How to Treat Observation Where Organism ID'd or Described by Observer is not in Photo, but Other Organism is

I have always thought the way to handle this was to ID an organism that is in the photo.

I notice that another way this scenario is being approached is to agree with the observer’s ID of the organism that is not in the photo and check the box for no evidence of organism in order to make the observation casual.

There seem to be thousands of observations where the observer has chosen an organism that is not in the photo, but another organism is. Are there any criteria to decide which approach is appropriate in any given observation?


This is my understanding as well.

I usually leave a note asking the observer to indicate where said organism is in the photo so I can agree with it.
I am not agreeing to something I can not see so until they do that I do not agree.
Same goes with an observation with no pic, or sound clip.


If you choose the second variant, then you agree with what is not. I do not think this is the right approach.

You don’t need to agree with the ID (or provide any ID at all) to add a DQA vote.


If the observer posts a wrong identification of his observation, by mistake, error or lack of knowledge, then the identifier should post a corrected or improved identification.

Posting another wrong identification does not help the initial observer to identify its observation. And it does not show that the identifier is able to identify correctly either.

by the way - its called “identify” … not “agree to whatever” ;)

Here is an example scenario I’m seeing this in: The observer posts a photograph of a tree or several trees or a scenery shot and enters an identification of a bird. Either there is some discussion of the bird that used to be there in the description section, or someone asks where the bird is and is told that it was in the tree. The identifier enters an identification of the bird based upon the description section or the response to the question, but the bird is not in the photo. The identifier marks the observation as no evidence of organism. I think there is evidence of an organism–it’s just not an organism that matches the IDs.

I think leaving the ID as the observer intended but using the “no evidence of organism” tag is absolutely the way to go. The observation can still have some value as an unverifiable observation.


We are technically allowed to post an obs with no picture or sound clip - I saw this bird.

I would chose not to do that - but if it is your only record?
Definitely nothing to ‘agree’ to, unless you were also there, and saw that bird.


How much information would you think necessary? At one extreme are all the photos of plants in the State of Matter Life category that are labelled “Bushtit.” Maybe there was a bushtit (bird) on the plant? At the other extreme are photos of plants with extremely detailed notes about a bird or insect that was seen in the plants but aren’t in the photos. I’m wondering where the line should fall.

No evidence of life - Mark as reviewed - and move on?


Yes, that’s what I’m asking about–when is it appropriate to do that?

In every case the wish of the observer to observe a bird has to be respected. So it is certainly not recommended to identify the shrub, if the observer wants to observe a bird.

Whether or not the description is part of the evidence provided, is certainly a interesting question.


You can’t agree with what you can’t see evidence of, unless you were there, and you know.

No point in IDing the plant, if the bird was meant. We are to respect the observer’s choice of object.


To me there’s a difference between people who left a description and people who just input a seemingly nonsense ID. An observer might say “There is a bird in this tree” (bird is not visible) or “I want to know what are the little butterflies on this bush” (the butterflies in question didn’t hold still enough to make it into the picture.) I would neither agree nor disagree with their ID, since I wasn’t present and can’t say what was there. I’d probably leave a comment with the name of the plant. I have not done it before myself, but I suppose you have the right to down-vote the evidence of organism; the user is logging an observation of that bird/butterfly with no evidence; a casual observation. In these cases where it is pretty clear the user has an observation subject in mind, I don’t believe you have the right to change the subject by putting the ID of the plant.

But then the other case, the people who didn’t explain themselves at all and really have an ID that makes ZERO sense (let’s say the image is a flower and they put a fish species as the ID) I’d probably add a disagreement, by IDing the flower, and leave a note.


I can be too literal, which is part of why I brought the topic up. I would like to check the box that there is no evidence of organism, but never felt that was really true if an organism is in the photo. It would probably make a huge dent in the State of Matter Life category.


Right, my interpretation is more of a “no evidence of the organism indicated by the observer.” I understand feeling the need to do something with such observations to make them “completed” or removed from the pool, and it’s certainly tempting to think “come on now this could be a perfectly good observation of that plant instead of a terrible observation of a butterfly.”


To me it’s especially awkward when these observations in question are uknowns. No ID, but the description says “there was a bird” and the photo is a tree? Yikes.

1 Like

My first though was voting that it can’t be improved. The observation will be casual anyway, whatever you choose, but the photo of those trees could help the observer in the future.

In the scenario where enough identifiers identify an organism actually in the photo, it won’t be casual. I think that was the reasoning behind doing that–to take an observation that could never be Research Grade and give it a shot at Research Grade with an organism in the photo.

I get the impression that a lot of users just choose whatever comes up in the CV suggestions, so I try to look for evidence of that when deciding. For example when someone identified their blurry picture of leaves and sticks as a Brown Anole in Ontario, and the symbol indicated that they used the CV, I ID’d it as Dicots because I think the likelihood that they took the CV suggestion is more likely than that they actually saw an imported lizard. Not that it makes much difference with that photo…