How to handle unexpected maverick situations

I just looked for my maverick IDs using (in order to catch my errors where I missed disagreement notes) and found the following two types of situation, where in both situation the question is whether it would be useful to withdraw my ID.

  1. and (two obs, identical problem): Nephilidae were taken out of Araneidae based on a 2006 paper, back in in 2016, out again in 2023 (english wikipedia followed it, german wikipedia didn’t yet but mentions the discussion). Now my ID (Araneidae) retroactively became a maverick because Nephila moved out after having been refined (I didn’t get a disagreement notice, and the Nephila is marked as an improvement over my Araneidae, indicating that the Inat taxonomy revision was performed during last month).

  2. (Alliaria petiolata in UK, it is a common edible weed occurring all over europe) with an insect on it. I assumed the herb not having been interesting as it occurs everywhere (except in the USA where it is an invasive weed in some places and must be controlled, making it interesting over there), so I preferred the animal and marked it as pterygota. I’ve send a question (plant or insect) to the observer. I’m probably not the first one who encounters such a situation.

Associated question: is there a place where I can read about Inat’s tree changes? A search for Nephilidae in the category “News and Updates” didn’t turn up nothing. I’ve seen, but this requires I know what to look for.

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Go to the taxon’s page, click on Taxonomy, then click on Taxon Changes.


For this specific one, it looks like the observer has a separate observation for the fly at the same date/time, so it’s probably safe to assume the plant was the intended organism of focus in the observation you IDed. Observers providing a course ID does help avoid this type of confusion, but it is often a good idea for identifiers to check the neighboring observations when no ID is provided and multiple organisms are pictured.


Thats what my link ending in 30008 says from which I learned what happened and when. So there is no such thing as a complete monthly changelog that says “we erected Nephilidae as sister to Araneidae invalidating Nephilinae, and moved birds into reptiles and insects into crustacea” (the last two are from the future)?

I like it that you have considered the option of just withdrawing your ID. There are a few times where I have been the maverick and couldn’t see the validity of the group ID, but just didn’t have enough of a stake in it to investigate further. In that case just withdrawing the maverick ID is a simple solution and better than agreeing with something I didn’t fully understand.


You can view them here:


but you don’t need to change those (unless you want to?)
Once iNat calls you Maverick, CID has moved on without you, and your ID makes no difference. Whether you leave it, or withdraw it.


No, it is a different fly (on a different plant). But I would tend to suspect that the Alliaria petiolata one was indeed likely intended for the plant, given that the fly is not visually prominent and the user did crop their other insect observations to highlight the insect.

People observe common organisms, all the time, too, so I don’t know that this is necessarily a reliable criterion for determining the focus when the observer has not provided an ID.

In cases where I notice that there is an uncommon organism in a photo in addition to a common organism that the observer has indicated is the focus of the observation, I will sometimes mention this and suggest to the observer that they might like to duplicate the observation for the other organism. But if the observer has indicated the focus of interest, this should be respected, even if we as IDers find something else in the observation more interesting.

BTW The observer and a couple of the IDers are part of a group (see the project the observation is included in) who have been IDing each other’s observations, often at a level not supported by the photos and often based on questionable CV suggestions. And they seem to be users of the iOS app and thus not responsive to comments.

So the involvement of other IDers who chose a different ID without waiting for feedback from the observer may need to be interpreted in this context. (My experience is that most of the time IDers will try to coordinate their efforts in a case where the focus isn’t clear and the observer hasn’t indicated a preference – or they will wait to add IDs until the user has either responded to the question “insect or plant?” or it is clear that they have been inactive for a long time.)


I think you should also get a message on your dashboard about taxon changes that affect your observations or IDs you have added. You won’t get a separate notification, however.

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It depends on what level the community ID is at, I think. If the observation is already at species, it probably doesn’t matter.

If the community ID is still at a higher level like family and might still be refined, it might actually make sense to withdraw the maverick ID in a case where one doesn’t actually disagree with the current ID (i.e., if it is the result of a taxon change or whatever). My understanding is that disagreements continue to be considered when calculating the community taxon even if they are maverick, so subsequently going from family to species (research grade) would require three species IDs rather than just two as would be the case if the maverick wasn’t there.

You need to check ‘What’s This’ for each subsequent ID, to see where the CID algorithm is snarling - or when it is agreeable.

That is why we did the Pre-Maverick project, where the disagreement is holding back CID.

Here’s an example from my recent IDing. I’m posting a screenshot of the relevant community taxon calculation rather than linking, to protect the innocent.

Apologies for the German, and the fact that I couldn’t manage to fit the column headings in the screenshot; the relevant columns are 2 (total IDs supporting that taxon) and 3 (number of conflicting IDs).

The observation in question was originally ID’d as a fly.

It has 3 broad IDs for hymenoptera/apocrita. At this point the fly ID became marked as “maverick” and the community ID became hymenoptera.

It has 3 subsequent IDs for bees or a more specific taxon within bees. After the first bee ID, the community taxon was shown as apocrita until the third bee ID was added. I know this because my ID is the most recent one and I’ve been working on arthropod observations that are stuck at suborder or above.

The conflicting ID is always counted in the calculation of the community taxon. It doesn’t matter whether it is already maverick. In order for the observation to move down to a lower taxonomic level, there have to be at least 3 IDs at that level. This would not be the case if the conflicting ID were not there. So a maverick can continue to hinder the community taxon and it often makes sense to withdraw such an ID.

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3 against 1 wins.
2 against 1 is Pre-Maverick.
If the third ‘bee’ ID moved to a narrower ID, that would also count against the maverick fly.

Yes, that’s my point. The fly was already maverick once the third hymenopteran ID was added. But it still continues to play a role in future IDs (requiring 3 bee IDs to get the observation to “bees”)

So saying that the “maverick” no longer matters because it doesn’t affect the community ID isn’t true.


Great, can I filter that for changes that touch only coarse levels (e.g. family and higher)?

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