Computer suggestion should be distinguished from manually entered IDs

As the title, I think computer suggested IDs on iNat should be somehow distinguished from manually entered IDs. Opinions welcome.
(to moderators- feel free to move this to feature requests, if it’s more appropriate)

As far as I know, iNat doesn’t show whether an observer have just used the computer suggestion or manually entered an ID, although often it is obvious.

When someone used a computer suggested ID, I doubt if it is really appropriate to say that it was identified that person.

I wasted a lot of time asking people reasons for their IDs, and they couldn’t answer, because they just picked one of the computer suggestions.

So, if we know that the ID was added manually, it allows us to ask observer a question like this- ‘‘What feature did you use to identify this as XXX’’ much more productively.

My suggestion is, to make it clear to everyone that an ID is computer suggested or not. I believe we don’t need to update IDs in the past, but it shouldn’t be too hard to implement this feature in the future.

Also, I have another idea about computer suggestion- please check this in this topic:

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You can actually see, if someone used the CV.

  1. How can I tell if someone selected a computer vision suggestion?

If a user has selected a computer vision suggestion for their identification, a small icon will appear in the upper right of their ID when viewing iNaturalist through a web browser. Clicking the icon reveals additional information about computer vision.

Note: It is not possible to tell whether the user selected a computer vision suggestion because they are following the suggestion versus whether they are simply using the tool as an “autofill” to save time and effort typing out species names.


Wow, it does show!
I never realized that in 5 years of using iNat, thank you so much!!

I think it should be more easily recognizable… I’ll make a feature request on that.

Yeah, I often used the computer suggestion as an autofill when I already knew the scientific name of the organism, assuming that it won’t make any difference to manually adding it.

I’ll stop doing that for now, since it makes it like I didn’t know what it was.


I don’t pay much attention to the symbol indicating that the CV was used unless the ID seems questionable; in such cases, it (along with other things like checking the user’s profile) can be useful for getting some sense of whether it is likely that the user has some knowledge about the taxon or is just following the CV.

Overall, however I don’t find it very meaningful. As noted, many people use it as a shortcut for entering the ID they want. By the time I have clicked on the field, recalled the name of the organism I want, and prepared to start typing it, in many cases the CV has already displayed the ID that I had in mind anyway and this can be simpler than entering the name (without typing errors!) until enough letters have been added that the right option shows up in the list.

Conversely, the absence of this symbol does not necessarily indicate that the user is knowledgeable about what they are selecting. There is a quirk in the system whereby if you select a CV suggestion, click on some other field, and then click back on the ID box and reselect the name that is already entered in the box, the symbol will not be displayed. Likewise, there is no symbol that indicates whether a user is blindly clicking “agree” to another user’s suggestion or whether they understand how to identify the organism themselves.

Sometimes I’ll also end up more-or-less using the CV suggestion but type it in myself (for example, if one of the species it suggested seemed plausible to me but I want to stay at a higher level). Unless my research involves more than a cursory look at the taxon photos and maybe a quick check of related species on iNat, I would still consider it to be based on the CV rather than my own knowledge.

In short, I don’t think there is a way to reliably indicate how a user arrived at the ID they entered – whatever method is used to enter an ID, it can’t tell us how much knowledge is behind it.


I have never seen this icon. Thank you.

Anyhow, if it is set to auto-ID when I used the autofill version with typing some base letters, than it is useless. I always used it for around 10.000 determinations.

Therefore the sign should be changed to show only real computer vision suggestions.

this is not the case. What @annemirdl was saying is that many people use it as a shortcut to save time, ie, click in the box and wait for the CV suggestions as a form of ‘autofill’ rather than having to type the name

if you have typed any letters at all, and then picked from the dropdown, it does not show the symbol


Another edge case of that symbol - I generally don’t know how to ID anything at all, but by now I know that many genera cannot be IDed to species from pictures even if the CV is certain about the species and offers nothing else - so in the Android up I then often click the two arrows on the species suggestion, then the small (i), and under taxonomy select the genus of the CV species then click the “select” button.

