ID validation for species new to iNat

Hello everybody.
I have run a couple of times in species new to iNaturalist - have had the pictures validated by enthomologists on forums and can provide link, so I am quite confident on the ID.
Now the question comes: how does this work in iNat? Is there some list of expert by taxa who can validate that so that ID is legitimate?
As far as I have seen, in some cases at least, some species with low observations are IDed research grade by always the same couple of people. Is this the correct way? Should I just search for an “ID buddy”?

if you’re asking for how to get new taxon added to iNaturalist, you can just flag the parent taxon and ask for the new taxon to be added, including some support for your new taxon (ex. a link to the taxon on Plants of the World, if it’s a plant).

if you’re asking to figure out who might be a good identifier for a taxon, there is the list of top identifiers for each taxon. you could @mention or message one of them to help with identification, keeping in mind that identification is a volunteer activity. or if there is no top identifier for the specific taxon because it’s new, you could see who the top observer is for similar taxa.


Just to be clear about how ID’s are supposed to work on the site, they are supposed to be done based on the ability of the identifier based on their own knowledge to identify based on the evidence provided. Doing or agreeing to an ID because ‘someone else said it was this’ is generally considered poor form on the site.

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not clear how this helps on the topic though.

You are perfectly free to send the record to any identifier you want, based on the top identifiers in the genus, family or whatever which is easy to locate. However, no one should be doing or agreeing to an ID because you send them a message/request saying ‘so and so said that is what this is.’

Directly from the user guide :
Please do not simply “Agree” with an ID that someone else has made without confirming that you understand how to identify that taxon. An identification confirms that you can confidently identify it yourself compared to any possible lookalikes. If you agree with the ID without actually knowing the taxon, it may reach Research Grade erroneously.’


this is exactly what I was asking, when I mentioned the “ID buddy” practice I have spotted in some cases. I was asking if there is a structured approach to this, @pisum reply matches what i was already doing.
What I was asking is if there was some professional (entomologist, lichenist, etc) one could refer to.
I take it there is not such a thing and one should act based on number of identifications or self description of the profile. Got it.

That’s correct. Although we welcome professionals to iNaturalist, many of our best identifiers don’t have a professional credential (and some professionals, speaking as one, can’t always be trusted!)


about this I politely disagree. When I release an ID I try to get informed and share the source which motivates it. I cannot see how it can harm, and I feel it helps spreading knowledge. I don’t believe anyone got knowledge about every kingdom hammered in genes, and I am just glad when someone explains and gives me tools to improve my ID capabilities. On the contrary, I find ID objecting but unable to be motivated pretty annoying. Just my opinion though :slightly_smiling_face:

There are far more data problems and issues caused on the site by users blindly agreeing to identifications that they are not capable of doing themselves than by correct ID’s by experts going unconfirmed because there is not another user with the knowledge to validate it.

The site by design does not implement or have any reputation system that gives ‘experts’ or any other users additional weight on their ID’s. It is based on a ‘one-person, one-vote’ design (which has a long history of being debated, but that is what it is right now)


iNaturalist doesn’t currently support validation/verification of observations. Research Grade status only means that an observation is suitable for sharing with external data consumers. All RG observations must have a Community Taxon. But identification to species isn’t always necessary, and many other conditions must be met before RG status can be attained.

What matters most is the quality and reliability of the data. Ideally, the majority of identifications won’t be suggested unless the right kinds of evidence are available to support them. So when the Community Taxon is eventually settled upon, it will partly be a measure of the overall merit of the data. However, it does not follow from this that it also represents verification of the ID in a more general sense.

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ok, sorry for the terminology.
an example is this observation of mine (tagged new people just today since first try was unsuccessful)
I Imagined that -since this is a potential new entry to iNat- there could be some way to reach an expert for Melolonthinae from Europe (since their identification is feasible but a bit complex).

But I understand there is currently no mechanism for that, so I’ll just let it sit down and try to tag someone new along the taxa identifiers iin case that does not work.
For me no worries :slightly_smiling_face:, I thought it would have been nice to add a new genus and species to iNat. (this is not the only case among my observations)

But it is already present on iNaturalist. There’s nothing inherently bad about an observation that is at “Needs ID” rather than “Research Grade”.


yes, I know -those are my pictures -
The fact is that I tend to be wary of the ID not research grade - since there is (I’d say always) no comment to motivate them therefore no way to tell if they are based on some research.
I thought that having someone (not an IDbuddy as I named them) validate it could be useful to give confidence to fellow iNaturalists that the attribution is reliable (for instance I check the profile of people doing identifications to get confidence, in cases of doubt).
And I am not talking in general, but of the only ID which could be used as a reference to spread and potentially revise similar ones.
But this does not matter really.
I understand there are more pressing issues - mine after all was just a question to check whether there was some oiled gear for these border line cases…

The fact that there are currently no observations of a given species on iNat doesn’t mean very much. iNat has only been going for about ten years, so there are still a huge number of species that no one has recorded yet, including many common and widespread ones. I’ve only been using iNat for about 18 months, and I have lost count of the number of “new” species I have had to add because there happened to be no observations on iNat at the time.

The RG status of an observation also makes no difference to the “validity” of taxa on iNat. The taxonomy is completely independent of the observations. There are many valid taxa in iNat’s taxonomy that have never had any observations.


I was talking of perceived validity of an observation and its attribution, anyway - obviously not taxas.

Certain species have not a worldwide diffusion, such as this case (part of Italy, balkans up to Turkey), and rarely observed or -to be more precise - often confused with Amphimallon assimile.
This is why I was thinking of an approach more proactive than leaving time and chance fix it.

I think if an expert outside of iNat has identified something for you, but won’t join iNat his or herself, then it’s fair to add an ID from them as long as you specify in a comment where the ID is coming from. I might then withdraw the ID as soon as someone else agrees though. Although it would also work to just ID it to a higher level yourself and add a comment saying what species the expert said it was. For me I think it would depend on the significance of the record and how likely it is that someone else on iNat will be able to ID it.


Perhaps you should just be a little more patient. :slightly_smiling_face:

It can sometimes be slightly frustrating when you upload an observation and it seems to get very little attention. But the people contributing identifications are all volunteers, and they aren’t working to deadlines. I have uploaded hundreds of perfectly good observations that have not yet reached RG status, and I’m sure most people here could say the same. However, I have also made thousands of identifications for other people’s observations, and some very good ones had been sitting around for several years without becoming RG. Just because an observation isn’t yet RG, doesn’t mean it is has diminished value.


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