Is it ok to add disagreeing IDs or DQA to observations without media

Sometimes I run across observations without media which are impossible or at best extremely unlikely to represent an observation of a wild animal or plant, especially considering the location.

For example, a tropical reef fish close to Paris seems like a no brainer for “Captive/cultivated”. Marking it captive would at least remove it from range maps, but I’m not sure if it has any other consequences?
A more subtle case which I often stumble upon is lookalike species with very divided ranges, with an observation without media placing one in the range of the other. For example, this observation of an Indo-pacific fish in the Caribeans when there is a local twin.

I know some people use those observations as lists of things they’ve seen without really intending it to be open for discussion by others and might therefore be annoyed by this “intrusion”.

Even though those observations have little impact as they are already casual, I’m not sure what’s the best course of action? Besides, I think those are clear cut examples, but there are some more edge cases which might actually document invasive species/range extensions.

PS: Additionally, while it is possible to imagine what makes an observation “incorrect”, it’s impossible to know for sure if it’s captive, a wrong ID or an incorrect location


sometimes the image takes time to display after being uploaded, so I would not mark these, as there may really be an image that just hasn’t uploaded yet, and you have no way to know whether the location is correct or the organism is captive. Yes a butterlyfish inland must be captive, but without an image you cannot tell if it is captive, the location is marked wrong, or it is a wild animal with a correct location but wrong ID (ive seen butterflies mislabeled as butterflyfish, and I once misidentified a black carpenter ant as a black carp (fish) because I clicked the wrong button

Since they are already casual there is no need to mark anything, and until the image displays you don’t know what to mark


I think the cases you gave are worth a healthy dose of skepticism. I see no issue with making an identification in the type of cases you mentioned as it is only a suggestion.

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In a worst case scenario it’s always ok to leave a comment on the observation asking for clarification.


I wouldn’t even call this a worst case scenario, for me its standard


agreed. I think asking for clarification from the observer should be the first rather than the last resort, and shows more respect for whoever was recording.
there seem to be an awful lot of question topics in the forum that would be best answered by asking the original recorder/observer rather than speculating about motive or how an observation may be polished/altered by the system (meaning something like an image that hasn’t finished uploading).


Sometimes the observation will have a photo in the near future, but it isn’t showing yet or the observer works by making space for the observation, so to speak, before uploading the photo. So if the observation is within the last day or so, just leave it.

Because the media-free observation is already casual, I see no reason to do anything at all with it, but asking the observer for clarification is always OK (though not always productive). Marking an observation of a marine fish from an inland city “Captive” or “Location not accurate” won’t do harm in these cases, but won’t help a lot, either.


I leave a comment like, “Can you please leave a comment when photo(s) become available?” and mark it as casual. This isn’t foolproof, but it (somewhat) respects a workflow where people upload observations and add photos later.

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Frequently Used Responses : Missing Photo


Only use this one if there's a reason it looks like the photo might be missing, like they used computer vision for their ID or if it's a new user. People don't need to add photos to iNaturalist observations and it's quite common not to, especially for things like birds or mammals. Here's a link to observations by new users that have an ID, but no photo. It's sorted by oldest uploads first, since sometimes it just takes a few moments for the photo to attach, or maybe they plan to upload it when they get back to wifi.

Hi, just wanted to let you know that there is no photo attached to this observation. Photos are not required but I like to alert people when I see this, as sometimes the photo gets lost in upload or did not finish loading before exiting iNaturalist.


Challenge accepted. There were 6 for Africa - one had acquired a photo in between.

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