Are concurring ID's posted to a Research Grade observation useful?

I’m a fairly new iNatter, and I’m curious: is there any utility to adding identifications (concurring, not disagreeing–those are obviously important) after an observation has reached Research Grade? For some popular observations ID’s seem to be used almost as upvotes, but I’m thinking more about cases where something has two or three species-level correct ID’s. Does adding another make any difference?


If it’s reached RG I tend to not “agree” and try to use the reviewed feature in identify mode instead, because I see multiple agreeing identifications to be redundant and make it more difficult to change an incorrect identification down the line. But whatever you do is up to you. This is a topic of much contention here.


Some additional ids can be helpful, especially for not popular groups or where observer agreed without knowledge, but there’re more downsides of adding 10 of the same id. Users are free to do whatever they want though, so some check RG mainly.


There are so many Unknowns needing ID. Have been ploughing thru 400 from a researcher. Apparently all uploaded with no ID.
I see no value at all, if I add another ID to Research Grade.

But I appreciate if someone I trust confirms the ID on one of my obs. Some like to use adding an ID, as a way of marking an obs as Seen That.

Depends how you choose to use your time on iNat.
PS Unfollow obs once you no longer need to know that there is … yet another on the long list!


I think it’s fine to add a concurring RG to an observation if you’re sure of the ID. It’s a way to keep track of observations that you have reviewed, though you can also check “reviewed” as noted above.

What I like to do for taxa of interest to me that are RG is to set the filter to find observations that lack phenological data, and add that data in to RG observations that are lacking it (which is most of them). That’s a way for me to keep track of the observations I’ve seen and also correct the occasional mistake (I am definitely in favor of folks reviewing RG observations to find and correct mistakes!). I find this more satisfying than just clicking “reviewed” or adding a third concurring ID.


There are so many Unknowns needing ID. Have been ploughing thru 400 from a researcher. Apparently all uploaded with no ID.

Speaking of, is there a way to filter observations in the Identify view so you only see those with no ID? I’d like to do what I can to help with those, but I was having a hard time figuring out how to do it with the available filters.

ETA: Wait, never mind, I just found it!


If there’s a taxon that you are particularly good at then yes confirming ID’s are quite useful. Frequently, someone will upload something that they don’t know what it is and an ID’er comes along and places an ID, which the observer promptly agrees with, even though they didn’t know what it was in the first place. So an additional ID’er is a good thing.

Also worth remembering that just because some thing is Research Grade, doesn’t mean it have the correct ID. So it is worth running through them.


It’s totally fine to ID whatever observations you like (RG, Unknown, Casual, etc.) as long as you ID based on your own expertise. The most problematic agreements to RG observations are those where identifiers choose “Agree” without evaluating the identification for themselves. As others have noted, this can lead to a situation where changing an erroneous ID is difficult.

I personally ID a lot of RG observations in my taxa of interest. To me, once I’ve done the work of looking at an observation and deciding if the ID is correct or not, all the hard work has been done. It’s just as fast to “agree” as to tick “reviewed” and move on. This can be valuable because sometimes another user will come along and add an erroneous ID to an RG observation (rare, but it does happen) - having an extra identification can help prevent this.

I would, however, note, that in my ideal world, adding an ID to an observation is a little bit of a contract with the observer and other users. When I make an ID, I feel that I am obligated to follow up with it and check notifications for that observation - it’s the only way I will find out if I am wrong and need to correct myself.


I like concurring id on observations that are research grade based on my id and one other, so it has minimum three including mine.


I think it’s a case where it depends on what the observation is. I see more value in this for rarer organisms that are frequently mislabeled, than for common, easy IDs that people are less likely to research.
I personally don’t add another ID after research grade as the backlogs are already big enough I’d rather stick to “needs id”. Based on my observations that get extra IDs it seems to be mostly a bug or bird identifier thing to do, but I think they just have more identifiers than other categories.


Yes, I consider them useful as long as a) they are made for the right reasons, and b) are actually correct.

An obs reaching RG doesn’t mean that the correct ID has been established - it just means that a couple of people agree on the ID, although the more people who agree on an ID, the higher the (well, my) confidence level that the ID is correct*.

*I’m not talking about IDs by people who use the Agree button as a proxy “Like” button - I am talking about identifiers who aim to identify accurately. In my experience it becomes pretty clear who’s who in a relatively short period of time so I just manually filter with my brain.

Generally If an obs has one ID to species and one agreement, then my confidence level depends on who did the agreeing. If there’s more than one agreement and they’re not of the ‘proxy Like’ brigade, then I am reasonably comfortable.

But ultimately it’s not set in stone, as if there is disagreement then the obs can move from RG back to NI when dissent is raised. That’s things working as intended.


Like @Thunderhead, I too like seeing an extra ID on my RG(Research Grade) observations. However, given the ratio of more observations to identifiers on iNat, it doesn’t happen very often and many of my observations don’t ever go into RG.

Therefore, I stick to identifying unknowns and plants in my area with 0 or 1 IDs, even if I only move unknowns into a broad category like Insecta (Insecta) or Arthropods (Arthropoda) so that someone who filters for them could narrow down further.

