How to tag an observation as "need id"

How do you post a picture of something that needs an ID? I see a lot of pics that say “need id” and I can’t figure out how to put it on mine.

Also, I’m having trouble figuring out an efficient way to search in a location. It seems to bring up almost no results every time.


It is not something you add, it is automatic. Records on iNaturalist have one of 3 classifications:

  • Research Grade - 2 or more people have identified to the species, and it meets other criteria (has photo, date, location, not flagged)
  • Casual - a record which is ineligible to attain research grade (has no photo, no date, no location, has been flagged etc)
  • Needs ID - eligible to get to research grade, but does not yet have sufficient ID’s to promote to research grade

Well I guess my problem is that I must suggest something to be able to post it. Then my observation gets labeled as “casual” which is not correct if I’m seeking an ID.

Also it usually says that it has no location (I got this prompt each time before I posted) even though I did put a location.

And if I try to search by location (for example, let’s say I want to search all red flowers in Clallam County), I have to select a species to start with which doesn’t help if I don’t know.

Maybe I shouldn’t be using this forum? It’s not for newbies I guess?


Welcome to iNat! So there’s a couple things going on here with your particular situation. If you look at your Western Toad, for example (, there is no date entered for when you originally physically observed it. There is a list of criteria that need to be met in order to obtain “Needs ID” status; scroll down the page to the box that says “Data Quality Assessment.” In order to satisfy “Needs ID” requirements, all fields have to have a green check-mark next to them except for “Has ID supported by 2 or more”–once this one goes green too (after another user adds an ID), the observation will become “Research Grade.” See the help page ( for more details.

Also, “Casual” is not so much a judgment of your intent; just indicates that some required value is missing for “Needs ID” status.

Re: searching all red flowers in Clallam County, you’re correct that this type of search is not supported yet. [Edit: WRONG, see response by @jdmore.] Not knowing the species is totally fine for iNaturalist; the M.O. here is that an observer (i.e., you) enters the most accurate ID they can comfortably make (which can definitely just be “Plants”!). Then the community has an opportunity to see the observation and people with more expertise can help narrow it down by suggesting more specific IDs.


Using the forum is perfectly fine, there is a combination of input / questions from both newcomers and highly detailed discussion here.

You dont mention if you use the website or mobile app to add records. You might take a look at a couple of how to videos here

There is also a Getting Started link there if you prefer text and pictures to video.

Ti help with the location question, we would need to know which method you are using ´website or mobile app.

Searching by colour is one thing the site does not support, but using the Explore tool on the website, you can search to see all types of plants seen in your county.

You dont have to add an ID when you try to add a record. If you don’t it goes in under’Unknown’, which stiill falls into the Needs ID group. If you can, you should try to add at least something though, like Plants, Birds , Insects etc as it helps direct your record to people interested in those areas to reciew.


Thanks! There are a lot of fields so I ignored several (projects, annotations, etc) and I didn’t realize some were more required than others. I see the Data Quality part now. That helps! I added a date.

I don’t want to keep posting randomly with no suggestions for ID, but I can’t figure out how to efficiently search if you have no info. LIke, is there a way to search by location and description?


Thanks! I think we cross-posted, so sorry about repeating questions below which you answered in this post. I appreciate the links, will look at the tutorial.

I’m using a laptop not a phone.

When I originally posted “unknown” I was not able to make it appear that way. It changed it to “life” or something like that.

Thanks again, I’ll watch the tutorial and then come back afterwards!


I wish more new people did use this forum. There is a need for seeing how the features look from a new person’s perspective.


You can’t actually enter ‘Unknown’ as an ID, or at least if you try to, it will reset it to ‘Life’. ‘Unknown’ gets applied when an observation is added with no ID at all.

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This isn’t perfect, and it’s hard to find, but it can be helpful.

  1. go to, search for the place of interest, and select.
  2. on the left side, click the major group you are interested in (Plants, in this case).
  3. click Colors at the top of the thumbnail images, and select one or more colors.

Note that you have to do it in this order. Whenever you click on a group on the left, the color selection gets reset. But you can also bookmark the resulting URLs (like the one above) and come back to them directly, without having to use the Places interface.

There are more options at the top, but they only work if that information has been entered in the checklist for that place. None of this will work for places without checklists.

EDIT: if you are using this to help with an ID, you might want to broaden the place you are searching, say to, since not all red-flowered species may have been observed yet in a specific county.


Gosh wow. You search filter experts amaze me :)

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Just a lot of looking and playing around in the web site. No doubt more things await discovery (or development…)


Here is how you can can usually avoid an “unknown”

When you add an obs, in the species name box type in something like plants / birds / insects/ fish and then choose from the options that appear in the dropdown box by clicking on one as this will help experts in that area find your observations :)

Or you can try other things - for example you have an insect and you know it is a fly - type in flies and see if that is there in the dropdown box. As there are a few “flies” use the top one.

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Welcome to iNat and to the forum! Definitely join in on conversations, it would be great to have your perspective. :-)

@tangatawhenua is correct in that it’s fine to add a really coarse ID - any ID helps the observation been seen by other users. For example, I IDed this as Coleoptera and someone found it and added a more refined ID:


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