Clarification of downgrading options

Can some one please explain the difference between the two options presented when downgrading in ID to a higher level?
Firstly the question ie - “Is the evidence sufficient etc”. Clearly not or I wouldn’t be downgrading!
Response Option #1 - “I don’t know but I’m sure it is Genus xyz”
Response Option #2 - “No, but it is a Member of genus xyz”
I’m stuffed if I can workout which option to select … how could this subtle difference be of any value. The end result is the same!
Thanks :-)

1 Like

Other people can speak to the reasons for choosing one, and I’ll give an example of the result.

Green option aka I don’t know

ID 1 - Honey bee, ID 2 - bees; result - displayed name remains as honey bee

Orange option aka No, you’re wrong

ID 1 - Honey bee, ID 2 - bees; result - displayed name “Bees”

Reasons to strongly disagree include incorrect identifications, blurry pictures, and taxonomic groups where dissection or genetics is required for a more specific ID.


My understanding is:
Option 1 doesn’t downgrade - it just says you’re not confident to explicitly disagree with the ID so you want to go higher in the same tree.
Option 2 does downgrade - it says you explicitly disagree it’s this ID, but it’s definitely a taxon higher in the same tree.

Note that if you choose to ID a different species in the same tree, or one in a completely different tree, it will disagree explicitly with the original ID.

Example 1:
Someone IDs a spider as Steatoda capensis. You don’t know if it’s Steatoda capensis but you do know that it’s Steatoda. So you choose Steatoda as genus, and choose option 1 to not explicitly disagree with the IDer, but to just ID at the level you are comfortable with.

Example 2:
Someone IDs a spider as Steatoda capensis. You know it’s not Steatoda capensis, you know it is Steatoda, but you don’t know which Steatoda it is. So you choose Steatoda as genus for ID, and you choose option 2 to explicitly disagree.

I think…


Thanks to both responders … I think I get it now!

1 Like

You can check what your choice does to the community ID. Is that result what you meant, what you want? Will it be filterable for someone who can take the ID further? (PS iNat hates ssp or var when settling on a CID)

People often add a hard disagreement to Plantae - and that traps the CID at planty. Let’s say the first ID was an Erica species which was visible to taxon specialists filtering for Erica. Once it tips to planty … no one will see it again.

1 Like

I see a lot of people not being confident in their identifications and adding “Dicots” just because they don’t know what it is. I only mark the higher option if I am certain that the species is not correct.

1 Like

I’m glad it’s not just me that finds this a bit confusing!

1 Like

but it may then be trapped at Dicots, instead of being seen by someone who could either agree, or move it to a better ID.

I fervently wish iNat would allow us to ID what we know. It is Not That. Being forced to ID as dicot because we can’t say ‘Not That’ isn’t a good solution - but it is all we have to work with.

it’s impossible to say what intent the wording of those prompts is trying to capture, but the effect of selecting your “Option #2” is that your ID will become a “branch disagreement”, meaning that your ID will disagree with any previous or subsequent IDs that are subordinate to the taxon you selected.

there’s more information about branch disagreements here:


In my opinion, there is a difference between creating a branch disagreement to species level, rather than adding “dicots” or “birds” because you don’t know what it is, think it’s too blurry, etc. Sometimes experts will miss these due to this downgrading.

1 Like

i’m not sure what you’re saying here. please elaborate or provide examples.

For example, user X adds an observation of Vaccinium angustifolium, which is just one general photo of the leaves. Identifier A identifies it as “dicots” because it is just one photo of the leaves(this has happened to me hundreds of times) although they are not certain of this. Due to this, Identifier B, who is an expert in Vaccinium, is likely not able to find the observation because of the downgrade.
Hope this helps, this is just one example out of many possibilities.

1 Like

That is what I meant by - check the effect on CID - of the ID you added. Can the people who need to, still filter for their chosen taxon? Or is it trapped in limbo for ever? @pisum

Very few plant specialists will chew thru above Family at least. There is just too much waiting!

Here is one example from mine,
It’s a plant stuck at Dicots that can never get identified due to two class-level community ID’s.
I sadly have 600 more just like this, some blurry, but some clear like this one.

1 Like

ok. just to clarify, i think what you’re describing as a

… is not actually a thing in normal circumstances.

a “branch disagreement” (the way the iNat overseers have defined it) occurs when you make an ID that is an ancestor taxon to the community taxon (prior to your ID), and you effectively disagree with any taxon that is a descendant of your selected taxon. this is what happened in your linked example ( that first Dicot ID disagrees with all descendant taxa, which is why the subsequent MInt IDs haven’t yet changed the community ID.

so typically a branch disagreement would be to a level that is higher than species.

you might be talking about just a regular disagreement at a parallel level that causes the community taxon to resolve to the lowest common ancestor of the IDs to date.

i think the two typical ways to work around a problematic ID are to opt out of community taxon (if you own the observation), or to use the &ident_taxon_id= filter to find cases where any of the active IDs in an observation are of a particular taxon.

in some cases, filtering for specific identifications (rather than observations) may also help find observations in limbo, but that usually requires more detailed knowledge of the system that not everyone may have developed.


Meanwhile my workaround is to ‘support ssp or var’ then withdraw later if I don’t want to appear on the leaderboard. It is my workaround, not an informed ID. I will support an ID if it helps the right people to see it to agree, or to move it in a different direction.

It’s still at dicots because of one disagreement, but the next family id will move it.

If I could have seen the square stem, I would have agreed to family - but only leaves and no flowers - I can’t help away from my known plants.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.