Over a million identifications

I haven’t found a blog post or forum topic honoring individuals who have achieved 1,000,000 identifications. So I’m posting this to honor one such noble person: Roberto Calderon, aka aguilita


Wow! For verifiable observations, there appears to be only one other person who has reached that milestone, @Alanhorstmann, and fewer than ten who have passed half a million. Including casual observations, @johnascher has also passed a million. Incredible contributions!

Screenshot 2023-01-05 at 11-06-58 Observations


That’s the right way to do the search. Fantastic to highlight these great individuals!


Alan Horstmann - South African bulbs and succulents. One of my trusted identifiers.
Head and shoulders above other names I recognise on that list.
But he has a truly global heat map for his IDs !!

Bring some bees for John Ascher and he will be our third millionaire.


I don’t mean to put anyone’s effort down, but it should be noted that most of the users on the top 10 list of identifiers have very high percentages of “Supporting IDs,” meaning that they simply agreed with someone elses identification. This can be seen by using the following link, adding a username after the “=”: https://www.inaturalist.org/identifications?user_id=. This isn’t bad, in any case, but interesting.

This notably excludes John Ascher, Sam Kieschnick, Krissa Klein, and Boris Büche. Boris is especially distinguished because the large majority of his identifications are Leading and Improving (out of over 500k), meaning that he is the first to suggest that specific taxon. I find this very impressive, much more so than having over a million identifications. The latter is notable, though, particulary for how much time the users have put into the site. However, encouraging original ideas is more important, in my opinion.


Yes, rubberstamping. Topic for another discussion.


Supporting IDs shouldn’t be devalued; they’re necessary in order for a large proportion of observations to reach Research Grade. Moreover, as the CV improves, it’s more likely that it will provide an accurate “guess” on the part of the original observer, but because they may have no expertise, it’s still important that a knowledgeable identifier come along and add that supporting ID.

Granted, adding the first supporting ID is a bit more important than adding the fourth or fifth (there are darn good reasons to add a third; see recent discussions on “vanishing” users). There might be a few (I’m guessing a very few) people who just add an agreeing ID to boost their numbers, but I don’t think that describes most of the people near the top of this list.


Possibly not realized too much is Dr. Ascher also identifies birds. I have 210 species that he helped identify and of those 141 were Aves. 103 of those Aves were in the Malaysia to New Zealand “corner” of the world. But if I look at his Aves heat map the distribution for Aves is worldwide.

I am grateful for aguilita’s ID of 85 species total of which; 71 birds, 10 mammals, and honey bees.


Can’t agree more, those top iders come and add 4th-5th ids on my observations, I’m more impressed by @borisb and @convallaria1128 who spend their time rationally and actually help us, observers.


I sincerely hope that no one takes my comment as “devaluing” these IDs; of course they are necessary! The site wouldn’t work without them. I only point out this since a lot of the top identifiers have over 90% supporting.

Which is exactly why I mention it. What you point out here is the case for a lot of the top bird identifiers (again noting that most are not like this).


I’ve read several posts where people are like, “Meh. Supporting IDs.” I agree adding a supporting ID isn’t as exciting as being the first person to know exactly what something is, but still–

As a plant person and relatively new user, I enthusiastically posted observations of plants with IDs and nice photos, and waited for them to go to “Research Grade”…and waited …and waited …and – it’s disappointing when apparently no one looks at your observations. So, when there’s a group of plants I enjoy looking at and I can ID quickly, I do indeed go in and click, “Yes. Yes. Yes. Nope—silk flowers. Yes. Yes.” so all those observers waiting for feedback don’t feel like they’re tossing observations into the void. Plus, I always find mis-identified things mixed in – occasionally even something rare – and am able to help get those moving in the right direction.


Again, I have no issue with those who had the first supporting ID to move an observation to RG. I, myself, have a slim majority of my observations supporting, for that exact reason. Unfortunately, there is no way to sort for those. The frustration comes with the 4th, 5th, 6th, etc.

Edit: As Ellen points out above, this isn’t really part of the scope of this forum topic; I just wanted to make sure we all are aware.


What I do know is that when I get my IDs from some of the supportive IDers I feel more positive about the identifications because these people as busy as they are, seems to me, vet the identifications - I feel assured.


Sure, that’s seems reasonable.


The more supporting IDs, the less likelihood of something falling out of RG due to drive-by vandals or people deciding to close their iNat accounts. I am all for it as long as the ID is a considered act. Using the Agree button as a proxy Like button is another story.


Sure. I’m trying to focus more on how we value those IDs, though, as explained above.


@borisb is surely one of my favourite identifiers :-)


But, for taxon specialists, who are doing quality control on iNat - they use Agree as a quick and easy way to - yes, seen that, ID is right. I am uneasy if the ID is - new observer - me being cautious … waiting for someone I trust to be the informed third. Especially for the IDs that are difficult.

And with our 24/7 around the world, geography and lifestyle will decide who is first


In some contexts I consider my agreeing IDs as more important than leading IDs for this very reason.
I feel like a better way to evaluate is based on how many observations are species-level vs. higher-level (like dicots, or plants). The higher-level IDs are important too, but don’t take nearly as much time to achieve expertise to make that ID. Another way of viewing IDs would be to parse by how commonly observed something is. Very rare observations take a lot more effort to ID than the common stuff that many people know how to ID. Combining those two with supporting vs. leading could tell a lot about what kind of identifier someone is and what their contributions are.

And, big congrats to those identifiers who have made over 1 million identifications. It’s a huge contribution.


It is a good thing! I came across observations who were RG (some still are!), supported by 5 obviously wrong IDs. So if an expert decides to drop a 6th ID on an observation of mine, I am grateful because it is reassuring. On the other hand, there is this expert I mentioned somewhere else … (s)he keeps reviewing but never drops an ID unless needed for RG. Weirdo. No, praise those experts who are willing to add a 7th or 8th ID to my observations. They are most welcome, their effort helps to solidify the database of iNat.