Amount of "Unknown" records is decreasing

I am not a fan of preventing people from posting - how would you promote the event such that everyone who uses the site would understand what is happening?

But I have often wondered if there is some way to figure out what locations are getting fewer ids than other locations. I live in an area where there are lots of active birders and naturalists and I get pretty quick ids on wild plants, spiders, birds, mammals, and decent frequency of ids on many of the more charismatic insects (butterflies, bees, grasshoppers, and hover/drone flies).

But if I drift across the state border, almost none of those regular identifiers weigh in on those observations which tells me they’ve set a boundary on the state. I think a lot of us do that. And I followed a comment here on the forum to someone’s iNat observations and was kind of shocked that so many of their obs hadn’t had any suggestions (other than their own). It made me realize how lucky I am to live where I live.

So… it got me thinking. In a similar manner of a ‘Bioblitz’ event, could a long weekend event be created to ‘adopt a county/state/region’ with some locations and/or even taxon highlighted that have been historically neglected.

But, it’s worth remembering that a lot of communication about those kinds of things takes place on the forum and I’ve never seen any of my regular identifiers post anything on this forum. One might presume that they don’t read the forum. So even if an event was created, would those folks that identify a lot in one location pick up on it and join the project? In my long life, I’ve sometimes come to believe that one can either try to recruit people or one can just do the work. And I’ve had better luck doing the work than I have in recruiting people. Even when people are enthusiastic, the follow-through rate has been historically low. :-)

On a different note, to echo a few other comments here - last winter I worked a few weeks at moving ‘unknowns’ (some as old as a year or more) into high taxons: plant - insect - spider - mammal - fungi - etc. I rarely tried to do anything lower. Quite a few got moved to lower taxons within hours. Just last week - 8 months later - a good dozen or so of the fungi got moved to lower taxons. Don’t ever discount the benefit of just labeling an ‘unknown’ as ‘insect’. (of course, I think one has to also be diligent in checking notifications if one is unsure. It’s easy for a novice naturalist to label something an insect, for example, that isn’t. Mites, springtails, etc. This isn’t a terrible problem if someone catches and corrects it and one withdraws one’s incorrect suggestion immediately.)


Advertise it as a maintenance day, and say something like, “certain activites like posting new observations will be unavailable, but the good news is that you can still ID while you’re waiting for the restoration of new observation posting functions. If you are unfamiliar with IDing, please [visit this link/watch this video]” ?


If you’re not in mood you’ll just skip the day completely, getting the main feature many people join iNat seems odd, what if it is their only day in a month to upload stuff, they were waiting and then bang, they can’t, because it’s an id day.
It could be worth making an id-blitz, but it would require even more people checking what those iders have added.


“Mark your calendars for Unknown Blitz day”? :)


It’s a mindset. I enjoy watching the ID unfold.
This one has been running for almost a year, and I, learnt a lot about a fascinating picture with far too many legs in it!


Wow, that photo is definitely a mindbender. I agree that it’s fun watching initially-Unknown IDs get more and more specific over time.


Someone referred me to this thread. I have started using iNat a lot more since June of this year because of a dragonfly survey in my area. I have seen a lot of unknown entries, and have tried to whittle them down to something more specific. I started doing this because I uploaded a lot of mushrooms. I don’t know much about them. I would only use the general “Fungi” ID. But, I soon discovered that there are people here who look for general categories because that is their specialty.

What is the quickest way you have discovered to go through a large volume of unknown observations? I have filtered the search on the Explore page to my general area (Northeast Ohio) and then filtered for unknowns. I then use the Grid view page to review them. When I see something that I can add an ID to, I right click on the image and open the observation in a separate browser window. Is there a quicker way?


As unknowns can be ided to any vague group it’s fast enough to just open the first one and click to the right until he page ends, I think it saves time and you’ll be sure you’ve seen them all and ided everything you could.


I was just offering a way to advertise the suggestion @jnstuart made (and to be fair, he brought up that same point against his own suggestion as he was making it):

I wasn’t saying I was for or against it, just that advertising it would not be difficult because superficially it is not dissimilar to current scheduled maintenance outages.

Advertising is a good thing, but you said “certain activites like posting new observations will be unavailable”, which isn’t ideal, or you meant they ill be unavailable inside the “bioblitz”, cause I understood as you would like it to be a day when only iding is possible on the website and not uploading.

I never said nor suggested that. :slightly_smiling_face:

Again, @jnstuart made the suggestion. I can see where you could interpret my advertising suggestion as implicit support, but that was not the case.

Just a little FYI about me: I sometimes tend to fixate on one point (in this case, how would such a lockout be communicated to users) to the exclusion of the larger issues (whether or not such a lockout is tenable or desirable).

And now you know me a little better (did we just become besties?) :crazy_face:

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We have a #work-party channel on the iNaturalist Discord server, as well as ID’ing weekends for just this purpose. Join us at


Then please explain what exactly did you mean by that, cause I’m little bit confused, is it the first interpretation of mine or something else completely?

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I meant to suggest ways that such a lockout could be communicated to users. That’s it.

I didn’t mean to suggest I was either in favor of or opposed to the lockout itself, as I haven’t quite decided yet how I feel about it (I can see good and bad points).


Agree with @Star3. It’s technically possible and could be advertised by iNat staff as a way to encourage all submitters to take a break from uploading new records and focus on providing at least coarse IDs for many of the Unknowns or addressing other records needing attention. An effort that would benefit the community as a whole. Maybe it would result in a new group of reviewers who had not previously done much of that work.

But is it something that anyone wants? I suspect not. There would probably be an uproar from some participants, even if it was only for 24 hours and was well-advertised in advance. Ultimately it might not achieve much other than irritating some individuals, and then the flood of new records would continue. And there would still be a big backlog of records needing attention.


If draft mode were implemented, I wonder if instead of locking out new submissions it could hold them all in draft mode for 24 hours (or less). Of course, that just results in a flood when the event is over, and again, could discourage users hoping for a rapid ID (plus, how do you distinguish between draft mode for the event and someone who was actively making a choice to use draft mode?), so it isn’t really an improvement.

Again, just spitballing on how it could be done, not whether or not it should be done.

Try using the Identify rather than the Explore page. Depends on which you like, of course, but I find the work goes faster on Identify.



If you want to see why I use Explore, you can read this relatively short thread for my experiences with both Explore and Identify. Explore gives me better suggestions and is faster for me.

But what’s the point of using that suggestions page? For me it was always something people rarely use and for cases that need more info than iNat provides anyway, and more of a feature for observers, not iders, you should id what you know, not what suggestions show.

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Right, if you’re doing unknowns, don’t worry if all you know is it’s in “Plantae,” because that’s still moving it farther toward the person who will recognize what kind of plant it is.