Overconfidence in species determinations

I frequently see instances of people being overconfident in asserting species identifications which are beyond the limits of the evidence presented through the image and/or metadata. Is there any guidance on how to respond in this situation? For example, I work on parasitic lice (Phthiraptera), and species identification can often only be confidently asserted with high-resolution images of slide-mounted specimens, yet some members are making species identifications based on low-resolution images of whole, unmounted material. In these instances, generic level identification may be possible, and there may be some metadata (e.g. host information) that suggests a species determination. Yet that metadata is invariably missing and species determination would require sight of features not present in the image, at least for those normally posted on iNaturalist.
Thanks in advance,
Vince Smith


Welcome, @vsmithuk!

Usually a comment explaining why it can’t be IDed to species along with an ID to the correct level helps.


See #3 and # 9 on the ID etiquette wiki


Many thanks for highlighting these points on the ID etiquette wiki. They are very helpful and much appreciated.


Be aware that if you make a coarser ID, you can specify that you “don’t know” if the finer ID is correct, or if you think it isn’t correct (“No”). You can use this to affect the Community ID.


If you select “don’t know”, it won’t affect the finer ID. However, if you select “no”, that counts as a disagreement with the finer ID. so it may cause the community ID to drop back to the coarser ID.

So if it’s a case where you are an expert, and are confident that the finer ID is ill-advised, select the coarser ID and then disagree with the finer ID by clicking the “no” option.

I see the meaning of these buttons as follows:

“Don’t know” = I really don’t know if finer IDs are correct, but I want to at least support a coarser ID
“No” = Even if I don’t know what species this is, I know that it is incorrect to make a finer ID


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