Flagged for missing species using placeholder text

When I ID Unknowns - I open each obs to see Notes or Placeholder text.
iNat leaves the text in Notes under the observer’s control - to edit or delete as they choose.

But I made a copypasta text expander for the placeholder.

Placeholder text is temporary. iNat hides it when the first ID is added. Better to use Notes or a comment - where YOU can choose whether to keep visible, or delete

I had a previous email conversation with @tiwane before feature requests became an open discussion on the forum. Now I could link back to where and why the request was declined.

TL;DR iNat staff knows placeholder text is temporary.

Here is a random recent example

Whatever ID the first identifier added - would have lost the ‘missing sp to be added’ info. I expect the placeholder text to remain under the observer’s control - that they can choose if or when to delete what they chose to record there.

Observer out in the field may need to get back to base for internet connection. May need time to resolve a tiny typo. May need to follow up on a ‘missing’ species. May have used that prime real estate on an English language website in the top left corner.

It doesn’t say ‘temporary’. Maybe the random string is a research tag.

What is the point of temporary if the observer cannot decide when their temporary issue is resolved?

The information remains on iNat, but hidden from us. There is a many clicks option, which may, or not, retrieve the info.

I would like a visible box for Placeholder (above Notes?)
Or default the Placeholder text to Notes (where the observer can edit or delete)
At least label it as Temporary Placeholder
Or make it easy / possible for the observer to retrieve the info they added.
If the identifier can no longer see Missing species we cannot use the info - we do not even know there was info we could have used.

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If this were the default
iNat would work WITH the observer.

And we would have lost ostrich salad

martleyi ? 24 March sp I have never heard of. That word should not be ‘hidden’

It’s unclear to me what the goal of this thread currently is. Do you want to solicit input from other forum users on these ideas? Or make a feature request? (if so, it would need to be formally submitted with the template filled out). It might help to get useful responses if you can clarify what your aim is.

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I did make an earlier request - which was declined.

I have flagged for curation MANY missing species. Once the placeholder text is hidden, that possibility is gone for any future identifiers.

Am I the lonely only with a work flow of flagging missing species for others when I ID? Observers who flag their own ‘missing sp’ are fine with vanishing placeholder text. I am not a curator so don’t know the varied sources for missing sp flags.

I also use that copypasta for iNatters who have been here much longer than me. What purpose does or can vanishing placeholder text usefully serve?

Okay - two clear questions.

  1. Do you use placeholder text?
  2. Why - I would like to know please?



what I typed accidentally didn’t match anything in the database of taxa. I probably had no internet at the time of making the observation and uploaded it later


and when someone kindly added an ID (any ID - broad or flat out wrong) your note to self disappeared.
If ‘placeholder’ box was removed, and that text went to Notes - wouldn’t that work better for observer and later identifiers?

I could be wrong, but I don’t think anyone chooses to use the placeholder. I think it’s what happens when someone has a typo and doesn’t catch it or if they are in an area with poor internet connection. It’s happens to me occasionally when I’m recording a bird song with no connection, if I type the species name and hit save without checking that it fully loaded the species.


Yes - again - if iNat defaulted that to Notes, it would work better all round. The first ID could not work against the observer.

I was just addressing your question of “why” to people who use the placeholder. I don’t think it’s consciously used, I honestly don’t know how to create placeholder text other than the two ways I mentioned. I could see someone using it for a species that hadn’t been added to the database yet, but in that instance I would hope they would bump it up to genus with a note of the species name.

I don’t know if logistically it would work to add it to the notes section. What if someone had notes already, would it be able to add the text without overriding what the user had written?


no, personally I’d prefer my description section not be cluttered up like that. I’d just fix the obs by adding the ID I meant


How can iNat avoid ‘hiding’ placeholder text for missing sp, or the tiny typos which were not found (because typo) ?

I want to support this suggestion that placeholder text not disappear when an ID is added.
I come across many cases of ‘unknown’ where the observer fills in the ID field with the name in some other language. This is important information that should be preserved, not hidden.
I think it would be ideal if placeholder text that does not match a taxon just becomes a comment.


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