"No sign of flowering" not available after users add other phenology annotations

I’m pleased that a new phenology annotation option was recently added for “No sign of flowering”. This allows observations of plants without flowers to be tagged as such and then this info can be used in phenology charts, photo searches, etc.

However, there seems to be a slight problem with how this annotation value interacts with other values. The “No sign of flowering” option is no longer available once someone applies any of the other phenology options. Certainly, a plant either has one or more signs of flowering or none at all, so John Doe shouldn’t simultaneously mark an observation as “Flowering” and “No sign of flowering”.

The problem occurs when an observer or identifier disagrees with other iNat users’ assessments. Let’s say a user marks a bunch of seedling observations as “Fruiting” and then never returns to iNat. There appears to be no way for other users to be able to apply the “No sign of flowering” annotation. Users can downvote the “Fruiting” annotation, but I haven’t seen the option to choose “No sign of flowering” reappear.


That’s working as intended. If you don’t like those existing “Fruiting” annotations, vote them down using the thumbs-down button.

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I’m OK with voting down an incorrect annotation. But why does the first user to add an annotation get to veto the ability of other users to add “No sign of flowering”?


That’s how all annotations work and have worked since @pleary introduced them. I believe the thinking is that annotations don’t merit the same kind of crowdsourcing complexity as we apply to identifications, so if something’s incorrect, you can vote to indicate that it’s incorrect and it won’t get included in charts and such, but you can’t make it correct.


I’ve noticed it most with the sex annotation, but I largely work with spider identifications.

For the most part, annotations are put by regular users that will be around to change their setting. If you also put a comment to indicate your challenge, they will usually cancel their errant setting, but then it takes away your “disagree” vote as well! No alert is generated to let you know that they have done so, but at least the setting is either changed by the original setter or left blank for a fresh look from someone else.

Of course, if the original setter is absentee, the ability to set a correct annotation is forever lost! It’s not the end of the world though, it just means that the observation pool for the phenology graphs etc are down one piece of data. However, if it was a particularly useful observation to refer back to when looking at male/female differences, then it won’t show up in any search filtered by sex, and that to me is where this issue is most impactful.


I do agree that the importance of annotation accuracy is much lower than ID accuracy and therefore may not merit the same attention.

But the previous plant annotations did actually work differently because they were not exclusive (i.e. they’re checkboxes, not radio buttons). I can select “Flowering” and “Fruiting” for the same observation because the plant may be in both states at the same time. If John Doe selected “Flower Budding” but my judgment is that the plant has seed pods I can add “Fruiting” and also downvote “Flower Budding”.

I guess I am advocating for a system where conditional annotation choices are user-specific. That system would still prevent me from simultaneously marking an animal observation as “Adult” and “Juvenile” or “Male” and “Female”. But it would allow me to mark the animal as “Adult” and “Female” whereas John Doe believes it is “Juvenile” and “Male”.

I seem to have talked myself out of believing that this is a bug per se and instead it’s more like a feature request for the long-term wish list.


I’m gonna close this since it’s working as designed, but please do make that feature request. :)

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