Since there’s a long list of topics related to problems of RG only requiring 2 IDs:

I think it’s beneficial if you are adding a 3rd ID because:

  • It shows that more than 1 other person reviewed it
  • It gives observer and previous identifier more confidence
  • It gives you more confidence since it’s already RG

There’s always a risk it can get carried away, like the infamous Gerald the Muskrat (warning: hundreds of IDs and comments - may overload browser) discussed in topic: How did the observation of Gerald the Muskrat go viral on inaturalist?


I think there are good reasons to agree with identification of a Research Grade observation, if you can determine that it is correct:

  1. An “extra” agreeing ID insulates the observation from incompetent or malicious identifiers who try to change it. (Rare, but it happens.)
  2. Getting two agreeing ID is a pretty low standard for RG, and I’m more confident that the ID is correct if there are additional identifications. Especially true if I recognize one of the IDers as knowledgeable about the group.
  3. If I look over the observation and determine that it is correct, why in the world wouldn’t I click the button to agree while I’m there?

However, there are some downsides.

  1. If the identification we’re agreeing on is wrong, more ID’s will be needed later to correct it. (To minimize this problem, I watch what happens to observations I’ve ID’d and if somebody later disagrees I withdraw my identification unless I’m sure it was right.)

  2. There are millions of observations that have 0 or 1 identification and those should usually be higher priorities.

So, I usually don’t search out RG observations to identify, but if I happen upon one, I do click the button to agree (assuming I agree).


when i was fixing tons of millipede observations near me, a lot of bumblebee millipedes and ivory millipedes were wrongly research graded as whichever of those two species the observation WASNT. so i was fixing tons of them, and agreeing to every one that i saw that was actually correctly RG as the right species. that way it was confirmation that this RG wasnt erroneous like a lot of others were, and as others have said its protection against a later wrong ID, in case someone decided to offer their guess thats the wrong one. i dont usually ID on RG observations but in that case it felt like a good idea


There were topics before where people complained that it “floods there notifications”, so not everyone likes it, but I personally do like a lot - it’s just nice to see more people taking time to evaluate my observations, in particular for groups that I am not very familiar with, or for difficult IDs. I have for example one Blue Rock Thrush from Lisbon with like 7 IDs and I can see why people do it - it’s a very tricky shot to ID and a rather rare bird in the area, so it’s really nice to be sure that I have gotten it right.


If you identify it by yourself: yes, good!
“RG” with 2 or 3 IDs might as well mean that the observer guessed out of the blue, and his pals agreed out of friendship. Or somebody IDed it wrong, and the observer just parrots the wrong ID.
So, the more IDs, the better.
Just really do the identification work.


I do in specific cases add my ID even if there are already a lot. For example if it is a group I know extremely well and I think my opinion adds value, but also just part of my work process

I am for example going through specific groups in Europe. In some countries or even regions of countries identifications beyond genus are impossible, in other regions the case might be clear. This leads to a situation where hundreds of observations the observer uploaded with coreect genus ID never got confirmed since years even if it is a super easy to identify genus… apparently because it’s annoying for IDers to review those observations that will never reach research grade anyways. I am now also reviewing those. With my workflow this will also bring me along observations that already have a bunch of IDs… and yes, I will also leave mine whene I am there anyways, even if it is the 7th or so. I reviewed it and I agree (or disagree). It can sometimes be an underwhelming process, but it’s rewarded as I can advance every 10th-20th ID

I recently had some cases where observations I had marked as reviewed, because I would have been only able to add a very broad category to an already finer ID, reapeared back on my ID module… I don’t know why or if this is a bug… But I now don’t feel like using the review button anymore actually but will always add my ID to know it’s reviewed to “my” groups (which are generally anyways not crowded with a lot of active IDers)


I would like iNat to show us (as FB does) ‘so many’ people have seen this - on our own obs. That would tell me, lots of people have looked at this, but

  • difficult to ID this taxon

  • my pictures don’t show the necessary details

  • sob, nobody has looked at this



I sometimes add additional IDs just because it makes it much easier to sort the observations later. I usually use “reviewed” with no ID for things that I don’t know or which don’t show the needed characteristics for ID, so I go back through those periodically while filtering out the ones I’ve added IDs on.

Also there are certain taxa that tend to attract a lot of erroneous IDs - adding an extra confirming ID on the ones you’re certain of can be quite helpful there.

But please, please, please - for anyone who does this, make sure you have “Automatically update my content for taxon changes” checked in your account settings! I see a lot of observations lose RG status because one person doesn’t have it set to update, and then their ID becomes a disagreement with the consensus.


I wish more people knew that for things that can’t be identified below genus, they can still get RG grade at genus level if there are two agreeing IDs and someone checks the “Cannot be improved further” box in the DQA. So genus-level agreeing IDs are very helpful!

I have quite a few observations that just need someone agreeing with my genus ID to become RG - for example, non-flowering Platanthera orchids are very distinctive to genus but cannot be identified to species without flowers: