I have been using inaturalist for about 4-5 months, I am starting with botany subjects and I am still a novice, I try to go through my entire area with the camera, I upload the photographs and when I get home I try to apply the dichotomous keys for each one of them.
But after days, weeks, months and I cannot get a single person to propose an observation in those that I do not know the species and, in others that I do believe to recognize it, not a single person confirms or denies my proposal.
I have many plants without any participation.
Can you tell me what I’m doing wrong? Should I be part of projects or something so that my contributions are seen and the community participates?
The short answer is that there are not enough botanists IDing plant records —and there are a lot of plant records submitted — plus there might be even fewer with knowledge of plants in your observation area, wherever that is.
First, welcome to iNat! I had a quick look at your profile and I see the point above. About 50% of your observations are research grade - which is not dissimilar to my own rate (but I mainly observe insects so that’s very different. but your point is specifically those observations where you have not been able to get to a suggested species yourself.
I do find that plant IDs can take a while, it’s a function of the sheer volume of observations and not enough identifiers… One thing you will also find is that there is a bit of an annual cycle to iNat. People concentrate on observing in the summer, and the ID backlog explodes, and then people concentrate more on IDing in the winter, and the pile comes down a bit. There are particular gaps I think in people who can take observations from Phylum/class down to family/genus, so some observations get stuck in that middle group, and that may be what you are experiencing.
I was going to suggest that you could be part of the solution by doing IDs for others on the taxa you know, which is great fun - but I see you have already done some. That’s awesome - it will help you get to know others who are observing and identifying things you are interested in, and you may be able to enlist their help for your own observations too!
I don’t think you’re doing anything wrong. Stick at it - have fun observing and identifying what you can. Some things will not get ID’d - but many things will.
As previously said, you don’t have a backlog at all to start with, but wait till winter, when botanists have more time to make ids.
Plus groups you’re left with are not the easiest, Rosa needs much more photos to id species, shrooms are almost lost case, nobody ids them, etc.
I took a look at your observations, and you’re taking good, clear photos with the main subject filling the frame, so you’re certainly doing all that right. And yes, all those “Research Grade” observations mean someone has seen and suggested or confirmed an ID - 50% is a pretty high percentage!
I don’t know if I’ll ever get over the impatience of wanting someone to look at my observations, especially the ones I think are especially interesting! It’s hard to avoid. :-)
Couple of things - I know a lot of people who do insects spend the warm months looking for bugs and the wintertime to do other things like ID other people’s observations. You might get a bump this winter!
Also, if someone IDs one of your observations, don’t be too quick to hit the “agree” button unless you’re really sure they’re right. Sometimes it’s good to wait for a second opinion!
Hope this helps, and keep doing what you’re doing. :-)
“research grade” is a misleading tag, even though it represents a good goal. what we really want is to have each clade confirmed to the highest specificity possible with the A/V evidence we have available.
meanwhile, real researchers realize that “research grade” simply means there’s been a community ID at the species level – which actually doesn’t mean that much once we account for observation and ID bias.
so, please, keep participating! it sounds like you’re doing everything right, creating a wonderful record of what you’ve seen, and are participating in a way that builds community.
What I would suggest you do is try to offer more IDs for others’ observations.
First, because you need to model the behaviour that you want to see happen. Right now you’ve made 104 verifiable observations and you’ve offered only 16 IDs for others. Now imagine that you are the typical user. If everyone behaved the same way then, on average, only 15% of your observations would have IDs. But right now 56% of your observations are Research Grade, indicating that others are contributing IDs to your observations more often than that average.
Systems where some people extract more benefit for little effort and others constantly put in more effort for little benefit tend to not be stable in the long term.
If you choose to ID more stuff, start with something that’s easy for you and which you know relatively well that’s in your local area. Start adding IDs on others’ “needs ID” observations of those species. Don’t worry about being perfect. We all make mistakes.
Second, if you start to add IDs on others’ observations, it’s not uncommon for people whose observations you’ve ID’d to snoop around on your profile and sometimes they’re kind enough to check if you have something that they’re able to ID.
Editing to add a quote that kind of sums up the behaviour:
For some species, it’s just difficult to identify them by a photo. So don’t expect everything to get identified. But I’m sure you already know that. There appear to be many observers and identifiers within your region. I’d encourage you get to know the other iNaturalist users in your region (using the tools within iNat), help them identify things, and start friendships or working relationships with them. If you’re not using the social networking side of iNaturalist, I think this will help.
@jnstuart@cooperj @ ahospers @ matthewvosper @ melodi_96 @ wendyjegla @ BirderKellyK @ spins @ schizoform @ murphyslab @ pfau_tarleton @ trh_blue
(as a new user I can only quote 2 members maximum)
You are absolutely right, I take a good lesson from your answers.
If I have not dedicated myself to helping others with identifications, it is because I felt insecure. But you are right, for an identification proposal, arguing the reasons, it is not necessary to be totally sure. (many times it is not feasible given the limitation of photography)
Accustomed to the toxicity in other social networks in human behavior, I see that here it is totally different.
Thank you for your willingness to help and explain things to me. Thanks for your time and kind tone.
From now on I am going to propose to do at least 5 daily identifications. It will be fun
Also, when a person replies to a thread they subscribe to further posts by default, so you don’t need to @ them individually. However if you wish to reply to a specific point, you can reply to either the whole post, or highlight part of the post to include it in yours as a quotation.
Are you adding any identification to the ones you don’t know? It’s important to add at least a high-level ID like “Flowering Plants” or “Dicots” so identifiers searching for observations in their area of expertise will see them. Observations without an ID get labeled “Unknown” and are stuck until someone adds an identification to them. I search for these and try to add IDs to them, but there are approximately 15,000 remaining so it’s a difficult job. Be sure to add identifications to all of your own observations!
My suggestion for the overall problem of more observers vs. identifiers is to participate in IDs. As you become more knowledgeable about the plants in your part of the world, participate in the ID process.
Insects are my interest, and I have found that the best way to advance my knowledge is to spend time IDing other observations.
One concern is bad id’s – What is worse - an observation without a good highest level id (species being highest) or a bad id which remains like that ?
My personal preference is to keep the id accurate till its highest level even if it is only Family (with respect to plants) because have found that rectifying bad id’s is a lot more troublesome.
Have also found that eventually some one will come along and beginning id’ing a specific set of plants - most likely because they either are on a research project or have the same issue and have spent time going through the keys and are confident to id for others as well.