Identification Etiquette on iNaturalist - Wiki

As others said in another topic, you can open website on iPhone and see all the options, it’s good to remember about iOs app and how it’s not even a half of actual iNat, but we need to get as many people to at least learn website and buttons as possible.

Remembering, too, there is no indication in the iOS app that additional features exist on the website.

The only link from the iOS app to the website is hidden under the species name link, which shows a range map and photos. All that link says is, “More info on”, suggesting there is more information about the species, but in no way suggesting there is additional functionality. 😵‍💫 (mind boggled)


That is a fair point, and one easily forgotten by non-app users like me. For now I added this note in the introduction:

I also put a note next to the mention of the Withdraw button. If you see other specific references that could be especially confusing for app users without further notation, definitely feel free to point them out.

I would be curious to hear from others who do most or all of their identification work via the apps. I am pretty clueless about what the process looks like there. That said, though, I want to keep the focus of this tutorial more on the principles and etiquette of being a helpful identifier and community member, and not so much on the mechanics of identifying on different platforms.


I’m glad you added this information.

There is a feature request to add a link from the iOS app, preferably in a header/footer, to the iNaturalist website help page. If you think it could be useful, please vote for the feature:


I don’t know if this qualifies (hopefully it isn’t widespread), but maybe we should add:
Do not deliberately add incorrect IDs as a way to get more “eyes” onto an observation.

I saw a conversation in the Real-Time discussions tab today where an identifier admitted to doing this to someone else’s observation because they weren’t getting responses via PMs or tagging.

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…I just learned there is a name for this behaviour: Cunningham’s Law . That’s what I get for not visiting the iNat forums for 1.5 years. :laughing:
So, should a point re: malicious and/or joke IDs be added, or do we think it’s a fringe case?


It’s actually there, as part of the “Assume Good Intentions” paragraph:


How about one that re-orders or adds pictures of different species and then makes a new ID based on the pictures that didn’t previously exist or was n:th picture earlier?

Well, it effectively happens a lot via many users just guessing IDs using the first Computer Vision suggestion. Which may not be an intent to be make a misID, but often is one anyway.

But that’s neither malicious nor joking.


That’s often true. I just mean it can look like the same or be mistaken for it because the result’s the same. Although, some people do “guess” IDs that way somewhat knowingly too. I think, CV based IDs are less problematic if above the species rank, but are more so at the species rank.


I suppose it could maybe be a joke ID if someone picks a CV suggestion that they know is incorrect just because they find it humorous, but that’s a probably a stretch in most cases (and it’s easier to assume good intent when they are just following the platform’s own suggestions).

Definitely not malicious or equivilant to gaming the system to induce corrective IDs, though.

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If that were ever done maliciously by an observer, it might be something to address for “observation etiquette,” but not sure it really fits in this topic. Personally I haven’t seen that happen very often, and when it does, it’s usually a newer user still figuring out how the system works. If I had already left an identification on the observation, it would definitely bother me if the photos were subsequently changed to a different organism. Hopefully when the next-generation notification system comes online, we’ll be able to receive notifications about changes like that.


I am a new user on Inaturalist but I find the etiquette for disagreeing with observations is very poor. People will just post alternative IDs without giving any reason, feels like I am being trolled sometimes. How hard is it to give a short note describing why you disagree?


This is a common complaint, and the answer is, it depends. Some identifiers are very prolific, and wouldn’t have the time to comment on every ID. But the vast majority are happy to explain specific IDs if you ask them with an @ tag in a comment or in a private message.


When you are working through a lot of observations, it can be very hard. I think we discussed this in another thread once, and the consensus was that while it is polite to say why you disagree, it isn’t required; however if someone comes back later and asks why, then it is good form to give them an answer.


Communication goes both ways - I find if you ask for an explanation, you are very likely to get one. Most identifiers are happy to share their expertise with someone who is actively engaged on iNat and curious enough to ask for their reasons. However, there are also lots of abandoned accounts started by people who seem to have no intention of coming back. Writing explanations for every ID would mean spending a lot of time on shouting into the wind without anyone ever coming back to read the notes. So a lot of identifiers may not want to waste their time on that unless/until someone asks.


I’m sorry but I really don’t agree. It isn’t okay to bump into people on a footpath because you are in a hurry. Courtesy is universal, but I guess these days a lot of people don’t see it that way.

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I agree, and I don’t see the two as being equivalent.

Absolutely agree here. I’m just saying that an identifier not leaving a detailed note on every single identification is not a signal of discourtesy. One of the “prime directives” on iNaturalist is that we try to assume good intentions in others. Given the high ratio of observers to identifiers on iNaturalist, I consider myself fortunate just to get IDs on my observations, agreeing or not, comment or not. If I think they are wrong, I can politely ask them to explain their ID. As was already mentioned,


I was pleased to see this so prominent.

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