Deleted identifications

Sometimes I find comments which do not seem to make sense in the context, or notes on identifications like “disagrees …” without a previous id. Now that there’s a comment of mine in such a place, I found out that it is possible to fully delete one’s identification - not just to withdraw it. Consequently, a comment on that identification seems strange suddenly.
What’s the purpose of “deleting” vs. “withdrawing” an identification?


I’d assume it’s partially for the same reason you can delete comments. Sometimes, people want to remove something from the record entirely (be it due to embarrassment or some other reason).

Also, if you could delete comments, but not IDs, you’d have no way to remove comments left in an ID, which would be an odd limitation.

Personally, I withdraw IDs rather than deleting them as a way of owning my mistakes, but I’ve occasionally deleted IDs that I never intended to make at all:

eg. If I wanted to give a coarse ID of “vascular plants” but got click happy after typing the first 3 letters and wound up accidentally selecting “genus vas” (a type of fly). I’d delete the ID for the insect, wait a minute for it to clear any potential disagreement and then add vascular plants as an ID. Why do I delete in this scenario instead of withdraw? Because I don’t want to waste time later (mine or others) explaining that I do know the difference between plants and animals and my finger had just slipped, or risk someone thinking I saw something else and waste their time pouring over the pic looking for something that is not there. Yes, I could just add the explanation as a comment in the new ID, but I don’t have boilerplate for it & I’m a slow typist (especially on mobile), so deleting a bad ID that I never intended to make seems easier. Again, I withdraw the incorrect IDs that I did intend to submit, but I don’t feel the need to stand behind the “clicked too fast” mistakes.


I believe comments in an id could be deleted like now, through editing of an id, but anyway it’s cool we can delete anything we want now.


I agree with @Star3 The only time I delete IDs is for misclicks (and I try to do it right away before other users react to my mistake). I think deleting IDs (as opposed to withdrawing) is generally bad practice because it makes the chain of observations/comments much more confusing for other users (though of course there are probably a few cases in which a “full” delete might be more appropriate).


I’m using delete all the time in the identification module. Maybe i am just prone to error!

Like @Star3 , I use it when I add an ID then realise I can go to a finer rank… or should be coarser in fact…or remember the name of the subject in question - when its noted just moments later, I don’t see much point in leaving the original ID either, …I also feel its a bit unnecessarily messy…

For me, I would rather delete was a hotkey even so this could be quicker…as its painfully slow to do something so basic at present… ( this is mentioned on this older feature request though…so maybe in pipeline(?) )

I would / do delete where I see NOT the ID I was expecting. Or if I accidentally confused species. But otherwise, a taxon up or down (adds info for people like me). A similar, looks like, species (also adds info).

That whole chain of click click click and discussion to the right ID is a useful and fascinating learning curve for us (on the non-trained biologist side of iNat)


An observation is made for right ids, not wrong ones, and what leads to them doesn’t matter much, and in most cases only makes things worse/more complicated for other members.


Perhaps the “disagrees” note should be automatically removed if the ID it relates to is deleted.


I often see chains of 2 or 3 withdrawn IDs where the webpage was slow to update and the user has repeatedly clicked the Agree button trying to get their ID to register. It would be nice if there was an easier way to clean up that kind of clutter. Maybe the system should just automatically merge those chains into one if the IDs were all made within a very short period of time by the same user.


In that case I just add a 2nd ID.

Ditto! If someone has responded or disagreed I will leave it up and explain. My ID deletions occur within seconds, not days.


There was, or maybe still is, a weird thing happening where it occurs automatically (i.e. the system itself is causing it): it automatically goes back and forth between the first ID the observer agreed with and the finer ID they later agreed with. ).

I wonder if that is related (i.e., the user did not click agree several times; the app entered IDs multiple times on its own).

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I would disagree. Many observers have motivations other than getting only “right” IDs on their observations. Also, making incorrect IDs and then recognizing them is a key way to learn.

