Marking as no evidence of organism - is there a correct use of the DQA?


To begin with, i’m sorry if this is not the correct place to start the topic or if there is already an existing one.

Before creating this post I read:

And this two concerning points of view between different users

Yesterday I have a heated debate with some curators about the use of the DQA.
A user posted a photo of two blurred spots alleging they were a bird species commenting that the camera would not focus but he saw them. Perfect.

When I saw this observation I marked in the DQA “evidence of organism” as no because for me those two spots could be birds, a blot on the camera lens or two UFO. So the observation went casual.

I was asked from one of those curators to justify my vote. And so I did.
Apparently my interpretarion was not right because “the best thing to do is to just not vote on the DQA for that option, since we have a lack of knowledge” and “We don’t need to “see” evidence for an observation to stay at what the original identifier says something is. We don’t have to disagree.”

In my opinion the use of the DQA is just as valid as puting an ID in another people observation or markin a cultivated plant as such but I would like to know more points of view of how you deal with those kind of observations.


As one of the users mentioned, I have an unbiased note: Marking something as cultivated is a use of the DQA, so yes, it is the same. Identifications are about what the organism is, DQA is about the circumstances of the observation. I think they are different things, but I’m open to other opinions.

Another thing: I like to think we should use the DQA like a jury; if we don’t have reasonable doubt to believe that there isn’t an organism, then I don’t think it makes sense to vote that way.


This is a little tricky, and I’m not sure a complete resolution is possible.

My thinking is that the DQA “no evidence of organism” regards the evidence posted to the observation, not that observation’s original circumstances.

The thing that makes it tricky is that this is a still a judgement call by the identifier: If it’s true that no one could confirm the ID based on evidence permitted, marking the DQA flips the observation to casual and appropriately drops it from research-targeted ID queues. However, users may reasonably differ in what they can interpret as evidence!

(No need to get heated! I understand it happens, but where there’s no malice there’s no need to take things personally.)


“Evidence” includes testimony. So if there is a possibility that the user’s comment could be true, I personally would not mark “no” in the DQA. ( If there were a DQA question instead that asked if either the sound recording or the photo showed the organism I would mark “no.”) To me, the current DQA wording undermines the requirement of a photo or sound recording for Research Grade status, so I wouldn’t agree with the ID either.


In this case voting down on “can it be iproved” is a ore clear way, it will be casual as it’s not idable, but organism is there, you just don’t see it.
But without user saying id is right I’d be doubtful, esp. added with AI, and if so I can’t mark it as can’t be improved, I can’t say if id is any near real fact, so vote as no evidence.


A correct use of the DQA “Evidence of organism” would be if someone claimed they saw birds but the photo submitted only showed something you could determine is not a bird. The blobs could be birds. If you could tell it was airplanes, vote thumbs down.


I think that a post with a photo that is too blurry to make out whether it’s even an organism is equal to a post with no photo, for all practical purposes. If the evidence cannot be independently verified by another user, the identification rests solely with the original observer, which is perfectly allowable, but the observation should remain Casual.

Does the evidence presented provide proof that the organism was there? No. Can the ID be improved by anyone who wasn’t there? Again, no. So I think that both DQA options are valid here.

And thank you for continuing the conversation here, observation comments are not the ideal place to discuss general methodology.


Those blurry or 10-pixel birds are a frustration! I’ve confirmed some distant, flying crow observations that really can’t be ID’d based just on the pathetic photo, when I know the observer is conscientious. I’ve marked some that are just ID’d as birds as “No, it cannot be improved.” (It becomes casual.) Marking such a photo as “No evidence of organism” accomplishes the goal of getting it out of the queue to be identified, so seems reasonable, even though technically there is evidence of an organism, just not useful evidence.

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An evidence is something you can inspect yourself and reason about it yourself and reach an independent conclusion. A user’s opinion is not an evidence, it’s a claim that you have no way of verifying.

If “No evidence of organism” cannot be used for lack of audio/visual evidence then what is its purpose?! Any ID given by a user is equivalent to them saying “I think it was that”. So if their opinion is evidence, then it turns out we can use the “No evidence of organism” vote only when there’s no ID for the observation whatsoever because any ID is someone’s opinion “I think it was that”. But such an observation would be of Trivial Grade anyway so it makes such a vote useless. Do you see the absurdity of such a restriction on the use of “No evidence of organism”?


I also have no way of verifying if the date and location are accurate, yet that is not license to mark them as not because it is a ‘claim’.

One of the principles of the site is to assume good and honest intent by users.

The no evidence of organism is meant to be used in cases where it is crystal clear what the user has identified is not present. They say bird species x and submit a photo of a blank wall etc

Not that you can’t verify their ID. If you legitimately believe their ID can’t be confirmed with the evidence, enter a differing ID.

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If you legitimately believe their ID can’t be confirmed with the evidence, enter a differing ID.

You are suggesting that I add an ID when there’s no evidence? Is this the proper use for IDs?!

The no evidence of organism is meant to be used in cases where it is crystal clear what the user has identified is not present. They say bird species x and submit a photo of a blank wall etc

I don’t see a difference between a photo of a wall and a blurred photo - in both cases it’s lack of evidence. The user might claim the bird is behind the wall. Or that they couldn’t photograph it. That it flew away, etc.

I also have no way of verifying if the date and location are accurate

There certainly are ways to verify date/location correctness. At least in some cases. A plant in the ocean has incorrect location. A date different from the one on the photo (graphically or in metadata), a summer date in lowland Europe depicting snow, etc. have incorrect dates.


Life is available as an Id. Human if you believe there is no biology.

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Human if you believe there is no biology.

This is getting more and more fun :D

But seriously, this would actually mess up the user’s observation much more. If I add a “Life” ID they will not be able to find their observation by searching for a taxon. If I vote “No evidence” they can still find it. Which option do you think is better for the user?

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The one that notifies the user you have done something, which is adding an ID. Users get no notification of any DQA vote.

The no evidence Dqa is not designed to be used for disagreeing with an ID.

Straight from the help page ’ * the community agrees the observation doesn’t present evidence of an organism, e.g. images of landscapes, water features, rocks, etc.’ It is for cases where what is in the photo clearly depicts something other than the identified organism. Not for it is a poor photo that may or may not be what the user says. Nor for disagreeing with honest mistakes in identification etc.

If you disagree with the definition, fine, add a feature request to change its use. But how the site expects it to be used now is clear.


Interesting points of view!
Clearly it is not easy to make an agreement but I understand that there is no “correct use” and it ends up being a subjective thought since there are those who prefer not to use it and add an alternative ID on the one hand and those who agree on the use of the DQA on the other hand.
In my particular case, I do not agree to use the DQA in an image just because it is blurry (who has not uploaded one? I have many) at least when a living being, a class or even a kingdom can be distinguished. As well as I do not agree to put an ID as life or human just to disagree with the observer when I have other tools that allow me to express my opinion.

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