Changes to the Agree button/functionality and addition of Markdown in comments and ID Remarks

Yesterday we made a few changes to where the Agree button will appear on the website, and over the past week we’ve added some new options for text formatting using the Markdown language (like the Forum does) to comments and ID remarks.

Here’s our blog post about those changes: https://www.inaturalist.org/posts/38475-less-agreeable-observations-more-agreeable-text-formatting

5 Likes

I like that this will discourage IDs for the sake of climbing the leaderboard. On the other hand I wish the threshold was slightly higher - like three IDs, to encourage review. I frequently find a lot of “RG” observations with only two identifiers and incorrect IDs. Often this is when the original observer has no clue but “agrees” with the first ID someone else offers.

Many species have discernible subspecies that are important to consider for conservation reasons. With this change, if I add a subspecies to an observation that is RG at species level, will the subspecies have an “agree” button, or will someone else have to manually add the subspecies to upgrade the ID?

15 Likes

Is it intentional that these changes haven’t been applied to the thumbnails on the Identify Page? I left a comment on the blog post about this, but it might get lost there.

I would also support removing the Agree button for species-level leading (and maybe improving) IDs on a user’s own observations, particularly on the observation page, as I think this is arguably a bigger issue. Making an obs RG carelessly seems worse than confirming a RG obs carelessly to me.

9 Likes

Great to see, thank you for this change. Has this change also been applied to the mobile apps? Would be to good to roll it out there if not, as I suspect many reflexive agrees are from inexperienced observers using the mobile app and clicking agree as a thank you.

2 Likes

(I moved the above replies from this bug report since they addressed the change)

A welcome change, thank you.

3 Likes

Currently, no.

Not intentional, but planned.

Certainly possible, and yes, arguably a bigger issue. I suspect that might happen more on mobile, but I don’t have any data to back that up.

No. Mobile apps require new code to be written for the app, then the app needs to be approved (at least in the case of iOS) by the App Store. But it could be added in the future.

3 Likes

This is a very sad update and will trigger a lot of identifiers becoming less active and the community atmosphere declining. I love when 5-6 people identify one of my observations - that is Citizen Science, folks! But that will not happen anymore, I guess.

This new update only makes it harder for experts or knowledgable identifiers. That is it and only it. Anyone who is a troll or going for ID count can still go to the Identify page, click ‘High’ == ‘Species’ and click click click.

So this is not a bugfix. This is a fix to an imaginary bug. And the fix is worse than the bug!

iNaturalist’s loss is another platform’s gain, keep in mind. BugGuide hasn’t changed in two years :-)

11 Likes

I use both. It’s been useful for IDing several species by having experts from both platforms examine identical photos with me acting as a middle man. Unfortunately, I also rely heavily on local botanists solely on this platform, and if they feel reluctant to ID or reaffirm my observations I’m going to lose confidence in this site. Which is a shame because I really like it.

3 Likes

Yeah, I agree with Caleb on it making it harder on people really trying to ID things for the sake of good. Sometimes I will see a species listed repeatedly for an area it shouldn’t be at (example American and Fowler’s Toads in NC’s Coastal Plains) and the easiest way to fix it is search “North American Toads” in NC and just go through all of them. I typically will just ID all of them while I am at it, and I will now have to type out “Eastern American Toad” on every correct one in the right parts of NC, instead of just clicking “agree” and moving on to the next.

I do see the issue with people hitting “agree” to move up the leader boards, but I feel most of these are new iNatters that are playing around to learn how it works. I feel like it is more of a policy issue than a design issue, but I’ll be optimistic about the change and give it a chance.

My question is, I have my dashboard set up to show me when someone “Adds an ID” but not if someone agrees. I set it like this because I was getting 200-300 “whoever agrees with you”s a day. I like knowing when someone disagrees with me, because I could have overlooked something, or this could have taken the ID down from research grade and I need to tag some others to look at it as well. I have had it pop up several times that someone added the same ID as me, but it is only one or two a week so it is not too annoying. Does this mean I will start getting 200-300 “whoever added an ID”s even though they are just agreeing with me?

