Opting out of community ID vs literally anything else

Just looking for other people’s thoughts/opinions/views on this. I recently opted out of community ID. I did not really want to, but I saw no other option that would satisfy me.

I am not entirely sure how it impacts research grade vs casual, because I have seen many people say all community ID opt-outs should be casual, but I never really understood if they were stuck at that or not. My current understanding is that they can reach research grade as long as the community IDs given agree with the poster’s given ID. If that’s the case, I like that method. But I would like some clarity/reassurance from somebody who isn’t me.

In short, there is one specific user who continuously identifies many of my observations to a lower level than I put them at. Now, this alone, I understand, because not everybody is going to use the app/site by the same standard. The observations being identified to a lower level are not great quality, but I took them because I could identify in person. They typically fit into a category where other people would see it as “I can’t prove it’s X, but I can’t prove it isn’t X”. I understand a lot of people don’t like those types of uploads, but I do it for my own documentation, and nothing in guidelines considers those to be invalid types of observations. After all, pictures aren’t even needed, period.

I asked the user to not do so, despite me understand why it would be done, because of what I just explained, having that it’s for documentation and I wouldn’t have uploaded a low quality image like that with a species level identification if I hadn’t known what it was. These observations are typically of the species that I record the most, so I am quite familiar. I want the records to be accurate to what I saw, on my end. The user did not ever stop, and I don’t really like asking repeatedly, as I already have a few times, because it feels a bit tiresome and unnecessarily unpleasant. I appreciate that they put the effort into what I am guessing they see as helping, but it has been frustrating on my end. I don’t like feeling frustrated, especially not towards somebody who I am sure is not intentionally frustrating me. It truly is the thought that counts, but I just want to be able to bypass it at this point, without seeming rude or bitter. I initially muted this account, but that didn’t really alleviate the problem, because the bothersome part to me was the changing of the ID to something much vaguer. That is why I caved and went to community ID opt-out.

Is there a better way to handle such a thing? I truly go through just about every ID I receive, and fully anticipate to agree with the majority when it comes to many of my uploads. But I really do not like my records all saying “flowering plants” or just “plants”, when I am entirely confident of exactly what I saw, and would like the observation to reflect that. I genuinely just want to be able to handle it in a non-confrontational and pleasant way that enables these specific observations to stay as the identification I assigned.

Thanks in advance to anybody who takes the time to read or help! I appreciate all of you on here!


I think this is exactly the purpose of being able to opt out of community ID.

The identifier is likely going through every plant in your region and identifying as many as he/she can, so it would be a bit of extra effort to check if it’s yours every time. It is possible to specifically exclude your observations from showing up in the Identify feed, but it’s a bit technical and most identifiers probably don’t know it’s an option.


Since you asked for my opinion, I do not like this. You’ve essentially cut off the community aspect of iNaturalist. This is real data that researchers have to work with and needing yo exclude your data set because of disagreeing identifications is putting your ego first. Dissent is important! You state “I want the records to be accurate to what I saw, on my end”, but iNaturalist isn’t just for your personal records.

Something like this: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/97203285 is problematic, too. I personally don’t see Larix laricina or any conifers in the photo. You opted out of community id and accepted the dubious CV identification. This problem compounds; other observers in your area will see that the CV is suggesting Larix laricina in your area and choose that, but it may not be representative of reality.


That is correct.

I’m curious; were the identifications made by this bothersome user actively disagreeing with yours to bump them up to a higher level? If not, I see no reason to opt out. I believe that setting should only be used if you are absolutely sure your ID is correct, and only if you are willing to either opt-in on specific observations, or change your ID in response to other users’ IDs and comments. It should not be used on observations where your own ID is uncertain (so, if you used CV to identify an observation, opt-in on that one). It also should not be used on observations where your ID is at a higher level than species, because refining IDs count as “disagreeing” for that purpose. If none of these apply, go ahead and opt out, but keep an eye on the IDs as they come in.


That is a very specific observation that I wouldn’t include in this question. If you suggested something vaguer for that, I would agree to it. I agree with the CV when I have no idea, but believe there is something identifiable about it.

I would argue that if I upload a field of yellow flowers and identify it as common dandelions, because I know that’s what it is, and it’s labeled as “flowering plants”, by somebody who wasn’t there to see it, is hurting the data more than my initial identification of it. I also specified that this situation is pretty specific to one user, and one type of observation that I make, which is typically for weeds and invasive species. I believe those are important to be accurately represented, beyond my own wish to keep record.

But it is noteworthy that if I used iNaturalist solely for keeping record, that technically is allowed and is accepted as a way to use it. That is not the sole reason, but this question came from a place of concern for the quality of those observations. They are becoming essentially useless once they are identified as something as vague as “plants”.

