Is there a way to report "agree spammers"?

There are people who agree ids on every single posts without even knowing how to identify them. Because of that, there have been a lot of mis-identified posts. Also, it’s so annoying. I don’t know what their motives are, maybe they want to get top ranks? Either way, it’s annoying and I want to report them.

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Hi Gary, and welcome to the forum.

The reasons for iNat users to add agreeing IDs on observations are many and varied, and it’s difficult to distil them all into a single simple explanation. However, this topic has featured across many forum threads with extensive discussions. You may like to browse some of these threads, e.g. here or here among many, to see what other people have to say and help understand the mindset/reasons behind adding agreeing IDs.

One important thing to note here is that users who add agreeing IDs are, in the vast majority of cases, not doing anything wrong under iNat guidelines (as you will see in some of those other threads). Unless you encounter a user prolifically adding agreeing IDs en masse and you are very sure that they doing so with some kind of bad intentions (or their IDs are clearly intentionally wrong), adding agreeing IDs is not something that should be reported.

If this is an issue with agreeing IDs being added to your own observations, e.g., you find the notifications annoying, you can turn off notifications for agreeing IDs in your profile settings.

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If you know its an incorrect ID, and you’re on the ID, take the time to correct it (or at least kick it back up to the genus level, or the lowest level you’re sure of, so it no longer counts as research grade without more consensus)

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In situations like this, I’ve left polite but clear messages tagging the user on misidentified observations asking them to be sure to only agree to identifications that they have the ability to independently verify. It usually takes a little bit of time to have an effect but does usually work to slow down the Agree-fest. Usually I find that they are an enthusiastic new user who is just sort of over-excited.

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thebeachcomer, in the cases you linked to the question was why people add additional confirming ID’s after the observation ID has reached “Research Grade”. In the case I know, that I have been annoyed by for over a year, the largest number of his identifications take “Needs ID” observations to “Research Grade”, rather than adding additional confirming ID. The identifier’s user name advertises all of the ID’s he gives, and his bio specifically says he is here to “help clear Needs ID”, as if the observer, or previous identifier, gets another point in the game for another one of their identifications that made it to “Research Grade”. (Instead I think he may take one more point in his game for taking another ID to “Research Grade”.)

This identifier has been doing it for over a year, and now has over 75,000 identifications. (It took me over 4 years doing mostly ID’s much of my time to get this many ID’s.) I too have wished I could report him. His accuracy rate could be relatively high, because he follows the most skilled area botanists, and other skilled area naturalists. Then, because the most skilled naturalists are offering their best ID’s for the most difficult to ID taxa, his taking these ID’s to “Research Grade” gives them, what seems to me to be, no valid confirmation, when so many of us identifiers skim past most “Research Grade” observations, and the iNaturalist system filters out “Research Grade” observations in some cases.

When these observers, that get their observations taken to “Research Grade”, would prefer more views of their observations by peers, and peer review of their observations, they get less. Also, no skilled naturalist is likely to want anyone to confirm their ID just to take it to “Research Grade”. A skilled naturalist is more likely to want someone with the courage to post an ID that the identifier thought was correct, but was conflicting with that of the skilled naturalist, so that the skilled naturalist might learn about any of their relatively few mis-identifications, and learn one more correct identification, making them a better naturalist still! Alternately, a skilled naturalist may like the opportunity to debate, and defend, and teach about, a more challenging ID. Even when his ID’s are not for the observations of skilled naturalists, they still prevent that observer from having a more skilled naturalist teach them the proper ID when their initial ID was wrong.

In addition these ID’s lower the quality of ID’s for the whole iNaturalist data base, which no one wants. When studying a species, maybe to figure out how to properly identify it, as well as to determine the range, I often search through “Research Grade” observations of a species to be sure the observations have the highest level of accuracy, then when I find he has made the 2nd ID, I see that the ID of that observation lacks the higher confidence level I am looking for.

I have been shy to confront him, maybe out of fear that he would then disagree with my ID’s without knowing how to identify the observation.

