How do you stay motivated as an IDer?

I tell you, being mainly an IDer can get tedious. I mainly do Caribbean Islands, but after a while, it starts to feel like certain taxa – seemingly randomly chosen – are disproportionately repetitive. I audibly groan when I see what feels like the millionth Genus Hemiargus observation. And why are people so much more fascinated by Solanum torvum than other plants?

I don’t want to get grouchy and withhold my ID from an observation when the observer probably didn’t know that so many other people observed the same taxon. I try to remember that that user’s observation is as important to them as the observation a hundred pages ago was to the user who posted it. But it gets hard.

I know, one valid suggestion is to switch up regions. I can do that, because I know other regions. But not every IDer does. How do you stay motivated to keep IDing the same taxon over and over?


Choosing a “safe place and taxon” means a lot imo, I can’t id unknowns, it’s all just planted trees or photos of someone’s room, it’s getting frustrating very fast, so I check winged insects only (and sometimes local projects or particular user with plants or birds), it’s mostly already filtered or, recently, added from suggection, so 99% are actually winged insects. I’m not against repetitivity of ids I add cause those taxa are from all over the world and looking differently, plus there’re misterious observations, so it’s cool. I also saw many messages about how amount of ids should be more than your observations, that’s what I was trying to achieve and since December w. insects pages for me droppe from 1100 to 250, but then because of my trip grew back to 500, so now my aim is to push it back (also helping users not to wait till winter to get an id). Also this system doesn’t require tons of knowledge which allows anyone to id in any region.

  1. I recall how appreciative that I am of other who have helped me with IDs. I decided that I’d at least ID ~3 observations for every one that I post. Currently keeping well ahead of that, but I know that I’m paying it forward in a reasonable manner.
  2. I have a list & custom URL for stuff that I feel comfortable & generally enjoy ID’ing… nothing too difficult, but there’s a ton of it and every ID helps.
  3. If something looks too hard, I skip it! That keeps the activity low-stress.
  4. Sometimes I’ll just go through one single species, just to vary the experience.

As an observer, primarily moths, I catalog a representative sample of my night’s viewing. Thus I have lots of repeats. I don’t care if every one of my regulars is verified, but I am deeply appreciative for the folks who I can count on to do so. The observers don’t always know that you’ve seen a thousand obs of any given species, they simply know that they have seen what they’ve seen and they hope to see their id supported. Thank you for what you do!


I mainly ID spiders of Southeast Asia.
With spiders, it is something that i love to ID. I don’t really mind IDing a million of the common Plexippus petersi and the (more than) occasional rare/unknown species certainly keeps me going.

Though i also check on all observations from Indonesia regardless of taxa to “cleanup”: sorting into coarse taxa, checking the data quality, and IDing the species which i know (mostly common plants). These can be tedious, not necessarily because of the same species appearing over and over, but because things like for example many observers still uploads potted plants without ticking the captive/cultivated box even after i repeatedly ask them to. The reason i keep going is because there aren’t many identifiers (yet) who actively ID/correct observations from Indonesia, so someone got to clean them up.


“I try to remember that that user’s observation is as important to them as the observation a hundred pages ago was to the user who posted it.”

The thing is, the observation isn’t just important to them - it’s important to the process.

Multiple observations of the same thing are important! It lets us track subtle changes and changes over time. What if, a year from now there are no observations of Solanum torvum? It would be hard to go back in the record and say that it’s a significant change if there were only one observation of it in the past. But if it went from hundreds to zero, now that’s something that would get my attention.

When you’re identifying your millionth Hemiargus, you’re helping create the most complete record of the region ever done - and that’s pretty cool!


I understand what you mean, though i see it in a different way.
I don’t really see it by how much the observation is important to the uploader. My concern is that data should be correct, especially the ID, since the data is shared to data partners like GBIF and is used by researchers as well. I think this “purpose” is what makes me not really bothered having to ID the same thing over and over again.


I spend most of my time with raptors and I tend to see common repeats(like RTHA) as sort of “easy marks”. So when I skim the ID page I confirm those quickly so I can then look at anything more interesting on the page. But then again, I’ll happily ID the same taxon all day long, because I’m boring like that


Yes thank you. What I dump in ‘insects from Cape Town’ I often see you have moved on a few taxonomy steps.


I have set three bookmarks in iNat for Cape Town to ring the changes for me.

Unknowns I do triage, ID the usual suspects, move others as far as I can (av, ins, lep, etc), and the rest I look at because nature interests me.

Uploaded today - brings me some fresh stuff from older obs.

