Identifier Departure Question

When an Identifier leave the platform does iNaturalist flag observations that were previously RG, to expediate the process of reaching RG again? Is there a way to see the previous ID? There was one person who Identified most of my observations. It was amazing how quickly they started after an upload. Then they suddenly disappeared from the platform. I just had a look and saw that a little over a quarter of my observations need an ID. I wonder if 25% is average.

no to both questions unfortunately

there are a number of threads discussing this issue, eg


Short answer: no.
I believe that if you sort your observations by “recently updated”, the observations affected by the deletion should be at the front of the list. (“Recently updated” can be found on the advanced filters on the “identify” module; make sure to click the button to include “reviewed”, since your own observations are reviewed by default),

Deleted IDs are gone; there is no way to see what the IDs were.


This really seems like an issue iNat needs to revisit and reevaluate their policy on.

Maybe leave the ID and comments on the observation and change the user ID to something like or .

I can see the argument for removing the actual observations a past user has made (although I don’t fully agree with that, I think users should have the option to leave them intact), but I very much disagree with removing that user’s IDs and comments made on other people’s observations.


For interesting IDs that generated discussion and comments, some info survives - despite That Profile disappearing. The straight forward IDs are not such a loss ?
If, I would delete my profile, I would take my IDs with me. I won’t be able to respond to changes in taxonomy, or new to iNat taxon specialists. Don’t want to leave a residue of potential wrong IDs for others to battle with.


I wholeheartedly agree


I don’t agree. Just because something has not been discussed over and over again under each observation does not mean it is straight forward. And also, even the straight forward IDs are extremely valuable, if it is only straight forward for a limited number of IDers… as they are drowning in needs ID anyways… Just yesterday I IDed an observation to (easy enough) species that has been hanging around for 9 years…

I am at the moment cleaning up straight forward observations that already had been IDed years ago, but now the IDs had been withdrawn in large batches… could use me ID time in other ways… but well.

A very active IDer left the platform rather recently… but fortunately enough the person just officially inactivated the accound (changed the nickname and wrote it in the profile) to leave the 10.000s of IDs intact and I am very grateful for that. I think the few maybe wrong IDs are easily outweight by the many many right ones that would be lost


Another thread supports adding a third (or fourth or fifth) ID, as support in case a profile is later deleted.


I tend to focus only on obs that are in needs ID, hadn’t considered that adding a third ID to an already RG ob could be useful (I think I’ll still focus on the massive needs ID pile but be less reticent about adding a third ID to something in the future when I come across them)


It never hurts, especially since (assuming that you know your species) an additional ID adds to the identification value: Checked by another person (ideally) with expertise - and sometimes you will find false RG observations (especially on the large pile of observations of less common species, where the first identification was made by the observer themselves thinking that it was a rather common species, and the second one by another user agreeing, since less common species are usually also less known and often not part of general (introductory) identification literature).


So that’s what happened on some of my observations! I found an observation, where the only ID was my own withdrawn ID - so clearly there must have been someone who disagreed and I withdrew, but then they deleted their account and this ID was lost and the whole thing went to … unknown.

At least it would be nice if we could get a notification that this happened to our observations.


Don’t delete your account, @dianastuder – but it’s truly best to leave all ID’s, no matter what. I’m sure most of yours are right. The small percent that are wrong, or need updating when taxonomy changes, other people can deal with. Really. That burden is much less than the cost of replacing all your ID work.


I see that most of your observations are in Okinawa. There was a Japanese Identifier who deleted their account last December, which unfortunately resulted in quite a few observations from Japan and East Asia dropping back to “Needs ID”.

Especially for geographic areas and taxa without as robust an Identifier community, it would be nice to get notified when this happens, so it’s easier to try and backfill the holes that emerge.


But all IDs are equal - so my Gasp! It’s A Spider or Some Grass - truly won’t be a loss against a taxon specialist ID from @ajott or you

You’re doing generalist ID’s in a place where there aren’t nearly enough identifiers, and you’re doing it because you know it’s useful (and fun, of course). Loosing those ID’s would be a serious loss.

Also note that although I do some specialist ID’s, I do generalist ID’s, too. I love seeing the diversity of organisms people post.


I still do not agree and fully on board with @sedgequeen … yes, I do more specialized IDs mostly… but by far not on all of the observations you IDed… not all of them have someone coming along and specify… it would be a huge loss get all those observations back to unknowns.
… but actually I really hope this is a theoretical issue and you are not really thinking about leaving us :-)


Not leaving yet.
Multispecies must be IDed as plants not Life - so the plant people can see them a curator solemnly told me. I do not want to be with ‘naturalists’ who want to convince me that Plantae is not Life.
Now I have that shiny new DQA - not one subject - automagically pushed to Casual.
I will stay for the next round.


Observations might be a little tricky because of copyright/licensing, but I do agree that identifications and comments could remain in place. A simple solution would be to implement a strategy similar to the GitHub Ghost user, which represents ALL deleted users.

Here’s a link to GitHub’s policy for account deletion for reference: