How to use iNaturalist's Search URLs - wiki part 1 of 2

Since it’s not listed, I assume there’s no way to search for observations with a specific number of IDs?

for regular users, no, i don’t think so. see this other thread for more discussion:

i think the only filters that sort of handle a subset of what you’re asking for would be &identified=false (observations with 0 identifications) and &identified=true (observations with at least 1 identification), but these have limited use cases.

Ok, thanks.

This topic is so incredibly informative! I have tried out several of the URLs offered and experimented creating my own.

The one I am in most immediate need of creating [foiled by every effort] is a URL that can filter out comments with specific words [Caterpillars of Eastern North America–collection project]. I have been sharing information about this project widely [standardized comment shown below], but some people who ID many of the taxon do not want their notifications filled with my comment repeated to many observers [so understandable!]. I’d like to be able to offer the URL to those IDers.

I realize this won’t filter out posted replies from others, but I can easily include the words in my replies to cut down on what might feel like spam.

Is such a URL possible to create? Any assistance has the potential to be beneficial on so many levels!

FYI: You may be interested in this project:

Caterpillars of Eastern North America

This is a Collection-style Project which means that all observations of Lepidoptera [Butterflies and Moths] in the project area (North America east of the 100th meridian) that are annotated Life Stage = Larva will be added to the project automatically.

Annotations are always valuable information to document when posting observations. Remembering to annotate Life Stage = Larva for all your caterpillar observations, you will be helping to build a significant resource.

There isn’t a way to do this search query. You would also need to filter out usernames - of the people for whom you already commented on one of their observations. It does feel a lil spammy.

Thank you for your reply. I do not, however, understand what you are saying. Is the search query impossible to create at all? Or is it impossible because, as you added, it

Let me first make sure that I was clear in my initial post: I want to be able to give this URL to people who want to identify Butterflies and Moths, but not get my specific comments about the project. I could send it to them if they let me know they don’t want all the notifications; perhaps I could add that URL information to my initial comment to be proactive helping IDers filter out subsequent comments about the project I make on other observations.

I was hoping not to filter people out from the rest of the comments–if that makes sense. Many comments are so informative.

I do very much want to respect people’s time, and I have wrestled with the best way to let people know about this project. I have thought about emailing each observer individually, but then I got several responses from IDers who saw my comment and wanted to join or just get more information. Many other respondents thanked me for reminding them about annotations.

I’d appreciate it if you would clarify your response now that I have tried to clarify more what I am trying to accomplish.

Looking forward to your response, at your convenience.

I’m pretty sure you can’t do what you’re asking, but I’m also still not clear on exactly what you’re looking for.
You’d like to give a search URL to identifiers, who could then add IDs to observations. These observations already have your comment, or you haven’t yet added the comment? If you haven’t yet added the comment, then you’d like for those identifiers to not get a notification of your comment?

If you want to block them from getting notifications, I can think of two ways, but they both require work by the identifier, and aren’t as specific as you wanted. First, the identifier can unfollow the observation. They won’t get a notification of your comment, but they also won’t get any other notifications from that observation. The second is that the identifier can mute you, but then they wouldn’t get any notifications from you on any content.

I guess I would suggest that you consider publicizing your project in a different way. Have you tried making a journal post and then @-mentioning observers and identifiers that you think might be interested?


Thank you, @jwidness, for your reply and for every reader’s patience as I try to explain clearly what I am seeking.

The Caterpillars of Eastern North America—Collection Project has asked for volunteers to go through observations of caterpillars [within the project’s location parameters] and select the Life Stage=Larva annotation when it is missing.

As I started going through observations [IDing them when I could], it occurred to me that the observers and many of the other IDers might enjoy knowing about the project. I composed a comment about the project [I’ll include it at the end of this post to keep as much info together as possible] and posted it on the observations—thinking it would be like a community service. I made sure to mention the importance of annotations—thinking that would be a general reminder which might become a more consistent practice on all observations of all organisms across iNat.

Occasionally, I noticed I was posting my comment on multiple observations by the same observer. When I caught that, I asked the observer to please forgive my redundancy and please consider it enthusiasm. No observer has yet commented back with a complaint—even if I didn’t catch my own redundancy.

In addition, I did notice that several IDers would receive multiple notifications of my comment. I wrestled with that and tried to brainstorm alternatives [still learning this website and its features and not being programming savvy at all—my alternatives were very limited]. I had gone through the community guidelines to be certain that my comments were not spam—as defined by iNaturalist. Ultimately, I concluded that I was just sharing information and IDers could ignore my multiple comments.

To date, all of the replies from observers have been very positive. Many want to join the project; some thanked me for reminding them about annotations. Some phone app users asked how to select annotations from the app—I am still researching this, but told them I’d follow-up.

Replies from IDers have been few, so far. One contacted me by email saying they had seen my comment, was very interested and wanted to join; they also wanted to volunteer adding annotations or any “mini-project” for the winter.

Just one IDer has commented that they feel conflicted about receiving my comment multiple times, given that it can make going through their notifications difficult/time consuming. I thanked them for their feedback, acknowledged the dilemma, and asked them if they knew of any workaround; they did not. I explained I’d do some research and see what can be done to meet both our needs; I stated that I would follow-up with them.

