Express community ID as question by default unless/until seconded

I suggest that, if an ID hasn’t been seconded (or perhaps thirded), the community ID be expressed as a question by default.

So if I submit a butterfly and give an ID of Monarch, the community ID would appear as “Monarch?” by default, in the observation and in any search results and anywhere else the observation appears. If someone clicks that they agree with the ID, then it changes to “Monarch.” If someone instead IDs it as “Queen,” then the community ID will say “Milkweed Butterflies.” (It’s not expressed as a question, since both people agree on the subfamily ID.)

Expressing non-confirmed community IDs as a question by default, everywhere the observation appears on the site, would greatly slow down the proliferation of wrong IDs on this website, which contributes to the proliferation of wrong IDs on the internet in general, and in the real world.

This would only be by default. There would be a checkbox (unchecked by default) or something for the user making the ID to indicate that she is confident in the ID, that she knows what she’s talking about. It’s unlikely that “everyone will just check the box then.” The vast majority of users who aren’t experts don’t go around claiming that they are.


I think this is psychologically sound.


Why don’t you add the topic to requests?


Love this idea. Needs to go in feature requests.

The Community ID always represents an agreement between 2+ user IDs. Perhaps it’s the title ID on the observation detail page that is meant to have a “?” appended? If an observer posts a new observation and enters an ID of Monarch, there is no Community ID yet, but Monarch is displayed at the top of that page. Is it right that the proposal is to have it read “Monarch?” there instead?

This proposal sounds like a way to encourage careless IDs, because a user can enter any ID and claim the “?” makes it clear it was just a guess. “So it was a Painted Lady instead. So what? I said ‘Monarch?’ as the ID, not ‘Monarch.’”

IDs shouldn’t be guesses or expressed so. I’d be more interested in ways to encourage users treat IDs as only statements of certainty, like “I have high confidence that this is a Monarch.” And guesses like “Monarch?” belong only in comments, not in user IDs, title IDs, or community IDs.

Perhaps a good use of a “?” would be to append it to every computer vision suggestion that hasn’t yet become an ID.


This misses reality a bit. Venturing educated guesses, making mistakes, and being corrected are all part of the learning process. If only more people would actually guess. One can engage with somebody making a guess.

What is counter to learning is overly specific, pseudoconfident automatic identification. There is no thought process on the part of the observer, nothing to interact with, to correct or otherwise discuss.

What I’d be more interested in is statements like “I think this is a Monarch, because it has orange wings. Do you agree?” As long as there is only “this is a Monarch because the identotron said so,” other people can only clean up after the machine, but not reach the person using the machine.


@schoenitz I largely agree with your points. When I said “IDs shouldn’t be guesses or expressed so”, I meant only the taxon entered into the ID box. Guesses at IDs should be encouraged, just placed in the comment box instead. If this is the way to let an identifier indicate their confidence level, rather than the checkbox/"?" idea, then I think this better reinforces the idea that the ID displayed with the observation should be a high confidence one, while providing an a separate place to encourage guesses as well.

I think this would be very useful vor all computer vision ID’s, they are often very unreliable.

I like this idea, I suggest moving it to feature requests