Identification Etiquette on iNaturalist - Wiki

yes there is… you get an alert on any firther species level IDs, but not the genus level ones. I do this if I think there might be “votes” coming both ways on two different species taxa, and the genus level ID of mine gives me the alerts, and I am particularly interested in who puts what… otherwise I agree, there would be no point as far as CID is concerned.

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ah… yeah, you can also ‘follow’ the observation for what it’s worth…

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following includes alerts for genus level IDs

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Doesn’t this violate number 3 above?

I’m just going to say here that I think this is fine to come up with an etiquette and post it, and expect people to abide by it. I will try my best to abide by it. But I don’t think it’s that easy to constantly be having to parse the words and think about what it doesn’t and doesn’t allow. I think it would help greatly if someday there are more prompts on the observations–such as “you have agreed to genus where there are finer IDs, indicating that you disagree with the species, so please include a comment stating why you disagree with the species.”

In the Eschscholzia example I gave above I brought up the issue of whether other species were possible, and one identifier changed to genus. In the past I would have agreed with the genus (since I brought it up), but now I think the rules say I should not because that would indicate that I disagree with the species. So the person who goes first can be bold, and the person who agrees can go bold, but as long as there is still a species on the observation everyone after that needs to be very conservative? Meanwhile questionable observations can become Research Grade with one more agreement . . . so, dare I ask, would “no, it’s as good as it can be” on the DQA be appropriate?

I don’t know the particulars of that genus of plants, but if the photos and any other evidence provided don’t allow distinguishing between two or more species, I would add a disagreeing ID at genus level.

If the observer comes back and uploads more photos, or says “well I measured the style/leaf width/looked at the hairs on the such-and-such and it shows that it’s Eschscholzia sp. X” that would add more nuance as far as appropriate etiquette for existing and subsequent IDs.

The ladybird/insect text on the getting started page was written before explicit disagreements were built into iNat, so that section should probably be updated. That said, it’s still not really part of iNat culture to go around to observations that are already IDed to species and say “I know this is an insect, but I can’t confirm it’s a seven-spotted ladybird” because that would lead to a bunch of annoying notifications in the current system. i.e. you should really only add an ID if it’s constructive or confirmatory.

Chiming in that you agree something might be better IDed only to genus sounds constructive to me. There will always be some nuance and exceptions to the “rules”.

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Can you link to this fish observation, you’ve made me curious :)

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in this case i differ a bit here, i think we should not be encouraging people to do this without a very high bar of confidence. Reason being a lot of times someone thinks because they can’t tell something apart no one can. I got really good for instance at identifying chaparral shrubs from afar based on color and texture and none of that is apparent in field guides or keys but others who spent time mapping in that area could still verify. Honestly if people started going too overboard with that stuff i’d just turn off community ID anyway, which gets us nowhere. That’s why at least in the case of active users, i think it’s better to ask first, not disagree first and expect them to come defend.

But this is just my interpretation of etiquette, not a hard and fast rule.

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Does marking something “as good as it can get” mark it Casual? I did that to an obs recently where the photo just wasn’t good enuf to ID any further. I thought to take it out of the pool of partly IDed obs that no one will ever get any further with - it was at the angiosperm level – but iNat marked it Casual, which I don’t think I wanted to do…

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I agree that this should only be done carefully, based on expert knowledge of the taxa and evidence provided, not just willy-nilly.

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You are right, the issue of adding coarser-level IDs has been acknowledged as a nuanced area that is hard to put into a general “rule.” Thus the purpose of this discussion. Maybe we can come up with something better, since as @bouteloua mentioned, the existing help guidance needs some updating.

To me, if I’m considering adding a genus level ID to something others have IDed to species, my internal choice is between:

  • I can’t tell which species this is from the evidence, but it’s possible someone else can – I either leave it alone, or leave a comment inquiring how they decided on speciesX and were able to rule out speciesY. Depends on how interested I am in the observation.
  • I know there can’t be enough evidence here to rule out speciesY – then I will leave a disagreeing Genus-level ID with a comment as to why I believe speciesY can’t be ruled out. And again, inquire if they found a way to rule it out, that I am just missing – always ready to be convinced otherwise.

I think this is pretty much in line with where @charlie is coming from.

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I’m still thinking on the best way(s) to address this option as part of the “etiquette.” My personal feeling so far is that this is a “last resort” after the community has had ample time to weigh in on an observation. And I would generally leave it to the observer themselves to make that decision (although anyone can…). They may decide that no consensus seems possible, but they want the observation to go to Research Grade at its current level, which is what “good as it can be” will do.

Another case where I as a non-owner of the observation might choose that option is for an apparently “abandoned” observation – the owner doesn’t seem active or engaged with it, and there hasn’t been any other ID or commenting activity for a long time (hesitating here to quantify that time…), and it seems desirable to “finalize” the existing community ID.

EDIT: AND I agree that there is little chance of improving the ID – otherwise I’ll try to do that instead!

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It’s this and this and this

And the story is here.

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I think if it is genus or family level and has at least 2 identifications in agreement then it will become Research Grade. I do this for my own observations sometimes when I get multiple genus-level IDs from people I think are experts, and usually after I’ve asked them to confirm that dissection or DNA is required to separate species.
It is sort of risky because it’s possible in the future people will realize that there is actually a colour or morphological difference between the species (that scientists just didn’t notice because dissection was easier), and as Research Grade they’re less likely to be identified. I used to do it for other peoples’ observation when I didn’t think they could be identified further, but I’m more reluctant to do it now because of that.
Renaming or reducing the significance of the Research Grade label will also reduce the need for this.

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Unfortunately this is true. For taxa or areas I know well, I always include existing Research Grade observations in my ID filters, and hope others will too!

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Would this apply to the City Nature Challenge and bioblitzes?

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I assume you are referring to the huge number of observations that one would need to comment on in a short period of time? If so, I agree that would be onerous, and I confess here and now that I don’t always follow this advice, even outside of those contexts. That’s why I chose the wording, “it helps.”

When I’m IDing a ton of stuff, whether I choose to leave a comment on a disagreement depends on my “guess” as to how controversial my disagreement will be. If not a brand new user, and/or my ID seems like a no-brainer, I may just leave it without comment and see what happens. Knowing that occasionally I will get called to task to come back and explain myself.

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Yes it would!

Yes, that is what I meant. Thanks!

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I think of observations in a similar way to product going over a conveyer… we have a twofold “job” in adding value to the observations as they go past, and Quality Control on the finished product. That might be in adding IDs, or it might be in adding annotations… But unlike a factory where one person might be responsible for all the annotations, and some might be doing the identifications, we can all do every part, when and as our capabilities and availability allows. We don’t have to get every observation, but just aim to add value when we see opportunities. We can encourage and “train” others to become helpers too, which increases the amount we can collectively add value to…

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Excellent summation, that!

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