Amount of "Unknown" records is decreasing

Lately it seems like every day the large pile is getting a little smaller, by an amount that would take the help of multiple people per day. Thanks everyone!

The large pile by my current reference:

Update: More-focused Unknowns without Life ones in the mix is:

(Staff, if you go into end-of-year recap graphing mode, I would personally love to see a graph of the pile over time along with the other stuff. ;) )


Congratulations! I know you have been a major part in that reduction along with several other users.
Especially thanks to those who are tagging things as winged and once winged, which is the level I have been sorting and ID’ing lower.

Once I finish writing, I might start diving into the unknown or life category, but for now I need to try to reduce the amount of time I am on here.


Really great work, @lotteryd and everyone else tackling the unknowns. For anyone else interested in diving in, this pile could especially benefit from folks who have an eye for:
-ocean life
-microscopic life of all kinds


I think I just found a new addiction - thanks!

Lynn Harper/MassWildlife


Big thanks go to @bobmcd for getting some good momentum going with threads like


Thank you for working on the things we throw in your direction! There’d be no point moving observations out of unknown if there were no-one here who could take the next step.


Heh, I can’t do any of those justice at all… but I can definitely recognize a plant at least 95% of the time and that’s a start.

I know most people prefer to ID from a relatively narrow taxonomic level, but it does also help to sort out Animalia and Plantae to Phylum/Order / whatever you can.


Two related points:

People who ID Unknowns en masse, do you follow up on obs you ID? When yes/no, and why?
Most of my Unknowns are IDed via an external phone app. But notifications I check mostly on my laptop, so that I can see more information without having to enter the obs itself.
I personally follow all of them, mostly because I give extremely coarse IDs in an attempt to move quickly. Anything that generates followup activity is worth going back to in my opinion because it allows me to engage with newer users, and to check suggested IDs. Not that I’m an expert but I can at least catch the ridiculous ones.
Also because I confess that when I’m doing the rapid IDs I don’t always do DQA so it’s a chance to do that as well.
The downside is that I get an unholy number of notifications… ah well.

Second, as far as I know there isn’t a quick and easy way to see how many obs I’ve moved out of Unknown into something else. I wish I could.


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.


Oooh yes like this one (@lotteryd also helped nudge it along)


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 have just updated the post on the State of matter Life clean up showing the current numbers compared to May 23rd.


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.


Great work!
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!


Working on New Brunswick right now…


Cape Town 138. Back later …


I’ve been told this came from the iNat Discord group, I find it quite amusing.

Also, thank you for the really valuable ID work, everyone! Every ID helps.


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!