Making tagging relevant users simpler and easier

A common topic recently has been regarding pinging users on iNaturalist. Various methods that seem like they would work (and others not so) have been bounced around so I’ve come up with my own:

When you click on an observation you see a section that says “Top Identifiers.” I think we can all agree that, that is most used for pinging said person(S) for help with identifying/reviewing the observation. What would be even more useful would be the the option to click “Tag User(s)” and would immediately input the name of the top identifier. If you had a different user in the “leaderboard” you wanted to ping you would then be able the click “Advanced Choice” where you would type in the place of the user that you would like to ping in the leaderboard.

Optional other idea:

When you type in the character @ the system immediately brings up 1. Observation Maker 2. Most recent commenter(S) 3. Top Identifiers (allowing you to scroll down as needed)

While I appreciate the desire to make tagging/mentions easier, I would be against automatically adding the top IDers from leaderboards to a dropdown. These types of folks are generally already drowning in notifications, and adding a feature that suggests tagging them (when users might not have) might generate an avalanche of notifications.

I don’t see an issue with suggesting the observer or most recent commenter.


this sounds an awful lot like a previously rejected feature request:

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I’d prefer to keep tagging people to a minimum and to make it a bit of work on the user’s part.

Using the tags prolifically leads to annoyance and burnout on the part of the person being tagged, and that’s even more the case by the top identifiers who would be utterly inundated.

If anything, I’d advocate for a maximum number of tags allowed per month by each user to limit tagging to specific cases where an expert’s opinion is really needed rather than just idly desired by someone impatient to get an ID verified.


I personally don’t mind getting tagged for things I can ID, but I often get tagged in regions for which I am no help. I think this would only make it worse. If leaderboards were/could be restricted by region maybe this would be of more interest to me.


Using a sometimes unreliable internet connection I find trying to get the correct tag is not always easy and 9 times out of 10 I want to tag someone already participating in the observation.

I share the sentiment expressed by @cthawley. I would add my vote to a request to prioritise tags for users involved in an observation already (observer, IDers, commenters). I’m not so keen on top IDers being included (though personally don’t mind being tagged).

PS I’ve just noticed that this prioritisation seems to happen on the forum tagging and is quite smooth.

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Forum is hosted by Discourse and works differently to iNat itself.

In theory people who already engaged with an obs will be notified of activity. But many busy people do not follow their notifications, and ask for a private message instead. It depends who your target is.

When I look for the right person to @mention I use the leaderboard for that location. Often forced to broaden the search by taxon / and or / location. I look for familiar, active, and willing to be tagged names. If the name is new to me - I check their profile.
Still active?
What taxon interests you?
Where are you?

Automating tagging of top identifiers will disappoint the tagger, and irritate the swamped ‘victim’.


I don’t mind getting tagged for things either, as long as they are relevant, but one of the things I come across pretty often (especially on the r/iNaturalist subreddit) are people who are really impatient to get an ID and spam out tags, then go over there to complain that their had their observation up for 20 hours or a few days and it doesn’t have any confirming IDs.

Making it easier to tag specific people and automatically suggesting them to make tagging them the default target doesn’t seem a good idea to me.


I’m OK with being tagged from time to time, but I’d hate to get the zillions of tags that would result from making it easier.


I am about to start a Feature Request, to give users (especially prolific identifiers) the possibility to opt-out of the ‘leaderboards’ thing (possible rationales: no interest in the gamification it implies; attracts pointless notifications). May I expect some traction with that?


Not from me.

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No, thanks.

I would rather be able to manage notifications.
Mark as Read. Keep Unread. Sort into folders. Separate comments, @mentions and IDs.


The leaderboard, at least for the most helpful and active identifier’s, isn’t a gamification at all, but a way to get there name out there so other users can find them and ping them. If a user really wouldn’t like to get pinged they can just turn of notifications. If you make a lot of identifications people are going to notice you. Whether or not you are on a some leaderboard. Personally, I don’t think that would be worth it. Lastly, no notifications are pointless saying that they are pointless is discouraging people from asking questions which is something we should never do.

EDIT: If anything that at all is wrong with the leaderboard it is simply the title “leaderboard” to be completely honest. I agree with @dianastuder

I would rather be able to manage notifications.
Mark as Read. Keep Unread. Sort into folders. Separate comments, @mentions and IDs.


