Add extra confirmation step when agreeing with IDs on own observations

With a text asking users only to agree when they (now) really see a reason for this specific ID. (As opposed to just bowing before the supposedly superior knowledge of the identyfier.) Admittedly finding a nice but clear way to word this may be hard.

Background: I’ve only recently started to do more first IDs or corrections myself. I rarely am 100% sure, but I think it should be fine to give IDs if I am 95% sure. I’ll probably be corrected 1 in out of 20 times and learn from that a lot. However, like anyone else I see many users just agreeing immediately to my ID on their observation. In some cases these users will now have looked up the species and become convinced the ID is really correct. But I very much suspect (and I’m not the first one) that many people use the agreement as a way of saying ‘thanks’. Only that I am not half as delighted about that as they might think. :-( Instead of feeling valued I feel a learning opportunity is being taken from me.

Maybe actively discouraging people from using the agree button this way would at least reduce the problem.

I think this is a big issue with users of all skill levels. Even users who should know better are very quick to click the “agree” button to bump the observation up to RG. I wonder if the incentive were removed it would solve the problem - if it is your observation and you agree to the one other ID that is there, it doesn’t turn it into RG (i.e. you actually need 3 IDs in this situation before it can be RG). It makes it more complicated, but it might cut down on the blind agreeing that so many people do. And even if it doesn’t cut down on the number of people doing that, they aren’t sending observations to RG status with what is essentially a single ID.


This is really my foremost concern about the “research grade” classification (speaking as a researcher). I’ve occasionally combed through RG observations for species where I have special expertise and I find not a large, but a significant number of misidentifications, and I think one reason is that it only takes one ID plus an “agree” click to make an observation RG. I often “agree” but only after reading the species account, checking the distribution map and the “similar species” accounts, and sometimes checking an offsite source like Flora of North America. I would be happy with prohibiting users from using the “agree” option, but failing that, it would be helpful to require users to provide an explanatory comment describing why they chose to “agree.” This would help actual researchers when they need to do quality assurance on a set of iNat observations.


I don’t think adding a requirement to write an explanation on every agreement will serve a purpose. You’ll just get brief useless stuff and for many species is it really needed. Do you need to confirm why a blue Jay is a blue Jay?


I think the agree button should be removed entirely, so if people really ‘agree’ they need to separately suggest an ID and type in the species name.

Psychologically, that has a lot more ‘gravity’ to it, so hopefully it would cut down on the blind/thank you agreeing.


I don’t think we’ll be forcing a user to fill something out every time they hit “Agree”, I think it would get tedious quickly. I do, however, agree with @benjaminlancer that removing the Agree button from some areas (but keeping it on the Identify modal) could work.


Another option would be a pop-up field, with language to the effect that you can now independently identify individuals of this species/genus (only for agreeing on your own observation.) Having to agree to this kind of statement would also add ‘gravity.’ It could be used in combination with having to type out the species name.

I agree. I think the bar for “Research Grade” is too low for the incentive provided by the wording.

This issue has been raised before in the forum and quite a few people are on board with removing the agree button. I’m for it.


A lot of observations outside of the major observation areas (North America/Europe) would never make it to RG if that was the case. Often we are extremely lucky to get a single person to chime in with an ID, let alone more than one.

I agree that there is an issue with people just clicking the agree button (just as there is an issue with people accepting the top auto-suggestion), but I’m not sure if that’s the best way of going about it.

Perhaps an additional confirmation step would be sufficient?


Maybe a good first step would be to just change “agree” to “confirm” (or some other wording that implies you’ve independently corroborated the observation).


A lot of observations outside of the major observation areas (North America/Europe) would never make it to RG if that was the case. Often we are extremely lucky to get a single person to chime in with an ID, let alone more than one.

I think the point is to get a second person to chime in besides the observer. f the observer was the first to put the id then no other person will be needed, and if not, then maybe two people didn’t actually know what it was and a third is needed. It still requires a third person to enter the picture, plus if you are now educated but don’t get the chance to go over your own obs of the same kind and make the id count that’s very annoying.

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Given that impulse agreeing is probably the norm, perhaps a two-vote ID could be called something other than Research Grade.

If another person is chiming in they are the second person. The observer is the first person and the second is the one chiming in.

In our area sometimes we know the species, but as we are using iNat to further the research and properly ID species in the area even a single confirmation/agreement/disagreement is highly valuable.

In many cases, especially with plants and insects we don’t know at all what they are, often not even to family level, let alone genus level, and it’s rare we get anyone who adds any further info of any sort.

I’m opposed to keeping the casual grade even after others have posted an agreement/consensus. That will, I think, have detrimental effects to participation.

Maybe a tiered system?

