Editing an observation deletes existing identification in favour of placeholder by default

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URLs: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/167781909

Description of problem Editing deletes existing identification in favour of placeholder by default.

I wanted to add notes to an observation, that I had previously identified, so clicked Edit
Typed in my notes, but wanted to check species names, so in the ID box I typed in “n” after the generic name (which had been identified prior to the edit session) to get the options.

Having confirmed the spelling of nodiflora, I abandoned the ID - I did not select any of the options (use as placeholder, Widdringtonia nodiflora, Search external), and finished my edits and Saved.

The existing identification was deleted, and replaced with a Placeholder “Widdringtonia n”.

I was able to replicate this several times, each subsequent ID was deleted and replaced with the placeholder.

(1) the option “use as a placeholder” should not overwrite an Identification without the option being selected. If none on the options are selected, then the default action should be no change - the ID should not be changed.
(2) even if “use as a placeholder” is selected, then existing identifications should not be deleted and replaced with placeholder, but retained as “withdrawn”, even if placeholder is used. [the user can always edit the identification and delete it if desired]

as far as i can tell, an existing identification is deleted only if (1) it is the only identification by the observer and (2) is current (not withdrawn), regardless of whether another identification exists by another user.

this is definitely possible because it’s basically what happens if there’s a withdrawn identification by the observer, or if there’s more than one identification by the observer.

but i question if anything should really even be done to address this, since it’s such an unusual case. in the long term, it seems to me like the placeholder workflow and design is really just fundamentally flawed and should be changed slightly to make placeholders a separate type of identification that must be explicitly selected as a placeholder (or maybe just a specially formatted comment). i think is the only clean way to address a lot of other known quirks related to placeholders.

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I would definitely prefer the placeholder in a dedicated, freely accessible to the observer, box - like notes and comments. The observer should be the one to choose and decide - keep the placeholder visible, or delete it. So frustrating while identifying, when a placeholder disappears before I had a chance to read it. Often a not yet on iNat species, or a tiny typo I can catch - Tulbaghia not Tulbachia.

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