Compare/Suggestions: Source=Visually similar; filter by taxon by default?

When I use the Suggestions tab on Identify and source=Visually Similar, I almost never want to look at only other species in the genus of question. I find myself clearing the taxon filter almost every time.

I raised this issue on the Google Group but it didn’t get much for responses. Trying out the poll option… :)

Screenshot of the filter I’m talking about:

On the suggestions tab/using the compare tool for visually similar results:

  • I usually or always clear the taxon filter
  • I sometimes clear the taxon filter
  • I rarely or never clear the taxon filter
  • I don’t know what you’re talking about :flushed:

0 voters

1 Like

I never clear the taxon filter, but always set it several steps higher than whatever is there automatically. In my experience, outright clearing it too often misses the subject of the observation.


I always start off with the default taxon. Our genera are big and most similar to one another. So at least half the time the genus is the place to start.

But I invariably use “observations” first, and invariably I need to increase the locality first, and then go up the taxonomy hierarchy.
For us in southern Africa visually similar is a last resort. In which case, by the time one gets there, one has already looked at the default taxon.
In cases where I dont know the taxon, the visually similar is usually no help. Although I could see it useful to beginners. But we will need it trained to southern Africa - most of the matches are to irrelevant North American taxa.


Yeah I find myself clearing it because it’s faster than reading though the parent taxa options and selecting a higher taxon. It focuses on the subject more often than not (well, and I usually only use it when the subject is pretty clear).

I would be equally happy, I think, if it defaulted to a rank like order or coarser instead of “one rank coarser than the observation ID” or whatever the current setting is.


This makes a lot of sense. The only reason why I don’t start with clearing is the time it takes for the results to show up - easily 5-10 seconds here. Clearing, then setting it to e.g. solanales, means I have to wait twice.

At any rate, in the sense of not setting the filter to one-higher, I completely agree with you.

1 Like

In the Compare/Suggestions tool, I think “visually similar” should restrict results to visually similar taxa within the same ___ ? ___ as the current observation ID:

  • Kingdom
  • Phylum
  • Class
  • Order
  • Family
  • Genus (current setting when the existing ID is rank=genus or finer)
  • Something else, I will comment below

0 voters

Something else: I just don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all choice here. It’s highly dependent on the group of organisms being compared. For plants I would probably say Family, but even some families can be quite similar.

My preference would be to choose the rank from a dropdown list, with the initial default being one “major” rank above the rank of the current observation ID.


This is already the current setting for species and finer, which almost no one prefers.

I suppose if it is simple to select one’s preferred rank (either higher or lower), I have no strong opinion about the starting default. I’ll be selecting different ranks for different taxa regardless.

I’m not sure I understand the virtue of defaulting to any subset in the first place? Why not present the whole “Life” suggestions until the user specifies? In my experience the CV is either in the right kingdom, family, etc anyway, or the thing you want to look at is outside of any higher level subset too (ie the flower a bee is on, etc).


I run it up the tree until I get a suitable number of possibilities. Sometimes at the initial Genus setting I can’t distinguish between the species offered, other times I have to run it up quite high to get more than a couple possible options.

I’m glad to see somebody else brought this up. I’ve been doing a lot of identifications lately, and having to clear the taxon for every observation is absolutely nuts. Please, just default to clearing the taxon, as 65% of people apparently do manually. Then if you want to get fancy you can make it configurable to satisfy the rest of the people.

Does this need to be posted as a bug / feature request? Is there a reason not to do that right now?


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