Disruptive disagreement on identifications

Problem is, I really don’t know much beyond Bees. So even if I could readily see that the individual is a wasp, I don’t know how closely related that wasp is to bees. So, yeah, I’m going to toss it up to Hymenoptera.

Because just because the organism is more closely related than what I put, if I don’t know, I’m going to put it as low as I know. If a few more people come along and move it in the right direction, I’ll withdraw my ID.


OK. It sounds like what might help is a combination of hard and soft disagreement. Meaning, an ID that is a vote against certain taxa, but not all taxa in the chain up to the chosen ID taxon.

I hard disagree it’s a bee because I know bees.
I say Insecta, but all the intermediate steps between Insecta and bee could be considered soft disagreements. If someone comes along and says it’s a fly, then it can go to RG because my disagreement with the order Diptera was only a soft disagreement rather than a hard disagreement.

The UI could present a UI that lets the user choose where to disagree and where to say “I don’t know”, given the taxon choices between the current ID and the chosen ID.

I wonder if it’s possible given the same database structure. Seems like it could be, if there’s already a record that distinguishes the two types of disagreements. If so, it just has to be settable with more intermediate options.

A key factor is to keep things simple for newbies and all users.

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I would be very happy if I could
either say it is not Species A
or it is a wasp

And for my ID to hold and count only there, where I put it. That Ancestor Disagreement is passive and cryptic, makes it harder for our good ID intentions to actually do what we intend.

I don’t think this is complicated, in fact I think this is what most users would assume the algorithm is doing.


Some contend that is is complicated for many users, and I have to agree. Or, at least cryptic. I read these threads and I just can’t get motivated to “ID”. Beyond pitfalls, it’s difficult to find information. It’s there but it’s too much work. And I already work 40+ hours/week. (It takes me months to circle back to one of my uploads that needs an update or response).

But, I appreciate that the rest of you who do what you do. And, FWIW, I continue reading all these threads, assuming that one day, by optical osmosis, I will have internalized the methodologies and details to do ID’s.



@jagerwin my comment was in reply to @spiphany who made an alternative suggestion for how it should work but wondered if it was complicated - but I think their suggestion is more intuitive than the current set-up - which is undoubtedly complicated :)


Well, by “complicated” I was actually thinking about the algorithm that determines how the the votes for or against a particular taxon are counted and what the community taxon is. I do think that my suggestion is more intuitive from the user perspective, but I’m finding it a bit harder to translate this into the mathematical calculations (how does the system know to display the ID as Magniolopsida at step 1 after the initial disagreement?).

However, I see that the proposed system I outlined is essentially the same as the alternative model described in the staff blog post (from 2019) I linked to above, so presumably it is feasible from a programming standpoint. It does make me wonder a bit why no change was ever implemented or if there was a deliberate decision at some point in favor of the current model, and if so, why.


Basically, identification is simple. Give the organism the name you think is right, at the lowest taxonomic level you can. There are all sorts of complications, yes, but you can’t go very wrong doing that, and some of the “wrong” is just people’s preferences, anyway. Please ID when you have the time and interest. And when you don’t, I hope you have fun with iNaturalist in other ways.


“I know that there are people with the experience in the right areas that will id it.” But in my experience this doesn’t happen without tagging someone or contacting the original disagreeing ID-er. Otherwise observation stays at a very high level.

True that some disagreements save time for the disagreeing specialist identifier. Later on…

Let me add a fresh example.

Id by observer: Stenotaphrum secundatum gehört zu: Familie Poaceae Süßgräser

Disagreement: Reich Plantae Pflanzen

the evidence is not sufficient to identify this species.
the flower morphology prove that this is other type of species.

And I see that the family was correct. Now we are still at Plantae. Another identifier is required to get it to Poaceae. And then 4 more identifiers to get it to the correct genus/species.
The observer left us 4 years ago. The disagreeing identifer 3 years ago.

Do yo think we’ll ever arrive at a good id?

Yes. If you push, nudge nudge.
It is at Family and taxon specialists filter for that.

That’s certainly the problem I’ve seen trying to resolve the IDs on some records. If the participants don’t stick around, it can be hard to fix these situations and the observer probably doesn’t care anymore since they’ve gone elsewhere. So my time is better spent elsewhere as well.


Basically you get to a point where you just have to tag common IDers of the group to help push it to a finer identification.

It isn’t a wonderful solution, but it’ll work, eventually.


We have Tribe …

How about being charitable and assuming that others mean well and that the people who entered those IDs were doing the best they could in accordance with their knowledge and level of understanding about how iNat works. Remember that iNat is not always simple or self-evident, even for those of us who have been using it for some time (as this thread has demonstrated!).

Yes, high-level disagrees can cause annoyance for those who encounter the observations later. But I would argue that it is a fault of the way iNat is set up and not something to blame on individual users. If you need help getting a particular observation “unstuck”, the best way to do so is by tagging people with expertise in the relevant taxon, not complaining in the forum.


Complaining in the forum is a way of exploring and explaining how things could work better in a sandbox where several staff members listen. Sounds like exactly what you would want to do if this is the “fault of the way iNat is set up and not something to blame on individual users”.


It’s possible to point out problems without calling out specific observations or actions of users who have long since left iNat and can no longer respond to criticism.

We don’t know if the person who entered the disagreeing ID of “plantae” was merely “saving time” (the implication being that they were short-sighted and not thinking about the problems they were causing for others by not choosing a more specific ID). Maybe they chose that ID for any number of other reasons. We don’t know. It ultimately doesn’t matter.


Tagging other iNatters to help resolve an ID is something I do infrequently and mostly for my own records and usually it’s someone I know. Not a method I want to over-use. Some IDers don’t mind being tagged, others might not like to see too many of these.

Is the Ancester Disagreement problem. That waits for better management by iNat. Not the fault, or the intention of the identifier.