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

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.


Interesting to hear so many different ways people use this part of the interface!

For me…as an observer… if its taxa I have no idea of, I will often use the autosuggest …which is what tends to later lead me to have to withdraw, a % of the time. I imagine many newer users will also be in this boat fairly often.

As an identifier I don’t think I’ve used it so much, probably because the bulk of my IDs have been at higher taxa… at times I’ve definitely deleted an incorrect ID though and replaced it…just to not make too much mess on someone’s observation.


Have you seen the Identification Etiquette topic on this forum? It just occurred to me that these particular questions might fit there.


I would not have anticipated the route this conversation has taken and the richness of the discussion for a recent arrival to iNat like myself. You can learn a lot just hanging around listening to people. I really need to dedicate some time to rummaging around in the archives reading randomly.


In the end I let the observation I referred to above stand and it produced an interesting and ultimately informative series of IDs and an RG rating.

Now I have just received an ID that is more or less the flip side of this topic. I posted some photos that I had taken long before joining iNat. I just got an ID on one that seemed odd, opened the observation and discovered that the photographs I posted were not related to the plant I thought I was reporting and are in fact a photograph from a garden up the street from my house (lesson associated with this: don’t post without opening the thumbnails and looking at what you’re posting).

This one I’m thinking I will delete. I don’t really want photographs of domestic cultivars (which I’m pretty sure this is) in my iNat account but having posted the thing I’ve induced somebody to correct my original observation and figure I at least need to give them a heads up.

So are there any thoughts on why I should leave this one alone? If not, it’s going away.


I’m a gardener so I have a different viewpoint about the worth of including domesticated cultivars on iNat than some others here might. Perhaps someone starts with identifying pansies and then ends up with an interest in wild violets growing on a geothermal plain in Iceland. Familiar cultivated plants can be a bridge to the rare and even the endangered. If you’ve identified any plant, leave it as a signpost to someone else.


Fair enough. The person who made the ID also argued for keeping it.

I garden, although the tomatoes and raspberries are my preferred domestic plants. At our previous house I had a beautiful set of native plant gardens - woodland under the cherry tree, prairie behind the garage, a wet butterfly garden in the front. My wife gardens for colour, texture and form. I’m more about the pollen. Native plant gardening is a smaller thing in the place where we live now, but we have had moose on the street, bears forage on berries where we walk in the evenings and pileated woodpeckers come to my birdfeeders, so there are lots of native plants (and other things) without me growing them and it’s all good.

All of which is off topic. My thoughts about deleting it were about my reasons for being on iNat, not what I think about iNat’s reasons for being here. I get why some people would want to keep records of cultivars. I’m trying to learn about bumble bees on the one hand and to convince the mayor that the park that is currently being chewed to snot by ATVs is an oasis of biodiversity in our little town and deserving of more respect than it gets on the other. More generally, I like being around wild things.

Anyway, the cultivar will stay and as a general principle I will conserve the rest of my booboos as I go. It’s all data, I guess.


I mostly photo just wild plants, but sometimes I’ve posted a garden one I found interesting. I also photo’d several garden plants to include in my “dissected flowers” project for classes. I’d recommend photoing mostly wild plants and marking the cultivated ones as cultivated. You have wide latitude to post what you want here, and as noted above sometimes cultivated plants are useful.


If I were being completely honest here I’d acknowledge that my motivation for getting rid of the observation was mostly about having posted those images in error because I didn’t bother to open the thumbnails and look at them properly. Nobody really wants the world to see their bouts of laziness laid bare.

Alas, that nag has already fled the stable. The cultivar is now part of the permanent record.