New User Confusion

I assume you mean this prompt: “Name what you saw if you can, but it’s OK if you can’t. Others may help you identify it!”

I don’t use the app but this explains a lot of the observer behavior I’ve seen. FWIW, I disagree with this strategy. Observers should be encouraged to guess an ID (but not over-specify). Otherwise the observation immediately sinks into a black hole.

Be careful what you ask for. This policy shifts the burden from the observer to the identifier but there are only so many identifier cycles available. Using them to raise observations from the dead is a poor use of resources IMO.

It would be better to auto-ID observations than to permit no identification. If the computer vision algorithm is “pretty sure” of something, let’s start there. Everyone would save time without increasing the frequency of mis-identifications.


Observers shouldn’t guess, but in most cases they can add a high-level taxon easily.


They certainly can add a higher level taxon, but that assumes they understand taxonomic hierarchies. I suspect most do, to some extent (you don;t know what species of snake it is, but you know it’s a snake). But they may be unaware of how this functions as an ID tool.


No, thank you. iNat is often pretty sure that one of Cape Town’s fynbos plants is something from California. That computer recognition function ignores geography - and it is the new users who don’t know to check the distribution maps before they agree.

A wrong ID can be a deeper darker hole than a simple Unknown.


I am inclined to agree that unknown observations would be much more efficiently sorted by their creators, or possibly even the AI, than by the identifiers who spend long hours clicking through the pile, but you’ll find that this argument has happened on the forum before, and generally people oppose major changes to the site.

It would be nice if there was some kind of Latin-free interface on the app where the observer could chose to say “this is a plant” or “this is an insect” etc just to put the observation into one of our iconic taxa for the purposes of search filtering. Of course there still might be confusion about whether large lichens are plants, or spiders are insects (no and no,) but honestly I feel fixing those would be less work than sorting the unknowns currently is.

If the AI were to do it (or perhaps even if a user did it with an interface like I described above) it would need to be a sort of “ghost” ID which would put the observation into one of our iconic categories for the purposes of search filtering, but not actually count towards community ID, so that if it is wrong it won’t need to be so rigorously outvoted. Like the AI could ghost sort into Aves, Amphibia, Reptilia, Mammalia, Actinopterygii, Mollusca, Arachnida, Insecta, Plantae, Fungi, and Protozoa but not attempt to be any more specific than that. Heck maybe this would even be more like a tag than an ID, so long as the relevant pictures come up for me when I click my leaf icon for Plantae on the ID interface.

Any way, I may be getting off the topic of the original thread.


Sounds somewhat similar to how Naturing handles the first stage of identification. (I much prefer iNaturalist’s format overall, though another perk with Naturing is that the icons filter out names, so when the same name is used for both a plant and an animal one would never accidentally choose the wrong one …)


Wasn’t there a feature request to add those icons? Personally I would really like them being added.

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One thing I miss on iNat, for new users, is the way Google helpfully says
… did you mean …
I often see obs from new people with a hopeful placeholder. They DO know what it is, but they have spelt it wrong. That Greek and Latin in binomials, plus many human languages, makes it hard to spell it perfectly. Especially if you are at the beginning to learn the real names stage. iNat responds Never Heard of IT!

For example … helychrysum. Almost right. Google would offer, did you mean Helichrysum? Yes, thank you.

Since iNat tries to ID the photo, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to try and pick up small spelling misteaks.


Isn’t it already latin-free in the app? I don’t have any preferences set for common names over scientific names, and this is what I see on Android (though I suppose it could be different if a suggestion doesn’t have a common name at all):

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I mean more like the one from Naturing shown above by whaichi, where no attempt is made to specify what kind of insect other than just “insect.” In your above screenshot, if the person has no idea if any of those suggested species match, they’re going to leave it blank or chose one at random. Suggesting species instantaneously is cool of course and it’s what a lot of users want the app for, but it’d be nice if observers could also have a simplistic option.


As a nature photographer (and iNaturalist enthusiast), there are ways to tag your DSLR photos with locations in bulk, as long as you use Adobe Lightroom (which many photographers use), and save a GPX track of the places you visit (if you are on a hike, for example), using your smart phone. Simplest, of course, is just taking a picture with the smart phone, but many photographers don’t want to use both devices. On a hike, I just set an app to track my hike. When I get back to process my photos, I load the photos into Lightroom, load the GPX track from the smart phone app, and tell Lightroom to put the GPS coordinates on all of the photos from that hike. It takes just a few moments if you know how.


Usually this is true, but I find it hard sometimes when it’s possibly a moss not a vascular plant, or maybe a fungus but not sure if it might be insect eggs rather than spores. I’m not sure what to do in those situations. Just guess at fungus and let them figure it out?

In first case Plants will be enough, in the second one add what you think is the best or add Life.


to add on to @fffffffff’s point:
You can add Life as an ID and add a comment (eg. “I’m unsure if these are spores or eggs”), so that it will appear in Real Time Discussions on the home page, and maybe get more eyes on it.


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