'Needs ID' pile, and identifications

That’s true. The way I’ve started dealing with that is to try and go back if someone then adds another ID, withdraw my disagreeing ID and replace it with an identical non-disagreeing ID. But that takes effort, and for some people (depending on their ID habits) that will quite reasonably be too much.

If something is a very recent observation I might take your point, because there’s a greater likelihood of inconveniencing someone who might come along soon; but when something’s been languishing with a wrong ID for many months or even years it seems better to bump it back to a level where it is (a) correct, and (b) might be seen by someone using different filters.

The other problem with not bumping back is that you are left hoping that specialists in the correct taxon will happen to also look through the incorrect taxon and find it, which they may simply never do!


To me I find the following important to consider;

  1. New users should find guidance to not worry about ID’ing to species level. I know early on I hated being stuck at family/kingdom, so I’d let the AI guess a genus/species (sorry!). Novices often probably aren’t here for the ‘science’ so they don’t understand taxonomy, they just want to know exactly what they’ve found. We need to teach that family/kingdom level is fine, be patient, someone will help refine it down the line. Or not, try not to be too disappointed and → provide info to generate interest…

  2. Don’t view this site as a short term project. ID’s might come in 10-15 years! The importance of just being involved is to capture data. You never know if that half-blurry photo you got of a bird you ID to family turns out 10 years later to be an unexpected appearance that spawns a research project :)


Yeah, I recently got blasted by someone because I tried explaining implicit disagreements to them after they did this and they were adamant that I was talking about the wrong platform. Even when I linked to the iNat help page describing ancestor disagreements he blew up at me. Huge, long rants. So I walked away.

Anyway, once “hard disagreements” became a possibility, I wish there was more ongoing onboarding for users to help them understand the implications, more than just a forum post or beginning-user training.


But a lot of these observations are from users who are no longer active. Are there really that many people who are excluded by bumping back to family? It seems way better than leaving it alone, to me.

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I met people who were using iNat for many years and they didn’t know about “new” system, and it was up for two years, no rants and a cool person, but shows how you can somehow miss such big change, people should be forced visiting forum or they have only a partial experience.

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I think one issue in play with regard to number of “Needs ID” observations is the way the algorithm restricts observation movement out of coarser levels.

I added this in a separate post, as it’s a distinct conversation to my mind, but essentially I think the algorithm should be tweaked to require less community energy to overcome incorrect initial IDs / autosuggests.

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I’m sure the way it works currently will stay the same.

Comments won’t work on 90%+ of users, I agree that we need to take care of our ids and withdraw disagreements, maybe there should be an option to find those that don’t allow community taxon change, as we can find maverics.


oh sorry, i meant if you know it is wrong, bumping back to family seems way better than leaving the observation with no disagreeing ID. I wasn’t very clear there.


Maybe. Most of the time I see this, the scenario is that the disagreeing person does not disagree to the level that would be sufficient–instead they disagree at the Kingdom level, such as “Plant,” apparently without thinking at all about the extent of their disagreement. My guess is that most identifiiers do not understand it (see discussion about rude ranter above), and that they might choose their ID more carefully if everything that their ID is deemed to disagree with were spelled out on the observation where everyone involved in the observation could readily see it without having to go find the hidden algorithm chart.


I do understand it and still often do it. What else but ID it to the best level I can can I do? Suggest some level in between of which I have no idea if right or wrong?


The point about people not understanding it is important though. If someone is bumping from species all the way back to kingdom, that will almost always be unnecessary surely. If you understand it and the implications, you will make more of an effort to choose the highest level that you can be confident at.


Yep, no disagreement there. Guess I’m just pointing out that with the current system there is a problem even when people do understand. But you may well be right that (some or even many) people not understanding could be the bigger problem.

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This is an okay approach as long as (and in no way implying you, rft, don’t) one realizes they own part of the process now for that observations and check all notifications and if a following suggested ID heads the observation in a more correct direction, consider withdrawing to keep the flow easily in that direction.


If I disagree back several levels and then eventually someone comes and gives a subsequent ID, often I withdraw just to see if that “helps.” It’s hard for me to predict what the community taxon will do, but I can always try it and find out.


No, this case is actually pretty well taken care of by the prompts. IT will ask you if you meant to disagree with the species and you will be able to identify at whatever level while still saying no. The problem is this dialogue does not trigger in the identify popup (not always), and sometimes does not trigger on individual observations (Depending on the level of the community ID probably, or something else). Other use cases are also going to cause problems unless people have workarounds.

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But it doesn’t warn that any of those IDs will also be deemed a disagreement with every taxonomic level between the new ID and the ID it is explicitly disagreeing with. At least, I haven’t seen that.

Personally I would not have guessed I would be disagreeing with all subsequent/future IDs as well as the previous/current IDs.

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Not a disagreement with all the IDs in the observation, but with all the taxonomic levels in between the new ID and the ID being disagreed with. I edited my comment to state it better, I hope.

And here’s the Help page about it:

Sometimes; I’ve even seen people totally unnecessarily bump things back to ‘Life’ (good thing there isn’t a tier above that were you can disagree with every possible future ID). However, it also sometimes happens where, say, I know it is definitely neither the species nor genus, am sure it is that order, but am uncertain on whether or not the family is right. So the only real option that conveys what I mean is to bump it back to order, disagree with the family even though I don’t really, and monitor for if someone else IDs it back to a different genus in that family and then withdraw it back to a non-disagreeing ID.

This is a particularly severe problem in asteraceae because of all the extra ranks (which are in general very nice). I also see it occasionally where it was ID’d to species and knocked back to genus but the subgenus was correct, which is a little annoying but less of a problem because as long as its in the right genus its relatively easy for others to find in the future.