Creating an environment where we treat incorrect IDs as things that “make things worse/more complicated for other members” can discourage learning if new or less expert members are afraid that their contributions might be detrimental to the community.

Also, totally deleted IDs can lead to confusion themselves. For instance, if every observer who made an initially incorrect ID deleted that incorrect ID instead of just changing their ID (leading to an automatic withdrawal of the initial one), looking at the ID thread would definitely be much more confusing.

Also, as others have noted, using withdrawals instead of deletes and explaining ID changes with comments so that there is a clear record is good for multiple reasons. It shows how science progresses through intermediate steps towards better answers. It also models some humility around IDs, especially for experts and high volume IDers. When we show that we can make mistakes and learn from them and become better IDers in the community space, it models that process for other members; it can be an encouragement to others to be willing to change their IDs to be better instead of holding on to an incorrect ID due to a reluctance to change. It can also increase other users’ confidence that they can improve as well and shouldn’t feel like they need to be correct 100% of the time to be a valuable contributor. Essentially, I would argue we shouldn’t be afraid to show evidence of past ID mistakes because this supports a growth mindset on iNat.


You read what I wrote not hte way I wrote it. I said leaving incorrect ids is not the “best way”. Having a long thread of withdrawns doesn’t help you understand anything other than someone’s confusion. What connection it has with “less experienced members being afraid”? Deleting ids doesn’t make others feel they need to stay with one id forever. And if so, it’s not the fault of someone who deleted anything, but the person who somehow made weird conclusions that deleting something that just takes place is a sign that you have to sty with your opinion. I don’t get it.
And no, it’s not confusing, a new id says what it doesn’t agree with, so you easily can see what was there before.
How a string of 6 ids of the observer calling a fly all the things that came to AI, then agreeing with ider, then disagreing with them, helps anything? How anything long enough can not make a new person think it’s impossible to id a bird if it takes around 15 ids? If you want to make a clarifying comment, then what stops you from that? Deleting doesn’t make you a bad person in any way. And it’s not a bad practice either if you understand what you do and why.


My example is observation
I guess that the first id was by the observer himself. It was not “Elimaea leeuwenii” which is mentioned in the “Notes” section, as that species is not in our database (yet). It was some species which we have observations from other places at some distance only, but still that id might be correct (I cannot determine that, as I do not know the species - the growing range of species thanks to computer vision were discussed else where). Now my comment might give the impression that I think the photo was misplaced on the map…

You could just add another comment. If you look at the .json, it may even tell you what the previous ID was, provided it was the observer who made it.

If there were other IDs than the observer’s before your comment that were deleted, I can’t tell that, but per the json, the observer guessed “Elimaea leeuwenii”.

I’ve deleted a few ID’s and will most likely continue to do so but hopefully not very often.
I deleted them because the info I presented was not how I wanted to present it.
I redid them after, as I wanted them to be presented.
98% of them were right away before I had a response of any kind.
One was an ID from a friend’s camera (I didn’t have mine) and it had no time stamp so was deemed casual which I didn’t want.
One was the wrong location and I couldn’t find out how to change just that part. I deleted it and waited for a time then redid it with the correct info.
I’m not aware, as a newer user, of all the Ins and Outs pertaining to the use of Inat. That will take time.
The freedom to delete anything should always be available. If it messes things up down the line that’s too bad. Hopefully I’ll become more proficient in my use of Inat.
Those of you that are much more aware of the entirety of Inat must cringe at this but it’s to be expected when there are so many different depths of application to be considered.


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That’s the only time I use delete also – for simple clerical errors like hitting the wrong button, mis-typing a name, or hitting Agree before fully comprehending the name I was agreeing to. Otherwise, if it’s a genuine change of mind, I always withdraw or add a new ID. Not only does this document the evolving thought processes of me and other identifiers, it also helps inform the Similar Species tabs on taxon pages. And, as already mentioned, helps avoid leaving behind orphaned, out-of-context comments.


You will get proficient. You will also see on other threads that people who have been on iNat for years, can still learn new ways to iNat.


That sounds more like deleting an observation than an identification.