In defense of "lazy" observers (like me)

Starting at the last page may not work depending on the identifier’s workflow. For those who sort by specific taxa it can probably work, but I tend to ID by region (i.e., specific counties, states, provinces, etc. that I’m familiar with) and if I try to start at the last page I get this kind of message:

Granted, I can always filter things into finer groups if I want to, just pointing out that different tricks might be needed for different people depending on their approach. As the original post says:

Just as there’s a wide variety of observers on iNat, identifiers fall into different camps as well – I actually love seeing how differently everyone uses the platform! :grin:


You can also sort by Random, which I do sometimes.



I had the exact same question two weeks ago and people gave me a solution:

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Makes no sense to me to leave things in unknown. I think more IDers will bring more IDs. I think making it hard for new IDers to find their preferred taxons is not incentivizing.

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Yes if there are identifiers for that taxon. But - see how many ‘plants’ are Needs ID in your preferred location? 11K plants for NY ?

I bookmark my links with the number of pages, waiting.
When I bookmarked plants in Africa it was 9K. Haven’t had a chance to try. But today it is only 31K. The logic is broken. We are in dire need of identifiers.

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How much would it help if laymen (like me, but not myself for reasons mentioned below) lifted plants too?

Currently I go thru a few pages per day (place=world (I found out that frogs in China are frog-shaped too, so narrowing the location wouldn’t help) , added=one-single-day, label=unknown, one such added-day has about 100 pages with 30 images each) and find about one thing per page that I can classify coarsely (almost no plants unless I see that it is Brassicaceae, Phlomis or Chelidonium). Most of my “IDs” sound like “insects”, “spiders”, “fungi” because I don’t know better, and at least spider lovers react quickly.

I wouldn’t be able to lift “unknown” weeds to better than something like “eudicots” (called “Magnoliopsida” in Inat) which seems useless (almost everthing I don’t care about is a weed), but then for plant IDers it wouldn’t make a difference, They just can set the options of the ID module to dicots or “everything from dicots down to life/unknown” and see the same things.

Currently I’m on page 34 (of 83) from 2023-05-09, working at about 1/20 real time speed.


Agreed. I meant that unknown is not preferable to kingdom. Sorry for the confusion.

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I think we can each find our own corner of iNat, where we can enjoy moving the IDs forward. I like to see light at the end of the tunnel so I am chewing away at the CNC residue. That has a definite END. Then I work thru various batches of Pre-Mavericks. I find it disheartening to look thru 30 obs and pick out 1 or 2, the rest is Mark as Reviewed, Next.

I truly don’t know how to resolve the African plants. The low hanging fruit goes first - what is obvious and easy. But over time what is left is … 90 out of a 100 - dodgy dicots and very difficult to move them further. As we add species to CV it gets a little easier, and there are taxon specialists - if we can get the IDs towards them.

I am aim to clear ‘my decks’ before the Great Southern Bioblitz 24-27 November.


You have seen @jeanphilippeb 's yellow label projects?

Choose your taxon, filter to location …

During the City Nature Challenge, I frequently used “Random” as I was going through observations… It was SO useful – one observer can upload a whole slew of observations, and if I just select date as descending, it will just show all of those observations. With ‘random’ it shows a lot more folks’ observations in that random order.

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Wow. This is interesting. So what happens if the 2 large sponsors stop the sponsorship? This forum is a very good one and must explore means of staying afloat, always


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I have been fighting Lyme for 20+ years. It is really affecting me mentally. First I lost the ability to do math and had to quit my job. Then I lost my mental energy to do art - it isn’t as easy as it looks. Lately I have been loosing my mental ability to do IDs. However, on most days I am still able to walk the fields and take pictures of critters, for which I am thankful.


Got hit with Lyme disease myself 3 years ago, not fun at all. Get well my friend.

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I’ve had it twice and consider myself lucky to have avoided the worst effects. Good luck on the long road dealing with these symptoms, and glad you are still able to find enjoyment outside!


It won’t probably help you now[0], but a Lyme vaccine is on the way (the phase 3 test for Pfizer’s VLA15 is just running).

[0] in some cases, giving a covid vaccine to long-covid sufferers cured them, so there might be exceptions.

Here is my most interesting result from lifting “unknown” things: I misidendified a dangling cocoon as a spider since spiders are known to do that and it now seems to be a wasp.


Crazy idea: non-biological pseudo-identifiers for unclear things

In the unknowns, I often see stuff I have absolutely no idea about but which could be classified into groups like “blob of goo on the beach” (which might be jellyfish, sea slugs, fish intestine pieces, translucent kelp, shark eggs or just amber), “blob in the forest” (crust-forming fungus, slime mold, casting by bird of prey, animal intestines rejected by predators), “insect that looks like a moth but maybe isn’t” (cicadas, planthoppers and more), “beetle shaped hexapod that might also be a bug, a springtail or an isopod (due to bad image quality)”.

Unfortunately I have no idea how to implement this, how to formalize these categories (making them text fields would probably not work) and how to encourage observers to label their stuff as goo instead of as unknown.

You could use traditional projects for this: Making “Beach Globs of Goo” project or similar and add any observations you find to it. There may be already existing projects for similar things that you could look for and add to. That way, anyone with blob of goo expertise could check that project periodically and ID observations in it.


Already has over 1K obs.