Community Taxon: "Cumulative IDs" does not match number of IDs at that rank

This is either a bug in the language chosen for an important question in the UI, or it is a bug in how iNaturalist handles the answer to the question.

Two people had marked an observation as Trachelas. I was not convinced that it was Trachelas, thinking it’s possible it could instead be Meriola. However, I wasn’t sure if someone was seeing a diagnostic character that I wasn’t seeing.

So I entered the family Trachelidae as my ID. I was then asked, “Is the evidence provided enough to confirm this is Genus Trachelas”? My options were:

  • (A) “I don’t know but I am sure this is family Trachelidae.”
  • (B) “No, but it is a member of family Trachelidae.”

I selected (A), not sure whether someone was noticing a character that I was not. When I submitted, iNaturalist reported that 3 of 3 people confirm that this is genus Trachelas.

But that’s false. I was not confirming the genus. I then figured that I had to select (B) to not count as confirming the genus, so I went to edit my ID, but there was no option for changing my selection from (A) to (B). I had to withdraw my ID and then re-enter (what appears to other users) as the same ID, in order to select (B) and not have iNaturalist count my ID as confirmation of the genus.

I had to select (B), stating that it is not possible to do better than family, despite my not being sure that one can’t do better than family. I had to answer a different question from the one iNaturalist asked in order for iNaturalist to properly process what I said.

So either options (A) and (B) are incorrectly worded, or iNaturalist is assigning the wrong behavior to the selection of option (A). If I do not confirm an ID, iNaturalist should not count it as an additional confirmation.

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Hi Joe - can you share a screenshot of where it said this?

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Sure! Screenshot:

From that screenshot, it does look like the Community ID algorithm is off (it seems like it shouldn’t show 3/3 for the genus and all green).

I actually just did this with a different observation, and it behaved the same way (showing 3/3 for the lower level ID and all green). However, when I looked at the results of the algorithm (by clicking “About”) it did calculate the algorithm correctly.

So maybe this is just a display issue for the Comm ID bar and not anything affecting the real ID?

The observation is here for anyone looking into it.

On a side note, the colors in that community ID bar are so similar to some color blind people (like me), I can never even tell if it’s correct or not!

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In the color bar, red means disagreement and green means not disagreement. So the info in that box means: the community ID is currently at genus Trachelas and there are no disagreeing IDs. That is completely consistent with the sequence of IDs: Trachelas, Trachelas, non-disagreeing Trachelidae.

For demonstration purposes, I added (and then deleted) another genus ID. Now the community ID is again at genus, and the red bar indicates arachnojoe’s newer disagreeing ID.

It has previously been suggested that non-matching but non-disagreeing IDs be in another color (e.g. yellow or gray), but no one has officially requested that.

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I agree, the “Cumulative IDs: 3 of 3” does seem misleading. I updated the title of the bug report to represent the issue more clearly (I think!).

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Seems to be a frequent confusion.
https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/unexpected-community-taxon/14327

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I think it would be good to make non-disagreeing but non-matching IDs a different color bar, or to display “non-disagreeing” with them. The way non-disagreeing IDs affect community ID is confusing to many people at least initially, including some users who’ve used iNat for awhile already.

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iNat still needs to offer an accessibility setting for that issue?

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Yeah, it could be a grey bar or something. Might help? Honestly, I think it will always be a little tricky to understand for most people until they work through an example themselves for a specific observation they care about (because it is a bit tough!). But I could see a different color bar helping, especially if it had a rollover text, etc.

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I might have misread where the grey bar would be shown. I’d be open to that but I’m more so suggesting that a non-disagreeing ID itself would display “non-disagreeing” or “non-disagreeing ID” with it. Because people often mistakenly think if a species ID was made and then a second person IDs genus that they disagreed or doubted, and that it sets community ID back.

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I have learnt to either spell out in a comment ‘not disagreeing with your species’
Or skip it, if I have to explain every time.

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I usually skip writing it out now.