Are there too many new observations to identify?

Yeah, that’s an issue. It really needs to be advertised as more of a community/social media site, because I think the expectation is that is one of those apps that will tell you what you’re looking at.


Seeing the page count decrease closer to zero has been very motivating, especially since a number in the 30s doesn’t feel insurmountable. That seven page increase within 12 hours was a bit shocking, I will admit. From what I can tell, a large chunk of the recent Unknowns from the past week have come from a smaller number of newer users who have added 100+ Unknowns each. Would be great if they became long-term users.

I’ve noticed that the top 3-4 South Korean nature apps are built without a taxonomic framework in place so every entry in those is either Unknown or at Species ID, with the default being a pre-inserted message that reads “What is this thing?” or “Please tell me what this is” depending on the app. While new users adding observations as Unknown is certainly not a Korea-specific issue, I do wonder how much those apps are influencing new user behavior on iNaturalist.

It also looks like - for plants, at least - some users are entering common names that just aren’t in the database, so all of those end up in Unknown even if the observer might have a decent idea of what they are. A shame, but my knowledge of plants here is limited so I don’t feel confident adding them to the database myself.

I noticed a new user I follow added a lot of observations as Unknowns before I logged off the other night and now they’re identified as plants thanks to you and @trh_blue, plus the number of South Korean Unknowns is looking much smaller. Thank you and everyone who helped for taking a look at those. (I felt like it was my birthday when I saw that!)

I’ve noticed that a few of our top observers specialize in one specific taxa and may not make many identifications for others so I try to pick up the slack in helping new users and welcoming them to the site. As a result, it does feel like I handle South Korean Unknowns on my own but don’t feel pressured to work through them if you have other things to do. :)


No problem!

Have you tried sending them a PM to see if they are aware they can add a coarse ID? I would, but I fear the language barrier for something as complicated as how to add coarse IDs.

Meh, my main IDs are Unknowns from anywhere, so it’s no biggie to focus on one country for a few days instead of the whole world map.


I’ve been wondering that too. Seek more so than iNat which does mention the community aspect but clearly people think of iNat that way. Looking at some of the reviews on Google Play suggests that.


Just wanted to say a thanks and let you know that your effort is noticed. I’m a new user in our state and you jumped right in with an ID.


Please try to add at least coarse ids, even “plants” can be good enough.


What do you mean by “coarse” Ids? Like a rough guess?

Not guess, but the level of your confedence, if you’re sure it’s a plant - add it, “unknown” observations will be ided slower, e.g. botanists while iding filter out plants only, so they won’t see an “unknown” observation.


Welcome to the forum! Glad to help :smiley:

1 Like

It takes time.

I work in SE Asia, it’s common for observations to sit for years before anyone chimes in with an ID, if they ever do.

We have been trained to expect instant everything all the time as a society, but we need to remember to slow down and that things often take time.


I’ve been more active at messaging people in the past but some of my recent interactions have been a little discouraging so I’ve been taking a small break from that. Will be trying it again before too long though.

It might not be a big change for you but it’s greatly appreciated all the same. :)


– and the overly specific identotron only makes it worse.


That’s one of the (very few) scenarios where I wish the observer would not specify their intent:

E.g. Shot of the moon with some branches barely in the lower corner of the photo

  • No placeholder or description?
    Cool, I can ID it as Vascular Plants for the branches!
  • “(Placeholder: moon)” or description that indications the moon is the subject?
    I’ll respect their wishes, and leave a comment asking if they want to change the focus to the branches, and maybe mark it “no evidence of organism” in the DQA in the mean time.
1 Like

I’ve noticed this too. Caveat: it seems like you should be careful if you disagreeing on a specific ID without giving a competing ID, you might have trouble if you skip to the next observation. That can a while to show up and if you don’t wait for it, you might lose your ID. It’s happened a few times where my disagreement didn’t get recorded or was recorded as “I don’t know” rather than “No.”


It is important not to discourage new users and non-expert users by providing as fast as possible IDs.
But, at the same time, it is important not to discourage identifiers and expert users who always have to face a considerable workload in disentangling themselves in a high number of craps.

Let’s valorize those “who knows”.


I agree, and feel like there’s too much emphasis on species ID, and that it’s baked into the user interface to some extent. The prominence of “needs ID” seems to reinforce the message that iNat is mainly for identifying creatures. Sure, I like to get a species ID on photos I post, but documenting interactions can be more interesting. And I feel like my photos that can’t (yet) be identified might be the most important – for example, I post lots of photos of Villa flies (or ones that look like Villas) for the very reason that they cannot be identified to species, hoping that researchers trying to make sense of that genus will find my photos helpful. My main use for iNat is not getting identifications, it’s to impose order upon my observations, so that I can easily find comparable observations from prior years and decide what to look for when I go out in the field. It works quite well for that but could be even better. Addition of a ‘prime suspect’ tag (meaning, it looks like species ‘x’, but I’m not saying it is) would be helpful. Or a tag that conveys “here’s what I think it is, but feel free to ignore my uneducated opinion”, because my tentative ID is for my own personal study only, and not intended to be relied upon by others.