Making identifying more fun/interesting - wiki

I think it would be really fun to run the algorithm on everything, and post the results… not give them any weight in community ID (or maybe just 0.1 weight or something) but allow them to be searchable. Then i could go through everything the algorithm thinks is Coast Live Oak and verify which ones are not… things like that.


I often see a genus level ID that occurs often, and if I think I can find literature on it, I go looking. Researching into the factors and features that differentiate species is a great way to learn about them, but can sometimes be challenging from a terminology perspective. I forget a lot fo what I learn, but re-learn a lot of it too… and for the occassions where I am able to come to a degree of confidence in what I have learnt, I can then go through and refine the IDs for the genus. We are lucky in that NZ is a fairly distinct and bounded fauna/flora, so I am able to access lists of what are present. This helps narrow down the amount of learning needed, so I have become fairly good at identifying NZ pisauridae, for instance, but outside of NZ I know little about them.


It’s not a ‘tip’ as it does not exist, but I would love to see an optional ‘blind’ ID mode, where you can be presented records where the date and location are presented, along with the photos, but any existing ID’s hidden from view.

Allow you to enter enter your ID, then check to see if you are in agreement with what has been done, and then either simply leave without saving it, or if you find your were right (or apparently right based on other id’s) save it. Avoid the stigma of having to enter it if you dont want to be seen to be learning etc.


there was a blind ID study for a while. Not sure if it still works. I tried it and found it incredibly hard because the comments weren’t included. Many photos had more than one plant and i couldn’t see which one they had ID’ed or described. I had no idea how much i used the original ID and comments and not just in the form of unwanted bias, also for context and to just know which organism was intended to be the focus of the observation! I also accidentally knocked some things back to genus…i forget why but it was annoying the other users. It was still an interesting and valuable exercise though.

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It might make a fun little “window into iNat” in the same vein as the global recent obs thing and that “badges” thing recently, where you could select an area and/or a top level taxa, and have it throw obs photos at you and see if you can blind ID them to match CID. Not to put IDs, just as a “practise” thing like those flash cards used on bright and gifted kids… (as a kid, I used to think I was not bright, because my parents never got me any of those!)

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I had started making a user script that would hide all IDs on the website, but I never got very far. I think that would be a better way to go about this.

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I was thinking something that could track your score etc, and maybe prompt you to practice again a week later on taxa branches that you showed weaker results etc. Really depends on how bling the idea wants to become :)

Have announced a small side project of mine that is targeted at making identifications a bit more fun here:


Links in the About tabs on Taxon pages

In order to help with identifications (until such time as there is a journal page on the taxon pages), we have started adding links to comments that deal with identifications (mainly species in a genus, but much more for subspecies within a species (which are often not dealt with in field guides).
On the taxon page on the “about” tab, there is an option to “add a link” - this allows one to insert a link to the comment or journal page in which the identification is discussed.

It is a bit obscure and there is no indication until one opens the tab that the information exists, but it is extremely useful when it does.


@bouteloua, thanks for the suggestions! I sometimes do a variation of your “robot mode” by adding species-level IDs to things that are in monotypic genera (or at least monotypic in North America) where the common name is the same as the genus name and therefore observations often get identified only to genus, e.g., sassafras = Sassafras albidum; galax = Galax urceolata. I’m sure there are other things in this category…

@charlie, I also do narrow geographic areas, e.g., specific counties or NPS units.


(Breaking this into two posts because I am “new” on the new forum platform and therefore can only tag two other users in a post : )

@zookanthos, +1 for shiny baubles. I have a sticker that says “I am easily motivated by the promise of stickers.” I kind of like the lack of gamification on iNat (although I understand their new app is swinging that way), but also sometimes wouldn’t mind an automated pat-on-the-back.

@tonyrebelo, I love the idea of adding links to taxon pages. I’ve seen some great discussion & ID tips in comment threads and journal posts, which easily get lost. I’ll try to remember some of them and add links.


A relevant new feature request:


I do a lot of coarse IDs on Unknowns with a filter that I bookmark, and I sort the page by date ascending, so I see all the really old neglected stuff first. There are a few duplicates and bad quality photos, but when something that old is still Unknown I think even Flowering Plants is better than nothing?

Also, when you filter by Unknown and date ascending, quite often someone has put the Latin name in the placeholder, and it takes me two seconds to ID it very specifically, which feels like cheating but also the observation does kind of need to be IDed specifically. It means the system thinks I’m way better at IDing things than I actually am, which feels very underhanded! At least it gives the observation a chance to be IDed by a specialist who can get it to Research Grade status, though.

It’s really satisfying to see a 6-month-old Unknown observation, put it in Flowering Plants or something, and two days later 5 people have helped narrow it down to Research Grade. :)

Also I ID a lot, and doing things date ascending means I don’t have 50 notifications every time I log in. ;)


For instance, I would like to add a link to this observation (containing a discussion) to the Kalanchoe laxiflora taxon page.

I didn’t find how to do it.

I only see this in the About tab:

Adding descriptions and identification information in a Taxon page would be valuable.

I also do these sorts of things, for the exact reasons you describe.

Another thing that I like to do, when I’m new to a particular taxon, even if it’s one I know well in-person, but I’m new to identifying it on iNaturalist, I like to start by going through research-grade identifications, looking closely at them, and agreeing (or rarely, disagreeing) with them.

Looking only at research grade ones really reduces the amount of low-quality observations, i.e. ones that are already identified by 2 or more users, usually have more evidence, like clearer photography and/or multiple photos, often a pin on the map that gives relevant clues to habitat, etc.

Once I’ve gotten comfortable with the process for that species on iNat, and what the pictures tend to look like on iNat, then I go into the more general, trickier ones.

Also, sometimes I’m surprised to find mis-ID’s in research grade. It happens most frequently when there are only 2 ID’s and they’re both made by inexperienced users. But it happens often enough that it’s really important for users to look through the research grade observations too. So, not only will you be familiarizing yourself with the process and honing your own ID skills, but you are doing the very important work of catching errors in observations that may be used for scientific research.


Curious to hear what people might think about changing the default sort to from “most recently added” to “random”?

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It would probably cause confusion among newcomers and revolt among experienced identifiers… But a curious idea in theory.

I’d prefer sticky settings per user on the Identify page.


The only thing that I don’t like about random is that it stops showing the number of pages at the bottom. I find the page count motivating.

Definitely would love more sticky settings!


Thank you for drawing my attention to this; now I don’t have to bring up the issue I was going to bring up. Namely, what happens when your still-not-research grade observation is on page 500 of 1000 pages – people working either ascending or descending may not have the time or motivation to get there.


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