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

So if it’s a variation on the first one, that would be a third option for someone who wants to bring in the possibility for a different species, but doesn’t want to explicitly disagree and move the community ID off that species?

Sorry, my brain is chanting ‘who’s on first’ right now.

I do think, in the cases I’m thinking of, they do want to move it off the species ID. Here’s an example:

In this case, I believe the disagreeing ID-er is saying ‘This is one of two similar species and one can’t tell from this photo which of the two it is. Therefore, the previous id at species level is not valid. It could be the species that that previous ID suggested but there is no way to validate it and it could be a different species.’

The reason I chose to mention it as a possible variation of the first example is …
— a person might say (about an obs with a species level ID), I agree it’s a flycatcher but I’m personally not capable of ID-ing to species level.Someone else might be, though.
—a person might say (about an obs with a species level ID), I know it’s a Long Legged Sac Spider (genus designation) but I don’t know which of two possible species this observation is and I don’t think it can be determined by photo which it is and therefore, it should not be given a species level id by anyone. (I don’t meant to speak for the individual in my example but that’s how I interpret it)

On the receiving end of the suggestion, I appreciate knowing which of these it is. Does someone think it’s possible that the right person might know, or does that someone think no one will know and this is as good an ID as we can get? Alternately, does someone think getting better field photos might help or does it take specialized equipment, testing, or dissection to tell?

Sorry to get wordy. Hope I didn’t muddle things too much. I’ve just found this ‘genus is as good as we can get’ feedback’ on my spider ids useful. For plants, I know if I get better photos, I have a better chance of getting a finer id. I know for my Longlegged Sac Spiders, the best photo in the world isn’t going to help. I continue to photograph them just because I like spiders.


Yeah, I think we’re saying the same thing. :)

  1. "I don’t know but I am sure this is [genus]" either means
    a. “I’m only confident to genus” OR
    b. “it could be another species but I don’t want to move the community ID off this species”
  2. No, but it is a member of [genus]” either means
    a. “I’m confident it’s definitely not [species]” OR
    b. “it could be another species and I do want to move the community ID off species to reflect that”
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People should not be allowed to ‘move an ID’ off a species. They should be allowed to add an ID which contributes to the algorithm. If it happens that their vote tips the balance of the identification, so be it. It defeats the purpose of having a ‘1 person, 1 vote’ system.

Can you illustrate the difference between these two with some (hypothetical) examples?

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What I mean is no id should be made with the intention of changing the community ID. An ID should be added because that is what you believe the evidence supports. If more people agree with your view, it prevails, if more people agree with something else, that view prevails.

We dont give unilateral authority to one user to make something research grade, so we should not give unilateral authority to undo it.

I add a lot of IDs with the intention to change an incorrect community taxon, like endemic NZ grasses showing up in Chicago due to computer vision suggestions/agreement without checking the taxon. For example,
user1: endemic NZ grass species
user2: endemic NZ grass species
bouteloua: Poaceae (disagreeing) (…or the actual genus/species when I know it)

As my ID was added, the community ID shifts from the incorrect species to family, as well as out of Research Grade back to Needs ID, as desired. So as not to get bogged down in specifics, let’s assume anyone looking at the observation is 100% confident that this is not that species of grass, and that the previous IDs were made only blindly following CV suggestions.

I don’t understand your perspective, so maybe some examples would help?


The perspective I have is that you are using the explicit disagreement option the way it is meant to be used, in situations where you are certain the existing ID is wrong. However, that explicit disagreement process is being used far too often in cases where that certainty does not exist.

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couldn’t have said it better. seriously. :-) succinctness is never an attribute that comes naturally for me. My online name in most places is Magpie and earn that nick in more ways than one.

To make sure I understand: You’re saying it would be correct to use explicit disagreement to move community ID when one is certain the observation can’t be that species, but incorrect to use explicit disagreement to move community ID just because it could be another species?

e.g. (using Cassi’s example format):

user1: species A
user2: species A
user3: explicitly disagreeing because they are believe it is NOT species A

Case 2
user1: species A
user2: species A
user3: explicitly disagreeing because they believe it could be EITHER species A or species B

Are you saying Case 1 is correct usage and Case 2 is incorrect usage?