I researched and discovered in the Forums many amazing URL search queries, and posted asking if it were possible to create a URL for this situation: [now paraphrased] If someone who has received multiple project comments from me in their notifications reaches out to me asking NOT to receive them, I want to be able to offer them a way to filter out my comments about the project [hence, the URL would include the entire project name] without filtering out all my comments/IDs or any future comments/IDs made on any observations to which they contributed. I would also gladly add the URL search query to my project comment to be able to proactively help community members who did not want more notifications about the project.

My thought was that the people who wanted to opt out of multiple comments could use the URL search query [probably set as a bookmark] as their default notification search.

Please forgive my ignorance of computer language/lingo/and URL creation. Please accept my appreciation for your patience as I try to clearly explain my quest.

If such a URL query search is not possible to create, then perhaps I should start another Topic in hopes the community can help me to brainstorm the most respectful way to attend to community needs in this situation.


It sounds to me like this is the order of events:

  1. An identifier puts an ID on an observation
  2. You put a comment on the observation
  3. The identifier receives a notification about your comment, because when they identified the observation, that automatically subscribed them to any future comments on the observation

Therefore, it does not make sense to look for a URL to give to identifiers–that’s not the right order of events. By the time you make the comment, the identifier has already identified/subscribed to the observation, and is going to get a notification no mater what. There is no URL for them to use that would prevent future comments. The only thing they could do (short of immediately unsubscribing to all observations they ID) would be to mute/block you, and thus receive no notification about any of your actions. If a particular identifier has expressed annoyance, and you want prevent continued annoyance, we need to approach this from the other direction: prevent you from commenting on observations this person has identified. There’s a URL term &without_ident_user_id= (returning observations not identified by one or more users), which you could use when finding observations to comment on.


Thank you,@arboretum_amy, for your thoughtful reply.

The order of events that you have enumerated is correct.

My hope was that if an IDer, after having received several of my project comments, subsequently indicated [by comment or contacting me directly] that they do not want their notifications filled with my project comment, I could then offer them a URL search query to use to filter out future project comments I make on other observations.

As I indicated above, I could also include that URL search query in my project comment so that at any time anyone who has observed or IDed on caterpillars—and reached their threshold of receiving my comments—could use it to filter out future comments. [This, actually, would be the more proactive approach which I would take.]

I thought it might be possible by putting “Caterpillars of Eastern North America—collector project” [specific words I could easily put into my comment] in quotes within a URL search query, it could then filter out comments that include those specific words. I may be mistaken [again, I have limited tech-knowledge], but it seems when doing searches—say, on Google—if you put words in quotation marks, then the search returns results including those specific words, in that specific order. It seemed if such a search could include specific words, couldn’t a search be created to filter out specific words?

For example, taking @arboretum_amy’ s formula above [&without_ident_user_id=], couldn’t something like &without_comment= “Caterpillars of Eastern North America—collector project” filter out comments that include “Caterpillars of Eastern North America—collector project”?

Part of the present dilemma with my multitude of project comments being posted is that I am going through the backlog of observations [something that does seem to be encouraged based on other posts I have read in the Forum]. As the backlog decreases—will it ever be eliminated?—this issue should resolve itself. Whereas only one IDer, to date, has expressed dissatisfaction receiving my project comment many times, it seems the simplest solution is to suggest for them to block me.

As people respond to this post, I am slowly grasping the concept of URLs. I appreciate everyone’s patience and input.

If anyone could suggestion any books/resources to learn more about URLs—preferably in very nontechnical terms—I would be very grateful.

That’s not possible. To my knowledge, the iNat search works entirely differently than Google and doesn’t “read text” at all; I don’t think it knows what your comment actually says, only that it exists.


I think it also would be a great pressure on servers to run this search for comment words all the time through millions of observations (and constantly rerunning it) if it would be added? I think muting is the normal option as it doesn’t disturb workflow, but really you could also tell them to get over those notifications, or maybe you could just write in dm of users instead of commenting.

I also think the solution you proposed wouldn’t solve the problem. The identifier is bothered by receiving notifications of new comments you make on observations they already identified, not by seeing your existing comments on observations they have come to identify.


My thanks to everyone for their replies and explanations. Understanding the limits of the server and the inability for the system to “read text” helps a lot for any future search queries I might think of to try or ask about.

I have suggested to the IDer to block me. I also explained that I was going through the backlog, anticipating my project comments will decrease eventually–hopeful, soon.

May we all enjoy our participation on iNat!

Hopefully that will be resolved when we get new abilities to sort and choose notifications (work in progress …)

Strangely, after we talked about this situation, something similar happened to me. A single user began copy-pasting the same comment on all the observations of a certain genus. It’s a perfectly valid comment, talking about what features need to be in the photo to prove the species. But after getting a dozen or so notifications saying the same thing, I ended up muting the user. Probably in a week or two he’ll be done and I can unmute him, if I remember.


I’m using this URL and expect to only get members of Asters and Allies that are not in Subtribe Symphyotrichinae. But I look down the list of species and see multiple species in the genus Symphyotrichum. Does the without taxon ID only work for observations IDed to exactly that and not species that are within that taxon?

It should work for descendent taxa too. I would guess it’s a lingering re-indexing issue, see and loarie’s response.

@loarie can you check on Symphyotrichinae?

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This might be petty of me, but I’d appreciate it if the title of this thread were changed to say “part 1 of 2.” I suffer a moment of confusion every time I read it as “part one-half.”

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Done! I thought it already was that way originally, but I guess someone changed it at one point.

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