Adding nondisagreeing genus ID after a more specific ID was made

On the contrary: the usefulness of bee data on iNaturalist will be greatly improved, because there will be fewer false positives for any given species. It’s important not to mislead users of our data by suggesting it’s better than it really is. If an expert sees irresponsible identifications, they’re doing us all a service by trimming our sails. Not to mention, we don’t want to be training the CV on something that’s ambiguous.


Honestly, this debate can, and will given its long history go around in circles. It simply comes down to which you think is a bigger issue, potentially incorrect data remaining in place, or potentially correct data being removed.


This is the situation where I often find myself adding a genus ID to something that already includes a species ID. In particular, observations where the observer has added an order ID of Araneae (Spiders) and someone else has come along and added a species ID for a member of order Opiliones (Harvestmen), causing the observation to be at the class level Arachnida. I can’t confirm it’s that particular species but I can verify that it’s within Opiliones rather than Araneae and add an ID accordingly.


What’s more, an observation can become RG at the genus level if the “Cannot Be Improved” box gets ticked. This seems like the best case scenario (and I assume the intended outcome) for observations that cannot unambiguously be assigned to a species. @johnsankey Maybe you can suggest this to your bee expert?


Please remember that the iNaturalist Community Guidelines ask us to assume that others mean well. As has been demonstrated by the many replies here, I don’t believe it’s fair to assume ignorance or laziness on the parts of others, there are plenty of benevolent reasons one would do this. Implicit in sharing your observations to iNaturalist is that anyone can add an ID or comment to it, and as long as what they are doing is reasonable, in good faith, and doesn’t violate the Community Guidelines, it’s their prerogative. If there’s a person or persons doing this consistently to you observaitons, you can reach out to them and as them in a civil manner to stop doing that to your observations.

Like @bouteloua says it’s not usually standard practice (at least in my experience) but it’s acceptable. I imagine we all have our own vision of an ideal iNaturalist experience, but this is a worldwide community of people who have a huge range of experience levels, interests, and motivations, and we have to accept that it won’t be perfect.


The problem is that the way it’s worded, it’s hard to understand which is which. What it says is:

Is the evidence provided enough to confirm this is [species]?
I don’t know but I am sure this is [genus]
No, but it is a member of [genus]

What it should say is something like:

Are you disagreeing that this is [species]?
Yes, I am familiar with [species] and I do not think there is enough evidence to identify it beyond [genus]
No, I am only confirming the identity at the level of [genus]


Honestly while it is a problem I’m not sure any wording matters unless there is a consistent application and standard of how it should be used.

You can have the clearest wording in the world there and if users still see it as their role to eliminate records from research grade where the ID is not confirmable, but also not confirmably wrong, they will do just that.

All it takes is a group of users doing that despite the intention of the configuration and the wording is irrelevant.

I continue to lean further and further towards removing the buttons completely, just enter the ID you can support and let the algorithm work out the results.

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I am confused now. Are you saying if a photo is too poor for a definite identification, any plausible species identification is acceptable and should not be downgraded?

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Maybe he is? Aren’t we encouraged to consider description and other notes as valid when making an ID, and not the photo alone?

Also, there have been many discussions about what can be gleaned from even a “poor” quality photo.


I’m fine with this as long as you are willing to make the effort to go back and withdraw your identification after the species ID has been resolved by experts. If you aren’t willing to do that, you may be obfuscating the real ID.

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Because some people clearly are using it just to add their ID as far as they can do it themselves, and if they can’t tell which to select then they’re unintentionally overriding the RG determinations of others.

This would end up with most insects not being identified.

The issue is people overriding it after it’s been resolved by experts. In some cases it’s true that you can’t identify it to species from the photo, but I noted in the comment that I collected it and confirmed the ID with a microscope, and have still had someone add a genus-level ID that bumped it down.

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I’m saying the current process has 2 different ways of adding a dissenting ID:

  • that it is possible that the species level id is correct, but there are also other possibilities that can not be excluded by the evidence provided
  • that the species level ID is unquestionably wrong.

My feeling is the 2nd should only be used when the standard is met that the current id is unquestionably wrong. Unfortunately it is also used by people in situation #1 because it removes research grade status from the record, while the 1st does not.

If #1 applies, then please do add the id, just under that approach.


A nondisagreeing genus ID (the subject of this discussion) doesn’t get in the way of ID refinements or prolong making an observation become research grade.


I would only put a genus ID if I disagreed with the species ID because doing this implies that you disagree with the species ID.

It does not imply you disagree with species unless you explicitly disagree. You’re assuming an intent that is not intrinsic to just posting a genus after a species. :)

And as has been posted above, nonexplicit disagreements don’t override species IDs when they are on the same branch.

If we’re going to assign a motive, the safe assumption is that nonexplicit disagreements are either only going to the level they are comfortable with, or are that weird glitch where the system keeps auto-adding previous agreements.

While I’ve specifically taken to adding text, because many people make that assumption, I don’t think it’s fair to expect that of anyone else everytime they go to a higher taxon without explicitly disagreeing.


Green or orange buttons?

Hi @bouteloua, I am a new-ish iNat user, but I try to help with IDs when I can. But when I make identifications, I’m not seeing green or orange buttons – just an options to check “Agree” or enter my own identification or a comment. Is this because I’m using iNat on a browser on my desktop computer rather than using the phone app?


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You see only the buttons when you enter your own ID that is a higher level of existing IDs.

You don’t see it when agreeing or when going to a taxon on a completely different branch.


There’s also the difference between disagreeing with the species identification or disagreeing that the individual observed is actually that species (we can’t tell if it’s that species vs it’s another species but I don’t know which), as @cmcheatle described. There are many people who hold both each interpretation. It’s because the text is ambiguous, in one place it implies one interpretation and in another place it implies the other. That’s mainly why these debates exist.

Personally I will add a non-disagreeing genus ID if I think there’s a decent chance the original ID is correct and I don’t see anything to suggest otherwise, but I can’t personally confirm it confidently (someone else might be able to confirm). Since it basically doesn’t affect the community ID it’s pretty much just saying my opinion, and people can choose to ignore it or change their IDs based on it as they will.
I will add a disagreeing genus ID if I don’t think it’s possible for anyone to identify the organism from the image and I don’t see any indication (from description, comments, etc.) that the observer has more information that they used to ID outside of the photos/audio given. The latter is particularly the case for taxa that people consistently trust the computer vision for when they shouldn’t, so I feel like I can safely assume that their identifications were uneducated (which mostly but not always the case, so a text explanation is good).


5 posts were merged into an existing topic: Change wording used by the system when downgrading an observation to an higher level taxa

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