How did about 50 species disappear from our project without notice?

I don’t think I should post this under bugs, because nothing looks wrong, really. I am just a bit baffled for an explanation, and maybe someone knows something about recent changes, that I missed?

My husband and I are both inatters, and this year we challenged each other (alright, I challenged him) to a sort of year-long bioblitz: Who would be the first to reach 1000 research quality species observations within Denmark during the year 2022?

Turns out it was quite a hard challenge. We have both kept our eyes open and definitely noticed taxa that have otherwise escaped our attention, so in this respect it has been a succes. If you pool our observations, we reached the goal already - but neither of us reached 1000 RQ species on our own, and daylight is waning this far north…

Anyway, my husband has been leading most of the time, and he was still optimistic with about 120 species to go. Then this monday, without any explanation, both our species counts in the project went down by about 50 species! There was nothing in our activity feed to explain the change. My best guess would be, that maybe RQ observations identified at a taxon level above species level used to enter the count and then stopped doing so. But I can’t really find any evidence for or against.

Any ideas tor the explanation are very welcome! The project can be viewed here:


Have you checked if any iders deleted their accounts, so their ids could disappear?
Count of genus and higher are shown at main project page, but are not shown if you open the tab of leaderboard – there you only see species, no changes of the system were implemented in the last days, so if your count dropped it is more likely to be due to data change.


A fun project!
I don’t know if it works this way exactly, but maybe the species count excludes observations marked casual? If that is the case, and someone went through your observations marking things they thought were captive/cultivated, then your species count could drop without any notifications in your feed.


I browsed through and didn’t see anything from November 7 which would have combined two species into one (much less 50!). So I suppose taxonomic changes probably aren’t the explanation.


That is the most likely explanation so far, I think. I know we have a good deal of ornamentals, such as sunflower and snowdrop - but only individuals from uncultivated locations. I will look into this suggestion, thanks!


A prolific plant IDer in Denmark apparently deleted their account around Mondayish. Since you only include research grade observations in your project, I imagine this would account for the sudden drop in the number of species.

I only figured this out because my species count had fallen as well and I had a few plant observations where this person had refined or corrected my ID and these IDs had not been confirmed by other users. I’m finding the sudden disappeance of so many IDs fairly alarming, for a couple of reasons.

  1. In my interactions with this user they had struck me as both knowledgeable and not inclined to the sort of drama that would lead to an impulsive account deletion, so both the loss of their expertise and the likelihood that there must have been something serious going on to result in such a drastic action are quite worrisome.

  2. There is no trace whatsoever that anything has been deleted and no way to tell how many thousands of observations may have been affected. As this thread demonstrates, the only way to determine what has happened is if one looks for a particular user and discovers that they are no longer there, or if one happens to remember the IDs and/or discussions connected with a specific observation and finds that this has changed. In other forums I’ve used, when a user deletes their account there is generally at least a note left in place of their posts to indicate there was once a message there by an inactive user. Here the IDs and coments simply vanish, and one questions one’s own memory – did I misremember? Imagine it? This is unsettling and scary.


Account deletion strikes me as bizarre. Why not log out and never look back? I think most of us have valuable observations and identifications as our iNat legacy worth leaving in place.


Well, I can imagine several situations in which one might feel it is necessary to take such an action – stalking or harassment, for example – though this is hopefully somewhat less likely on a site like iNat than many other social media sites. I’m sure there are other reasons.

At the same time, I personally find it hard to imagine why a user who has made hundreds or thousands of good faith IDs might want to delete them all (so much hard work just disappearing!), but of course at present there is no option to delete one’s account while leaving one’s IDs anonymized but intact.


Unless one of them deleted their account account deletion should have no effect on this case.

I read that as both of them noticed about 50 drop from each of theirs. Which, loosing a prolific ID’er in the area would likely do that.

On a different note, consdering this is the second instance I have seen recently of prolific ID’ers deleting their accounts, is there a way to “freeze” ID’s made so that even if the user deletes their account, their ID remains? I have some experience in forums of days of yore, and when deleting accounts we could always “keep posts” or not. to keep conversation integrity, we always kept the user’s posts (I can’t remember what happened to the user name associated with the post, I think it went to a default name) The only times we actually deleted posts along with the account as whole was serious cases the person needed to protect themselves so deleting post itself was upon request only.

Could iNat set up something similar, where deleting account does not delete the ID?


See this thread. iNaturalist policy is to allow people delete all their content, but they have provided more information to users on the consequences of doing this, and as of 2019, @tiwane wrote:

We’ll work on an anonymization option for those who want to delete their account but want to leave their contributions here anonymously.


Ah okay. Has there been an update since 2019 - like is that option in place? I mean that is approaching 4 years ago.

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What? Of course account deletion would result in species drop, if person ided specific taxa, that drop is logical, the project only counts RG observations.


Oops. Sorry I forgot that it deletes your id’s.

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Not that I’m aware of, but I tagged Tony, so perhaps he can provide an update

I can confirm that an account with many identifications was deleted.

We unfortunately haven’t made progress on an anonymization option.


How valid is an anonymous ID? I like to see who, so I can evaluate if it’s an enthusiastic newbie or - I am working on the taxonomy of brizzlesquits.

And then - carved in stone - no option to ask ‘them’ to reconsider.

If I would have reason to delete my social media account. I would prefer the deletion to be complete, since I won’t be able to engage with MY ‘anonymous IDs or comments’


If it was a single expert on that taxon, then very valid, just having any notice on “this id was here” would be enough.

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worst case scenario: the IDer died and the heir just deleted all his/ her social media accounts…

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Hope nobody here has a relative like that!

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