Casual - single ID
Confirmed - two IDs
Research Grade - three IDs

One of the problems is that in many areas, especially with poorly known species and areas any changes to the current system will wreak havoc on current information.


I know the discussion around the agree button and research grade is a complicated one. That was one reason why I suggested something that is comparatively simple and shouldn’t disrupt anything (like for example requiring 3 people for research grade would).

In this sense I like mtanks suggestion even better. It’s even simpler to do and has zero risk. It certainly won’t solve the problem, but it may make it a tad smaller and that at extremely low costs.

I may be wrong but it seems like a lot of responses here are really discussing whether two IDs are sufficient to get to RG (which is a topic that has been discussed a lot elsewhere) and not @richyfourtytwo’s specific scenario.

As I understand it this scenario is one where the original observer has not IDed to species, but, after a more specific species ID from another iNat user, the original observer agrees to that new, more specific identification without explaining how their expertise has changed to allow them to make this more specific ID. They may be agreeing as a way to thank the IDer or out of a desire to see their observation become RG rather than as a true representation of their ability to ID that observation to species level (though @richyfourtytwo please correct that if I’ve misrepresented).

So I don’t think the proposal would require any changes to independent agrees that would add a burden.For instance, I don’t think @cmcheatle’s scenario/concern would apply here; the original observer would have just IDed it as a blue jay already (they wouldn’t be confirming another user’s more specific ID).

I think the proposal might be something like:
In the case of an observation where the original observer has an ID of a higher taxonomic level, and an IDer submits an ID of a lower level which the original observer then agrees to, then original observer could get a quick pop up (like the disagreement one) saying “Are you sure you can confirm this ID?” (with the subtext being “are you sure you aren’t just thanking/agreeing with the other observer to get to RG”).

This could be implemented only in scenarios fulfilling the conditions where:
A) The original observer is changing their own previous coarser identification to agree with a more specific ID
B) The change via agree would make the observation RG.

This would keep this from being a burden on many users (anyone aside from the original observer) and would affect a pretty small proportion of “agree” clicks on the platform (I would guess).


“95% sure” sounds reasonable. Just want to add that, when I am only 80% or 90% sure, I often suggest an ID in a comment. My hope is that the observer will consider using that ID (ideally after checking on it), because I am pretty sure it is right. It seems to me that when the observer makes an initial ID, she should be free to suggest something she is not certain about. OTOH someone doing IDs for others should, as you suggest, be 95% certain.

And, yes, sometimes my “95% certain” IDs are incorrect. I review all non-concurring IDs and all comments on observations I ID. That way, if someone with more expertise disagrees or I misunderstood what the observer wanted ID’d, I can withdraw my ID so it doesn’t stand in the way.


regarding the idea of “own ID as confirmation doesn’t count”… that would be problematic when the top expert puts up bulk observations, then goes back to put the IDs on, and someone else has already put an ID. You effectively make the top experts opinion not count.

It’s been raised before about changing the name of RG to something more appropriate (a forum search should find it).

There is work currently being done (I believe) for more on-boarding for new users, which will hopefully better inform new users about what the Agree button is for.

There has been discussion around removing the Agree button in places, especially seeing as it is very easy to get to species name with 4x4 or 3x3 entry.

A probationary period with restricted access to specific problematic features such as using the Agree button inside the first say 100 IDs, but staff or curators could release their probationary status (similar to the limited new user functionality of the forum, but override-able) was suggested.

I’d like to comment that I use this site more for fun than research. The research grade has to be taken for what it is. That is, if I was seriously studying a species, I’d look at all observations. I do have my area of specialty, having collected 4000 Carex specimens in Arkansas, so I do have some scientific background. However, I look at this site for what I think it is, a place to get the public involved. Serious Carex researchers are going to want specimens for most things. So, this makes a starting point. I more or less ignore the research grade standard because amateurs, like me, just want a name on a photo. As a result, I’ve agreed with some IDs and found they are wrong and made some bad IDs myself. However, the site has great value in involving many people in science and in allowing me to use GIS to document things. For example, Prairie Dock is common enough, but I’ve reported nearly 10% of all records within 50 miles of my home. That is, I can provide data not readily available for a somewhat uncommon species locally. 100 or 500 years from now (ha) who knows who might want the data. The specimens may be gone by then (as may this website). So, my suggestion is rather than lose sleep over the setting, just accept it for what it is an let the site managers decide how to handle it (which of course is the whole purpose of this entire discussion . . . to help them!). It’s nice to be retired and learn Chinese rather than type specimen labels. I can contribute more faster here, even if the site might not be the best for Carex in the Section Ovales.


Ha! Experts with specimens in hand struggle with that particular group! :wink:

Comment well said and well taken though.

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