Personally, I don’t explicitly disagree unless I am certain (Case 1).

I want to make sure I understand you, though, because I’d imagine some people use Case 2 for things where species determination needs more info (eg microscopic pics for fly genitalia, or DNA for some fungi) that is not provided in the existing photos, description or comments on the observation when they add their explicit disagreement.


i think the problem of your Case 2 could be solved by moving the “as good as it can be” quality metric to the ID level, resulting in an implicit disagreement.

Case 1 then would still require an explicit disagreement or veto. really, i think an explicit disagreement should be separate from an ID. input-wise, i think it could look like an ID, except that:

  1. it would require a comment about how you know it’s not a particular taxon
  2. you would be able to have multiple disagreements
  3. you would have to separately input an ID on the observation first – maybe at a particular rank like at least class (or maybe order). (that would add a little bit more work for the disagreer than simply inputting an ID and then clicking a button.)

separating the explicit disagreement from the identification would simplify this whole thing that’s being discussed in this thread, i think.

That is my understanding of the intention of the design. Copied straight from the help pages in the getting started section for identifications:

If you add an ID of a taxon that is an ancestor of the Observation Taxon, its unclear whether you’re disagreeing with that finer Identification (‘Its not that species’) or are just doing your best adding a coarser ID without disagreeing with the finer ID.

It specifically says explicit disagreements are for when you are saying it is not that species, not that it might not be it.

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Good point. Since that runs counter to explanations by the staff and the pop-up itself, I updated the wording in the Getting Started guide.


While I undestand what you are trying to do, I now have no idea based on that wording what the difference between the 2 is. If the orange button is for ‘the evidence does not confirm it is that species’ then what is the point of the green button ?

To me both options now mean, ‘I can’t confirm your ID is correct’, I can confirm what I am entering.

Green (top) is for not disagreeing with the community taxon and adding an ID to the best of one’s ability. Orange (bottom) is either definitely disagreeing with the community taxon or saying that the evidence isn’t sufficient to support that community taxon. All options mean I can’t confirm the community taxon is correct. Only sometimes does the orange button mean “the community taxon is definitely not correct”. But yeah, obviously confusing hence this topic :upside_down_face:


There needs to be 3 buttons, one for each use case or no buttons and you just add an ID and most votes ‘wins’. This ‘sometimes the orange means this, and sometimes it means that’ is silly.


Yeah it’s a pretty big slog to read, but there’s discussion about that above.

Agreed. At least at some point, there was a plan to add a third button to that effect (see under “Planned changes”). Sometimes an observation doesn’t contain the necessary information (ranging from sufficiently clear photos, or proper angles, to dissection or genotyping) to reasonably assign the organism to species. And that’s valuable information an expert can provide! I’m not sure how far off we are from seeing that change implemented, but hopefully soon. That blog post is from almost exactly a year ago.

As an aside, there’s also an important distinction between observations that cannot be assigned to species (ex. because the photo is too blurry or doesn’t include important features) and organisms that cannot be assigned to species (ex. because cryptic species co-occur in the area and can only be distinguished through more involved methods such as dissection or genotyping). I have seen the second case addressed through species complexes on iNat, and maybe complexes could become research grade automatically as though they were species? Not sure what all the pros/cons of that would be, and whether the use of species complexes encompasses other kinds of groupings on iNaturalist.


Reading this thread makes my head hurt!

I want a button that means “I think genus X (that I just chose) is correct but species Y is wrong.” I want that clearly more clearly written. I want it to be a vote against the species ID. (One vote, for or against whatever votes are already there.)

I want a button that means “I think genus X is correct but I don’t know if species Y is right or wrong.” The green button, now. I use it for encouragement, or help limit future identification efforts, or for various kinds of keeping track whether I’ve seen the observation.

The “I think the genus X identification is as good as this observation can get” button is useful too, now that I know where it’s hidden. I don’t know if adding it as a third option is a good idea or not.

I suspect that part of the difficulty of making the language clear is a determination to avoid words like “wrong” or “inaccurate” which might be discouraging, though clear.

PLEASE: When you change the wording, please DO NOT change the colors or order of the options at the same time! At most, make them a different shade of green and orangish.