Have you ever clicked “Add a Name” on a taxon page? If so, then my question will probably make sense: Do you believe that the choice of common name (on the taxon page) can lead to identification errors? Do you have a specific example that illustrates the problem?
My question is not about the iNat guidelines for choosing common names but whether or not there are situations when those guidelines should be relaxed. (For convenience, I’ve pasted those guidelines at the bottom of this note.)
Let me give a simple example. Until very recently, both Anemonoides quinquefolia and Anemonoides nemorosa were assigned the identical common name wood anemone. To make a long story short, after reviewing many observations, I realized that users were hastily selecting a taxon ID based on the common name, which led to a significant number of errors. Since the two plants look alike, both would appear on the suggested taxa list with identical common names. You know the rest of the story.
To make matters worse, Anemonoides nemorosa is native to Eurasia but it has been introduced to many places worldwide. So the suggested taxa list would sometimes claim it was “Seen Nearby”, which often turned out to be false (or at least misleading). This just compounded the problem.
Bottom line: Even though “wood anemone” meets the iNat guidelines for common names, the two taxa should have different common names (or so I claim).
iNat Guidelines for Common Names
Try to add names that have been used elsewhere. Please don’t invent new names.
Don’t add duplicate names, e.g. don’t name numerous hawks “hawk”
For higher level taxa, try to use names that include all descendants, like “herons and allies” or “heath family”
Don’t add information that is not the name, e.g. paranthetical information about how you think the name should be used
New lexicons should be in English. Please don’t add translated language names like “French, Français” because that will just make it hard or impossible for us to show localized names for people who use the site in different languages.
Common names associated with translated languages will appear as the default common name for that language (barring the effect of place preferences, name ordering, etc.)