Improve ID function and name of Agree buttons - a modest proposal (not!)

There is much discussion (linked below) about the pros and cons of the Agree buttons in various parts of the iNaturalist interface. Please don’t rehash any of that here – visit the related linked topics instead.

Instead I want to suggest a set of related solutions to the issues, which to me boil down to

  • People often misunderstand the expected usage of the Agree button, and
  • Agree buttons are highly available (good up to a point), but sometimes with too little context to promote and support the expected usage, and with too much potential for redundant IDs coming from different parts of the interface.

Proposed solution package:

  1. Eliminate any redundant Agree buttons, for example (please discuss details there)

  2. Prevent duplicate identifications (please discuss details there)

  3. Prompt a user who tries to add rapid serial IDs to the same observation. What is rapid? I suggest within 60 seconds of their previous ID, but that’s up for debate. Prompt? Something like:
    You just identified this observation as [Taxon name 1]. Are you sure you want to change your identification to [Taxon name 2]? (Yes / No)

  4. Delete instead of Withdraw very recent ID by same user on same observation when they add a new ID. How recent? I suggest a little longer than the time above for rapid serial IDs, maybe 2 or 5 minutes. The assumption would be that serial IDs happening this fast are most likely inadvertent mistakes that the user would want to delete anyway, not based on new research by the user, and would needlessly clutter up the ID history. EDIT: still Withdraw instead of Delete if there is an ID comment associated with the previous ID.

  5. Rename Agree to something that better promotes the expected usage (already recommended in responses to some other posts). This is the hard part – finding an alternative that still fits readably on a small button. And also something not subject to unintended nuances of meaning when translated into other languages (which I suspect might be affecting current usage of the Agree button to some extent). Some initial thoughts:
    "Make my ID"
    "Add this ID"
    "I Confirm"
    "Confirm ID?"

There are gaps in some of the above solutions taken in isolation, but together as a package, I think they would eliminate a lot of existing issues with Agree buttons (and ID workflow in general).

Other relevant topics:

Get’s my (un-available) vote!

One point though, there have been times when I have ID’d as genus, and then put species… the intention being to suggest it needs close scrutiny. I mention it in the comments usually, but I think seeing the genus level IDs regularly enough for that taxon “subliminally reinforces” the need to consider the genus level ID as a choice.

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This is an excellent summary and synthesis of previously disconnected ideas. I was able to remove several votes on other feature requests to free up enough to add one to this feature request.

Yet another relevant topic:

Minor quibble: I would swap the threshold times for #3 and #4.

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@jdmore - Jim, minor quibble / note. Point 2 says ‘prevent duplicate observations’. Based on what you link to, I assume you mean ‘prevent duplicate identifications’ ?

Preventing duplicate observations seems outside the scope of this discussion.

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Oops, yes, thank you, I fixed it in the initial post.

This reminds me of something I meant to include in #4, and now will: still Withdraw instead of Delete if there is an ID comment associated with the previous ID. Otherwise I’ll stay neutral on your usage – it is certainly supported by existing functionality.

Yeah, that one really wouldn’t be relevant, since as @cmcheatle corrected me, it has to do with preventing duplicate observations, not duplicate IDs.

Addendum: names I considered but rejected for the Agree button (#5):


To me these would still be too vague, and still invite usage on any/all matching IDs that come in at different ranks, like genus or family IDs matching (but not necessarily agreeing with) a species suggestion.

I wonder if access to the agree buttons could be an account setting, off by default. When turning on access to the agree button, a thorough description of what it is and how it should be used would be presented to the account holder, perhaps even with multi choice questions at the end of it to ensure they read and didn’t just “OK” past them… Would count as on-boarding and also not limit use to those that know how to use it appropriately. Implementation could even have us ALL having to go in and turn it back on, which might educate a few of those that have been mis-using it. Perhaps a direct message out to all users explaining why it is missing and how to get it back.

If off-topic to the feature request, feel free to move to appropriate place…


would “Confirm this ID” be too long?

I liked “Add this ID” and just used it here: :)

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Great package deal. I lobby for 2 minor tweaks (came to me in a dream, yeah I dream about iNat, sigh).

  1. Rename Agree to My ID.
  2. Add Thanks button to IDs provided. Could even be a collective Thanks at the Observation level if Thanks for each ID overkill.