Disagreements to observations with multiple species in the same photo

I like to get photos with multiple species in them (say several species of birds or flowers in one observation). This saves on camera memory space and I just generally like these kinds of photos. Then I’ll upload the same photo multiple times for each species within a photo. But when I do this, often people will add an ID for a different species in the observation, often reverting the ID to a very high taxon such “Birds” or “Plants” or even “Life”. Sometime the person IDing even acknowledges that the species I IDed to is in the photo but chooses to ID to a different one. For example, I might have a photo with a Canada Goose and a Sandhill Crane, which I have identified for the crane. The this new person will come on and ID it as Canada Goose even saying in the notes for the ID “Sandhill on the right” or something like that. It’s infuriating.

What should I do in a situation like that?


I have seen this over and over and over. I wish there were a “reject due to not respecting the observer’s choice of subject” button that would remove the ID.


you can opt out community taxon…

why should the observer be denied RG because someone else doesn’t adhere to the guidelines?


It’s particularly infuriating when you’ve labeled it clearly with your preference. Best current recourse is probably to tag a few people in for weighting (consider me on call there).


Absolutely…just one option I mean.
I think I´ve had it that I opted out until enough people added the correct ID then I opted back in also.
… but yes, frustrating in any case.

I think I´ve also seen it a few times with people who are brand new to the site - they have 10 to 20 obs, then they just blitz 50 IDs and the IDs are totally off base. Then I tag them but they just don´t respond as they´re not even people with intent to use iNaturalist longer than that day/week…so their IDs take an age to overcome. One of the reasons I don´t think people should just be able to ID straight out the gate.

1 Like

You can clearly mark “your” species on the photo. By white dot or ring, for example.


In cases like that I typically make sure the first photo in the observation is cropped so the focus is clearly the species of interest. So you might use the same photo for three species, but in each case there is a preceding photo which is a crop focusing on one.


I like these kinds of photos too. There’s nothing wrong with your photo layout or cropping–your ID stands to serve as which of the organisms you’re focusing on in the observation and the extra description(s) to indicate which is just frosting. I agree with the recommendations to opt out of community ID and tag in some additional help for shifting the community ID to the correct taxon. If you find it’s the same person continuously disrespecting your IDs intentionally, go ahead and flag for review so that a curator can reach out to them.


Not to make excuses for the reviewers who don’t pay attention to what the observer IDed as the subject, but if you take a pic with multiple species in an image, you can expect this. There will be individuals who will simply focus on the obvious one in the frame and ignore the fact that you IDed that grass over to the side. You can add comments, in addition to your ID, to indicate your subject but that might not be sufficient. If your photo is too complicated you won’t be able to completely avoid this problem. Some reviewers are just too dense.

I usually crop the pic to focus it on the subject organism. It saves the annoyance of dealing with misplaced IDs.


I made a topic about this awhile ago, but I don’t think a lot of solutions were offered. What I do now is link the other observation(s) in the description; if someone IDs one of the other organisms I leave a comment about the subject I wanted and direct them to the description.

I think this is the best solution if the user doesn’t respond within a certain time frame (I’d say probably a week to month since some people aren’t on often or it takes awhile for them to go through IDs).


You can still reach RG if you have opted out, as long as the community eventually agrees (at >2/3) with your ID. As long as there aren’t multiple people doing this to the same observation, it should remain needs ID (I think you need 4 other users to select the “wrong” ID to make your correct ID ‘Maverick’ and bump it automatically to casual).


Yes, I didn’t state that well. It’s a temporary denial of RG. I just don’t think it’s a good policy to put all of the burden on people who try to do things right and to coddle those who don’t try, so my proposed solution was meant to get rid of the problem with a push of a button to equalize the effort.


I have not posted a lot of multi-species observations but for a couple I’ve cropped the photo to show the species to be IDed and posted it as the default and included the larger photo with other species as an additional image, essentially showing habitat.

I think a lot of people sign up and start banging away without taking the time to learn how things work. It seems very likely that some people think they’re adding useful information by identifying another species. Which is not to deny the fact that there is a depressing number of garden variety jerks out there in the wide world, of course.

1 Like

As already mentioned above, two ways to handle this may be to either post a cropped picture showing just one individual as the first image, or to mark the target individual with an arrow or circle using image processing tools if cropping won’t help.

To make sure I get all species linked to the photo that has them all, I upload that one first and duplicate the observation for each species, then add additional pictures and change the sorting order of the photos to make sure the first one on each is showing what the subject is.

In the notes, I will often point out that there are additional species in the picture and provide a link to their observations so people can follow those if they want to ID something else they recognize in the picture.

Sometimes someone will already put an ID on it while I’m still doing all this - I think this would be a case where it would be useful to be able to have “draft” observations that can be published once all relevant information and cross-links have been added.


I agree that pictures with multiple subjects are often unavoidable. As in trying to get a picture of something unique that is in the middle of an especially active spot. For me, it’s often trying to get one particular fly on a big blossom with bees, wasps, and butterflies all hanging around as well. I have thought about this and wonder if the best solution would be to list multiple subjects in a single observation. I understand this would be a significant change, but it would allow for easier input if you could list multiple subjects and when you hit the Submit button, the program would save the observation equal to the number of subjects, copying the accompanying photo(s) for each subject. It is exactly what we do now, but automated. I think this could help in clarifying what is expected to those with less/no experience.

1 Like

If there was such a button, it would be incredibly easy to misuse just as a way of ‘disagreeing’ with a person’s ID for any reason.


Perhaps it would first have to be reviewed by a curator?

Curators are already hugely overworked volunteers, it would be completely impossible to keep up with!


I think this would just push the problem onto the programmer and lead to a mess that would be difficult to fix. Observers should crop the photos or take multiple pictures. Camera memory isn’t that valuable that a few extra shots would be prohibitive. It’s there to be used.

1 Like