Expand the Similar Species tab into an editable identification guide

Yes, that is a good key. Any way we can make it more efficient and effective for someone to become an expert is good. We really could have a system of good graphics and annotations for each region available to conservationists, so that one could become an expert within a month or so. That is where we need to go.

What if we could add/remove a single unit of similar species per species in the similar species list.

For example the many-line lucine (which I have hundreds of) only has one similar species listed (dosinia-like lucine). Let’s pretend the dosinia-like-lucine looks nothing like the many-line lucine (in reality the juvenile looks very similar but I’m just to lazy to find another example) because misidentifications on completely different shells do happen all the time (the CV is really bad at sea shells) and are completely useless if someone is trying to figure out if there’s a look-alike by using the similar species list. The feature would allow me to remove one unit of Dosinia-like-lucine misidentifications, and since there’s only one misID, it would disappear completely. It would also allow me to add in the lovely miniature lucine and Clathrolucina costa which are the exact same sizes shells and could be easily confused by someone unfamiliar with lucines.

When I first started on iNat, I relied heavily on the similar species list to know if there was something my organism could be misidentified as, and my first couple hundred IDs all depended on it too. If all the similar species looked different/did not live in that area, I’d assume that it must be that species. I don’t do that now, but I know that a lot of new users do.

What do you’all think? I know it’s not at all the extent of ID information y’all have been talking about, but it’s seems to me (who knows little about coding) much easier to implement than a complete addition from a respected identification website. If that did happen, I would want this website for Florida’s marine gastropod and bivalve species: https://olram9.wixsite.com/letstalkseashells/copy-of-presentations-univalves
because it has lots of pictures and emphasizes the difference between similar species.

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Seriously, this needs to be implemented already! There are tons of identification tips that are buried in comments that hardly anyone will ever see again. Links to other sites are not helpful because general users are not going to A) know to click on them to get ID tips, B) 90% of external links will not have identification tips, so knowing which links to follow to find identification tips will be nigh on impossible, C) external sites may not include all the relevant tips or not include them all in one place - don’t make users hunt around for the info

As recommended elsewhere, keep it simple, it doesn’t need complicated voting mechanisms, or linking to tips in comments, etc. Just make it a wiki-style page that will handle everything from simple bullet lists on up to well formatted pages and images (including links to other sites or example observations…). Have a “Talk” tab so users can discuss what to include or not include.

Is this replicating Wikipedia? Yes and no… it may be replicating the functionality, but Wikipedia articles rarely include tips on identifying a specific species. So the Wikipedia article is rarely ever going to include all the tips that someone would want to put on this iNat identification tips page.

Don’t worry that tips in some regions of a species range may not work in other regions – that can be sorted out in the page if users can add sections specific to each region.

Just start with something simple (but robust) and let people start doing this. If new features are deemed useful down the line (i.e. voting - for some reason…) then add it later once it becomes apparent that it would be helpful. But the ability to simply list some key features to help identify a species would be a huge win for iNat!