Blocked for providing a coarse ID (?)

So during my usual sorting through the “unknown” category and providing coarse IDs, I ran into one particular observation. I could only ID it to order rank, given I don’t know much about that particular type of organism - but it was better than leaving it with no identification at all. At least, so I thought. A little while later, the observer left a comment suggesting they weren’t entirely pleased with my ID (nothing hostile, just a “…”).

In the few hours before I could get back to my laptop & find my template explaining why I make coarse IDs, any notifications about that identification and the comment had completely disappeared. I even went through all of my identifications I’d done of that taxon - still couldn’t find it. I suspect that means this user has blocked me. Not going to lie, that kinda stings a little. I actually have a phobia of that taxon and that was the best I can do, especially on a picture of the organism feeding on prey.

I know I should just let it go, but I’m an anxious person and it bothers me that someone out there thinks I was being overly vague with my identification just for the fun of it. I’ve had a few negative responses to my coarse IDs before, but they usually understand & apologise once I explain what I’m doing and why. It bugs me that this time I didn’t get the chance to explain before I was blocked :grimacing: (though I could be wrong about that)


I don’t remember if IDs can be blocked, but when both the ID and comment are gone, it usually means the observation was deleted.


Ah, I thought that meant the user themself had blocked me, but now I’m looking into it I don’t know if blocking someone is even possible on iNaturalist. I thought I’d seen some discussion about being able to block other users in the past. Still, it’d be a shame if my coarse ID made someone delete their observation (however accidentally on my part).


It is possible to block 3(?) people, don’t be ashamed, sometimes weird stuff happens and it’s not your bad 100%.


As @melodi_96 mentioned, blocking is possible , but I believe the way it works is that they don’t get notifications if you comment or ID, and you can’t message them.

Blocking IDs is something that would require staff intervention.

Again, I think that’s how it works. Someone please correct me if I am wrong.

[edit: thank you for the correction, @bouteloua]


Each person can block up to 3 users in their account settings (web only). This prevents that person from adding IDs and comments on your content, such as observations, journal posts, and flags. It also hides you from most searches that person does, though they can still navigate to your content via URL since almost everything on iNaturalist is public-facing anyways. That said, it’s against the guidelines to block someone because you don’t like their IDs (presuming the IDs are made in good faith of course), and people who do this are at risk of account suspension. If you notice that happening, or remember which user, please reach out to It’s also definitely possible they just deleted the observation rather than blocked you.

It’s unfortunately pretty common that people get upset when others add coarse IDs to their observations. In response, there is this FAQ item and several of us use prepared responses when making IDs for new iNaturalist users such as:

This general identification will 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:

More here:


Would that prevent existing IDs and comments from showing on the blocked person’s side?


Also, hard relate. Sorry this happened to you.


Both users can still see each other’s IDs and comments - existing content and going forward, on a third users’ observations for example. You just can’t interact with each other’s stuff anymore.


Weirds me out how much coarse IDs bother people. Will call someone’s fungi a bolete, get a response back that I could have been more helpful. Not without being dishonest I couldn’t lol.


@Oliverc29, if I am interpretting Cassi’s statement here correctly, then even if the user blocked you, you’d still be able to see your comment & ID.

So while they could have blocked you, the reason your comment & ID are gone is probably because the observation is gone.

Is that right, @bouteloua?


I do worry that with my coarse IDs I’m inadvertently saying (particularly to new users) “this observation can’t be IDed any more specifically than insect/plant/fungi/etc” rather than “this is as far as I can ID it - hopefully your observation is now in the right category for the right experts to see it”, which is why I do try to include a response explaining why I’m giving a coarse ID every time.

But when I’m IDing on the mobile app I don’t have access to my templates & can’t be bothered to write out my standard response from memory every time - which is what happened this time. Maybe I should just transfer all my templates over to my notes app.


It can hurt when people respond badly to adding a general identification! We’re doing the right thing, the helpful thing, and this is the response we get? I try to head it off with a standard response I paste on the identification: “I put the general name “butterflies and moths” on your observation because I hope that will attract people who know them well and can give you a more precise name.” Beginners, at least, seem to appreciate it.

(I put in another name as appropriate, but people seem to post a LOT of unlabeled Lepidoptera so this is my template.)


Honestly, if having a research-grade or species ID is more important to someone than having a correct ID, that’s their problem. I don’t like having negative interactions like this, but sometimes people who have gotten defensive about ID corrections come around after some explanation and actually thank me. Bonus points if they start tagging me on every fungus they observe :joy:


Oh ok, in that case it sounds like the observation got deleted rather than the user blocking me. Especially if you have to go all the way into account settings to block someone - I guess I could have annoyed them that much with my coarse ID, but it seems unlikely :D

If I’m not blocked then I would consider messaging them privately to explain the situation, but to be honest I can’t remember what their username is by now or even which continent they were on since I was IDing unknowns globally. Oh well - guess I’ll just have to let this one go :/


Browser history?

I would have been using the mobile app at the time, so unfortunately it wouldn’t be in my browser history :/

Yeah, exactly. Coarse IDs are meant to be a step in the right direction to getting a species or genus level identification, rather than a final ID. And it’s not like an observation can only get one ID and then that’s it - I’m sure someone else will come along with another ID sooner or later.

If an observation is properly categorised, I’ve found it’ll usually get a more precise ID within a few days or weeks (plants are possibly an exception to this) - otherwise unknown observations can be sitting in uncategorized limbo for months. And I’m sure coarse IDs do help with the visibility of observations; I’ve seen observations that went unnoticed and unidentified for months suddenly begin getting identifications to species level shortly after I added a coarse ID.

There’s definitely value in admitting you don’t 100% know what something is, rather than potentially contributing to an incorrect ID. I was a bit overenthusiatic in my IDing when I first joined iNaturalist a few months ago haha (suggesting species I’d never even heard of until the Computer Vision suggested them a few seconds before) but now I’m a lot better at acknowledging when I really don’t know enough to ID something & instead give it a coarse ID to pass it over to the experts. And I always check in on other people’s IDs on the observations I make coarse IDs on, so hopefully in the future I might actually be able to ID that organism myself.

But yeah, I don’t think people always understand what coarse IDers are trying to do unfortunately.


Just FYI, I think both Android manufacturers and iPhones generally have a native “notes” app.
You could save your boilerplate in there, and then copy it so it’s in your clipboard the next time you are doing IDs on the app.

When I’ve taken the care to make a species ID that I’m at least reasonably certain is correct, I am extremely annoyed when someone overrides it with a genus then refuses to respond when queried as to why they think my specific ID has to be incorrect. I say: if you don’t know enough about the organism to say why the original ID is incorrect at the level it was made, don’t muck it up, leave it for comment/ID by someone who does.