Leading subspecies IDs should change the obs taxon like leading IDs of other ranks

@tiwane I appreciate this is a mess, and will hopefully be sorted out in the explore revamp… but in the interim, can we have a clarification as to what the label “RG” applies to? Specifically, is it RG at the CID or RG at the Display ID?

Here’s what I don’t understand:

  • I ID something as plants. The next person IDs as a subspecies. ID remains “plants” unless I withdraw my ID, at which point the subspecies takes over.

  • I ID something as a species. The next person IDs as a subspecies. ID becomes subspecies.

Can someone explain the logic of this?


RG is determined by the community ID, as described here: https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/help#quality

The map on the taxon page doesn’t show only RG observations, it shows mappable observations. I believe this issue is why that observation shows up on the taxon page map.


see https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/species-id-not-changing-appropriately/13595

This seems very strange. Shouldn’t iNat be sharing community IDs of RG observations, since that is what earned research grade? Or is this a choice GBIF has made? If the observation ID were truly just a “display ID,” then I would see no problem letting subspecies IDs change the observation ID like any other rank. But since it’s important, I agree with the early posters here that ideally subspecies IDs should alter the obs ID as though they are species-level IDs until they match the community ID. (However, I appreciate that it’s clearly not as easy to implement as it is to suggest).

The ID included in data exports is the Observation Taxon rather than the Community Taxon. See more issues/feature request here: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/search-by-observation-taxon-or-community-taxon/3620

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It would be highly useful to give the necessary importance to the identification of subspecies, many of them are rare and/or endemics and often some are put to the species rank.
Unfortunately, often superficial or unexperienced users do not confirm the leading subspecies identification making the search for such observations impossible.
So for me, thumbs up to make leading subspecis ID change the taxon name of the observation.


(Right - they shouldn’t confirm the ID unless they have personal knowledge on how to identify the subspecies.)


It is always better to look at the moon and not at the finger.
The problem is not that there are “superficial or unexperienced users”, there will always be such users. The “problem” is that subspecies are not shown in the thread title if not confirmed by anyone.


Dear Administrators, i just found this essential discussion, but won’t take time to read all comments and argumentations.
It is surely a problem that IDs at infraspecific level are not leading at least to actual ID of species, as that way many obss. stay hidden from other users at genus level.
I waited a while, expecting this feature or bug will soon be solved, but nothing happened.
Presented IDs at species level are necessary for the use of many observations.
2 examples: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/57594301 and https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/57599233

Both will stay hidden for me, i could not find and add ID of species or subsp., what makes no sense at all. In especial i am watching and IDing obss. of Equsetum hyemale and related species which are host to a highly specialized, host bound genus of ascomycetes. This is part and preparation of a project concerning the genus https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/366203-Stamnaria
Due to this ignoring of subspecies IDs in concern of actual IDs, i won’t find many obss. which were IDed as E. hyemale ssp. affine or E. ramosissimum ssp. ramosissimum. Some of these might be infected by Stamnaria, but i needed to search amongst all horsetails IDed at genus level.

Please do care for changing this failous feature in order to improved scientific use of iNat.

With thanks in advance and best regards


It sounds like a search with ident_taxon_id may work for your needs. For example:


Thanks a lot @jwidness Jane, it seems to work in general. I didn’t use this kind of search before, however it does not alter the basic failure to ignore single Ids of subspecies level.
And i don’t know of any sound reason to keep on this kind of “deliberate bug” as i liked to name it. As mentioned before, by me and likely some other colleagues: Way too many worthy obss. will stay hidden, may not be of further use by that.


As explained in the first few posts, the general idea is that users don’t want to move an observation that was Research Grade at species back into Needs ID when a single subspecies ID is added. Or alternatively, they don’t want a RG species observation to become RG at subspecies with only a single subspecies ID.


At my point of view, the general idea that (perhaps some) users might dislike ID at subspecies level, is a counterproductive reason to keep the intentional malfunction.
Indeed, ignorance of single subsp. IDs is a malfunction downgrading the functionality and scientific value of iNat. Infraspecific taxa are essential for naturalists and our knowledge. They are reflecting the process of evolution and many will get raised to species level sooner or later.
So this change is an essential improvement of iNat, no matter if some users disliked infraspecific taxa. The issue shall not be discussed endlessly without effect, but solved the right way.

Please do the essential change to accept single IDs at infraspecific level to improve iNat as a whole. TYI @blue_celery @tonyrebelo



I state briefly; Erwin is absolutely right on this point and I completely agree with his arguments! This is very important! I greet all those discussing.

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I fully agree !

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Thanks the best Radek @radekwalkowiak !

Rubbish! Would it be an improvement? Maybe… Even if it was… would it be essential? As in… iNat can’t function without it? Get real…!

You are maybe talking from a scientists perspective, where the level of complexity you are talking about is very useful, but iNat is NOT a scientific site… it is targeted at a much broader community than just the scientists. Scientists can feel free to extract as much valuable data/information from that as they are able, but iNat is not there exclusively FOR the scientists. It would be like me kicking the tyres of a Kia Cerato and commenting that an essential change would be to put a rocket engine in it… surely it would go much faster than that piddly little engine! But would it still be drive-able by the general public, for which it is designed and manufactured?


So let me know your fears of this change. Do you think that less experienced users could feel overwhelmed by that? I may not see any real problem, except needless, inhibiting fears which shall be solved. What was iNat without science and all the work of scientists, could it be at all?
So, it’s not useful to separate scientists from less experienced, or let’s say less specialized naturalists, nor to think that iNat was “not scientific”.
The change i am supporting, is in fact an improvement for all the iNat community, and from my point of view there is no sound reason to fear from usage of subspecies.
No one is urged to know infraspecific taxa or distinctive characters of.
Research grade may be kept at species level, as i think this is useful, and displayed ID could turn to subspecies when this is supported by at least 2 IDs.


This is how the current system works