I do understand a dislike for such a thing, which is why I didn’t want to do it in the first place, and put it off. I am on the fence as to going back, which is why I wanted to ask for alternatives.

I also want to say, the feature was created because there is a validity in it, as long as it isn’t abused. I like, even love, the community aspect, but what is in question isn’t really involving the community, because the observations are moving down to a place that nobody touches them ever again. Again, another reason why I don’t like using the opt-out, but am on the fence as to what to do.

I genuinely appreciate all input, but it has taken a lot of data to an obsolete level. I am beyond happy to discuss and change what I put down if it’s fit. It occurred to me that the feature was added for a reason, so perhaps something similar to my situation is in that realm of reason. I wish there was a way to say “opt-out for this one” instead of having to say “opt-in for this one”, because majority of my observations are ones I would like to be opted-in for. That’s partially why I am not completely confident with the choice to opt-out in the first place. It’s a middleground that I don’t like.

There is. You absolutely do not need to opt out in your account settings if all you want to change are a few observations. On an observation page for any observation that has a community ID (2 identifications or more) there is a small link above it saying “Reject?” Click that, then click “Yes, reject it” to opt out on that observation.


Thank you!

Usually they are images encompassing many of the same species, like a field of bird’s-foot trefoil or common reed. This user will label as “plants” or “flowering plants”, pretty much exclusively. My issue with that is that those observations then contribute nothing to anyone.

I agree with all this. I would like to be able to turn on the opt-out on certain ones, rather than have it applied to all of them, but that’s not an option on here at the moment. I absolutely am more than happy to agree with other people’s suggestions if they seem right, as opposed to mine. I usually just assume everybody is smarter than I am when it comes to that. I enjoy that part of iNat a lot, because it’s where a lot of learning happens. That’s another reason of many why I am on the fence and rather uneasy about using the opt-out.

Really??? Holy cow. Literally just made this post completely unnecessary. I see a link for “What’s this?” but not anything to actually reject. That would be EXTREMELY helpful, because it really isn’t something I want to apply to my account in its entirety.


But what is the observation taxon? Does it have your species-level ID as a display, or does the whole observation move to the higher level of the new ID? If it moves to a higher level, that is indeed a problem (which can be solved by opting out), but if it stays at your level he is not affecting the data quality at all and you can just leave it be.

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The displays moved to the newly suggested one, so usually “flowering plants” or “plants”, instead of whatever species it was put as initially.

Well, in that case you are pursuing the right course of action by opting out - as long as you are completely sure of your ID.


I only want the opt-out to apply to the specific things I observe a lot, that this person systematically goes through, which is really limited to say, like, 3 types of plants. That’s a major reason why I didn’t like using the opt-out, period, because I reckon it comes off a certain way, a way that I would rather not come off as. That reject thing would be really helpful, I haven’t seen it on any observations related to this situation though. Do the 2 identifications exclude my own? Because if that’s the case, most of the observations I am referring to are untouched expect by the one user, so that would only be 1 identification other than my own.

Thank you, @upupa-epops and you, @mertensia and you, @fluffyinca !! I’m really glad I found an easier, more logical and fair solution to this. I am very appreciative of the help!


In addition, if this problem is basically caused by one specific user, you can also block them. Go to your settings, then ‘relationships’ and enter the username. By that, you don’t have to manually choose opt-out on your observations every time.


But you shouldn’t. cv is not a guesser to look at, you should use it to add ids you’re sure in, as those are the only ones to add anyway. On the linked obs there’s something in dicots, so cv was completely wrong.


I really try to hold back from that, though I do know it’s an option. I feel like that should be a last resort, especially since they aren’t really doing anything wrong beyond inconveniencing me, which isn’t a crime or against guidelines. Thank you nonetheless!

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I understand this entirely. That’s honestly an inconvenient thing that was brought up for the fact that I typically don’t do that. I would say I rarely select the top suggested at this point in time. I used to rely quite heavily on it, but now, it usually happens 1/1,000 observations. I just so happened to do that once today. While it wasn’t brought up in an off-topic way, I think it is rather off-topic now. I do completely understand the problem with negligently relying on the CV, but I very rarely do it, and I don’t really need input on it because I do know that, I just slip into bad habits occasionally. Not to divert attention so frantically, I just don’t really feel like it contributes to the discussion at hand.

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In your example I assume you mean you were IDing species and the other identifier IDed genus. I recommend staying in community ID, it’s better for research value and more informative in general. Add a written description that explains how you know ID beyond what the photo can show. In some cases, other identifiers won’t disagree if it seems likely to be that species. If they do disagree, it’s no problem either. It’s just generally harder to get a specific ID without clear evidence.


Where? All I see is “What’s this?” If I search (crtl-F) the page in Chrome it can’t find “reject”.