Bumping ID up to broad category treated as disagreeing with later refined IDs

Here’s what often happens with observations that I ID. I will use a simplified example:

I see an observation with one ID, by JK, saying “squirrels.” I am not sure what animal it is but I know “squirrels” is wrong. So I ID it as “mammals” and, when prompted, say that I know it is not squirrels.

Now LM comes along and recognizes it as a civet. She IDs it as “civets.” JK agrees with her and changes his ID to “Civets.”

So we have 3 IDs that have not been crossed out: The oldest is mine, “Mammals.” The remaining 2 say “Civets.”

Why is the community ID “mammals”?

In this situation, assuming I don’t trust my ability to ID a civet, I will refresh the screen a few times, then give up waiting and withdraw my correct broad ID. CID will then change to “Civets.” Why does my saying that a photo of a civet is a mammal but not a squirrel count as disagreeing with the ID “Civets”?

I am writing now because I just came across an observation – one posted and ID’ed by others – that has a CID of “Gall wasps” six months after one person ID’d it as Andricus aciculatus and the observer changed her ID to A. acciculatus. The only other ID is “Gall wasps.”

[original version, written as a Bug Report, has been edited]

Hi Nancy. This is not a bug (so I have moved your post to General), but rather ‘intended’ behaviour. As you note, the only way to shift the ID is to withdraw yours.

You can read more about how this works at


there are also multiple forum discussions about this, e.g. https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/ancestor-disagreement-persists-after-disputed-id-is-withdrawn/15552/3 or https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/change-wording-used-by-the-system-when-downgrading-an-observation-to-an-higher-level-taxa/3862/62, that you may find useful

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It definitely wasn’t programmed for humans to be able to understand. Frequently I can’t tell if my ID is the one holding the overall ID back, and I end up withdrawing out of caution.

I also spend a good chunk of time identifying plant observations currently at a high taxa, and I never can decide whether it’s rude to tag a person if I think their ID is causing the problem.


Any tag that is accompanied with a reason why and made in good faith is never rude, at least in my view


Amy, thanks for reassuring me that I am not the only one who doesn’t understand that, when it says below my ID of “Mammals” that::

“nancy disagrees that this is Squirrels,”

it means:

"nancy believes that the evidence is inadequate to confirm that this is Squirrels or any other taxon more specific than Mammals.

As the confusingly titled blog entry cited by the beachcomber explains, iNat does have plans to fix this. Here is a screenshot showing the intended fix:

I hope that, with the COVID crisis moderating, they can soon get to this.

BTW, I agree with kiwifergus. A tag with a polite request for clarification would be appropriate here. Eg, “nancy do you disagree that that Civets is an appropriate ID for this observation?” If I say NO, you can ask me to withdraw my Mammals ID.

Thanks, beachcomber, for getting me past the confusing titles.

covers the very same ground as my “bug report.”

When the title of a Forum discussion or blog entry starts with jargon that makes no sense to me–such as the term “Ancestor disagreements”–I prefer to skip over it. It took your reply to my post to persuade me that I needed to read the webpages you cited.

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