How to deal with wrong ID + opt-out-of-community-ID + no interest in changing ID?

What is the best way to deal with an observation that has a wrong ID by the observer, the observer has opted out of community ID, and despite ID corrections by more than one other identifier, they don’t bother to fix their ID? I may be wrong, but aren’t they forcing bad data onto the community? Won’t these show up in maps, etc?

1 Like

If the community taxon is different from the observer’s opted-out ID and you mark the observation “as good as it can be” I think it will become casual.


It is not possible for such an observation to become research grade (opted-out obs only become RG if the community ID and the observer’s ID agree). As @annkatrinrose has said, if (and only if) you believe that the Community ID is as good as it can be, click the box and it will become casual and leave the NeedsID queue. If the observer does then subsequently either change their ID to match the community ID, or withdraw their opt-out then it will become RG in the normal way.

(Personally I think this should happen automatically when the community ID would normally become RG, but it doesn’t, so I will take this chance to bang that drum again :-) )


On this thread
JP says - Review by iNat staff
So perhaps we will have light at the end of the tunnel?


As covered in that mega-thread, I think any opt-outing should only be allowed if the observer is engaged and actively and continuously curating their observations. Placing them into casual limbo is a solution, but the observation IS worth something is the observer just lets the community ID process work. The correct ID should win out in the end, or at least it will sit at genus where it can still be useful.


Preface: I do not opt-out on my own observations, and I do a lot of identification on other people’s observations. And my thoughts below are solely my own and are not directed specifically at the OP or anyone else who has posted here. That said…

I think there is a persistent misperception by some that observers “work for” the identifiers here, or somehow “owe it” to identifiers to post or maintain their observations in a certain way.

That is not what iNaturalist is about. iNaturalist is about connecting people with nature through their personal observations of organisms.

iNaturalist provides many options for how people want their observations to interact with the community, including things like geoprivacy, opting out of community ID, up to and including the ability to completely delete an observation.

Obviously I greatly respect the contributions that identifiers make on iNaturalist, and wish there were more of us. I think we would do well, though, to remember that our efforts are always voluntary, and to temper our expectations toward other community members who may simply want to post their observations in a certain way for their own pleasure.

Postscript: I do agree with the active request to provide a filter for opted-out observations, for those identifiers who prefer to spend their time with only one kind or the other. As with observers, iNaturalist also provides many tools and options for identifiers, and this one is still missing from the toolbox.


folk are always free to ignore observations they don’t like. i don’t think there’s such thing as a perfect data set.

you can also always use the traditional project structure to export csv that highlights the latest curator ID for each observation.

or you could probably leverage the API some way to get just your IDs on a set of observations. for example:


The iNaturalist Community Guidelines list

(!) Intentionally adding false IDs or DQA votes

as “grounds for immediate suspension without warning.”


Let it go? If the community (or at least the few identifiers who come across the observation) agrees that their initial ID is incorrect, it should never reach research grade and thus never be included in scientists’ datasets.


Okay, I won’t again erroneously ID my own observations. Sorry. I’ve actually never given someone else’s observation an ID cause I don’t feel qualified enough to do so, despite my many taxa.

1 Like

Please do. Help to identify. With 3.5K obs you have some knowledge to share with us (while ultimately drawing approx two and half times as many IDs for your own obs)

So long as you follow your notifications and respond. It makes a good and rewarding learning curve. A virtual way to learn new species. A few identifiers are taxon specialist scientists. But most aren’t. Identifying will show you who the relevant taxon specialists are.


The biggest issue with Community ID opt-out, in my opinion, is that observations can continue as range map data points based on, potentially, a single wrong ID by the observer—no matter how many others disagree. These out-of-range obs can obviously spawn more mistaken IDs from those who see that species is supposedly found in their area. The problem could be fixed without removing the opt-out choice, though. I assume coding could be changed such that when Community ID and observer ID are in disagreement on such obs, they don’t show up on the species map. But I don’t know how difficult that change would be to make.


Although I generally agree with this, there are some circumstances where the community ID is just plain wrong, and it’s the identifiers who won’t come back to correct it. I do think it’s valuable to be able to opt out in those cases. (It usually happens when identifiers decide to ID the wrong organism in the photo, without reading the description as to which one it’s for).


But I think opting out for select obs is a good idea, but blanket account opt-outs makes zero sense to me unless that person is on top of all of their notifications. I think IDers in an ID war also have to be diligent but at least wrong ID’s can be swamped over time by further ID’s. I think a situation where IDer are wrong and beat out by a maverick opt-outer are so rare as to be treated as the exception rather than the rule


One can mark these observations “No, it’s as good as it can be” and it will usually become “Casual” and disappear from most uses. I don’t normally do that, but with an out-of-range dot on the map I would.

1 Like

The problem is, I’ve run into situations where observers take it personally that I turn their observations “casual” and prevent the observations from becoming casual.

Honestly, I would prefer if observations that opt out of community ID wouldn’t show up on the map at all by default unless they’re “Research Grade”.


They only get one vote. Tag in someone else, and the observer can’t outvote the two of you.

There’s no need to “keep identifiers busy” by intentionally creating more work for them – there is no shortage of observations in need of ID as it is, even in taxa where there are plenty of IDers.

I realize that sometimes it may seem like bird IDers are just waiting for observations that they can ID, but I would note that at the time of writing there are over a million bird observations with a status of “needs ID” worldwide; in the United States there are over 400,000. Obviously some portion of these observations are difficult and may never reach research grade, but it is far from the case that there is nothing for IDers to do. And if people should happen to find that there are no more “needs ID” observations in their preferred taxa/region – well, it’s easy enough to find other ways to help out.

I agree with Diana: please consider making a few IDs yourself. I think it’s normal to lack confidence at first, but there are lots of ways you can help out that are “low risk” and provide you an opportunity to improve your skills and gain confidence. If you know enough to deliberately mis-ID some of your own observations, then you know enough to correctly ID other people’s observations of some species.

You don’t have to be an “expert” to ID. All you need to start is one or two species you know well. Or if you recognize broad categories (mammals, amphibians, arthropods, etc.) you can help with unknowns. And if sometimes you make mistakes – well, consider that even experienced IDers occasionally make IDs where we wonder afterwards what we were thinking. It comes with the territory. The way to get better at IDing is through doing it, and learning along the way, and sometimes being corrected.

I do think it’s useful for observers to see the other side of things by IDing at least occasionally (and vice versa). I also find that IDing makes me a better observer – because I know what features to try to photograph, or because going through unknowns/observations with broad IDs makes me aware of organisms that I didn’t know existed and hadn’t previously paid attention to.


If they take it personally, then I’d suggest them opting in and it won’t happen anymore. Or at least they should ask why. You aren’t trying to be a jerk doing it and they should be wondering “why is this happening to me constantly”. I wonder how many opt-outers don’t even realize they are opted out?


This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.