Does anyone else get bothered by how many observations are marked as "unknown species"?

Does anyone else get annoyed by how many observations are marked as “unknown species”? I will make exceptions for audio only observations, but theres 2.3 million observations with pictures that are left blank. I think it’s weird because not only does iNat have an algorithm designed to ID species but these posts are like of a mushroom or something and OP doesnt even mark it as a Fungi they just go “I have no idea what this is!”, either that or they’re being lazy? Or pictures of everyday animals like deer or pigeons and people are still like “I’ve never seen this in my life.”. Doing the math its only about 1% of all of the observations uploaded but its still kinda weird how many people dont even at least ID their observations as an animal, plant, fungi etc., like it’s not that hard.

Maybe this is just me taking things too seriously idk.

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Whilst leaving the ID blank can sometimes be a case of ‘I have no clue what this is at all’, especially for groups like slime moulds, algae, bacteria, etc., where it can often be difficult to ID to even phylum, there are many other reasons too.

Some new users don’t realise that they can make IDs themselves, and think that IDs can only be added by other users.

Sometimes users upload their observations without IDs, and then fill them in later (finding this to be a faster workflow), and you just happen to see them as unknowns during that in-between period.

Sometimes it’s a case of uploading a batch of 50 observations, and not realising you’ve accidentally left one or two without an ID (even with the pop-up message).

There are lots of other reasons too, so it’s definitely not just a case of people being ‘lazy’.

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If you search forum for id and unknown, you can see many topics about it, so no, you’re not alone in feeling that.

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Come and join us

https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/identifriday-is-the-happiest-day-of-the-week/26908

https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/needs-id-pile-and-identifications/26904/94

I have the last thousand to clear from the latest City Nature Challenge here. Next deluge will be October’s Southern Bioblitz.

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Still over 15,000 to go for La Paz … :scream:

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As a new user, I uploaded a crap ton of photos from the last 15 or so years. I know I missed a few roses, and sometimes just labelling it ‘vascular plant’ can feel worse than just leaving it blank. I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to plant identification so I know that I tend to leave it for the more expert.

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But it does get easier, as time passes, to skim thru.
So many people have already looked at that and given up. Nextnextnext. Done

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But over 15 years you will be able to go back and add some IDs that you have learned in the meantime. I can see I have learned year by year on iNat.

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welcome to the forum :)

an ID of vascular plant will actually more likely get you a faster ID, as many IDers specifically filter their searches to plants

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I’m working through the “Unknowns” in La Paz. As Diana said, there are many thousands to go.

But once the Unknowns are cleared, there are thousands of mis-identified ones to tackle. Just for “fun” tonight I did a quick check of a few specific genera identified in the La Paz City Nature Challenge. For example, I checked Goodeniaceae, a family of plants that are nearly all Australian. I found 6 observations IDed as 6 different species, none of which were correct. So that is 6 off their species count! I also removed about 4 species of Melaleuca which were incorrectly IDed. And several that were IDed as members of Mirbelieae but weren’t.

So is it worse to leave the ID blank, or identify it as something completely wrong? It is easier to fix the blank ones, as the incorrect ones then need several people to agree with the correction.

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I’ve been right behind you :smile: identifying to species all those you ID as Cactaceae.

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Tbat entirely depends on whether you remove the wrong ID after someone points out it is wrong.

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I think for most people the concept of taxonomy is utterly foriegn. They may try to label something “deer” and then the system will confront them with too many options containing all these complicated words they don’t know, and so they give up.

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I think for the first IDer (ideally the obeserver) it is worse to leave it blank… those observations could be unseen for a veeery long time. Wrong IDs will often be figured out at some point, as long as not a second IDer blindly agrees without good concience… then it might get difficult to find those wrongly IDed observations… it would need someone going through the RG observations to check them and I would not count on that.

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@wolfram06 Welcome to the forum!
I suspect most of the people responding to this prefer identification, and do get bothered by ‘unknowns’. As mentioned above, there could be many reasons for this (including laziness), but it possibly should be stressed for newer users that adding any identification is better than leaving the ID blank. When I start to identify, I take a quick look to see if there are any ‘unknowns’ and used to make a comment about that, even if I only know vascular plants. I’ve received no feedback from the original posters, but have seen things go from unknown to research in a day or two simply by adding a very rough ID.
I mainly identify Noctuid moths in a restricted area (Canada) for which there are 1454 pages of moths to identify. So I have enough work without tackling unknowns. If asked, I will help out with moths from another area or continent, and if I cannot help I may know of someone to refer them to.
I suspect, especially around this time, there are many users who have little idea about their observation (never seen or identified anything wild) and don’t care.
I don’t think there is any way to fix this. iNat is open to everyone, and is used by educators, so there will always be identification issues. For those of us whose nerves it grates on, we just need to push on and do what we can!

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Even for us who know taxonomy are hesitant to to add identifications to groups we don’t know. I leave most vertebrate species alone, as I am unsure of the intricacies of their taxonomy. I will make a rough ID (mammal, rodent, etc.). If folks are taught to understand that adding ‘deer’ is better than blank, it might help.

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I slapped a wrong ID on an Unknown just yesterday (I was correct that it was an insect at least) but my incorrect ID got the record in front of a person who could actually identify it, so it was successful. I removed my wrong ID.

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It is also really easy to accidentally upload an observation without an ID and not realize it when using the app. I’ve done it on accident a few times and had to go back and review later. I also find the android app really slow to use, so I sometimes upload quickly via phone and add an ID via the web browser a little later.

I know they are re-working the app for all devices, so I am hopeful it will be faster with the overhaul.

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I’ve seen that many times before, species that are listed as unknown but the name of the species is right there but just spelled wrong or something.

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Those are easier to ID. Track down the typo, or flag for curation for a new species.

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