Label observation as an "iNat First"

I think it’d be cool if, like how there is the endemic tag and the conservation status at the head of the observation if another tag could show up if the observation is the first for the species in iNat.

I like this idea! Especially if there was a way to easily pull up a list of all the “firsts” of various species, just to make error-checking simpler.


I agree, that would be a cool idea.


I have mixed feelings about this idea. I think it would encourage more observation of “less interesting” taxa, which need more attention; that would be a real boon. Also, it could lead to more users studying identification resources besides iNat (since, by definition, you cannot use iNat to come up with an ID for a species not represented on iNat, although you can get help from others on iNat). These outside resources are important for enriching iNat’s knowledge base, and help catch mistakes that could turn into feedback loops.

However, “first” tags might incentivize some observers to be biased toward an incorrect ID, just because they want to have/keep the prestigious tag. Getting correct IDs for those first representatives of their species, upon which many other IDs may be based, is pretty important, so this seems to me a potentially serious drawback.

Also, you would have to decide which is “first”: the observation first identified as that species? The first observation of that species to be posted, though perhaps identified after one posted at a later date? If the latter, what happens to the “first” tag when a yet earlier-posted observation is identified as that species? How about if the Community ID changes? The tag would need to be able to change, too, which sounds like a complex programming job.


I see as much, if not greater value, in having a tag when an observation is the first within a 1000km radius.

If the ID is accurate, this would help indicate that the distribution of the species is changing over time.

However, it would also serve as a prompt to recheck the ID, as it would often be the case that the ID is simply incorrect

  • a southern hemisphere observation has been incorrectly ID’d as a northern hemisphere species

It would also be cool if there was a filter to view “first in X region” or “first within 1000km radius” sightings so that identifiers could easily double-check them.


this has been requested before, if not here then on google groups. I am all for it. I also would like something similar for one’s own obs that shows you that it is your first obs of a species. When it is a first for iNat, that would be based on the date added and will change if a obs added a long time ago is then correctly ID’d as the sp in question. For personal firsts that will be based on the date observed, so if you at a later date add an obs that was observed a long time ago, it would become your personal first.
(update, didn’t mean this to be a reply to shelley_b! )


Personally I think that “First observed”, “First uploaded”, and “First identified” could all be valid ways to mark a first, but if we have to settle on one, first identified is the best way to see what was the first recognized record of the species on iNat


I am all about this feature, I think it could be a great adition to iNat, and very interesting and encouraging, as @shelley_b said.

I do not think that this is strictly true. Maybe it incentivizes some observers (that probably will never get the “First Observation” tag anyway because the rest of the identifyers), but they probably are a minority. Most of the times wrong IDs on iNat are made by people who does not know anything about whatever the observation species is, and they just guess with the automatic suggestions, that should never suggest a new species.

I do not agree with that, I agree with:

I think that this method makes more sense, because imagine someone (called Peter for example) uploads an observation for a species that has already been observed (by Paul for example), but has not been properly identifyied; or it has been correctly identified by Paul, but then an incorrect ID is made; for example an observation of a fly in a flower where the observer IDs the fly, but another person tries to ID the plant. I think that it wouldn’t be fair for Paul. It could even happen that Peter disagrees actively with the ID of Paul to get himself the “First Observation” tag. This is an extreme scenario that probably would never ever happen, but is something that could theoretically occur with the method that @mws proposed.

But I also agree with @mws on this


I can easily see some observer-identifier who knows what he’s doing being swayed toward the new species in edge cases, where the match seems good but not quite as clear as it should be, or where there are multiple very similar possibilities. Also, if someone else besides the observer incorrectly identifies an obs as a “first,” the observer may be even more likely to latch on and “Agree” without knowing the species because he’s so excited to have a first.

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I would say that the “First Observation” tag should be able to change, so that if new information comes along it should be able to change in response. Maybe in this scenario the “First Observation” tag on this observation remains for some time but eventually someone would spot the error and change it.
Even so maybe it would be a good thing that for example the tag does not appear until the observation have more than three agreeing IDs, or some other kind of countermeasure.


Maybe we could have two versions: one for “this was the first ever identified observation of X in iNat!” (that sticks with the first obv whatever happens, other than it being found it was not actually X in the obv) and one for “this is the earliest known observation of X in iNat!” (that moves as needed, and I’d suggest it moves per observation date, not upload date).


Label to be applied only once the obs reaches Research Grade


That would probably reduce users identifying their observation as some random obscure taxon, but it might also encourage users to agree to anyone who identified their observation as an iNat first

I don’t agree with observation date, at least it’s something different and needs another tag, first for iNat is definitely first uploaded, as we say it about website. That way we, casual observers, will never see the tag near our photos, cause in a year or two a professional comes and uploads his thousands of photos of years old.
Imagine a new insect species, your friend finds and describes it, holotype will be first “observation” for science, but it won’t be uploaded to iNat. But you find the same species and upload it at iNat, it is definitely first one for iNat, even if your friend will realise what he’s missing and uploads his photos after some time.
I feel like tags should encourage you exploring more, not understanding that everything was already found.


If it wasn’t labelled as an iNat “first” until it was Research Grade, they wouldn’t necessarily know that an Agree would make it a first.


This thread will be of interest to those asking about “firsts” for specific places: It includes info on how you can see who was first to post a given species in a given area, though not which obs was the first identified as that species in that area. Basically, you can search “Places” (including by taxon, if desired), then mouse over a species to see who added it first. However, I don’t think there’s a way to show “first to iNat” there–just first in North America or Eurasia, etc.

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I was thinking about the reasonable and serious users of iNat, not the gamers.

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You can’t disagree with what is the best way to see what the first recognized record is. The first record on iNat that was recognized as being that species. Later, another observation might come around with an earlier observation date, but the first one identified will always be the first observation on iNat to be recognized as that species. Whether or not it’s useful to discern which observation was the first to be recognized as the species is a different matter.

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You are totally right. I will change then my words. I do not think that the first identified is the best way to look at what the first individual of one species on iNat should be. I would give more weight to the person that uploaded the first image of that species on iNat, because of the stated in my previous comment.