I’m a mycologist who has been a user of MO for many years and I have mirrored my observations on iNaturalist. However, I would like to consolidate on one platform. Some features that keep me from switching is the “Community ID” and “Research Grade”. How to deal with wrong identifications from the community, many of which could reach research grade if only one person agrees with a wrong ID? For background, I usually get a DNA barcode for my collections so I normally put them on iNat identified to genus with the intent to provide a conclusive ID once I receive the DNA sequence (could be months later). I try to flag this by putting in a comment that a DNA barcode is pending. Despite this comment, some community members try to ID to species and I know some of these are wrong. I will have a positive ID once I get the DNA barcode back, but by that time it may already be Research Grade under an incorrect name. How should I deal with this? Is opting out of the community ID the only way to deal with this? Another comment on Research Grade is that unless you have a “team” to go in an verify your identifications, you can have well-documented collections with microscopic characters and a DNA barcode that languish in “Casual Grade” because I no one agrees with the ID. These are liabilities that are more easily remedied on Mushroom Observer. Am I missing ways to deal with these issues?
Opting out of the community ID is the best way to avoid it, but honestly, when it comes to mushrooms of mine I have a list of people to tag that are happy to come save my observations from bad driveby IDs. it works fairly well. It’s not super ideal but its pretty easy to figure out who knows how to read a BLAST and is willing to do quick agrees on sequenced specimans (feel free to tag me BTW, I’m happy to help pull things out of the casual-grade bin)
The biggest issue I have with iNat versus MO is just the lack of ability to add cf./aff. or provisional names to identifications, but we all pretty much just work around that with comments and putting the temp codes/provisionals under the observation field ‘provisional species name’, see this for example https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/194406876
I don’t know if you’re utilizing mycomap at all, but I do think that it is a little better integrated with iNat then MO - this might just be my personal preference though.
If no one has agreed with your ID yet, then by default your observation will be sitting at ‘Needs ID’, not casual
The replies below should answer the concrete logistics you care about, and beyond that, I would strongly encourage you to make the switch sooner than later. MO is pretty technologically moribund, and given enough time, your iNat observations will get the attention they deserve and IDs will get better.
Agreed. For what its worth, all of the groups I’m aware of that are doing high throughput sequencing have switched to iNat
EDIT: One thing I really like on iNat is the ability to view everything under a particular observation field at once. So if you have a provisional/temp code that something is under and you want to pull up everything matching it, you have it with easy access to a grid of photos and a map of observation locations with the ability to easily navigate to any particular observation you want to look at more closely.
You can do a lot of stuff with the iNat API that helps streamline things.
Also, communication is the key here. If someone adds a wrong ID to one of your observations, then the immediate first response should be to comment explaining to them what you alluded to here. That you have a sequence you’re waiting for, you know their ID is not correct based on X,Y,Z characters, etc. That way they learn as well
I often enter Notes in my observations (assume that’s where you note pending), which come over from my photo metadata. But the font size of the note itself compared to the title Notes is rather small, and I think is easy to miss, particularly if it’s short. I’ve had someone ask something that was already in my Note. I don’t know if there’s a way to make the note itself more obvious in the code, but putting multiple asterisks might work, though I don’t really want that in my metadata.
In the DQA, the last question allows you to mark an observation’s ID as needing improvement – regardless of the number of IDs. This keeps it in the Needs ID pool and prevents erroneous RG status.
I put everything on iNat and MO. There are a few ways that MO is better than iNat, and these won’t change any time soon.
The voting is much better on MO - you can vote down incorrect guesses. On iNat you need to tag a bunch of people to get them to agree with you.
iNaturalist reduces all images to 2.5 megapixels, while MO stores the full size image.
They are different communities of people - some people check MO, other people check iNat, so it’s best to have them both places.
MO has a much better ratio of people who ID things to observations, so observations there are more likely to get attention.
