'Needs ID' pile, and identifications

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.


Sorry, I understood you, and you are right. But I also wanted to add the “hard disagree” effects future IDs on the observation, and the pop up certainly does not warn people about that.


Two thoughts on this topic:

First: from my own, admittedly limited, experience reverting the ID back several taxonomic steps isn’t a considerable issue. I would say it is fine to have coarse disagreements as long as experts are still able to find them by applying their filters.
In insects (where I am IDing most of the time), this would largely be the level of order, in other arthropods even higher levels and in fungi even the complete kindom (with exception of Klass Lecanoromycetes - Lichen) will be found by experts. Just to mention some cases.

I see only one major exception, and that is the use of ’plantae’, where ‘angiosperm’ or ‘dicot’ would (even for a non-botanist) be a reasonable choice. That’s probably mainly because the name is deceiving and people aren’t aware that green algae and mosses are also included in that taxon.
And, additionally, many of those plant observations are probably identifiable on a species or genus level, whereas with small critters, even reverting an unnecessary coarse ID would rarely lead to a species-level ID.

Care has to be taken when you are a ‘coarse disagreer’ paying attention to subsequent ‘expert’ IDs - just because how the iNat-logic works
Many mis-IDs come from wrong CV suggestions, but are often correct at least on family level. Those observations are tricky to handle:


  • you disagreed with the ID of 'House fly (Musca domestica) by reverting it back to (sub)order level (Brachycera or Diptera).
  • then someone else IDs it as a Muscid, so the initial family was at least correct.
  • when you now withdraw your ID or agree with the finer ID, then the observation will be back at species level!

Because there is no option to refine the ID plus disagree with Musca domestica at the same time, that ID (from the second IDer) is not ‘connected’ to the observer’s ID. So, when you don’t want to block the ID from becoming finer by your initial coarse ID, but also want to prevent the observation to reach (wrong) species level again, you would first have to withdraw your ID, then need to wait until the observation updates, then add the refined ID with explicit disagreement again.


We may agree, it’s essentially best to just typically ID based on ID itself as taking main precedence, despite that there may also be some minor potential ID-system complications which have been described.

I had no idea any algaes were considered plants until a week or so ago - I had been marking green algae observation as Protozoa for years!

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I’ve been going through Unknowns to pull out Fungi for a couple of weeks now, and it took me a while to catch on to the fact that Slime Molds are part of Protozoa, not Fungi. Oopsie. Yet another thing I’ve learned from iNaturalist!


I too had to learn that, as well as the fact that the grayish-green stuff we call ‘mold’ is not actually a slime mold. So for a while I was calling slime molds fungi, and fungi slime molds. The real problem was just a language discrepancy though - I knew that molds were fungi, but when I searched for ‘mold’ to add an ID ‘slime mold’ was the only option, and I’d never heard of that. I figured it must be right since it was the only thing called ‘mold’, which was the only name I had for the fungus I was trying to add an ID to.


Honestly this is one of my favorite things about inat - I’ve learned SO much about taxonomy and families that I would never have learned with mis-identifying stuff and being corrected on it. As long as you pay attention to notifications and revise IDs as appropriate, it’s all part of the process.

My big struggle is red vs brown algaes (why oh why do they look so similar and not have a common kingdom, argh).


Yes, and learning about how often the ‘weird’ observations turn out to be cyanobacteria somehow.

In an earlier post I had written

Seaweeds are tough because they are polyphyletic:

  1. Brown Algaes (such as Leathesia) are in the Class Phaeophyceae within the Kingdom Chromista
  2. Blue-Green Algae (such as Nostoc) is Phylum Cyanobacteria within the Kingdom Bacteria
  3. Red Algae (such as Halosaccion) is Phylum Rhodophyta within the Kingdom Plantae
  4. Green Algae (such as Dictyosphaeria) is Phylum Chlorophyta within the Kingdom Plantae

These algaes can all appear seaweedy depending on your acumen.

  • Identification conflicts between Red and Green Algaes will move the ID to Kingdom Plantae
  • Identification conflicts between Red or Green Algaes and Blue-Green Algaes will move the ID to State of matter Life
  • Identification conflicts between Red or Green Algaes and Brown Algaes will move the ID to State of matter Life
  • Identification conflicts between Blue-Green Algae and Brown Algaes will move the ID to State of matter Life

I created a Research Grade Collection project called Branchy and/or Seaweedy Organisms Marine and Fresh Water in hopes that it would help people train their eyes and use it for regional comparisons and find regional experts.