I keep my notifications for everything, but only go back to ones when they get a comment.
I’ve learned a few species from giving a vague identification to a few (say when a plant comes into flower and gets a spike of observations), then seeing the same genus or species name repeatedly in my notifications. Buddleja globosa was a particularly memorable one.
I try to follow up on the observations I ID as best I can. My continued effort would be to help move that ID along as best I could.
As @kitbeard mentioned it is a great way to learn. I find myself very interested in the ones that become slightly protracted as the move from Phylum to Class to Order to Family to Genus to Species. Especially in areas that are not my forte, maybe the Obs that I have only been confident to try to move it or support it to Phylum . I will try to follow and look up the supporting rational and if I am confident, agree.
Where I don’t follow is when I am slightly or completely off the grid. Recently I was away from home for about 8 weeks and before that I was on two back country canoe trips (here in Canada, eh?). Coming back to a stack of notification that would get lost by left clicking rather than right click selection of a new tab or going to my dashboard and finding my notifications lost in my subscriptions - all this made it a challenge to keep on top (I have since unsubcribed to a lot of other things I was following). Plus coming back from those trips meant I had a huge amount of images that I was fortunate enough to sort through, edit, and submit - so I was slightly distracted.
Yep, I have notify set for everything because it’s not just about helping, it’s about learning for me. As I go through the old ones preferentially, one cool thing is seeing how when something has been sitting around for years gets my coarse id, someone from that region or expertise area may pick up on it within a pretty short time. It just needed that little starter push.
Based on a post here this past summer where someone mentioned the value of adding any ID to the Unknowns, I started chipping away at them for Ontario, Canada, this year whenever I ran out of my own stuff to upload. I know @mws and @lotteryd were working on them too and surely some others (nice work, everyone!). Took a few months, but now Ontario is at 0 and, to the best of my availability, I’ll help to keep it that way. Tackling Quebec now and then the rest of Canada. I’d like to give a nod to @wdvanhem, who seems to always be right behind me, picking up and refining many of my basic “Flowering Plants” IDs. And, yes, as @trh_blue says, this all generates “an unholy number of notifications” but, to answer their question, I tend to only follow up on something if I get tagged but I do glance at all of them. Finally, just as a marker, at the time of this writing there are 15,335 pages of Unknowns. If the rest of those are like the Ontario ones, there’s probably a lot of cultivated plants in there. Onwards!
I’m not the only one, a lot of members of the iNat discord server have been working on clearing unknowns. @michaelpirrello and @upupa-epops come to mind as being significant contributors for Ontario’s unknowns.
I try to keep on top of all Middle East Unknowns. There aren’t so many users over here so one person can manage it. It must be a sisyphusean task keeping up with any area of North America, where there’s tons of new users every day!
Thanks to everyone who helps dealing with the unknowns!
I try to keep Michigan and Kansas clean, and am now slowly expanding to states in the central US. I find this soothing, and there is a surprising amount of really cool observations buried in there. Big thank to the power ID that help further ID these!
I was shocked when I ran out of unknowns in my county yesterday. Great to know this is happening elsewhere too! Now on to plants, where the number needing ID is so large the website gives me an error when I try to click ahead too many pages (evidently it can only keep track of page numbers for a max of 10,000 obs.)
I commend the many volunteers on iNat who spend countless hours tackling the “unknowns” and many other ID problems. I do a small part but am nowhere close to being a major reviewer. It’s somewhat depressing that there are numerous iNatters who seem to be “drive-by” users of the site … they drop in, leave a bunch of problematic records for others to fix, then disappear, most never to be seen again. I suspect this number will keep growing. To be honest, I have no time or patience for these “contributors”, although perhaps a small percentage will eventually become regular (and better) users of iNat.
But, for those dedicated reviewers who are willing and able to undertake this effort, kudos!
That’s pretty much inevitable - of everyone who checks the site out, only a few will remain active consistently (and those are the most likely to do things right from the beginning anyway). The site just needs to somehow deal with that, because the bigger it gets, the most likely it is to happen in larger quantities as well. People will see it, think “oh this is cool”, try it for a day or two, then leave. Like with a gym membership
…but I find that iNat shares many of the same problems I had with iSpot where almost half my observations (which are very well photographed mind you) have sat for months, even years, being only ID’d at Genus/ Family level or even higher
Is that better than being ‘unknown’? Yes…but I’d still like to know what the species is at the end of the day - how many more years will I have to wait for this??
Unfortunately there are too many records being submitted without IDs and too few reviewers with the experience, knowledge, and dedication to ID them to species. The committed naturalist who really would like a species-level ID is mixed in with all the casual submitters who often don’t care that much. I don’t know how you separate the two. Maybe there should be a probationary period for submitters who are just testing out the site, limiting the number of records they can submit until they show they want to stick with it.
Also, the burden of an ID always lies with the submitter and not the reviewers. I’ve had to dive into plant ID (something I’m not good at) or occasionally bug the botanists I know for many of my own records to narrow them down below “Flowering Plants”. Painful but also rewarding.
But I spend a lot of time learning my way thru Needs ID for Cape Town. Triage - some are easy, saw that last week. Some are new to me, and a mystery to the fundis. With a chunk in the middle where I can follow the conversation via my notifications, and learn as I go.
If you want ID, it helps to pay it forward across iNat.