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All my solidarity.
I think that all of us who take seriously the consistency of the identifications here have experienced how much bothering may be these users who simply makes tons of confirmations, whether the previous identifications are correct or not.
I think it not always possible, not good, not useful to find an explanation of certain behaviours. Sometimes it is just better to to decide to warn towards a certain behavior and, in the case, to consider the possibility that certain ones are to be considered detrimental for the community.

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If none of the other suggestions posted here are helpful, then please bring it to the attention of Staff at help@inaturalist.org so they can take a look.

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While not the ideal solution, one thing an observer can do on their observations in this situation is to vote Yes to “Based on the evidence, can the Community Taxon still be confirmed or improved?” (my emphasis) at the bottom of the observation detail screen. This will keep the observation at “Needs ID” status until the vote is removed or outvoted by others.

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If I were to do this, how many votes for the initial ID of the observer would be needed to outvote this vote confirming the ID of the observer by this person that I expect has made his ID just to take the observer’s ID to “Research Grade”?

There is no “outvoting” in this case, unless there is a disagreement. The observation would continue to show up for users to Identify if that box is checked, regardless of whether it is RG or not. If you were to get another confirming ID that you felt good about, you could untick the box.

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¿how do you know they dont know how to identify?

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Thanks! Sounds like that could help,

It may not very easy to explain, but I’ve analyzed countless of the observations with his ID on it. They have included taking a wide variety of taxa, many that would be tricky to ID, to “Research Grade”, when he hasn’t shown that many ID’s in these taxon groups, but it may be that only people specializing in a given taxon group can often take taxa in that group to species. I often work to determine whether some species I don’t know well, that has been reported from my area actually has a wild population here. To do this I may check how many “Research Grade” observations there are in my area for that taxon, especially knowing that the first ID is often generated by Computer Vision. If none of them are “Research Grade” I treat that species as not confirmed as growing wild in my area. The last time I did this, and found a species that was recorded as “Research Grade” in my area over a dozen times, every one had the second ID by this identifier. It seemed unlikely that a species that had a wild population in my area would have no confirming identifications other than his. I decided that there was no valid confirmation for this species growing wild in my area. I’ve seen this situation with this identifier multiple times. There was another are botanist that got his confirming ID on his observations and commented “your standards (for ID) must not be very high”. I don’t know how the first species level ID was generated there. Very few of his ID’s don’t take the observation to “Research Grade”. And I don’t know if I have seen him make a conflicting ID. In a quick glance through a couple of pages of his ID’s I found only one that he took from genus to species, and that was for the only member of that genus in this area.

I’ll leave it at that for now. It could take extra time to document what I have been following for over a year.

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If it’s unclear how the user is making an ID (especially an ID that they are making multiple times). It’s fair to ask them in a comment why they are making that ID using specific characters, etc. Sometimes if they can’t explain they get the hint…

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I will add that I just looked through a number of his recent bird ID’s. Here (and I expect around the world), we have a lot of birders, quick to add their ID to any new bird observation. Looking at a series of the birds he has ID’d they are the poorest photos of the most difficult immature gulls, fuzzy photos of female Dabbling Ducks, various photos with only backlighting, and specks in the sky that someone gave an ID to, but that for weeks the other birders wouldn’t ID, presumably considering them unidentifiable (and they mostly looked unidentifiable to me), or none of the other birders wanted to offer only a weak guess ID to the picture that they didn’t consider clearly identifiable. Then he adds his ID in agreement with the Computer Vision ID, or with the initial ID of the observer that they somehow ID’d but all of the other birders wouldn’t give any ID to. Gull photos that no other birder would identify for weeks, that the observer only identified as a gull (Larus), he gives the most common ID of “Glaucus-winged X Western” that most of our area gulls seem to be identified as.

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The original question here has been answered, and continuing to discuss one particular identifier here on the Forum - even anonymously - is not going to help solve that issue. If you are unable to engage with that identifier directly via comments or private message, then please provide the information to the help email already noted above. I’m going to close this topic.

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