How to fix an incorrect "disagree"?

When someone incorrectly “disagrees” an ID, how does that effect the forumla? For example, how many IDs would be needed to undo the incorrect disagree of adamwang in this observation?

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Would it only require Adam to rectify his original ID and agree with yours?

I think it required 2 more agreeing than disagreeing.

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adamwang is perfectly entitled to ID as he sees it, as are the other identifiers on this observation. I personally see this as more of an issue about whether adamwang should be saying anyone else can’t. There does not appear to be an indication that adamwang thinks it is NOT that species, so perhaps another example of the misunderstanding over the explicit disagreements? @tiwane


It does seem like @adamwang has a valid reason to reject the lower level ID. He’s a coral researcher.


I would say the first thing to do would be to write a comment and ask adamwang if they meant to disagree with the original ID. Unfortunately, yes, the wording for the pop-up is a bit vague and can be interpreted in a few different ways, which is a systemic issue. But I think it’s always best to ask someone why they chose a certain ID then go from there.

@kiwifergus I’m not sure the Animal Farm reference is necessary here.


Agreed with @tiwane. This isn’t a case where any person’s ID is weighted more than any other person’s ID. It’s a case where disagreeing IDs are weighted more than agreeing IDs when determining research grade, regardless of who makes the ID, be they a coral researcher or a new user. A specific disagreement for rejecting a lower level ID carries the same weight as a totally wrong ID like one in a completely different taxon (though their impact on what the specific value community ID is would be different).

As I understand it, this weighting of disagreements is an explicit choice by iNat to be somewhat conservative in assigning RG (which is a good choice IMO).


I know Adam quite well, and he’s no longer so conservative when IDing this family. However, he’s not on here quite so often anymore. So my question was specifically about how to move an observation like this to research grade. Would it just be 3 species-level IDs?

As far as I can see it, adamwang made a comment why he disagrees. That’s more than other users normally do. I don’t know whether his explanation makes sense as I don’t know anything about marine organisms. I would write a comment on that observation or write an email.


If my reading of the iNat documentation is correct, there is nothing “incorrect” about an ID when someone moves the ID up to a parent taxon, so long as that taxon is correct (and everyone in that discussion seems to agree that it is.)

If you read the popup carefully that displays when you disagree in this way, it’s not asking whether or not you disagree with the specific taxon ID, it’s asking whether or not you think that there is enough evidence to confirm the ID to that taxon. I.e. a disagree doesn’t mean “I think this ID is wrong.” it just means “I think there is not enough evidence to confirm this ID.” So, it could mean that the user thinks the ID is wrong, but it also could mean that they just think it’s uncertain. I often do this when there is a particular species that could be in the same range, that I think the photo or other evidence has not definitively excluded.

Often, this is the more truthful thing to do. It makes the data better. From a research standpoint, it’s often much more useful to have a bunch of “We don’t know” that is 99% accurate than a bunch of “This is what it is.” that is only 90% accurate. And, if our userbase could get skeptical enough, I think we could get the accuracy WAAAY higher than 99%…but…if people are overzealous on the ID it’s never gonna get up that high.

And, I don’t know about corals, but in the plant side of iNat, there are HUGE problems with wrong ID’s. In some cases it’s been as bad as 1 in 10 pictures being wrong. So I really welcome this kind of skepticism and I think we would all do well to emulate it.

The more I learn about organism ID, the more skeptical I get when ID’ing anything!

Also…if you have additional information that you think can confirm an ID, by all means share it. In the linked thread, Adam gives reasoning for why he moved it up to the more general taxon. But I don’t see you giving any reasoning, like sharing how you ID’ed it as this genus or species, how you excluded other genera or species. If you have reasoning, and it is sound, maybe people would listen to you and change their ID. Also, this helps improve everyone’s ID skills by teaching them what to look for.

I’ve had times when I see a plant ID and I come in and there are 3 agreements on an ID and I leave a comment explaining why I think it’s wrong and why I think it’s something else, and everyone changes their ID. My experience on this site has been that most of the users are eager and willing to learn and update their ID’s accordingly!

I also have learned a lot when people disagree with or improve on my ID’s, as well as when they disagree by moving things up to the broader taxon. (I.e. sometimes it’s because I didn’t think to exclude a particular species, and I realize after the fact that I don’t actually know how to distinguish them.)


I believe it would take 6 additional species-level IDs to get this one to RG, if none of the existing IDs are changed. With three dissenting, that would get you to 7 agreeing, which passes the 2/3 threshold.

As others have mentioned, there is nothing “incorrect” about these IDs. Given the evidence presented, they don’t believe that the individual can be identified beyond family.


Thanks for the math. I had a hunch it would take a herculean effort to fix this with new IDs. Do the subsequent family-level IDs from that observation count against my dissenting species-level ID, or are those more like a neutral?

Also, I appreciate that my choice of words here may have been less than ideal, but I was trying to generalize the scenario of this observation. The “disagree” of User A is unwarranted and makes subsequent IDs almost impossible.

Great discourse here with legitimate questions being posed on important epistemological problems, but seriously… Joe, you could have just shot me a message over fb earlier


The problem is that there’s a clear disconnect between what was asked, and what is then displayed. Because the resulting ID states:

  • username disagrees this is Specifc taxon

which quite strongly gives the impression that the user thinks that it’s definitely not that taxon, as opposed to disputing whether there’s enough evidence to confirm it.



That thread and the accompanying blog post ought to come with some kind of health warning: “Reading all of this in the hope of understanding all the issues may cause your head to explode”.


I reckon. I am on iNat hiatus largely due to this problematic wording…

Probably not the most pleasant way to be joining us on the forum but nonetheless, a hearty: Welcome to the forum, @adamwang!


Maybe it can be better phrased: Username believes that evidence for Specific Taxon is lacking.

Or something else that doesn’t actually exclude the possibility it’s that specific taxon.

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Further discussion about the “disagree text” should take place on the other topic. Thank you!