These genus ids then show up without the CV symbol, but my extra contribution on top of the CV was rather minimal :slightly_smiling_face:


I know you already got the answer to your question but it should be pointed out that it is a pretty useless application in my opinion. I say useless because it suggests that those who use iNat’s CV to obtain an ID in that field, may not know what the organism is when in fact that could be the furthest thing from the truth. Many IDers including myself will not take the time to key in the spelling of a name that might take seven, eight or more characters to get iNat to accept before it autofills in the rest of the taxon.

If you were to look at my observations, let say in the last several years, you will see I used CV for 99% of them, which in most was simply because: 1) it’s faster, 2) in spite of the fact I’ve been a professional photojournalist for 45 years, I cannot spell!

To put it another way, if I go out for a few hours and come back home with 100 observations, it can take me an hour just to key in all the names or it can take me five minutes to accomplish the same feat using iNat’s CV. Which route do you think I’m going to choose? I wonder how many others choose the faster of the two routes just for that reason alone. My guess is many.

  1. I can typing
    has value?
    No, thank you

  2. Placeholder text hasn’t offered the observer the species they want because one letter is wrong / missing / double. CV can bring me the correctly spelt name - and Botanese is impossible to spell, so many human languages in there.

  3. Whether we use a printed field guide, or an online website, or iNat’s CV - still doesn’t tell you anything about the quality and reliability of ‘your’ ID. If you are a trusted taxon specialist, I value your IDs - whether iNat tells me you used CV or not. Whatever.


I have to laugh because that is so true! I’m the ridiculous leader for the Herald Moth (I say ridiculous because I should have stopped shooting them years ago but they fascinate me and they are here every winter just down the street). Yesterday I struggled to get the ID keyed in as I had a glitch that would not allow CV to function (that happens to me every so often). I could have just googled it but I was stubborn! I knew how to spell Herald!!! Spent some time trying to figure out what was wrong! Then it hit me it was spelled Herald not Harold as I was typing in. Or how about the word Gray vs Grey.


I sometimes use the little CV symbol to help compose a response if I’m changing and ID. I mean, a write a little paragraph blaming the CV for the error, especially if the observer seems new. And sometimes I’m curious about whether the error is in the CV. So it’s not completely useless to me.

I am also one of the many people who uses the CV suggestion as a short cut for identifying things I know how to ID.


Does that symbol appear if you use predictive text suggestions?

No. I tried it.


Possibly a foolish question: that symbol appears in the bottom-left corner of every tile on My Observations screen. I always use predictive text suggestions - my spelling is not my strong suit. But if I click on any given observation, the symbol is not in the top-right per your screen shot.

Is this the same symbol used to mean different things in the two different contexts?

The computer vision indication is the tab that has the three little sparkles around it. The tab without sparkles just indicates “identification”.


I use it in this way all the time. Not only does it save time, but it helps show other similar species I might have forgotten about or didn’t know about.


I use the suggestions nearly exclusively if my repetitive stress is acting up and am forced to use my off hand for IDing. For me, the symbol does not correlate with whether I know the ID prior to the suggestions.


Actually, especially for my specimens I have questions about (which are many), I click on the identifier and look at their CV. I really appreciate when they have listed their education, experience and interests. Sometimes I look further to see how long they have been using iNat, their number of observations and IDs. Beyond that, does it matter?


This has become my basic approach, too.


I use “autofill” quite a bit, when I am confident on the species before uploading I almost always use CV to quick fill. When I am not so confident I will look at suggestions, use the view link, and then try and figure closer. Those the are situations I am more likely to enter in a ID manually, when I see what is most likely, and it wasnt suggested. If ithe CV is suggesting the right thing I am likely to click that. (Basically the autofill version people suggest). Its much easier than dyslexcially trying to remember how to spell names, especially of species without common names.

Not sure how it affects peoples view of my IDs. But since I am always happy to get better IDs, I dont mind if the CV icon makes people assume I am a n00b, because I will likely always be in the learning phase.