As far as the leader boards go, I like to use them as a tool to figure out which people I should ask about a species I am not familiar with. I do some other background research (i.e. read their profile and check their observations out) but I start with the leaderboards so I know who is typically IDing these species.

11 Likes

I rely heavily on BG now, because there are so few IDers on iNaturalist anymore. I often look through the photos there, if I can’t find anything that looks close to what I’ve found then I upload it there or ID it to a higher level on iNat.

This update will not make more IDers come to iNaturalist, it can only go downhill because of this update. That’s why I will be firmly against it.

Welcome to the forums, buddy! :) Yes … there are a few of these people. But not enough for a huge policy change. iNaturalist has been around for over 10 years now - I do believe the golden era was about two years ago. If you submitted an observation, you’d have 3-4 IDs on it within 24 hours - unless it was some obscure group. And I was working hard in that time to ID other obs, too … as most other people were!

Same here. I always check the profiles and their observations to make sure they are legit - most are, but some have regional expertise or something of the likes.

4 Likes

Whew! I thought I had been blocked in some way…as I couldn’t “agree” on any observations that had already been IDed…
On that note, I’m not familiar with the term “leaderboard gamers”…is this the list of people that have ID’d a particular species the most? Because I utilize that when I need an “expert” to weigh-in on a difficult observation.

2 Likes

A very welcome change, thank you. I never saw sense in four or more IDs in cases of RG OBs which are correct. Meanwhile Ihave encountered quite a few leaderboard gamers adding (for example) fifth ID for a white stork. Or just by clicking agrees on everything that already is RG in certain areas or in certain groups of organisms. And I definitely doubt that this step will deter true IDers. They usually agree with correct leading ID or add leading ID.

7 Likes

Really disappointing change, I don’t know what else there is to say :(

8 Likes

Markdown on ID Comments not ready for prime time. I added an ID comment earlier today, italicizing a binomial and after saving saw that the binomial was in plain text with an asterisk on either side.

Deleted the ID comment and used a regular comment where markdown worked.

4 Likes

I think 3-4 would be a good cap. 2 leaves the door open to an uninformed AI user agreeing with an uninformed agreer. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fungi observation get 5 or more IDs and I’d never expect that to happen, so maybe somewhere in the middle.

6 Likes

I must be missing something. If there is already a currently correct ID such that someone would want to use the Agree button, couldn’t that person just start typing the common or taxonomic name (which is clearly displayed so one doesn’t have to remember anything) and let the correct name pop up (via auto-fill in the field) and then hit submit? Is it really that much harder than hitting agree?

Admittedly I am using desktop so I don’t know if mobile differs radically and I don’t identify many observations with an id already submitted by which ‘agree’ is an option (most of my ids have been on unknowns and the very few times I’ve used an agree button is when I’m the second suggestion).

For me, the loss of an agree button in certain situations might add 4-10 seconds on a supporting suggestion. How does this change differ for others such that it’s dismaying or a deal breaker? (not a loaded question - sincerely asking).

6 Likes

I don’t think it’s a good idea to forcefully limit the number of people who support the definition. First, in difficult cases, I would like to see the consensus of specialists under my ID. Secondly, again, it turns out that if a person unknown to me has already agreed with me, this means that people whose opinion is important to me will no longer appear here (well, it would be presumptuous to expect that they have to tinker with manual typing of the name of the species). Thirdly, it interferes with the practice when one of the recognized specialists from time to time runs through a particular community and supports its members with his authority. If he has to manually enter each ID, it will take him much longer, and it is very likely that this specialist will simply not bother with it. From my point of view, the loss of these opportunities is much more sad than the fact that someone will adorn themselves with a couple of unnecessary identifications. I think this solution is a big mistake and would be happy if the button returned.

13 Likes

I recognize a lot of high-volume identifiers reporting here and in blog post comments who would be negatively affected by the change. If a mission from an earlier blog post was to decrease barriers to identification to increase the numbers of identifications (presumably by recruiting more volunteer id’ers and also not losing many old ones), then this may have been a step in the wrong direction.

11 Likes