Amount of "Unknown" records is decreasing

Is it possible to get statistics on how amount of new unknowns uploaded changed with new additions in app and website?

Staff might know that, but I don’t think there’s a way for us to get the information ourselves.

there’s not really an efficient way for regular people to get this information, i think, other than by sampling for records and comparing observation create datetime vs datetime of the first id. (the datetimes should match if the observation was identified upon upload.)

That’s a pity, I hope it works at least in some cases.

I have gotten a couple rude responses. Someone actually said something like, “Well I know it’s a plant. You should have just left it as unknown if you couldn’t give a better ID than that.” :unamused:

There should be a mini guide/tutorial for new users that gives them the basics of how taxonomy works and why narrowing down the ID is helpful.


Someone did that to me once, too. They had thousands of observations, so I suppose they had some plan for it, but I was just getting started IDing and I think they should have been a bit nicer than “Yes, it is a plant.” I was trying to help, after all!


Anyone with that response needs to be sent this image. :grin:


Excellent graphic! I usually include the generic comment when putting in a high level id, to head this off at the pass: "This general identification could help people who know the possible species better than I do to find it more easily. Many people helping identify observations on iNaturalist filter the observations for particular groups of species they know how to identify, so attaching your observation to the tree of life makes this easier. If you want to learn more about how identifications progress on iNaturalist, you can read more here: "


My standard comment is different, but same idea. Head off complaints at the pass!

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Your comment is definitely more helpful, but I’ve been able to stave off rude comments by simply putting “Coarse ID”


I ID as Kingdoms, flowering plants, butterflies and moths, frogs and toads, arachnids, and snakes and lizards. These are my basic IDs beside few species that i m familiar of. AI doesnt give me good options, even it gives i m really not sure about it.

Especially on plantae kingdom, i saw mostly the old observants (or observation amount is more than 500) are rude than others. (Animal kingdoms are ok since they get ID in hour or so after basic ID. Fungi kingdom havent heard any complain.) Even if you explain or comment or be nice, doesnt matter. Its easy to deal with others since they are accepting the fact of ID process and thanking after explanation because of showing the way.

I discouraged every day and start doing something else because of “are you sure thats a plant” or “silly ID” even i got a comment once “somebody make this woman go away from my page or i will close my account”. at the end of the day, i m being motivated again somehow. And i just do this because i got time and want to give a helping hand as i can while i learn things on the way. No harm meant.

May be they dont being mean but the written things doesnt have mimics so we might get wrong idea, or they get so many notifications and it drives them crazy. dont know. Just know that, it isnt cool to get reactions like that when you just trying to help.


When getting discouraging remarks back after making coarse id suggestions, are these primarily from new accounts with new uploads?

The reason I ask is that I have done a fair amount of IDs of unknowns but many of them have been older unknowns. I am often giving a coarse ID on quite a few because it is flora and not fauna where I have finer skills and more confidence. I rarely get any feedback on these older observations. This maybe because the user is no longer active or has had so many IDs that they know the system by now.

Sometimes new users don’t understand the system or the community and can be irreverent - I think if one is to take on these one needs to have thick skin, try to understand their profile and just be polite back.

I can think of one serious experienced high contributing user that has many unknowns and prefers if one cannot make a refined ID they will let you know they want it left unknown - I have learned to just not ID their observations unless I can go to genus. I also know that user will be very helpful to you when you are in their territory so I do hold them in high respect and have successfully tagged them to refine an observation. Some people’s children, what can you do but shrug.

During the ID hackathon I set my filters for prior to Sept 31, 2020 while identifying unknowns. I will take some computer suggested IDs and back them up from suggested species to Family Order or Class if I am unsure. Most times I would also paste in the following comment, “Was left unknown. Just trying to identify this to a starter level so that those who filter for and have interest in such are more likely to come across this observation and can refine the identification.” On the finer IDs but still at a more basic level, I would comment “Maybe?” if I was unsure. I got no negative comments back.


Not sure about others’ experience, but as I stated earlier the only time I received a rude reply to a high-level ID it was from a major observer. I’ve never identified Unknowns from recent short-time users, only those who left a long time ago, so I don’t have experience with them.


People can always find the reason to write that you’re doing it wrong. I’m not iding unknowns, but winged insects, I constantly getting remarks from quite experienced users about how my id is messing it up and that I either need to agree with their species id or not id at all and how my id got the observation to pterygota level. They had been long enough on iNat to learn how to count ids (I mean 3 is not that many?), but still every 2-3 days there’s gotta be one user who decides to write a poem about how to do it right. There was even a post on the forum about how I’m hijacking observations, I understand it as we never know what other people will find simple.


Thank you for coming back. Your identifications help. I also find that some of the most experienced observers can the most rude about getting coarse identifications. Fortunately, most observers do not mind.


I can’t emphasize enough how true this is. I have done a lot (understatement) of coarse ids to date, and I can count the number of “minding” people I’ve encountered on only 1 hand. It’s such a tiny fraction of everyone!


Ouch that’s very rude! I probably would have flagged that one.


i guess s/he was probably kid and might be scared from my profile picture (i tried to emphaty first so i didnt take it personally, but never know since didnt get a reply back and i just deleted my ID to cause no unintended harm :) )

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Your response to the possible young person is understandable. I have noticed also that you have had responses from the very user who’s unknowns I just leave alone unless I can move it to at least Family. Great you are not letting that absolutely discourage you. As @lotteryd and @sedgequeen mentioned, the negative responses are for the most part scarce. Hopefully for those responders, they learn the culture and continue to contribute to and enjoy iNat.


Just checked the Unknowns project and absolute Unknowns are at 159,988 once you subtract out the 22,229 State of matter Life