I agree that managing notifications is a better way to deal with this than allowing users to opt out of leaderboards. I would not support that opt out. I think being able to see general stats for key site usage metrics like observations and IDs is central to iNat, and restrictions on seeing this info should only be implemented in narrow cases where there is a very clear, compelling reason to do so (if at all). I also say that as an IDer who is at the top of a fair amount of leaderboards for broader taxa that I don’t do much work in and get regular mentions asking me to ID things I don’t know much about.


I’m not really for the leaderboard use case, but I think it would be cool to 1 and 2 here, which is basically what Discourse does.



OK, agreed, bad idea (I was not the only one) - let’s forget it. :).

Since there is no improvement to the Notifications System in the works afaik, are there other ways around?

Alternative: turn off notifications, let people learn to tag multiple “top identifiers” simultaneously (or move sequentially to a “2nd Top Identifier” if they get no reply from the “Top” one after a while) (or make the effort to write a Direct Message).
Other solution : leave notifications on, but quit IDing a taxon just before becoming “Top identifier” for it. Not so hard to keep track of, thanks to this web app.

That. Is. Absolutely! Not a Good Idea.
Many taxon specialists are working scientists. Some work thru housekeeping for their taxon of choice - they will get to your obs (if you have set a broad ID that they filter for).
People get literally hundreds of notifications in a day. That is impossible to keep up with - since we have no option beyond - turn off yes I agree. Which is no use to me - I want to see if the one who agrees is

  1. saying Thank you!
  2. click click and missed the - only add an ID if you KNOW it is that
  3. specialist sweeping their taxon
  4. specialist housekeeping wrong IDs
  5. just landed and scattering random IDs, then abandoning iNat for someone else to clean up on aisle 3.
  6. But, I only accepted the CV suggestion. Not MY fault.

Few user names are simple and memorable - beetledude - most are weird, or ‘random’ strings of djfd and 349875 and is it - or _
It would be kind if iNat offered the observer and previous engagers first.

Especially since iNat accepts @mention for any random string - and doesn’t check if there is such an iNatter. That is why you see broken @mentions.
@dianastRuder reaches me as a comment notification, if I am still following that obs.


Yes! A few alternative methods do exist as @dianastuder and I have mentioned previously in our other comments.

Regarding said methods in your message:

turn off notifications, let people learn to tag multiple “top identifiers”

I won’t get into this one as Diana has already done so, but no this not a good method.

move sequentially to a “2nd Top Identifier” if they get no reply from the “Top” one after a while

People do in fact do this. After an extended period of time w/ no response mentioning a different user and asking them if they have a different opinion is perfectly find. Although, I would never recommend pinging more than one user at a time.

Other solution : leave notifications on, but quit IDing a taxon just before becoming “Top identifier” for it. Not so hard to keep track of, thanks to this web app.

Stopping identifying just before you get to top identifier completely ends where you can help on iNaturalist. Not only that it likely isn’t very useful as people are consistently pinging anyone in the leaderboard not specifically the “top identifier.” Honestly, I find that the more you pinged and the more you reply to those pings you slowly get a reputation and people start to recommend you to other users to ping with that taxon and eventually you get more pings that way. Also, a lot of people take time to look over the peoples profile who they would be pinging before they ping them. If they aren’t active, but they made a bunch of ids at one point eventually people are going to stop pinging them. Similarly, if a user doesn’t have quite as many ids, but is twice as active people will start to remember them (more likely based on their pfp rather than their username) and start pinging them for help. Eventually they would become top identifier anyway if they kept up with their activity. Hope this helps!


Thanks. Difficult topic…
(I slightly disagree about stopping IDing being the end of how we can help on iNaturalist. IMHO annotating, DQAing etc. are still helpful to others and iNat, while keeping oneself immune to pings and notifications - thus saving everybody’s precious time. It’s worrying how some people perceive “top identifier” as equal to “taxon expert” or “scientist” or “relevant person”; or being in some ‘leaderboards’ as implying a duty or willingness to identify stuff and be helpful/useful on-demand)
edit: rephrasing

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It is called a leaderboard. Rewards quantity and busy busy. Says nothing about the quality of those IDs. That is up to us to evaluate.
I have a plant person, and an insect person - who I see are busy IDing when I am. Asked them both if it is okay to tag them - yes.
You do learn - who is active on iNat - a taxon specialist - willing to share their knowledge. Tick all three, thank you.