As an example, this observation: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/48422376
JayAvery IDed something as Vascular Plants. He later IDed it as Ivy-Leaved Bellflower, which is a vascular plant. iNat automatically withdraws his old ID even though it’s accurate, which unhelpfully implies that he took it back or changed his mind, which is counter-intuitive. He didn’t withdraw his ID, he just narrowed it down.
Accurate coarse IDs should not be automatically withdrawn when a more specific ID is added by the same user, unless the newer specific ID doesn’t fall within the previous coarser ID.
I don’t think a person should be able to have more than one active ID on an observation at a time.
If the more coarse ID has been replaced by a more specific ID (that fits within the more coarse ID) by the same user, I think the more coarse one should still be crossed out, but to reduce confusion I think it makes more sense for it to say something like “refined” instead of “withdrawn”.
- If the identifier changes their ID to something incompatible with their previous ID (like changing “fungi” to “sparrowhawk”), “fungi” should be crossed out and marked withdrawn.
- If the identifier changes their ID to something that fits within their previous coarse ID (like changing “fungi” to “gilled mushrooms”), “fungi” should be crossed out and marked refined.
- If the identifier changes their ID to something more coarse (like changing “gilled mushrooms” to “fungi”), “gilled mushrooms” should be crossed out and marked withdrawn.
The criteria should be as @JayAvery described it: If the new taxon is a descendent of the old one, the old taxon should be marked “refined”.
I think this makes for a more coherent timeline of IDs on an observation. You’d be able to read that someone managed to improve their ID, and scroll down to find out how.
Edit again: I understand the people who are saying that technically an older coarse ID being replaced by a new more refined one is a withdrawal of the former ID, and I’m not disputing that on a technical, computer-brain level it is being withdrawn. I’m proposing this idea to make the observation’s ID timeline more human-readable. Regardless of how much sense it makes to a computer, if a human scanning a page sees a crossed-out identification they are likely to infer that it has been judged incorrect by someone, and that is not the case when someone has refined their ID.
@tiwane said: “I’ll just say that judging from emails to help@inat, the current system and UI does confuse a small number of people (or at least a small number of people who then write in about it).”
For everyone who writes in about something, there are many more who feel the same way but don’t write in.
Since this would help some people, and wouldn’t cause any problems, this seems like an improvement with no downsides that makes the iNat experience more coherent to more people.