Identification/Verifiability of unrecognizable blurred dark images

Actually, people do check these out-of-range or unlikely observations. The checking is very erratic, but it does happen. Out-of-range observations are fairly easy to find (look at the map on the taxon page for that species). Finding erroneous records within the normal range is a lot harder, and yet people do check.


Yeti etc was just example of few words which will definitely attract anybody for its name only but that is almost impossible to verify. Remember Eric Shipton and his team?
Anyways, I’m not going into that. I like to site one species only to maintain consistency i.e Vultures. Indian Vulture, Slender-billed Vulture and White-rumped vulture (all under CR Category) may be seen very occasionally in any part of India, Bangladesh, Pakistan (who knows?). But from a Pic like this, is it possible for anybody to confirm which one it is? I could hv used such pic of others but that will hurt them. But I doubt a very large number of Pics I saw here are not truly confirmed (can not disagree also as I’m not sure from those Pics that it is not that). In some cases, it appeared to me that a same specimen has once been uploaded and confirmed as “Indian Vulture” and again been uploaded in a separate Observation as " White-rumped Vulture". Why should I upload a Pic like this (which is attached herewith) which may be any vulture or may not at all a be a Vulture. I think rather than going on uploading such confusing pics and increase the obs count, It is better to take pride in uploading less number of Clear Pictures which can be identified by Experts. My personal opinion although. Regards.

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Is that the same picture?
You can mark as duplicate.

No, not same picture. Pictures are different. Only it appeared to me that the specimen is same. But it is my thought only. I may be wrong always.

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“iNaturalist attracts a lot of neurodivergent naturalists. This includes people who can’t easily imagine what another viewer sees in the photo they took, but it is still highly satisfying to make the observation and fit it into their personal framework.”

The fact that we take photos for others offers a whole new way of looking at our surroundings, and recording it. This change in thinking offers a mental break to get beyond the self.

Walking around in the woods and taking trophy photos of some special plant, only to store it in your hard drive for a while for bragging rights, offers nothing to others. That’s what makes iNaturalst more than just taking photos, it’s sharing what we find with others, however skilled we are at taking pictures or observing identifiable characteristics.

We can all learn how to make observations better for others, and how to gently help people make better observations. When my friend told me to take photos of tree leaves, not just the bark, it was a break through for me.


Then I use this copypasta. But first I check if the obs time is the same.

See also (include the other obs nos)
Please combine multiple pictures of the same individual of a species

I have noticed some observations that the pic is indistinguishable to even get close to genus, much less an research grade, but some new users that are followers of the original poster will ID it until research grade. If you look at the IDer’s accounts they have very few observations, no ID experience to be noted and are usually young people that are just “helping” their friends get research grade observations.
This needs to stop. It benefits no one and confuses the algorithm of iNat. There has to be some sort of standard for the betterment of the algorithm and the platform.
The enabling of this type of behavior and the acceptance of it is a major problem in our society today. Accountability is learned from responsible, common sense, accountable leaders and should be implemented at a very young age to produce productive, accountable, responsible grown people in our society.
Our society today has grown very acceptable and enabling of bad, immoral, and unaccountable behavior in many arenas. It will lead to even more decline of accountability and demoralization of our society as a whole in the present and near future.

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This type of behavior does unfortunately happen, often with what are referred to as “duress users” (ie, users who must use iNat for a grade in class, etc.). iNat does have documentation for teachers that specifically discourages using iNat in this way, but it does still happen.

If you see behavior like this, you can add a disagreeing ID to an appropriate higher level. You can also leave a polite comment explaining how IDs should be done - in many cases, new users honestly do not understand how the system is supposed to work and will change their behavior when educated. If the behavior continues after education, it’s reasonable to flag patterns of bad faith agreeing (ie, agreeing to all of another user’s IDs). In the past, users have been suspended by curators and staff for continuing to ID in this fashion.


I am a very new member of this outstanding Platform, got overwhelmed with its potential in the very first day itself and went on uploading my observations and Iding other’s (which can be identified by me) very enthusiastically. But I didn’t wanted to upload all the images taken during my lifetime or are being observed by me daily (there is no harm in that though, it was my decision only). I started to upload limited number of Images of Wild creatures of my Country on the basis of certain criteria fixed by me only- such as those belonging to Threatened Status, Elusiveness, which shows their cubs/chicks or certain behavioural characteristics etc. Although the pictures are very ordinary, the species are not- it is not that they all can be seen abundantly in any part of India, if anybody comes to India and visit the forests/wetlands here for just one month or so they can not even see a very of them etc. They were taken during a long period and there so many species whom I could see only once in my lifetime. Anyways, that’s a different issue.
Almost all the Images have been identified accurately by the CV itself, there were confusion in some which have been confirmed by expert herpetologists/Ornithologists. But the confusion couldn’t be cleared for Id of few similar looking species. I tried to find out why such Images could not be confirmed accurately in the world’s best Identifier Platform and with my little knowledge I concluded it may be owing to uploading of a large number of indistinguishable RG images (which overpowered few clear Images) of such creatures.
As such, I posted this topic with the intention of betterment of the system, not to hurt anybody.
But after going through the comments against my post, I realized that every person has the right to upload anything in this Platform irrespective of any standard. I realised that it does not require high resolution Pics (very rightly), as I’m not an expert I hv no ability to guess which images can get id, learnt that indistinguishable pictures can be identified by Experts (although, to be truthful, couldn’t believe that cause all Experts are Experts, not Magicians) etc. It somehow discouraged me and I stopped Iding of other’s Images parmanently and stopped uploading of further images of my Observations for the time being.
But are these indistinguishable images really improving the CV, contributing to Science or not?
I’m enclosing few Screenshots here with CV suggested Ids. I strongly believe that CV is suggesting such Ids from its experience of large number of indistinguishable RG images.

  1. Nothing- a dark night shot, 2 and 3- Ordinary Landscape of Mt. Kangchenjunga, 4- As u See ( Shots hv been taken by me for illustrative purpose, these r not images uploaded in iNAT by anybody).
    PS: My First language is not English. Although my residence is in an Urban area, I usually spent most of my time with Jungle Peoples who understand and talk straight language. I got habituated with that. My language may not appear humble. That’s not intentional. If anybody feels there’s something objectionable, the post may be removed. No issues.
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Find your way to engage with your part of iNat. Help to ID where you are comfortable.
@tiwane has said - it is okay - to mark as reviewed, and scroll past.

New people have to learn how to use iNat. We can use a text expander for copypasta to link to tiwane’s careful and kind help articles.

It’s possibly because you are using the “get a photo with iNat” feature. It is much better to make some photo with an app and then to chose those good from the gallery. Really, you should not post an observation with one blurry photo.
That feature should be removed from the next versions of the app.


Probably not. Still, that then brings up the question: is that the only (or even main) purpose of the site? From my time here the past few years, especially reading the forum, I’ve gotten the sense that the primary purpose of the site is for people to engage with nature. Good science and technology like the CV is a wonderful addition and, I would argue, a worthy goal – but maybe it’s worth tolerating the indistinguishable images and other frustrating things as long as it’s helping others engage with the natural world in some way?

For clarification: that question is not meant to have a “right” answer. I have a personal answer, but believe that others can disagree with me fairly.


Some of the photos on iNaturalist truly have no scientific value at all. These are a problem. It is a problem that we can all help fix. Make these observations “casual” grade.

How? For your examples 1, 3, and 4, you can mark it “no” for “Evidence of organism?” The observation becomes “Casual.” Therefore, it gets out of “Needs ID” category and does not go to “Research Grade.” Number 2 is more of a problem; maybe someone could identify a tree there. I personally would mark it “reviewed” and move on.

For a blurry dark photo of a distant bird, I would probably just mark “reviewed” and move on, but I could choose to identify it as “Bird” and mark it “No, it’s as good as it can be.” If two people do that, it will go to “Casual.”


Thanks for your valuable opinion. I fully agree with your comment, differ partially in one point only (is that the only (or even main) purpose of the site?). I think the CV is the backbone of this site. Engaging with nature in its true sense with Good science and technology are inextricably linked to each other. If the CV portion is withdrawn, running after meeting a meaningless Goal of achieving exorbitant number obs/Id count only will not serve the desired purpose. Everybody may not become as knowledgeable naturalist like you but the goal should be to become “jmillsand” one day.

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Reason for furnishing two images of the mountain (2 and 3) was that, 3 is the Mountain only (which is clear from the Pic) and 2 along with trees/plants - Sp. may be confusing but still they are trees/plants. CV Suggestion as Himalayan birds or Himalayan Langur went too far away, as it automatically assumed on blind faith (most probably on the basis of several such RG images where the Creature either is not at all there or if there, they r almost invisible/indistinguishable) that when the uploader has furnished some image with location set to a Himalayan area, there must be some himalayan birds/creatures somewhere in the image (which are actually not). So if I go on upload that image as a ‘Himalayan Langur’ witha note ’ camouflaged here’, who will object?
Thanks a lot for your valuable suggestion for such instances.

