General Consesus on Being Asked to 'Fix' One's ID

The one I remember is Erica. iNat offered a spider, but we were all looking at the flowers (of which South Africa has gazillion species of Erica)

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Okay. I see now–they were asking you to change the subject of your observation. I would never do that.

There was the time I saw a photo of a shrub, clicked on Salix and sailed on identifying. Somebody else came by and suggested maybe I had meant Salix the shrub, not Salix the sea animal. I changed that fast!!


I’ve always assumed that a lot of people using “compare” can’t remember how to tell a leopard from a jaguar, or perhaps leopard from Leo the lion, and need the help. Those people, and there are lots of them, won’t ever get to the right species of bee-fly but would be helped by the “compare” button.


I don’t know the answer, but I always thought that both the leaderboard and the user ID stat count every ID whether correct or incorrect, or whether or not there is ever an RG. Maybe someone else can help answer this question.

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I just found this topic on leaderboard calculation that’s very recent, if you’re interested:

Wow, that is kind of surprising. I don’t pay much attention to the Leaderboards but I did assume those users are knowledgeable/experts in the field…or, at least Community-respected (if that makes sense?).

I’d suggest asking the question on the topic I just linked to, because that was just my impression.

I just read over that conversation quickly & it seemed to be about Leaderboards for obs, not IDs. I’ll revisit it when I have more time. Thank you for the link!

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Here’s another topic on leaderboards: It was closed last April, but you can get a feel for others’ impressions of the leaderboards.

In general, I would imagine it would be difficult to reach a reallllly high level of IDs without becoming knowledgeable. ( I fully recommend doing some identification if you haven’t already, to experience how much you learn ). There are exceptions though. Which this recent, somewhat contentious change tried to address. I’ve certainly come across some lower level identifiers, in the thousands, who make regular errors ( or arguably, are just following the iNaturalist identification etiquette - to “be bold” ).

Its usually worth clicking on someone’s profile in addition to looking at leaderboards. Some of the professionals do declare their experience. Though others, unfortunately, do not.

As for measures of expertise…that is an even more complex and long-debated conversation!
See here and here…and probably elsewhere too…


It starts that way, then touches on identifiers. I added another topic for your perusal, and @sbushes added more after that, which at first glance look more comprehensive. Happy reading!


One type of case where I find the Compare button handy is for very similar-looking species that have well-known distinct ranges. For example, the various Sceloporus lizards in the US. I don’t always remember where the boundaries are between the species, and Compare will quickly show me which of the similar species is in range at this location. Of course, if it’s close to the edge of the range, then this might not be good enough, but often the observation is clearly only in the range of one of a group of similar species.

I could find the right book on the shelf to pull off and check the ranges there, but the Compare button gets me to the result faster.


Good to hear other use.
For me, I’ve changed my opinion on this slightly following the comments here.
If its in use, then maybe its just more practical in other taxa or for other purposes than I realise.
I just don’t think it should take precedence over a withdraw button. On website we have 3 compare buttons visible at times… but zero withdraw buttons.


At the right side of each identification or comment is a little downward pointing carat (like > rotated to point down). It leads to Edit and Withdraw options. So a Withdraw button has never been a priority for me. Which isn’t to say it wouldn’t be useful. I usually, but not always, just “withdraw” by supplying a new identification anyway.


Sure - this isn’t for me either. Its not particularly time-consuming to use as is.
This is about the different ways the UI design encourages blind agreements by those who know no better … or like the OP, figure there must be an alternative, but can’t see what that might be.

I find myself using Compare when I remember the genus name (or it’s been suggested by iNaturalist) but I can’t recall which name goes to which distinctive species within the genus. An example of this is remembering Eurydema but needing to double-check between E. dominulus and E. gebleri. The same is true for some of the butterfly groups like Sailors and Bushbrowns – usually well-represented on iNat for my geographic region but I don’t always remember which is which so look at wing markings, etc. through Compare.

Another occasion when I use Compare is when I know I’ve seen a species before and recognize what taxonomic group it’s in but the name just isn’t coming to mind. That Noctuid moth with hourglass designs on its wings? Orthosia carnipennis. The Pyralid Snouth Moth that always gets me thinking of salmon meat? Ococera semirubella. And the Curved-horn Moth that brings to mind a blue-and-orange rocketship? Labdia semicoccinea. They’re ones I’ve looked up in Korean moth taxonomic and field guides but don’t seem them often enough to have the names memorized.

And for what it’s worth, I have used Compare feature for my bee-fly identifications. Because of course there’d be someone out there who has.


This may have already been covered, but if I disagree with an ID, I will explain why, and give reasons for my change, even if it is only a page link. Disagreement with an initial ID carries with it the unspoken rider that the person who disagrees at least gives some reason to explain their rationale. It may slow down corrections, but it also offers the ability to teach.


I used the withdraw button recently - I knew my initial ID was not correct, but was not sure what the new ID should be. Others had already been commenting, and although I did not agree with them, I knew my initial id was wrong. So I withdrew it. It does come in handy sometimes!


There have been times where I have been quite unsure of an identification, and I’ve made an ID and immediately withdrawn it. That way it doesn’t affect the CID, potentially adds to the “similar taxa”, and provides a clickable link should anyone want to go to the species page. Sometimes I’ll think it’s one of two possibilities, and I’ll make the least likely id first, followed by my “fairly sure it’s this one, though” ID.