Do identifiers like to be thanked, and if so, should observers tag you to say thank you?

If you suspect the new ID is correct but you don’t know enough to agree with it, you can speed the observation’s progress to a correct ID by simply withdrawing your ID. I often do that. You don’t need to delete or change it. “Withdraw” leaves your ID in place and in my opinion helps others learn that we all make and accept errors.


I try to ID at least one hundred observations a day when I’m not frazzled. I think the number of people who thank me is just right, and that’s not very many at all. As an obsessive IDer, here’s my take: I myself thank people who rescue long-ignored observations from oblivion or who help me in taxa where I’m completely lost and rarely post. That includes people who correct my rookie errors. :) That seems to be what other people do as well. I can’t imagine I’d ever be annoyed at someone saying thank you.

I don’t expect a response when I thank someone, and I think that’s important. I know for birds, there are people who ID a WHOLE lot of observations, and they’re moving fast. This is only semi-social media, and they’re here to do a service. :)

If someone asks a question, and I take the time to type out an answer/explanation, I think it’s polite to say thank you. If I just click agree or type out a name, it’s for sure not expected. I usually check any unusual activity, so commenting or tagging gets the same level of attention from me.

Thank you for asking. It can be hard to figure out what’s best. I think everyone gets that.


I have wondered about exactly this question!! Thank you for creating this discussion!

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I’m an amateur, mostly posting photos of local plants I already know, but I truly appreciate anyone who takes time to confirm my ID. Just wondering if I should be engaging in any way with these IDs. Is it bad form to just let them be?

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I moved this post the existing topic.

I make lots of IDs. I always find it lovely to be thanked, but if every observer thanked me for the IDs I made - well, I would spend all my time reading those thank-yous, not making IDs. Not all of my time, obviously, I am exaggerating, but in my opinion, it is not at all bad form to just let them be.

But it is very kind of you to ask what you should do. It is wonderful when an identifier can see that an observer is learning and improving their own skills over time, because the observer begins to see more than they used to, or remembers to use a new name the taxonomists have given us, or even begins to feel comfortable making IDs for others. I can’t always remember the new names, but I can say I definitely see more of the natural world than I used to before the identifiers of iNat started helping me, and I certainly try hard to make IDs for others since others have helped me so much…


To be honest, one of the the best things anyone can do is to do some identifying yourself- I’m sure there’s a need for identifications in your local area of those plants you know!
I personally really appreciate large-scale identifiers, and I do my best to to identify observations myself when I have time- not everyone can be a full-time identifier, but everyone can contribute in some way!


I don’t think I’ve ever been thanked, but personally, I would be happy to know that I was helpful! Tagged or not. If I was tagged for a thank you, it would take about five seconds for me to read it, so I don’t think it would be annoying if I wastagged occasionally.

I think it’s always nice to let people know you helped them out. Even on the internet. A few years ago, my brother was part of a pixel art group. He asked a question, and someone answered him so he thanked that person. The person he thanked was really snippy about it and for whatever reason was offended that my brother would have the audacity to say thank you. It was really weird to me and my brother.


There are very few active identifiers on iNat.
Some do a lot of identifying every day - either by location (Africa for me) or they are taxon specialists housekeeping their data.

Because we don’t have any tools to manage notifications … instead of a notification that ‘someone said thank you’ - I presume quite reasonably that the observer appreciates a considered ID (I know I do on my own!) The best way to thank your identifier, is to pay it forward. Find your slice and chew thru your backlog (PPS I see you do chew 2 slices - twice as many as your obs). There’s a whole supermarket full of sliced loaves waiting for takers.

If you learn to ID what the taxon specialist has explained, then pre-sort for them, so they can concentrate on the good stuff. That is a sincere, actions speak louder than words, Thank you!

PS link to your iNat profile shouldn’t have an @ in it.


And based on a certain blog thread (you know which one I mean), it appears that the culture of iNat is not currently encouraging of active identifiers. What identifiers would like, more than being thanked, is to have the issues they have raised be resolved.

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Meanwhile I use workarounds, to MAKE iNat work for me. (Against the iNat guidelines) But nobody has called me out on my infractions yet.

Back to my Pre-Mavericks which have a fresh upload. Much enjoying rescuing good obs which have been condemned to limbo for 9 … 10 … even 11 years!

And ‘supporting’ where 2 of my @mention trusted taxon specialists already agree. That more than two thirds rule is ridiculous when 8 identifiers are battling against 3 wrong IDs from profiles that have wandered off into the sunset, never to be seen or heard of again.



I would like to put a thousand hearts on this answer. This iNat site is NOT easy to use, and so many things that are obvious to people on this forum are not obvious to regular users. I hope someone in charge notices this problem and writes A USER MANUAL.


A substantial part of Forum posts is

How do I … ?
Why doesn’t this work?
Bug? No, working as intended by iNat.


One of the epiphanies I had about iNat recently was that it is a social network. I know, that should seem obvious, but one of the things I’ve enjoyed identifying lizards from a variety of places in North and South America is getting to know the community of amateurs and professionals who observe and identify in an area. So much of identifying is regional it seems. Do I like being thanked? Sure. Is it expected? No. Should you tag? Either way, but probably only if it’s a question you’re asking of that person. But, what I really like is the opportunity for social networking with people interested in understanding what they’re seeing, either by identifying it or by observing something from the photo(s) presented.


Hi Diana,

I’d like to understand more about what you are talking about. I don’t understand the sliced bread analogy. Is there another way you can explain to me what I am doing or need to do?

Thank you

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You are already identifying. If you can, or want to, find more where you can help to ID. By taxon, or location, depending on your own preferences.

I started with Unknowns. Then I realised that Needs ID still needs my help (if I can add value to that taxon). Then there are swathes that need Annotations if you go back to your preferred taxon.

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I want to add a brief comment on the practice providing IDs for a person who ID’d your observations as a way of thanking them.

I appreciate the desire to give back in the form of helping provide IDs. However, if you choose to express your thanks this way, please try to make sure that these IDs are for taxa that you are reasonably knowledgeable about – sometimes I have the impression that users will overreach and just click “agree” on observations they find interesting, or use the CV suggestions to provide an ID that they don’t know enough to evaluate.

The thing is: most of us don’t ID because we expect to get IDs in return. And I think most IDers place more value on an accurate, informed ID than on having a “research grade” label on our observations that is the result of a well-meaning but uninformed ID.

So sometimes the best thanks you can give is by “paying it forward” instead – maybe the person who ID’d your observations doesn’t have any observations you can help with, but someone else does. And if you don’t feel like you are skilled at recognizing many species at present, you can help by IDing unknowns, or refining broad IDs, or adding annotations. (We do notice and appreciate this. The users who do high-level sorting don’t get thanked enough, but a huge percentage of observations would probably never get seen by the specialists without them.)