Can I hide generic IDs for my own observations?

I posted observations last April, waited excitedly for IDs, and heard nothing on a number of them. Recently, a user who appears to have knowledge based on her profile has been repeatedly making observations of “plant” on certain of my observations. Perhaps researchers would benefit from this ID, but to me “plant” is of no value and is actually very frustrating.

Is there a way to hide a user’s bland IDs without blocking the person completely? I just don’t want emails for “plant”. Or is there a way to turn off IDs completely? I hate to delete the whole account, but am leaning that direction.

The best way to remedy this is the give things a generic ID yourself when uploading them. Things that don’t get an ID on initial upload get buried into the purgatory of “unknown” observations, and most identifiers aren’t willing to sort through 5,000 pages of middle-school students’ blurry pictures of chewing gum and sidewalks to find the organisms they want to ID.

Putting the general ID categorizes it so that identifiers can actually find it, and give it a more detailed ID. Lately there has been a push to categorize all the identifiable “unknowns” so they can be properly IDed.

If you really want to, you can turn off notifications within your account settings. But it’s probably more useful to just start adding the general ID yourself.


Are you uploading observations without giving them any initial ID (leaving them as “Unknown” or “State of Matter Life”)?

When you leave an identification at the above, it makes it nearly impossible for them to be found by people who can actually identify your observation. Best practice is to always give the best ID you can, even if that is “plant” or “insect”, because that will 1) prevent people from adding them themselves and 2) will make it easier for people who spend time browsing unidentified plants or insects to find your obs. So I agree with the above–the best way to do this is to add those IDs yourself. If you need a starting point you can always look at what the computer vision suggests for you and pick a category that works best.


Generic IDs are helpful in many cases and can speed the process to getting a final ID.

If it’s left with no ID the observation doesn’t have anything that attracts attention. If the ID is even as basic as “plant” or “monocot” or “flowering plant” that provides a handle for someone who is interested in that particular branch of biology to come along and make further ID.

Giving a basic ID upon upload is always a good idea, not only because of he aforementioned reason, but also because it lets others know that you’re interested and trying to ID as best as you can.

If you leave an observation with no ID at all it can make others think that you’re not really interested, so why should they be interested?


As an aside, I took a look at the observations and one thing that might help a lot is to consolidate some of the observations. It looks like there are many that are of the same organism at the same time that are uploaded as separate observations. Consolidating those instances to a single observation might help to clear some of the issue up and make it easier for others to help with the observations.


You may want to go to your profile settings and tick this box (or at the very least untick the Identifications box):

You’ll still get notifications on iNat, but you won’t get an email every time which seems to be one of your main issues.


Also keep in mind that many of your observations are casual (non-wild plants). Many users search for observations to ID while excluding these, so they can often slip under the radar.

If you really want an ID for something, have a search for which users are the top identifiers of that taxon and tag them in your observation using the @ symbol. They’ll get a notification and can then see your observation.


well, if you want to discourage others from identifying observations, this is certainly one way to do it. it only took my realizing that lots of identifications that i had put a lot of time into had disappeared from the system because the observers had deleted their accounts to discourage me from doing as many identifications. i also used to put a good description for each identification i made. i haven’t done that since i realized that many of these could just end up being wasted effort.


Hi @missourimary I’m just taking a look at some of your observations. It appears in a lot of cases of your observations that you have a pretty good idea of what you have taken a photo of - it’s right there in the Descriptions you’ve obviously been putting quite a bit of effort into.

The best way to get your observations noticed and identified, as others have said, is to put your best guess right in the Species Name box when you upload it. The second best way is to add an Identification in the Suggest an Identification box. It’s fine to be wrong - everyone is learning here.

I’m afraid there aren’t many identifications to species that I can personally help you with because your native flora is similar, but really quite different from mine, but I can take a shot at family or genus quite often.

I hope you’ll stick around - planting native species is a valuable contribution to our built/ natural shared environment, and this is a great place to learn about them.


I’m just curious why you consider this a problem. It doesn’t prevent you or anyone else from refining the identification beyond that. Do you have a special workflow or something that makes leaving the identification section blank beneficial to you? Or is it just the e-mails that bother you? (I have all iNaturalist e-mail notifications turned off, so I get that.)


hi @missourimary, and welcome to the forum! thank you for bringing up the topic, it’s one that genuinely confuses many newcomers (and is a topic of minor debate among experts, too (hi @tonyrebelo ;)

As you’ve likely gathered, the general consensus here is that it’s better to have a generic ID than none at all. I myself add many generic IDs.

most of what I would have said has already been covered, but I will add one thing: for beginner or generalist identifiers, or even an expert trying to I’D something outside her expertise, “Plantae” may be the only thing they can confidently add. anyone adding an ID is trying to help, in what small way they can.


As said if you don’t get generic IDs you won’t get any without great luck of an expert checking unidentified for some reason, and experts usually don’t do that, they check their groups. If you have an id then put it, descriptions are overseen in identify mode, and even when you see them and identifier won’t put your id as theirs, it’s wrong.

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I don’t think anyone has mentioned that you can turn off notifications for confirming identifications. I’ve got that set and I always put an identification even if it is just “plants”. That means I only get notified if someone improves or corrects my identification (plus it hopefully increases the chances of getting a species level identification).


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