Change wording used by the system when downgrading an observation to an higher level taxa

I never said they weren’t part of the community (or any less a part of it), nor did I say they had no right to decide that THEY can’t ID it.

I DO contest whether they have the right to say someone else can’t. Very subtle difference.


This post shows the different interpretations of this quite well:

@charlie points out that there are gestalt cues that an IDer can rely on, and @bouteloua does add that it should be done with caution (my interpretation of their exchange there)

My position is that we should be identifying purely to how we see ourselves, ie we should only be explicitly disagreeing if we can see evidence that it is not that species. If you think there is the possibility of that species, then it is a lie to say that it is definitely not that species, so you should not be explicitly disagreeing. What you should be doing is challenging the ID of the other observer through dialogue. Of course, this is just my position, which I believe fits with the concept and intent of community ID.

The problem is that a lot of observers/identifiers are absentee, and not around to participate in the dialogue and/or change their IDs when shown that it could be other than what they say. Further, many of these absentee identifiers are novice and relying on a CV suggestion that can be very worthy of challenging! If clearly a novice absentee or doesn’t respond to the challenge on the ID, then in that case I agree with Cassi that we should perhaps bump the ID with an explicit disagreement, but only if we ourselves will be around to withdraw that if further information is supplied that would change that position!

The main problem with this strategy, which has been mentioned elsewhere extensively, is that if everyone follows your protocol then there is no mechanism for the community to halt over-identifying observations (records reaching research grade when they can’t actually be confirmed to species/genus). The only way your strategy could be functional without allowing these over-identifications (which could also be thought of as false-positives) is if every user was careful to only add identifications when they are certain, responded to dialogue, and bumped their ID back up a taxonomic level in light of that discussion when warranted. We’re very far away from that being the case, and in my experience these over-identifications are not changed by the users in the vast majority of situations even with attempts at dialogue.

There probably are cases where these IDs are truly correct (that is, the organism was actually Species A despite insufficient evidence to confirm such in the media provided), but I would suggest that the majority of these over-identification cases are situations where the observer and identifiers are unaware of how to distinguish similar species and have just picked one. Allowing those latter records to remain research grade undermines the concept of community ID and reduces the overall quality of iNat data.


… which is where initiating dialogue can help address this fundamental flaw in how people are using the site. Simply “fixing” the observations CID and not addressing how it got that way is not stopping it from happening over and over again.

Teach them to fish… :)


I have no problem with initiating dialog (and often do) to try to fix that flaw in the behavior. But fixing the observation fixes the problem, whereas the dialog alone doesn’t in most cases so I opt to do both simultaneously.

If the observer/identifiers never respond, there’s no simple way to filter back through for those observations at a later date to fix the ID (and having to do that would take double the time). I’ll just keep fixing the IDs while simultaneously trying to initiate dialog, and am happy to correspond with the <5% who ever respond. For the other 95%, at least the data is improved even if there is no behavior change on the users’ part.


I think like many things there’s a gradient. Blurry photo of nondescript shrub in Virginia identified as a plant endemic to California deserts? Explicit disagree. Observation of a somewhat cryptic grass within geographic range by an established user without easy diagnostic features visible? Just a comment or a mark reviewed. And yes there are lots of grey areas. I tend not to explicitly disagree unless it cleans up the range maps. I also sometimes mark as needing another id when I comment


Coming to this thread late so I don’t know what, if anything has been amended since the start.
The present wording of the green and orange buttons is really confusing and must PLEASE be changed.

I made a mistake of my own recently picking the wrong button which left a bad ID in place, and now a well-meaning person has coarsened the IDs of some of my obs because he intended to agree with a higher taxa, not disagree with my ID.

@vynbos suggested clearer wording.


Agree, or at least maybe tell people what each one really does before they choose it: Explicit disagree or Partial disagree.

Possibly have an “undo” for a few minutes after in case you touched or clicked the wrong one accidentally.

And there also was a recent impassioned disagreement on an observation that, while rooted in other personal issues, was triggered by a lack of understanding of what the wording on this option meant.

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@tiwane I have tagged you in the observation concerned, but it has become a passionate discussion on yet another observation:

In this case, there are only two species in NZ so the explicit disagreement led to the argument that if it is not the one, then it must be the other, which subsequently had the identifier indicate they did not “explicitly disagree” as their ID suggests, that they were just answering the question as it was put.


This could be solved by allowing a three-way choice. I.e. “Yes, it is that species.” vs. “No, it is definitely not that species.” vs. “I don’t know.”

