How do users "see" new observations needing ID or ID confirmation?

I’ve been using iNaturalist for a long time as an observer. I recently started following other users and seeing their observations in my daily digest. I’m curious how the people who provide IDs on my observations get notified that I have posted something that prompts them to review it? They are not following me. Is there a way to follow certain geographies or taxa and get notified when someone posts an observation that meets certain criteria?


A lot of people may use saved search URLs. I think most people make them for the first time by clicking on Identify and then setting taxa/location/filter to their preferences and bookmarking or otherwise saving.

Another method is to have a subscription to a specific place/taxon…basically like a saved search.

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Most identifiers use the Identify page, since it is designed for making identifying as easy and efficient as possible:
Then on that page they will filter for a taxon and place that they have expertise with.

For those who aren’t comfortable identifying any groups to species, you can filter for observations with no identifications and identify them as a plant, fungus, butterfly, etc. which brings it into the taxon filters used by more experiences identifiers:


Of course you can subscribe to a taxon and place on the main page of iNat, but most people just id those taxa even without subscribing to it, or certain place, all from identification page.

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This is also a great way to learn new taxonomic groups since new identifications for these observations will show up in your feed. For instance, if you ID an “unknown” or “plant” as a buckwheat, but aren’t sure which one, you will see if someone IDs it to species later on.


When I click “explore” it shows me the grid-view of posts for the “greater Houston area” because that is set as my “default search place” in my account settings. I can see what’s been posted recently. If there is something I recognize I can help ID it. Or I filter for “unknown” and then help give general category ID to those so some other more expert person can take it from there.

Just a note that subscriptions to large/prolific taxa/geographic areas are hard on the iNat server. If the observations are too many, it takes a lot of power to push those into your dashboard feed.


Just a side note: is there a way to see when someone I am following posts a new observation? that doesn’t seem to be happening, so I am confused about what following does.

Their observations and journal posts appear in the feed on your dashboard.


Similar to what others said, identifiers will see your observations mixed in with other peoples’ in Identify or Explore searches for the corresponding taxon and/or location. Or they or you can Subscribe to a taxon or location on Dashboard. Also users can view all observations from your profile regardless of location/taxon, or filter by your username on Identify. If you have observations of a certain taxon, they’re most likely to get IDs quicker, and more overall, if they’re clear photos and if the group and/or location is frequently searched by many users in general.

Maybe I’m not “most people” but I almost never look at the Identify page–it’s too overwhelming and too distracting. I do subscribe to a few genera and a few geographic areas of interest to me…and those provide a lot of observations that come to my attention (i.e. show up on my dashboard). By subscribing to certain taxa and certain areas, I can focus my own efforts where they might be most valuable.

I think many people use the Identify page/modal with saved searches to avoid that overload. I agree that just straight up, it is like drinking out of a firehose.

But the modal itself allows for much quicker/more efficient IDing than clicking through links on the dashboard - in fact, the dashboard links that have an ID button just take you to a very specific search and open it in the Identify modal.


It’s a valid way to do it and it’s cool you do it! But it probably works with less-observed taxa, and can’t work in all cases, e.g. I check winged insects only at that level and it’s like around 500 obs a day that get there that nobody looked at them at the same day, so even if I could subscribe that way amount of notifications will be enourmous, but I can’t even subscribe that way.

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I subscribe to all taxa from my state, plus a few taxa that might be found beyond my state that are of interest to me. Plus, I see the postings of people I follow (which is somewhat redundant as many are in my state). I don’t review everything that appears on my dashboard – too many records, and many taxa are beyond my expertise – but I like to have the opportunity to see records from my area that might be unusual or that help me with my own IDs. I never use the Identify page.

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Many frequent identifiers use Identify more than Explore for example, although Explore has advantages like a map to navigate. Within Identify, some parts of the layout have options to change, like image size. Or after you click on an Identify photo to enlarge and ID it, you can use the right and left button to scroll through photos one at a time (while enlarged/focused on). Homepage/Dashboard notifications for Subscribed taxa and photos from followed users are also useful. Searches in Explore or Identify can also be filtered by username or maybe Project, or you can view Observations from a user’s or Project’s page. I use all the above at different times.


I probably just need to investigate the capabilities (“bells and whistles”) on the Identify and Explore pages more. I’m just stuck in old habits.


My way is 3 bookmarks

where I can do triage, picking out insects for Melodi and Coleoptera for beetle dude, and spiders … that very rough sorting relieves scientists from trawling thru all the blurry What is it unknowns.

CPT uploaded today
can be confusing as that includes much older photos of flowers, but uploaded today.

but mostly I work thru, sorted by date observed. Where yes that is, blooming today.

I enjoy identifying from the Identify page, probably because I don’t take that “firehose” of observations very seriously. I enjoy the weird observations and ID what I can easily, then move on. When I’m more serious about identifying, I filter by a taxon, a place, a person, or a project and try to ID a higher percentage of the observations.

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How do you subscribe to a geographic area or to a taxon?

On the main iNat page, on the right there’ll be a banner.