Incorrect Corrections

iNaturalist participants beware of incorrect corrections to identifications. I was unfairly labelled as “Maverick”, but I have a Biochemistry degree, educator credentials, graduate research, and other leadership experience. My wildlife identification was incorrectly corrected by a high volume observer with high quantity, but questionable quality, identifications. Please rectify this serious concern.

May I suggest engaging with the people you disagree with directly? More than likely everybody submitting identifications is trying to learn.


I already have privately written to the observer. However, the person may have misidentified more flora and fauna than one case. Other participants should be educated about errors introduced by amateurs making false assumptions about other scientists and the legal repercussions of libel.

Hi @daphne1, welcome to the iNaturalist Forum. I’ve moved your post from the Forum Feedback section over to General. (The Forum Feedback category is for feedback specifically about the forum rather than iNaturalist itself. A bit meta.)

It looks like you currently have one maverick ID, and the users who have interacted with that observation are definitely not users who contribute what I would call “high quantity, but questionable quality identifications”. I see no comments on that observation. If you are curious why someone has identified an observation a certain way, definitely feel free to leave a comment on the observation asking why! : ) Identifiers on iNaturalist need not have any particular degree or credentials to have a strong background in the identification of certain taxa.


If this is a true database for citizen science, the community should have qualifications to conduct the observations or be led by a person who is an expert. It is professionally unacceptable to make false assumptions about other scientists’ expertise. The label “Maverick” is unscientific and negative.

The term “maverick” as used in the iNaturalist UI refers only to a particular suggestion in a particular observation, and is intended only as an indication that this particular suggestion disagrees with the consensus on this particular observation. It is applied automatically by the system, not by any human being.


“Suggestion” should be used instead of “Maverick”. This is a problem that should be addressed by the website administrators and the informal term should be removed.

Oops. There’s a lot of us that try to get to as many IDs as possible, to avoid people’s observations from languishing in the pit of Unknowns. However, our degree of knowledge is as varied. I’ve often learned a lot in the times I’ve made the wrong ID, especially when it’s someone with more knowledge coming in and explaining.

As for the term, it’s sort of like observations being marked ‘Casual’. It’s led to people taking it as an insult, but there’s no insult meant. However, it’s good to know how these words can be taken.

As for the term ‘suggestion’ as a possible replacement, in my opinion that would lend itself to confusion. There have been many times my ID has been a suggestion outright, especially when it’s a very vague one like ‘fungi’. It would also lead less weight to to an outlier ID, as it would imply the person who made the ID isn’t sure.


FWIW, I’ll point out that we’ve figured out why the identification by @daphne1 got flagged as maverick (I’ve added a comment explaining it to the observation.) Basically, they used the wrong spelling of the genus that they knew it was, and so it’s understandably adding a vote that is very different from the rest of the community’s consensus (a shrimp vs a plant).

“Maverick” is a fine word, and nowhere near libel. Tom Cruise certainly liked it! ;-)


Thank you for seeing my perspective. “Nobody is perfect” is an old saying. However, we should strive for zero errors and conduct citizen science with best practice standards instead of the minimum. Ideally the community learns from the examples recorded. The label “maverick” is unclear and has negative connotations. Removal of the informal label should remain a high priority for iNaturalist.

With this in mind, one could consider correcting the spelling mistake in the originally suggested identification of the observation in question.


Just for perspective, I have nearly 13,000 ID`s. Many of them have not been correct, and when others take a look, I also end up with a Maverick ID. I just check what others have seen that I missed, and get on with it. I have never taken it as a personal insult, but as a learning experience. It is a pet peeve of mine that people do not add reasons for their disagreement, but c èst la vie.


For what it’s worth, if you hover over the term, you’ll see an explanation:


It’s not a value judgement, it’s a term used to describe the ID in the context of the community.

If you believe someone has added an incorrect ID to your observation, the best thing to do is reply with a civil comment and cite evidence for why you think your ID is correct.

The core of iNat is the interaction between users and the fact that can all teach each other and learn from each other.


Oh man, that’s happened to me a few times! Makes me feel better that it happens to all of us. :)


The term “maverick” in iNaturalist does not refer to a person! It refers to a suggested ID. @daphne1, I’m sorry you took it as a slur on you. All it means is that the ID you suggested is out of line with what several others suggested. In some cases, the “maverick” ID is correct! but the label helps to point out that there’s a discrepancy that should be looked at.

I have a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and 35 years’ teaching experience, but my IDs for jellyfish and mushrooms are about as authoritative as my five year old grand-niece’s. I try anyway because I enjoy learning. Personally I think the iNaturalist model works very well: Over time, tentative IDs get improved, people interact in a civil way, and everyone learns. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but I hope you will give it a try.


iNaturalist’s primary purpose is to serve as a way to connect people to nature and to each other. The data it generates is fantastic, yes, but not nearly as important as inspiring and educating new nature lovers. And a big part of learning is letting people make honest mistakes.
I value that I am allowed to contribute to iNaturalist despite having no credentials. I very much respect those who do have degrees and decades of expertise, (as I hope to have myself one day). And I know not every professional is interested in educating or correcting others. But the interactivity of the medium is what makes iNat special. Everyone can make a suggestion, everyone has a voice. The system may create its own problems, but without giving people even the chance to try, or by complaining about a person’s honest best try not happening to be correct, you end up with the same closed ivory towers that plague academia and most of the scientific space.


I like the term Maverick. It suggests individuality and a tendency to not run with the herd. And in the case of iNaturalist it usually means I’m wrong. But that’s okay. Even if I really want that sagebrush to be a shrimp.


Yep happens to me too- and thanks for the clear explanation on the record, @tristanmcknight !


Th word “maverick” in the UK has negative connotations, but here in the US, the word has neutral and sometimes even positive connotations.


From the Oxford English Dictionary online:



  1. An unorthodox or independent-minded person.

Hard to see anything pejorative in that. First time it turned up on one of my observations it made me smile and reach for my Stetson.