Fixing incorrect/uncommon common names

Is there a way to do this? From what I can tell, iNat only accepts the first name inputted for a taxon (by language), and it cannot be updated.

In need of change:

M. fusca: White-winged Scoter --> Velvet Scoter

1 Like

The fact that we can’t change mistakes by other people is very frustrating to me. If everyone is allowed to add names, then everyone should be allowed to edit them as well. That’s how crowdsourcing usually works.

1 Like

I think we should only add fully lists with soucers and check against these lists. I agree with Wouter Teunisse who says you should not add single species (without source). So now you should add a IO C source which says it is the wrong name i think.

As it is a bird that is the only list which is multi languages. (meer dan 20 talen)

But does iNaturalist have synoniems ?

The problem is, it may be a valid common name for somebody else. There are cases where there are a dozen or more “in-use” common names, and many of them are common to the same location, too!

You can add a common (vernacular) name, and assign it to your geographical location as it’s preferred default name. Please don’t change the existing one unless you are absolutely sure no one uses that common name!


Common names can be added and shuffled around, but re Mark’s comment it’s best to flag that taxon first to discuss changing the highest priority one.


It was formerly considered to be conspecific with the velvet scoter

This may actually be a taxa split thing rather than just a vernacular name being wrong.

My understanding is iNat taxonomy for birds will follow Clements checklist generally… 2018 Clements gave a split for M. fusca (Velvet scoter) and M. deglandi (White-winged scoter). I’m not sure what impact the 2019 checklist will have. Information in the wikipedia page may or may not be up to date.

I think a flag on the taxa is probably your best bet to get this looked at.

[edit: the following from Clements 2018]

617.0,split,“White-winged Scoter Melanitta fusca is split into two species, following Livezey (1995), Sangster et al. (2005), and Collinson et al. (2006): a monotypic Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca, and polytypic White-winged Scoter Melanitta deglandi, including subspecies deglandi and stejnegeri.”,species,Velvet Scoter,Melanitta fusca,N Eurasia; winters Norway to Spain and Caspian Sea,Anseriformes,“Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)”,611.00,33,

618.0,split,“White-winged Scoter Melanitta fusca is split into two species, following Livezey (1995), Sangster et al. (2005), and Collinson et al. (2006): a monotypic Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca, and polytypic White-winged Scoter Melanitta deglandi, including subspecies deglandi and stejnegeri.”,species,White-winged Scoter,Melanitta deglandi,Anseriformes,“Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)”,

619.0,name change - scientific name,Change the scientific name of the monotypic group White-winged Scoter (Siberian) from Melanitta fusca stejnegeri to Melanitta deglandi stejnegeri.,group (monotypic),White-winged Scoter (Siberian),Melanitta deglandi stejnegeri,Breeds ne Asia; winters coastal e Asia to Japan and China,Anseriformes,“Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)”,612.00,33,

620.0,name change - scientific name,Change the scientific name of the monotypic group White-winged Scoter (North American) from Melanitta fusca deglandi to Melanitta deglandi deglandi.,group (monotypic),White-winged Scoter (North American),Melanitta deglandi deglandi,Northern North America; winters to coastal s US,Anseriformes,“Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)”,613.00,33,

How to flag a taxon?

On the taxon page,

  • click Curation
  • select Flag for Curation
  • type a brief reason for the flag
  • click Flag It!
  • if you want to add more detail, click on the link to the newly created flag that appears at top of page, and add further comment(s).

For this issue, flags are already open, and further input should provided as comments there:

1 Like

Just some history for newer users on the site. All users used to be able to make any change to names, regardless of if they entered it or someone else did. It was turned off intentionally, and changes to existing names limited to curators.

There were simply too many ‘wars’ going on where users refused to accept any name other than their preference leading to the same species constantly having their names changed which was very confusing for users.

Additionally, there is no such role as a names curator or a language curator. As it is currently designed, curator is a single role where those with it have all the powers associated with it,which includes name changes.


Agree, that’s why there are binomial names as well as common names. Binomials guarantee everyone is talking about the same thing, common names don’t.

I’ve run across a few already for S. Florida, this one recently.
Never heard of that common name, to me it’s a carrotwood and I don’t think anyone around here would have any idea what I was talking about if I said Tuckerroo.

1 Like

Funny you mention that because in the example case here, people might mean two different things when they ID as Melanitta fusca:

  1. M. fusca sensu stricto (with M. deglandi and M. stejnegeri considered separate species)
  2. M. fusca sensu lato (M. fusca with three subspecies: fusca, deglandi, and stejnegeri)

which is why it’s really frustrating to some users that it’s taking so long to get the taxonomic changes made. But, more on that in the flags linked above and also this topic


Funnily enough, I made a Feature Request for us to add sources to Taxon Names here, but it didn’t gain any traction:


I wouldn’t assume that after just 5 days. Sometimes it takes a while for staff (and others) to think on it and decide if it is do-able.


It’s also the case that more ‘curator-oriented’ suggestions just as a rule don’t generate a lot of interest outside the curators as they typically are not things that impact the general user community (or at least it is not obvious how it can impact them).

Most curators who think this may be a good idea (myself included) have likely just used up their votes.


To clarify by “traction”, I just mean it only has two votes (with one of them being mine), so my assumption was that the community isn’t really interested.

A feature that would solve this issue is voting on names, similar to what iNat already has for the validity of individual observations. This would ensure the most common common name is used, and spelling errors/etc. are easily eliminated.

Why would you turn off a system already in place that allows users to select the names they favour and replace it with one that virtually guarantees American names are the only one used on the site ?


Yeah, I can echo

The voting system as currently set up on the forum isn’t the best indicator of true interest (including mine!), so don’t despair yet…


Don’t take votes as an indication of interest, many of us have given up on using the votes. In my case, I have an over allotment of votes from when some previously closed requests were re-opened and the votes re-applied. In order to vote for anything new I have to free up something like 4 other votes, and freeing up votes is frustrating to me when it is just one vote needed, let alone 4!