Misidentification, accountability, and bullying

Today I removed a post because multiple people were id’ing it to species level incorrectly. I tried to explain why the image was inconclusive (poor angle, low resolution etc), and should be kept at genus level. But people (with no real names attached to their profile) kept agreeing with the species level ID. One person, who is an expert in the field, agreed the animal should be kept at genus level (because of the same aforementioned reasons). A couple of the people id’ing just opened accounts today and appear to have zero expertise in the specific order/family/genus. I lost a lot of confidence in iNat today. I hope this can be remedied. I felt a little like I was bullied on my own post.
In addition, I went to a few posts these people had participated in, and the theme continued, id’ing based on inconclusive evidence.


in situations like this I’d recommend opting out of community-ID and if the users do not respond within a certain time frame (say, 2 days in which activity is sustained?) then you could contact a curator about it or flag the ID’s staff member about the user if you believe they are abusing the ID function.
edit: don’t contact curators or flag the ID unless there is offensive content within it, since apparently we can’t do anything about it (I’m not well-versed in such things as I focus on taxonomy).


Writing to staff so they’d contact those new users may be a good solution.
In such cases I duplicate observation (less work than reuploading it) and delete the old one, plus tag the mentioned expert on a new obs., so they’d confirm the genus, then mark it as “as good as it can be” and those new id-clickers won’t find it again hopefully.
Opting out community id means your observation won’t be Research Grade, so use it only if you agree with that effect.


I did not know I could opt out of community ID, and I don’t know where to find out how to use that option. I have an add obs page open and do not see that as an option.



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This option is only availble once there is a disagreement in your observation.
Then you can opt-out (= reject) on the right hand side, where the Community Taxon is displayed:


You can also change your default for all observations in your settings (under Community Moderation Settings).


I would strongly recommend people not deselect that in their user settings though. Case-by-case is a better fit for most situations, and has better longevity for data quality.


On the contrary, please do not flag the identifications unless they appear to be offensive or intentionally wrong.

Curators are not responsible for evaluating the accuracy of identifications, can not edit or delete them, and should only ever enter an identification they personally are capable of doing.

Nor should users be getting direct messages from people perceived to be in a position of authority on the site based on honest mistakes.


I misunderstood my own intentions for my reply. To clarify: don’t flag identifications just because you think they are wrong. Only flag identifications that are purposefully incorrect or joking. I hope that is a better explanation.

Edit: After looking at the post again, I’ve withdrawn my previous response - I misunderstood the topic and wasn’t reading carefully enough. @cmcheatle provided the correct response.


I assume you led with a genus-level ID. Assuming two identifiers followed with species-level IDs, you could have withdrawn your initial ID and re-asserted the genus in disagreement. This would have bumped the observation ID back to genus where it belonged.


@philippwickey If you post an actual link here to your observation, knowledgeable people can respond to it and support your ID, provide additional explanations… and basically drown out the unqualified opinions.

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I think it’s better if you can flag an account, or block them from your observation
Because sometimes you’re dealing with ignorant people, you have told them what is right but they still didn’t listen

But this is contradict iNat purpose, so just deal with it maybe
Duplicate the observation, and delete the old one
I’m sure it won’t mess the data


It’s painful to come across these new users, and see the damage they’ve wrought.

This is far from a one-off event I think…probably closer to the norm for anyone new who uses the identification portal(?)… so flagging or contacting staff would be a pretty full-on response!.. and be very unwelcoming to the users, who as @cmcheatle said are likely just making honest mistakes.

Really, this should be solved preemptively, with better support for first time identifiers …

  • limiting access until they have completed some sort of training tutorial
  • signing off that they have read the basics and understand the impact of their actions
  • pop-up prompts for initial IDs explaining what to be careful of

Anyone know if there has been any update with the better onboarding mentioned a while ago by @tiwane ?


I agree this would be a pretty good start. I think now, users have to ~go looking~ for /help or /faq to get any guidance. and you know that doesn’t even occur to many of us.


This has been suggested dozens of times; I suggest finding one of those posts and commenting on it to bump it to the top of the Latest tab.

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No, but in the context of another feature request, the current focus is:

iNat staff watch the forum and feature requests as they come in and are discussed. Bumping a post to the top of the queue by responding to the topic won’t help with prioritization of feature requests - they have limited time to implement new features.

Back to the subject of this forum topic, I agree that honestly mistaken identifications should not be flagged. Some people take a while to circle back to notifications, and may not have yet seen your comment that explained why it can’t be IDed as that species. I know people who just check iNat every few months or less. Without more context I don’t understand how this could be interpreted as bullying, but I will also say that we do not use the forum to point out inappropriate or undesirable behavior. If you’d like, feel free to privately message a curator/moderator/staff with links/screenshots.

If someone is making intentionally incorrect IDs on your observations, please do bring that to the attention of curators by flagging the ID.


absolutely… but bringing a topic to the top of “Latest” may make it more visible to new forum users, so that they see and participate on those topics instead of starting new ones.


Feature requests go into a review queue - we don’t approve duplicate requests. The prompt when making a request asks that you search the forum before submitting a new one.

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I’ve felt bullied and overwhelmed to the point of deleting an observation too. It was of a begonia in a marsh. The only one of its kind near a boardwalk. Two identifiers insisted it must have been planted because it’s obviously a sterile horticultural specimen.

I felt like there were a lot of ways it could have arrived there such as landscaping debris that floated downstream. I also felt like it wasn’t (but cannot say with absolute certainty, of course) intentionally planted because it was a freshwater marsh in the conservation area of the park and it was the only one.

There was no arguing with them. So I deleted it.