People upload observations to document their experience with nature. Some people don’t have cameras, so the images may be poor. Would you tell them that they do not have the right to participate just because they do not have expensive photo equipment?

The purpose of uploading images is not to train the CV or to create a photo album of beautiful photos for each species. It is to provide evidence of what the observer saw. Sometimes this evidence will be insufficient for an ID. The CV will try to suggest an ID anyway – it can only do what it is programmed to do. If you take a photo of a landscape or a bottle, it will still try to find pictures in its photo set that match. This does not mean the suggestions are good matches (see the note at the top of your examples: “we’re not confident enough to make a recommendation”). It is not making these suggestions because the training model has been flooded with poor bird images; it is making these suggestions because it has not been trained to recognize landscapes or bottles as landscapes and bottles.

There are some birds that are recognizable based on their silhouette in flight. It is possible to post a clear, identifiable image of such a bird that contains a lot of landscape. The CV does not “learn” what a particular species looks like. It learns what typical photos of that organism look like. If a bird is often photographed in flight, the CV will tend to associate images of the sky or of landscapes with at species. It may have trouble recognizing that same species if it is photographed in a different context – say, sitting in a nest. This has nothing to do with how good or bad the photos are, but with what kind of images it has in its reference set.

Humans can use their judgment and say “no, this ID is not possible” or “there is no organism in this photo”. The CV is not meant to replace human expertise – it is meant to give users a starting point when trying to understand what they saw. This is why iNat has a system that requires other users to verify IDs.

iNat has a learning curve. Many users need to be told that the “agree” button is not a “like” button and that they should not blindly trust the CV. Many new users do not realize that iNat is a database that is used for scientific research, or that they are interacting with a community of other people who are looking at their observations and making IDs.

These users are not intentionally flooding iNat with bad images and incorrect identifications. You can choose to get annoyed with these users, you can choose skip the “bad” images and only look at the ones that meet your standards. Alternatively you can choose to be compassionate and help new users understand iNat and change their behavior or learn how to take better photos with the equipment they have.


Why are you quoting me wrong, my friend! Where hv I said all these? Whether anybody have a Camera or not is not at all an important issue. Everybody are taking the images through some devices, Isn’t it? Where is the harm if I encourage my Son/Daughter/Brother/Sisters/Relation/friends to take clear pictures as the evidences of their valuable observations? I think purpose of uploading their images is also to train the CV. They’ll train the CV or who else will do that? Have I no right to tell, “My son! Pl write the alphabets as clearly as u can” during his learning days (with his Pencil/Pen that’s not the issue)
Rest of ur comments- I think I hv explained in my earlier comments or those are also re-iteration my opinions just written in some other words.
Getting annoyed? Not at all. Feeling sad- Yes, that may be.
I’ll not post any comment on this subject anymore, as I didn’t want to hurt anybody anywhere, but I’m observing that it is hurting somebody. Apologizing for anything that hurt anybody by anyway. That was not my objective/intention. Thanks.

I spent about a year making observations with only my cell phone camera. Most of the time, the best photos I could manage of birds or mammals were what you would consider to be poor, blurry, and unrecognizable. This was not for want of trying: the cell phone simply couldn’t do any better.

So I had a choice: I could post these terrible photos, or I could refrain from posting at all. The logical consequence of your demand that users should only post good pictures is that some users will be excluded from participation.

Complaining about poor images here will not reach the users who post such images – most casual users of iNat do not read the forum.

Your comments suggest that you do not understand how the CV works or what the suggestions mean.

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Thank you for this very thoughtful, clear, and well-written explanation of how CV is intended to work, how it actually works, and how users engage with iNaturalist.

iNat can and does encompass not only users who adhere to strict scientific goals (and have good cameras) but also users whose aim is to engage with nature, document and learn from their interactions (even if they don’t take exemplary photos.)

It is not contradictory for both types of users to be accepted by the community.
Nor is it contradictory for individual users to contribute a wide range of observations, from clear, highly-detailed photos in some instances, to less clear photos in other instances.
An individual’s observations can support the collection of scientific data, function as a personal “life list,” or serve both purposes. That’s how I experience it.