the ID. If this doesn’t work, reach out to one of our Project Noah Rangers or email us at info@projectnoah.org for additional help. Remember to always include a scientific name and a reference link to all species suggestions you make.

What are some of the sites you recommend for reference links?

We're always on the look out for sites that serve as online field guides. Here are some of the sites we think have great resources for classifying and identifying wildlife: Wikipedia, Encyclopedia of Life, Discover Life, Bug Guide, What Bird, Audubon Guides, What's That Bug, eNature, Butterflies & Moths, Marine Species Portal, Spider Guide, USDA Plants Database.

Missions

How do I join a mission?

To join a mission, find one you think is relevant and you can contribute to. Once you've found one, simply click on the "Join mission" button on the mission page and it'll be saved to your mission list when you submit a new spotting. You can join and leave missions from our website as well as our mobile applications.

How do I create a mission?

You can create your own local missions with a maximum range of 300 miles. Find out more and create your own.

How do I find a mission?

You can browse missions by clicking on the Missions link at the top of the page in the main application, or on the center icon on the navigation bar at the bottom of the screen in the mobile app. Global missions accept relevant spottings from anywhere in the world. You can find local missions for your region (or an area you have visited) by searching for a city or zip code, which will provide a list of all the missions that operate within your area. Please read the mission instructions so that you understand any special requirements before you submit spottings.

Copyrighted or inappropriate content

What if I encounter copyrighted content?

In the event that you come across a photo that a user does not have the rights to share you can use the flagging button on the spotting detail page to notify us of any inappropriate or inaccurate content. You can also send us an email with the URL of the specific spotting to support@projectnoah.org.

What if I encounter inappropriate or inaccurate content?

In the case that someone has disregarded our terms & conditions or community rules, you can use the flagging button on the spotting detail page to notify us of any inappropriate or inaccurate content. You can also send us an email with the URL of the specific spotting to support@projectnoah.org.

Chat

How do I use chat?

We have two chats available at the bottom of the screen.

The Support chat is so that you can request technical or other help from the rangers and the community and report any difficulties you are having with the site, for instance problems adding a new spotting.

The Nature chat is for getting to know other users in the community and so so that you can highlight particular spottings that need identification by pasting the url and requesting help.

Please remember that everything you type in the chats is visible to the whole community and ensure everything you say is respectful and appropriate. Inappropriate behavior will get you banned from chat.

You can also request other users that are online to join you in the Nature Chat. You can see who is online by clicking on the window to the right of the chats and invite them to chat by dragging their avatar (profile picture) from the list into the chat. They have the option to accept or decline the invitation.

Documenting wildlife on the go

Do you have an iPhone App?

Absolutely, Project Noah's aim is to document real-time encounters with nature. Our iPhone application is the tool for making these encounters fun and easy to document. The app is available in the Apple App Store.

What about Android?

Yes! We have an Android app available in Google Play. We will also be launching a brand new Android tablet app soon.

What if I don't have a smartphone?

We welcome you to use our web interface to upload spottings. We are constantly trying to push the boundaries for what types of devices we can use to help document nature. Stay tuned to our Facebook and Twitter pages as well as our blog for updates and announcements.