If you’re so inclined, you can increase the size of the notes font by bracketing your text with this: < H3 > put your text here < /H3 >. But be sure to remove the spaces–I had to include spaces so that it would display the code.This will render your font size to be the same as the title (notes). Like this: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/197662051
Using < H4 > works well also, making it slightly smaller font than the title.
4 megapixels, actually (2048px × 2048px)
Thanks for the response. I’m leaning towards opting out of community identifications, as I’m of a generation that didn’t grow up with social media with a view of science as toiling away in isolation - the social aspect of citizen science doesn’t come naturally to me. Opting out seems more natural to me than having a list of people to tag. But how is opting out viewed by the community? Is it considered rude or arrogant? Or is it accepted that some people just prefer that mode? I notice that people can still add identifications, it’s just that community IDs won’t override your own.
I have figured out use of Provisional Species Name which is useful for adding provisional/temp codes such as those on MycoMap. And yes I do use MycoMap as it was reading Stephen’s project protocols that prompted me to reconsider the platform as his workflow does seem more integrated with iNaturalist.
Thanks for that clarification.
Ah, I knew there must be a way to search on Observation Fields. I discovered the help document on searching and am starting to see the power of the iNat API. Thanks.
Thanks for the suggestion. I’m all for helping people learn.
There are some people that get frustrated by those who opt out of community IDs, but I will say that frustration seems to usually be directed at people who don’t stay on top of their observations and just let things that are obviously incorrect languish despite multiple people correcting them.
Personally, it doesn’t really bother me that much - some parts of mycology are in such a state of chaos anyway that it’s just not worth worrying about one person opting out when there are several thousand observations under Amanita bisporigera despite the eastern US have multiple white Amanita in sect. phalloideae. Or the sheer insane amount of red russula that get misidentified as Russula emetica.
EDIT: and I love the observation fields, there’s a few times I’ve even put a proper species under ‘provisional species name’ because it allows easy grouping of DNA-verified observations of a species that often end up being an umbrella identification. For example, https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?verifiable=any&place_id=any&field:Provisional%20Species%20Name=Russula%20parvovirescens
(This one just tickles my brain because Russula are such a mess)
One thing I will say about iNat is regarding mushrooms, the computer vision just leads to some really weird misidentifications that just really aren’t related to reality because it doesn’t take into account how similar basidiocarps off different species in the same genus can look, especially when the pictures aren’t great.
Not iNat related, but it might be useful to join Fungal Sequencing Results on facebook if you haven’t - it might help you ease a little more into the community science aspect that’s evolving - plus its a better way to get a hold of Stephen if you have a mycomap question, he never answers messages on iNat
These are things I’ve gone back and forth on in regards to choosing which platform to continue. But I agree with @lothlin that there seems to be more momentum towards iNaturalist, hence trying to figure out how to manage a switch. Keeping everything on both platforms seems like a lot of work though - I have enough trouble keeping up with one platform! Do you not find it time-consuming to mirror your observations to two sites?
Alan is superhuman
Indeed, I hear you on the Amanita bisporigera (and Amanita flavoconia, and…) - all the white Amanitas I’ve sequenced are Amanita amerivirosa plus a few others - I’ve yet to get a bisporigera sequence. And red Russulas (or most Russulas for that matter) - is it even doing a service to identify Russula from photos? This statement from Anna Bazzicalupo’s thesis says it all “However, because of the variation among and within conspecific collections, morphological characters only correctly predicted the identity of ~50% of the individual specimens”. I’ve collected what I thought were two identical red Russula from the same site two weeks apart and they had significantly different barcodes.
TBH I mostly ID russula to genus unless its one of the few sections I’m confident with, though after seeing so many sequences there’s a few I actually think I could pick out correctly.
at least for the Ohio project, we’re about even on A. bisporigera and A. suballiacea on sequences so far. I’ve actually found an all white A. aff. jacksonii that was just hanging out in a group of orange ones that threw me for a loop for a bit too (in my defense, it was still not fully emerged from the volva and I was not expecting a leucistic mushroom.)
here’s a link, if you’re curious at all https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?captive=any&place_id=any&project_id=83444&verifiable=any&view=species