It seems it might be useful to make these distinctions. I know I would select both “No” and “I don’t know.” frequently. I think it would help the community reach an ID consensus too, it would be less abrasive, more educational, better at communicating our intent and knowledge, etc.

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This basically already exists, albeit with confusing wording.


This blog entry
indicates the iNaturalist team are progressing in re-wording the options users get when proposing a higher level taxa.

Copying here a proposal I made in the comments there:

Proposed question and 3 options:

Why are you identifying this as Family Lady Beetles (Family Coccinellidae) rather than Seven-spotted Lady Beetle (Coccinella septempunctata)?

A) I am quite sure this is NOT a Seven-spotted Lady Beetle (Coccinella septempunctata). I think it is another species in Family Lady Beetles (Family Coccinellidae).

B) I do not think it is possible to say, based on the evidence here, that this is Seven-spotted Lady Beetle (Coccinella septempunctata). I am quite sure it belongs to Family Lady Beetles (Family Coccinellidae).

C) The best ID I can currently make for this record is Family Lady Beetles (Family Coccinellidae). I can’t tell if it is a Seven-spotted Lady Beetle (Coccinella septempunctata) or not.

Proposed “decoration” of the IDs

A) user_b thinks this is not Seven-spotted Lady Beetle (Coccinella septempunctata)

B) user_b doesn’t think we can be certain beyond Family Lady Beetles

C) user_b is not certain beyond Family Lady Beetles

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Ok, so I missed this comment when it was first posted, and to me it answers what I consider to be the biggest cause of the arguments over explicit disagreements.

This is my interpretation of the above (and assuming @loarie means Identifier rather than Observer, which is often the same person):

We should not be explicitly disagreeing just because we personally feel there is insufficient evidence to support a species level ID. However, if the Identifier that ID’d at species is unresponsive to a challenge over that ID, and a conversation takes place that supports bumping it back to genus, then it becomes appropriate to do so. Or perhaps just if we believe (from past conversations on similar observations) that the community would support the decision to do so, THEN it would also be appropriate to explicitly disagree.

please correct me if I am wrong

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@loarie @tiwane @carrieseltzer
Are we any closer to a rewording on the “Potential Disagreement” modal, particularly in regards to explicit disagreements such as in this case:


^ A similar recent conversation here.

I’ve had some difficulties lately that are directly pertinent to this topic: I’ve been IDing observations of periodical cicadas (Magicicada) as part of a research effort to map this year’s emergences, and the wording of the “explicit disagreement” is frequently unsuitable. In Magicicada, the orange markings on the sides and abdomen are key to species ID; a photo of the dorsal side is relatively unhelpful for species-level ID (though the genus is immediately obvious).

M. cassinii and M. septendecula look exactly the same from above; only the abdominal markings differentiate them. So, when observers have only a photo showing the insect from above, the farthest ID can go is the genus level. This becomes a problem when new, inexperienced users supply species-level IDs that make the observation Research Grade. If I use the “explicit disagreement” option, the statement that accompanies my ID suggestion will say “weecorbie disagrees this is Magicicada cassinii” when this is not true - weecorbie thinks it’s entirely possible and even probable that it is Magicicada cassinii, but there’s a chance it could be Magicicada septendecula.

This is also the case when the evidence presented is a shed nymphal skin or a wing - I cannot say that I “disagree this is Magicicada cassinii,” because it may well be, but the observation should never make Research Grade.

It seems that a (relatively) simple solution would be to change the wording of the statement that accompanies the ID suggestion: instead of the current wording, how about “weecorbie disagrees that there is sufficient evidence to confirm that this is Magicicada cassinii.”

I’m not sure how much this situation arises with other taxa, but with many insects, it’s common that genus-level ID is easy, but if a certain antennomere or sternite isn’t visible in the photos, species-level ID is impossible. Right now, I’m stuck without any recourse to “undo” the Research Grade status of these observations, other than writing messages and hoping (often in vain) that the IDer will respond.


But it’s not nondisagreeing only by virtue of being in the same genus as what’s identified previously. It depends on which option you select when you enter it, and my point in this discussion is that it’s unclear which is disagreeing and which is nondisagreeing. And if I find it confusing as a native English speaker, I expect it’s even more so for someone using it as a nonnative speaker or in translation.


I don’t know but I am sure this is [genus]
No, but it is a member of [genus]

I personally think these answer choices are pretty good, but the question could be worded better.

I would add one (which is perhaps a nuance of the first one here): This is the correct genus but species level is not discernible by photo.

I get this on my spiders. I and other people have gone to species level on a spider only to be informed by someone whose opinion I respect that there is more than one species that can present similarly and it takes closer in hand (or dissection) examination to determine which.

I appreciate knowing that.