Any downsides of deleting IDs on RG observations?

I’ve been going through the RG observations of bladder campion, trying to fix the ones that are actually white campion. And I’ve noticed that a fair number of users delete their original, incorrect ID and then add a new ID rather than simply hitting the Agree button. It probably doesn’t matter at all, but I’m curious whether the CV might lose useful information when people do this. Another reason I bring it up is that my commentary (if I leave some) ends up looking odd. I.e., I might leave a comment that attempts to explain my reasoning to two or more users, and that comment seems TMI after one of the original, incorrect IDs has disappeared. Would be interested to hear people’s thoughts on this.

3 Likes

I don’t think it makes any difference to the CV, but it’s generally pretty bad form to completely delete an ID, unless it was not the ID that the person intended to add. I’ll sometimes mistype and immediately delete the incorrect ID and add a new one. However, if there have been subsequent IDs and comments, outright deleting is not a good look. In relation to your comments, you could always add a new comment: “(previous comment added in response to XYZ ID, which was subsequently deleted by the user)” so that the thread makes sense for others.

9 Likes

If my wrong ID is already part of the discussion, I withdraw in courtesy to the other identifiers (especially if you have been kind and helpful enough to spell out why I am wrong!) iNat also uses those wrong IDs for its Similar Species.

But if it was a genuine typo … deleted.

7 Likes

CV doesn’t get anything from withdrawn ids, it adds to “often confused with” list, but as someone who never uses it, I feel uncomfortable seeing grey withdrawn ids, better leave it clean. Disagreement will stay written in an id, so there’s no reason to leave it to help someone hypothetical. There’s no actual difference, so people use what they wish.

2 Likes

I agree with other users who note that totally deleting IDs (as opposed to withdrawing) can confuse the thread of identifications and comments. If an ID is a typo or accidental “agree”, I don’t think there’s any downside to deleting it right away. But in OP’s scenario, deleting an ID entirely can be confusing for future users. So if there’s been a subsequent response to an ID, either as a comment or another ID, I withdraw mine but don’t delete.

Also, withdrawing IDs and leaving a record of that helps to let other users know that being wrong and changing your mind is ok, which is a really important behavioral norm to establish on iNat. It signals that we don’t need to be correct all the time and can update and improve.

So I would advocate for withdrawing as opposed to deleting in most cases.

14 Likes

I dunno… why delete when you can have the best of both worlds? https://inaturalist.ala.org.au/observations/122393150

:)

Edit: I guess what I’m saying is that if you’re wrong you’re wrong. But sometimes you might be right. The process is what matters (show me a person who is never wrong) and if we learn along the way then everything’s good. Deleting somehow devalues things. I’ve deleted a few, not many, IDs before but only because of really silly mistakes and never, to the best of my recollection, after another person has disagreed or responded

3 Likes

I only delete within a few seconds of posting a mistake (usually after seeing a typo or similar), otherwise I withdraw. The downsides you list are real!

I once had a user “punish” me for disagreeing with one of his identifications (it was an honest mistake on my part, which I happily withdrew upon review) by retaliating with a bunch of intentionally-incorrect identifications on my observations. He then deleted them after I withdrew my mistake.

I think he shouldn’t have been able to delete them, so that there was a record of his bizarrely aggressive behavior. This guy is a professional botanist who says he does “educational outreach” on his personal website. Weird stuff!

10 Likes

I’ll generally delete an ID instead of withdrawing it if it was a typo or a mis-click - there’s no useful info that can be gained from that ID. If someone has taken the time to write a comment about an ID I’ve made, I’ll leave it up because it provides context.

But sometimes if I realize I was wrong or no longer certain about an ID I made, but nobody has interacted with that ID yet, I’ll just delete it. I have OCD, and it stresses me out to see the messy pile of crossed-out identifications. I just want everything to be tidy!

9 Likes

Wow, that’s bizarre.

I once had a user “punish” me for disagreeing with one of his identifications (it was an honest mistake on my part, which I happily withdrew upon review) by retaliating with a bunch of intentionally-incorrect identifications on my observations. He then deleted them after I withdrew my mistake.

3 Likes

if you’re talking about the “similar species” on the taxon pages, i don’t think withdrawn identifications factor into that. only current identifications seem to matter. see https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/what-things-are-misidentified-as-large-milkweed-bug/12571/26.

4 Likes

I delete because of backlash for having too many IDs. I delete when my ID makes no difference to RG. When I used “withdraw” instead, people thought it meant I had changed my mind or was making a statement about their subsequent ID.

I don’t delete when doing so makes a conversation look nuts

3 Likes

you should flag those and email help@inaturalist.org. that’s a pretty major abuse of the site that would usually result in banning, or at least should carry some heavy consequences.

7 Likes

Why on earth would you have backlash for making too many IDs?? I love your IDs, and appreciate the amount of time you spend on them.

4 Likes

Unfortunately there’s more than a few people who like to accuse prolific identifiers of just “doing it for the points” - especially when providing basic IDs to Unknowns, as @peakaytea often does (you do great work, by the way - speaking as someone who mostly does plants, your IDs make it SO MUCH easier to find what I want to ID).

I try to do some Unknown ids from time to time as well just to help out, but a lot of newer users get weirdly aggressive about it and it can become exhausting.

7 Likes

Withdrawing is, in my opinion, preferable to deleting, unless you made a technical mistake, like a typo, or accidentally chose the wrong taxon from the pop-up. Withdrawing shows the “story” of the observation, and it also shows people that it’s OK to be wrong, as @cthawley said. But deleting an ID isn’t a big deal, in nearly all cases.

If something like this happens, you can still flag the IDs, although the actual content of the ID won’t be saved in the flag (although we probably should…). But do take screenshots and email help@inaturalist.org if someone is maliciously messing with your content.

5 Likes

I ID a lot of unknowns, so I will delete my basic ID once it isn’t needed to stop getting so many notifications. I don’t if there are comments related to my ID, but that doesn’t happen often when you are entering ‘bird’ or ‘spider’.

2 Likes

Instead of deleting, one can select to unfollow an observation which should stop any further notification - I only mention this not necessarily for you but other users that may not know this is an option.

12 Likes