Only 1 identifier for species, but "Top Identifier" is someone else

I see this on Safari on both Mac and iPhone. I suspect it is not platform-dependent.

This is the only observation of Eustenogaster eximia:

The (only) species-level identifier on this observation is @marco_selis. However, on the page for this species (, the “Top Identifier” is shown as someone else, @elaphrornis, with 1 observation. Mysterious!

My guess is that @elaphrornis identified an observation as Eustenogaster eximia, but that observation is still at a higher level so as not to be included in a species-search?
Some taxa have no observations, but someone has added an ID of that taxon (sometimes it is a joke ID, sometimed a disagreement).


Found it using the API:

See also


You can also do it without the API:


Yes, but the API has documentation of all the parameters built in. “ident_taxon_id” isn’t filled in by one of the filters on the identification page, so to figure that out you’d have to know there’s a topic in the forum which lists some of the undocumented parameters available. Unless you have everything memorized, it’s almost always faster to use the API.

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OK, I see that. Maybe this isn’t technically a bug then, but “works as intended” is very confusing here. The screenshot from my original bug report post above shows 1 observation and 1 observer and 1 identifier, but there’s no connection between that identifier and that observation/observer. To me, “Top Identifier” sounds like the identifier with the (exclusive) most identifications, but in this case there is a two-way tie and only one of the two is mentioned.

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No, I agree this is a bug. There are at least two previous bug reports, and above I linked to a feature request to change this behaviour to something sensible.

Whatever is happening, it doesn’t seem to be happening for me:

Everything looks good. One thing is that you may have your location settings set to a specific country or region. You can see it here:
Annotation 2020-04-02 203634

This particular problem no longer appears because the two observations of this species are now both at research grade. (Because I added comments to both of them after the response to this bug report brought the second one to light, and the comments led to both of them being identified by more people.)

The underlying issue hasn’t been fixed, but is no longer visible for this example.

My understanding is that the top identifier on the taxon page shows the user who has added the most IDs of that taxon for other people’s observations, with “that taxon” meaning that taxon and everything in that taxon. When @sullivanrbibbit made this original post here, elaphronis had add an ID of that taxon and was tied with other users who had also added 1 ID of it. So I believe it’s working as designed, although it could be designed better.

@tiwane, I think (now) that you’re right about the intention and the behavior. So maybe this doesn’t quite count as a bug report, but there still seem to be two significant design problems that lead to user confusion. Perhaps these are both already clearly covered by other feature requests? The two are:

  1. When more than one identifer has “the most” identifications, one is chosen “at random”, with no indication that this is a tie situation. That becomes less interesting when the number of observations is larger, but when the number of observations is 1, that is extremely confusing.

  2. The Top Identifier’s relationship to the taxon being displayed is measured differently than the Total Observations relationship to the taxon being displayed. Understandable when explained, but again, extremely confusing in cases like this.

Is it worth writing a new feature request for one or both of these complaints?

There’s already a feature request which should resolve #2.

I suppose I’ve never found it confusing, it’s what I expect. But as I was someone who was testing its original design, I might not be the best judge here. If you have a suggestion that would make it more clear feel free to make a feature request, but it would probably be a low priority for the taxon page.

I actually thought it was “last in first shown”… meaning if I ID something for the first time, then someone else confirms it, their ID would show as top identifier. I’ve only ever looked critically at those new to iNat species cases, but have never seen it happen the other way around!

Maybe it is “last in first shown” if there’s only one observation involved. In the case discussed here, there were two observations, but only one with community ID at species level. The “Top Identifier” was for the one not at species level. That identification was 7 months old, whereas the identification for the species-level observation was fresh. So the choice of “Top Identifier” didn’t go to the more recent of the two identifications in this case.

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Working as designed - top identifier on the taxon page tallies all IDs of that taxon made on other people’s observations. Sometimes the observation taxon (label at the top of the observation) is different than the ID, so the observation itself may not be included in the count of observations of the taxon, but the ID will. In this case, the observation taxon was still back at subfamily, but elaphronis’s ID was to species.

IDers can also tie for first place, and only one person will be shown.