Details of identifiers

I often contact identifiers from the selection provided by INaturalist. I try to select a person who works in my geographic area and specialises in the taxa I am inquiring about. But this is often quite difficult. Most don’t provide this information, so I quite often get replies like “sorry, I don’t know the insects in your area” or “sorry, I don’t know much about this taxa” (which is sometimes strange when they are listed as top identifiers?) This wastes their time.
It would be useful if identifiers could provide this information in their CV.

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If iNatters do not provide that info on their profile

Where am I - I check their obs.
What am I interested in - check both their obs and their IDs.
PS and check that they are still active - leaderboard may have accumulated years ago.

Also look for knowledgeable and local identifiers who leave helpful comments - they are the first choice.


Which leaderboards are you using? The list of IDers on the observation page is global. If you go to the taxon page and select your geographical region, it will give you a list of people who have provided an ID for observations that currently have a community ID of that taxon in that region.

Some users provide a lot of broad IDs as a way to filter observations for experts. Because of the way the leaderboard is currently set up, they will be credited for these observations even if their ID was at a broad level. If it’s a difficult taxon, I’ll sometimes check a few observations to see who actually suggested the species level IDs. Another option is to take a look at the “IDs” tab at the top of a user’s profile to see a list of their IDs that may help give an idea of what their specialities are.

(I would encourage users, particularly IDers, to add a sentence or two about their interests/background on their profile page. Responding to a tag with “Sorry, can’t help with that taxon” also provides that information, but a profile note would streamline the process for both observers and IDers.)


I use leaderboards filtered for my ID region when contacting people for general stuff too, especially for niche species.They are quite useful, but only if use with care (spiphany advices are really good on this subject)

When I’m in doubt, I use this link and replace my own name with the name of the person I want to contact. It allows to see both what are their most IDed species, and the geographic location of their ID. You can also filter for specific genus or species to see if they actually ID them in your area


Thank you. I wasn’t aware of this feature. Tried it and it is exactly what I am after.

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it’s actually “who have provided an ID for observations by others”. compare:

not only that, those who make disagreeing identifications that push the community ID back to a higher level don’t get credit for those disagreeing identifications. compare:


This is what I have written in my profile about tagging me for IDs:
Feel free to tag me for help with IDs. If I don’t respond, it’s not that I didn’t see it, I just don’t know the ID. (or possibly you spelled my username wrong; it’s “appel” not “apple”) Sometimes I’m high on the leader board for a species but I still can’t help you. These cases are usually because there are look alike species east of the Mississippi river that are difficult to differentiate (and may often be left at genus level there). Fewer species here on the west side makes it easier to ID.


Let me give you an example and see if this helps explain it. There are so many species on here that there are, for example, some rather common plants in my area that nobody in particular seems to be trying to identify.

So, I learned one thing about Rosa setigera (it can have leaflets in groups of 3), and now I’m the top identifier (!!!) for this species!

I am not actually a specialist in this species! I don’t even understand the thing about the…uh…yellow parts in the middle of the flower. :sweat_smile: I just went through and identified the observations that were really easy.

This is not the case for all the taxa, but it is definitely the case for a lot of them. It is the nature of iNaturalist that there are a lot of relatively easy identifications that are not currently being made. It is pretty easy to be a top identifier of something you don’t know that much about.

P.S. Please take good clear pictures of the leaves. Do not make me peer at the zoomed-in background, my eyes can’t take it anymore. :sweat_smile:


I joined iNaturalist in 2015 and one of the earlier species I learned to identify here in South Korea was Lycorma delicatula (Spotted Lanternfly/꽃매미). However, between the number of L. delicatula observations in South Korea, how many identifications I was adding, and the relatively fewer number of users on iNaturalist at the time, my identifications of L. delicatula in South Korea meant that I was also listed at the top of the leaderboard for the entire Superfamily Fulgoroidea.

I wasn’t trying to get myself at the top of that leaderboard but it’s how the system works and any time someone tagged me for help relating to a different species on a different continent I had to tell them that their observation was outside my area of knowledge despite the leaderboard suggesting otherwise.


Many people identify the more obvious examples of a taxon and not the less clear ones, so if I ever need help with an identification I also check the “similar species” tab of a species and see if any particular users add disagreements to specific species, offer explanations for IDs, etc.

Some taxa, like Succineidae, for example, have fairly noticeable introduced species, which are easy to identify. An identifier may go through Succineidae observations in North America, identify all of the obvious species, be #1 on leaderboard, and yet not know anything about the native Succineidae in the area.