How to Treat an Odd Observation

I was working on identifications of California Buckeyes and came across an observation with three pics. The first is a buckeye seed, the second something like coffeeberry, and the third is a fern. It is currently IDed as a buckeye, based on the first picture. I left the observer a comment saying the observation needs to be split into three different observations. However, it was posted on 9/25/2020, it was the observers only observations, and that is the last day the observer was active. They probably won’t be coming back to read my comment. Is there something I can do to get the observation out of the “Needs ID” category into a different category, indicating it can’t be IDed as it is posted?


This is a very common situation. Many new users don’t realize they need to make separate observations for each organism. One option is to just forget about it and move on. Another is to mark it as “Vascular Plants” as that is the lowest clade that contains all the organisms photographed. Another, which I have been told is incorrect, is to just go with the ID of the first photo. The only real fix for observations like this would be to allow curators to split the photos into multiple observations, but honestly I’m not sure how much time they want to spend doing that.


As Dan noted, the best practice here is to ID to the lowest common denominator. If you wish, you may also tick ‘No, it’s as good as it can be’ for ‘Based on the evidence, can the Community Taxon still be confirmed or improved?’ (in cases where the user has been inactive for quite some time, and it seems unlikely they will return to split the observation). Keep in mind, however, if the ID is family or coarser, this will move it to casual grade.

For active/new users, always best to leave them a message explaining how one observation = one species and suggesting they split the photos up, and give them a chance to do so


Please don’t ID from the first photo in mixed bag.

All the wrong photos will also show up when you search iNat for photos of First plant. Which is especially confusing for newbies. When I fall over those, I try to resolve the conflict if I can.

I have left a trail of comments on our City Nature Challenge obs

only a single species per obs please - no ID from me - mark as reviewed - next.
My comment notifies me, if someone adds an ID. If the obs is now a single species, I delete my comment, and ID if I can.


Here’s a tutorial you can link to as a way to help observers fix this issue:

In the comments on that post is also some boilerplate text I use for observations of this sort.

And here’s a feature suggestion that might allow this type of observation to be improved even if the original observer doesn’t return to iNat:



Thank you all for the advice and best practices!!

PS. This is the first time I’ve used the @ function. Hope it works.


worked well :)


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