Excessive use of tagging?

I frequently am tagged for identification help on observations for which I have no expertise (geographically or taxonomically), or may have previously been interested in, but no longer. I am a heavy identifier with over 50,000 ids, so I end up at or near the top of many higher level taxas for number of identifications, so I seem a likely target for help. It’s not unmanageable yet, but I find it somewhat annoying. Looking over one user, they meticulously go through virtually all of their observations and track down likely identifiers and tag them for help. If they don’t get a response, they tag more people. Is this excessive? It seems like if everyone did this, the platform would turn ugly. I personally only tag people who I’ve dealt with before and know they are likely interested in checking out the observation.


I tag potential identifiers very infrequently and only when I know they have the expertise to provide a good ID. If that person doesn’t respond, no worries. In my opinion, if someone is doing this regularly for all or many of their records, they’re abusing this feature.


I try not to let that happen to people like you. I usually narrow the top IDers to my area and then pick someone that is a few from the top. I also try to more often tag people I interact with frequently and know they are okay with me tagging them a lot.


I’ve had that before, some people just want to consult “the experts” immediately. I only tag when definitely necessary/ someone else on the post is “confidently incorrect” and I need additional support for my position (or to be told exactly how wrong I am).

I recommend asking the one user if they could tag other people less and try figuring out how to ID the species they’re photographing on their own.


If the person is new to iNat they might think this is an appropriate use of the tag feature to get an ID quickly (or at all). Or they’re just impatient.


There were a few people who were doing excessive tags for me. I ended up asking one of them to stop tagging me as they were tagging me on groups that I don’t work on and cannot ID. They did it one more time and I asked them again. They haven’t asked since.

Most people are reasonable about tags and only do it once every other month or so, which is fine.

At this point, I am slowing down my use of iNat since my job is changing, so I am probably just missing most of the notifications now anyway.


Yes, if the person seems to be kind of a pest it’s worth looking to see how many observations they have. I remember making encouraging comments to a couple of newbies who then proceeded to tag me (and others) on every observation. I explained (kindly I hope) that wasn’t necessary, and they apologized and reformed.


Is there a ‘mute this iNatter’ option for notifications?

I will only tag people (when ploughing thru Unknowns as well) if - the photos are good and clear, if it looks interesting enough to be worth their time and effort - and then their response to my queries is good.

Identifiers are people too, with busy lives off iNat. Impatience … doesn’t work here.

i think this is just a fact of life.
if people think you have money, they will ask for money.
if people think you have connections, they will ask you to use your connections for their causes.
if people know you are a doctor, they will ask you diagnose that weird thing on their arm.
if people know you have a truck, they will ask you to help them move stuff.

there are worse things in life than having people ask you for help, even if you’re not actually able to help them.


This has been starting to annoy me too. Very often I click on a “mention” to find a blurry photo of something from a corner of the world I’ve never been to, and there are usually many other users tagged as well. Why do people do this?

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Also a heavy identifier. Now - when I have helpfully added the placeholder ID, I wait for two reliable IDs to follow mine - and withdraw / delete depending. If withdrawn, I unfollow. Definitely doing that when I have merely been the go between to flag a missing species for curation. I don’t want to appear on that ‘leader’ board.

PS perhaps we need a feature request to limit tagging?
Maximum of two in one comment.
Maximum of … over … time period for that obs.

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I suspect part of what’s happening is that some people tag the top identifiers for larger groups (e.g. family, order, class etc.), assuming that the people on that leader board can help them get the ID refined to species. Which may not be the case if the identifier is just focusing on sorting things into larger bins and maybe can’t do much beyond say confirming that yes it is a flowering plant.


If someone is tagging you excessively, and they’re not responsive to a polite request to do so less frequently, there is a mute option people can use (Account Settings > Relationships, accessible via the website).


Muted Users

Muting someone prevents you from receiving notifications about things they do, including commenting on your observations, messaging you, mentioning you, etc. Muting helps you ignore someone without preventing them from doing anything.

You can mute as many people as you want, but keep in mind that you’ll be missing out on potentially important notifications, like identifications that shift the Community ID on your observations.


I’m guilty of doing this too, I call it iGnatting. Hopefully, I am do it less and less as I get better at identifying?

Still helpful for odd cases, like this Prickly Lettuce (Lactuca serriola) which lacked prickles along leaf midrib underside and this Wild Carrot (Daucus carota) which had small umbels.

Maybe like labor, the better you are at it, the more you’re asked to do it? Not fair, but I think in both cases saying “no more” is effective.


I’ve had good luck just politely commenting that I have no expertise on things in their area, and explaining to people how to narrow down the identifier list to their own region. I’ve gotten a lot fewer long-distance tags since I started doing that, and most users seemed grateful for the explanation.

Or I just move on without interacting with the observation, and the impatient ones generally stop tagging me pretty quickly when I’m not immediately helpful.

For sure - and also if you only know one species within that group and ID that species a LOT, you may end up on the leaderboard for the whole group. I’m one of the top identifiers of Rubus on the worldwide leaderboard, but I only know like 5 species, and they’re all in California.

I’m not sure about this, I feel like we’d miss out on seeing a lot of really interesting discussions on the unique and unusual observations. A lot of the weird or undescribed galls in the Galls of California group end up with like 10+ people tagged before the conversation is over.


Yikes, thanks for the heads-up. I checked on some of the species I identify a lot and indeed I’m listed as top identifier for an entire plant family based on my IDs for just one species in there. I barely know any of the others. Well, so far I haven’t gotten a whole lot of tags out of this yet…


We rarely tag and never for what appear to be routine species. The few times we have tagged, we have looked at the user’s profile to see if they are geographically near us and read their bio to see if they claim expertise and if they ask to be tagged or not tagged. We also follow this forum, where we learned that someone we tagged once (who didn’t respond) hates being tagged and so we do not and will not tag them.

So maybe frequent identifiers can ensure their bio indicates prominently whether they want to or don’t want to be tagged and for what and where. And before tagging someone, maybe observers can refer to identifier’s bios.


After I helped someone with some bird songs, they started tagging me on feather IDs. They kept doing it after many times of me saying I don’t know what it is or just kind of sort of narrowing it down, basically not being very helpful. After a while I got annoyed and sent them a PM and asked them to stop. Hasn’t tagged me in feather obs again.


Perhaps an update to the community guidelines to come up with an intended use of tagging? That way, we can better define when someone is tagging improperly. With some community guidelines in place, we could direct people there.

Some of my annoyance with tags would be eliminated if we had a better notification system. As is, there is still no way to see notifications after the notification button is clicked. It would be easier to ignore taggers who are only tagging everyone they can for an ID.


I like this idea. It isn’t a widespread practice, but perhaps it should be. I will say, a statement like this should be crafted with care. Tagging has a lot of nuance. There are plenty of people I know where such a statement might dissuade them from tagging me out of respect for my time. In some sense, these are the people who I would want to tag.

I think there should be a general statement on iNaturalist would help in crafting a more specific statement or avoid the need for a specific statement altogether.