Then I work steadily back thru Observed Today. Back to May now, I was in last November before the deluge from City Nature Challenge.


I am very thankful for the folks who take the time to identify my observations, so my motivation is to pay it forward!
I identify a lot of invasive plant species. If an identification I leave can spur someone to research the invasive and decide to remove it from their property, it is all worth it to me. (And secretly I just want people to be as interested in plants as I am)


I’m glad to help!


Welcome to the Forum! Your comment is one of my motivations too. I mainly work on Canadian Noctuidae, and believe it helps document populations through time, plus it gives me an idea of the variation inherent in the species. I also have the sense that some areas of Canada have distinct variants of a species, but have yet to explore that.
@jasonhernandez74 - consider making a rough guide to some of the species you commonly encounter. I’ve done this with a couple of commonly misidentified moths, indicating distinguishing marks. However, it comes with it’s own frustrations. It’s hard for people to find them, so some of that teaching is for naught. I remember about 6 months ago flying into a rage (exaggeration) when I had to tell yet another observer what distinguished Feltia jaculifera from other Feltia spp. - it’s the easiest of the group to identify.
I get my main satisfaction knowing I’m ‘paying it forward’, helping out people, teaching and learning for myself. Plus I just like doing it!


I very often go through a single species. Some of the older observations are 2-3 years old, and I feel that they deserve more than just being forgotten!


I look through “recently updated” plants in my immediate geographic vicinity (a small county) every day. Although it has lot of users, it isn’t a large area, and it’s very urban so mostly I see the same handful of nature parks, nearly all of which I have visited before. The number of ecosystem types is limited so it is quite possible to know every plant (or at least know which can’t be identifed.)

I’ve been doing this for about 2 years and I’m not tired of it so far. It’s fun to watch the seasons change around the area without doing all the hiking myself. The common species don’t bother me at all–they’re easy IDs. The cultivated plants don’t bother me either–I work in horticulture anyway–although they’re actually more difficult because the variety is higher and so many more species are possible, or the same species has cultivars that look quite different.

I do other IDing, but I admit my attention span is less good for these other categories. For example I might refine high plant IDs over a bigger area (half the state or the whole state.) Or I might search for and hit agree on particularly popular, easy taxa. But I do get tired after some pages. I think locations I have not visited personally seem less special to me.

I used to to unknowns, but don’t enjoy them and since more recently several other people seem to have them covered, I’ve excused myself.

TLDNR: common or cultivated taxa don’t bother me, but I think locations I have not visited personally seem less engaging to me.


My motivation is to add IDs in my state and learn the plants and insects better in the process. When work is slow, it’s a fun distraction. There are lots of landscape trees left from CNC, so that’s on the horizon.


I upload quite a lot and one of my major motivations as IDer is to give back to the community. I love when my observations get an ID (or are reviewed at least, even if not a lot can be done) so I bet a lot of others feel the same way. Like others mentioned, I also try to stay ahead with numbers of IDs made.

What exactly I ID depends on my mood. Often it´s about places I know and am still interested in what can be found there… also as a means to maybe identify one of my own observations further. I often go into a certain group, for example spiders in Germany, which were only slowly IDed for a long time (now there are at least two other spiderfriends doing the major work there, so I diverge into other parts of IDing more frequently). I sometimes also review a certain species in a region, for example because I just uploaded or IDed it myself and remember that this one is easy for me to recognize. So I check the others. Sometimes I do unknowns and bring it to levels I feel comfortable in. For some regions I just have a look at every observation that comes in, e.g. Egypt, with relatively few observations in general. So I just switch it up regularly… :-)


I started IDing global unknowns, it wasn’t repetitive but a lot of obvs have pics of bad quality. When I get bored, I switch to a narrow region and then to a local project where I live. But this way they’re more repetitive plants and animals and a lot more captive/cultivated obvs.

However, I always find interesting that with more ID I do my IDing ability is getting better and now I get to know from memory more scientific names. Also, you never know when a strange thing appear that you have never seen before in your city or country


Making identifying more fun/interesting - wiki check this out guys


I can’t keep up my enthusiasm when IDing the same thing over and over, so I mix it up. Sometimes I aim for a species or genus that interests me. Sometimes a place I know well. Sometimes I’ll ID all the observations I can for a person who has ID’d some of mine. Sometimes the observations in a given past day or month. Sometimes whatever recent observations show up when I click “Identify.” I might challenge myself to check all the observations of X, at least all the ones that Need ID. I might not. And every once in a while I go out and experience a bit of Real Life, just for variation.