Add extra confirmation step when agreeing with IDs on own observations

True. However, at least for Arkansas, I do fairly well with Section Ovales using my original biological goal of “Be able to identify any plant or animal on sight.” I write too much, so I’m trying to keep this short. China? That’s more challenging for Carex so far (27 weeks in four trips and few specimens found). However, the ID issue still arises, this year with dragonflies (easy to photograph, new to me). I’m fairly careful to not agree with an ID unless I fee like someone’s suggestion is correct. I know others might agree to simply agree. As a researcher, I’d just need to look at everything and decide for myself. “Research Grade” is a nice concept and might work well for Bluejays, but it is useless I’m sure for mushrooms. Each researcher will have to make their own decisions no matter how it is defined.


I have a problem somewhat similar to the one which started this discussion and I would like to have a good solution for it. With the OB‘s from SE Lithuania, we have a very zealous agreeing “identifier” from a neighbouring country. He agrees to practically everything that was ID’d to the species level and sometimes even to the genus level. He agrees even to these groups he has no knowledge at all (e.g. lichens) and practically never gives his own ID’s, when he does, they are mostly erroneous. I tried to ask him, why he was doing it – it does not seem he is collecting any data for a project and wishes it had a research grade (he has not anyproject), or any other understandable reason. As there was no reaction, then I send him a reference line to one of the inat forums discussing this problem – nothing has stopped him yet (the latter probably went without notice because of not too good English of the addressee). I was thinking that maybe it is possible to block him at least from my OBs but is there a way to do so?

This is indeed a problem in areas iNat has fewer users. I support making it more obvious to new users what the ‘‘Agree’’ button really means, and giving them advice on its proper use, maybe also renaming the button or hiding it in certain contexts. But adding extra steps does make it much, much harder to add IDs efficiently.

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at risk of being repetitive, i want to mention one point about data accuracy on inat. This is basically a giant shared field notebook. It isn’t a series of vegetation plots conducted by a professional botanist, a bunch of pinned and genetically sequenced bugs, or radio collar data logging precise locations of a far-ranging animal. It’s a field notebook. And as anyone who’s looked at someone else’s notebook knows… there will be errors. There will be misspellings, people mix up which canyon they are in, get crossed with similar sounding scientific names, get tripped up by changing taxonomy, etc etc. The key is to understand this (not all data points are perfect) but also understand that it’s a communal field notebook and you can ask questions. Yes, users sometimes stop using the site which makes that challenging. But beyond that… if you are unsure of someone else’s ID, just ask in a tactful way, most people are open to this. And over time you learn the characteristics of the high volume users and their specialties, and can choose for yourself whether to ‘trust’ their IDs of a given taxa.
It is what it is. It isn’t perfect. There are a few points on the map that I ‘know’ are wrong and they annoy me every time i see them, but i also have things written in old notebooks that are cringe-worthingly wrong. It is what it is, and what it is is really valuable.


My original suggestion was only about adding an extra step when agreeing on an observation you made yourself. This will in no way reduce the efficiency of high volume identifiers I think. (Not sure of course, if you were referring to my original idea or not.)


I like @mtank’s suggestion of replacing “Agree?” with “Confirm”. I see two reasons why this swap might reduce the number of faulty agreements.

First, some users might be clicking the “Agree?” button simply to be agreeable, a desirable personality trait. Replacing with “Confirm” invokes an action that is stronger and accurate. Here are definitions of the two verbs that highlight the differences in meaning (from wikidiff):

agree: “To harmonize in opinion, statement, or action; to be in unison or concord; to be or become united or consistent; to concur.”
confirm: “to strengthen; to make firm or resolute”

Several other online dictionaries I checked gave similar meanings. Also, in published papers one usually says something like, “IDs were confirmed by …”.

Second, in some instances the IDer leaves commentary in addition to an ID. In these circumstances the action of the “Agree?” button is unclear. I.e., user might enthusiastically agree with a comment and thus hit the button to indicate that (and not really worry about consequences for ID). I understand, of course, that the “Agree?” button’s function is completely clear to established users. I think that “Confirm ID” (instead of just “Confirm”) would eliminate the vagueness.

Here’s a mock up of an observation of mine:

Note that I think the call-to-action button should not have a question mark. A question mark is too pushy and inviting, I think, especially for less experienced users. A question mark subtly implies that the user likely has the expertise needed to confirm ID. We want users to not click the “Confirm ID” button unless they truly think they know the ID.

In addition to switching to “Confirm ID” buttons, I think it would be good to reduce the number of places where such buttons were displayed. E.g, I actually don’t understand why “Agree?” buttons are displayed on the Dashboard view. If I didn’t know the ID initially, it’s unlikely that my expertise has magically grown since when I first tried to ID the organisms. Before ever hitting “Agree?” I tend to spend hours on BugGuide, books, online keys, etc. … and I do that while on the Observation page itself (so I can view images). Having the “Agree?” buttons everywhere just invites uncritical clicking, I suspect.

As an aside, I agree with many others that the absence of a “Thank you” button is probably driving a lot of the impulse clicks on the “Agree?” button. We are trained by every other social network to thank people … and when we can’t find a button that says that, we opt to at least praise the IDers’ knowledge. It’s the best thank you.


While I like the etymological rationale, it’s still the button you press to get Research Grade. People don’t read. They learn to do what gets them the results they like. Most like their observations to be Research Grade.

I fully support the Thank You button. I think people will use it and actually mean it.

I have my own ideas about the Agree button. I should write up a proposal.


Another verb that could be used might be “Verify”.


I totally agree. Would be easy to scrub all mentions of “Research Grade” from the software and replace with just a way to count how many people confirmed the ID. Then you could sort observations (your own, or others’) by number of confirmations. For some searches maybe two confirmations is totally sufficient. For others, maybe 5. For people who are their own experts, 1 ID might be totally sufficient. Setting Research Grade = 2 IDs undermines the meaning of “research grade” (publishable, accurate) and creates a powerful incentive for people to confirm IDs when they shouldn’t.


A couple of months ago I added a paragraph to my profile asking users to thank me with a comment instead of using the Agree button. I was surprised by how many people actually started doing it. I don’t remember ever getting a thank you in a comment before, now I get several every week.


I have been using the comment Function to thank people who explain theIr IDs as these explanations are invaluable to me (a beginner). But i was not sure this is the best way to express my appreciation

Pay it forward? Help to ID on iNat.