A Kind Reminder To Only Identify What You Are Sure Of!

Partly, though, that is because of the taxonomic flux. For example, I used to be sure of Pereskia – it is the “leafy cactus,” the only cactus with true leaves. Except that sometime since my learning that, the species in the Dominican Republic were moved to a new genus, Leuenbergeria. The upshot is that if I only identified what I was “sure” of, I couldn’t identify anything at all, not because I don’t know the species or genus, but because I don’t know if I’m fully up-to-date on the revisions.


Be “as certain as you can” but remember that until a second or a dozen people concur then what you posting is not a confirmed ID but your suggestion. It might be right or it might be wrong but it at least gives a starting point for others to work with. Surely it is understood that a photo and a proposed ID is simply saying “I saw this, I suggest it might be X, what do you think?”


I don’t think I can agree with that.

What about the aimless agree spammers? Personally I believe that unless you are sure of it you should never add a species level id.

Please never do this.


Some people’s identifications are more reliably correct in some taxa, so it seems like an easy shortcut to check how reliable the person seems and choose to agree or not agree based on that. Nobody is 100% reliable in any taxa. If you instead check the direct evidence (the photos, location, date/time, etc.) and arrive at an identification based solely on that, then the reliability (or unreliability) of the previous identifiers won’t, and can’t, have any effect on your answer.

Perhaps it would work if for the species search in the ID-module one could choose to include observations where someone mentioned that species’ name in the comments?
It’s not a perfect solution, but then at least we could use the identification tool for the ID we are pretty certain of, and then add a comment like “Perhaps it’s this species/genus/family” which still would be searchable, but wouldn’t contaminate the data ‘officially’ with wrong identifications.

I think a lot of identifiers already use the comment function like that, so it would also work for a lot of older observations.


Or a google doc where all active identifiers have access to it and can add their say about things.

I fully agree with this. I don’t think that law should ever be applied to the large margin for error it has along with it.

Honestly, in a perfect world, that would be the solution. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world and adding species level ids we aren’t sure of can really effect the scientific part of iNat.


that’s pretty much how I operate as well.

Yes, that would certainly work (if not ideal). When in doubt, I do sometimes put an ID in the comments, but I try to avoid it precisely because I know that at present it won’t show up in a regular search, so tends to get lost/hidden.


I agree, any help with IDing at any level is needed and welcome.

But the issue with bees is that recognizing and correcting the wrong IDs already typically requires a fair amount of expertise.

For cases of bee/fly confusion and similar issues there are people who regularly look at Pterygota and get the observation back on track. Most of the time, though, bees do get identified as some kind of bee but the CV more often than not suggests a completely wrong species or genus, and these suggestions seem to be very seductive to observers. I find that hymenopterans in general aren’t very intuitive for most people – it “looks right” can be very misleading unless one knows what features one should be looking for. This can be learned, of course, but I find it requires active engagement rather than just passive learning.

The “grunt work” is roughly equivalent to, say, working through a pile of mostly inadequately photographed Asteraceae that have been ID’d using a poorly performing CV that will randomly suggest a genus or species depending on whether the plant happens to be flowering or seeding or whether the observer photographed it from the top or the side.

(This challenge is not unique to bees, of course. But it is compounded by the fact that bees are also comparatively easy to find and photograph (however poorly), and they are reasonably charismatic, so the sheer volume of observations is rather different than for many other difficult arthropod groups.)


This moved smartly (two days) from my very cautious winged insect
to the taxon specialist’s sp
(I am the second tier identifier)

for which we need better onboarding. For non-identifiers the CV is ‘scientific curators’ carefully considering each obs. Not.
iNat says, and they accept that.

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This topic will never be resolved, you know. For everyone here who complains about people making
IDs that they are unsure of, there is someone else who is frustrated that people lack confidence in themselves and leave things unidentified that they could have identified.


I mean sure, it isn’t going to be resolved, but spreading awareness on the right things is never useless. I’ve got an alarming amount of support on iNat after adding stuff like this in journal posts and my profile page + the occasional comment.

If I contact a user regarding their spree of incorrect ids and let them know about how it can effect, etc. I almost always get positive responses about how it has opened their eyes and they have never thought about it that way/didn’t know.

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I have a 2 tiered approach. If it’s my observation, I’ll often ID it very specifically even if it’s a wild guess. iNat is my digital field guide, I’m going to put in what I thought I was seeing. If it’s someone else’s observation, I ID only to a level where I have good confidence.

Both tiers can fall victim to fat fingers and other errors. I try to clean those up as I discover them. I also lookout for blind agreements to my IDs. If I ID an unknown or very vague ID and the observer agrees but only has like 10 observations, I delete my ID. I’d like some more eyes of the observation before it goes Research Grade.