People making wrong suggestions

" But when I checked your observations, I saw a disagreement with your ID and the #1 and #3 identifiers for that Genus. The big identifiers on here know a lot."
yes, I know. I had no idea who they were, but this isn’t about that one. The problem observations were deleted. I am new to this even though I signed up a while back.

BTW I am also in the neurodivergent spectrum. Information for those who mentioned it.

I believe I understand how to deal with this a little bit better now.

It would however, be helpful if when suggesting a different ID, people would explain why they believe it is “this vs that”.

Thanks everyone.


This topic comes up periodically. Here are a few links to previous discussions where IDers have written about why they don’t always include comments when disagreeing:

The short answer is: in an ideal world, yes, people would include comments when they disagree with an ID. But time is short and there aren’t enough IDers for most taxa, so people often prioritize IDing over typing comments for observers who may not read or care about the comment anyway.

If you want to know more about why someone made an ID, it is always OK to ask – most IDers are happy to provide an explanation if the user expresses an interest.


I second @spiphany ! If you want to know, please ask. Like many identifiers, I long ago gave up explaining most changes (unless I have a copy/paste response handy). It feels like throwing rocks in the ocean – the comments usually have no effect, get no response. I have no reason to believe that anyone notices the change or cares about it if they do. I’m very, very happy when people ask! (Someone cares!) If you want to know, please ask. I’ll be glad to explain. And sometimes, I will learn that I was wrong. That’s useful, too.

If asking is hard for you, you might try to think of iNaturalist as a pretty low-stress place to practice asking, which is a useful skill.


I’ve seen a bunch of them, they just rubber stamp observations so they can get more IDs and see their avatar listed; if the previous ID is wrong, who cares, pile on and get those numbers up.

Ugh, I am plagued by one such person. Months ago I asked him to stop IDing my observations, and he did for a while, but now he’s back. I wouldn’t care except his IDs have resulted in a lot of “Research Grade” observations when I didn’t ID to species level bc I wasn’t sure myself & there’s only one species-level ID besides my plaguey IDer’s.

If it’s just one person, you can consider blocking them (account settings – relationships). That way they won’t be able to see or interact with your observations.


If someone’s adding a lot of bad data to iNat and not responding to feedback, please let know. This can be grounds for suspension, see

Any account that adds content we believe decreases the accuracy of iNaturalist data may be suspended, particularly if that account behaves like a machine, e.g. adds a lot of content very quickly and does not respond to comments and messages.


I agree that calling a broader, correct ID a “maverick” doesn’t set well with me. The ID is not in error at all. A different genus - of course, but the right genus??? These do not seem to be in the same category.

Interestingly, when someone IDs to subspecies, and I ID only to species, my ID can put the observation into “Research Grade”. Seems to me to be a dis-connect here. Why is my broader ID in this case, not a “Maverick” also?

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The situation above is one where the genus ends up being different due to a taxon change (and therefore it is now an incorrect genus).

If a user IDs as the currently correct genus as a broader ID or if other users later ID to a finer species ID within that genus, the original genus ID wouldn’t be a maverick.


Thank you for responding.

Well I can’t locate my generic ID I was referencing, but at least at the time - certainly this month, - the genus I used, and the species added later were both in the same genus. So this must be a taxonomic change that just happened. If the species name was updated, why would not the generic name also be updated?

I.e. If I IDed the genus as Xus, another person later ID the observation as Xus smithi, then the taxonomic change resulted in Yus smithi, should not my generic ID also be changed from Xus to Yus, and thus not be a “maverick”? Seems a little inconsistent, but if that is how taxonomic changes are handled, then so be it. Just a bit curious.

Thanks again,

Tony Futcher

You could end up with a disagreeing ID if only one species was moved out of the genus. For example, if you ID as Physalis, and then I ID as Physalis carpenteri and then a taxon change moves mine to Calliphysalis carpenteri, there are still 90+ species in the genus Physalis, and your ID is left there, so now we have disagreement.


It depends on the number of affected observations. There are different options to curate taxonomic changes as described in

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Not if it was a case of splitting the genus, i.e. the genus Xus still exists, but that species was moved to the newly erected genus Yus.


What about when a “top identifier” is wrong?

Talk to them. Let them know.


Mistakes happen to the best of us. This is why iNat requires more than one ID for an observation to be labelled “research grade”.

One wrong ID is not a problem – you just need 2 more IDs to get a 2/3 + 1 majority and the community taxon will follow the majority ID. For most taxa, this is self-correcting because there are enough IDers to override the wrong ID.

If you think an ID is wrong, you can tag the IDer to ask about their ID; if they agree that it was a mistake, they will change or withdraw their ID. You can also see what other IDers suggest (if it’s a recent observation, usually waiting a few days is sufficient; if it is more than a few months old sometimes it makes sense to tag people).


I think I’m a top identifier for a few plant species, but I certainly make mistakes and I want to know about them when I do. I’ll echo the advice to talk to the identifier - make a comment or even send them a private message - say something like, “I was thinking this is Species A because of the hairy leaves/six petals/whatever. Could you please tell me why you think this is Species B? Thanks!” In other words, something polite and inquisitive, not accusatory. I hope this helps.


I do a lot of identifications. I’m an expert in some species outside of iNaturalist and I’m a top identifier of some species in iNaturalist. And you know what? I make mistakes. Everything from misclicks to serious confusion about taxa. I appreciate hearing out the errors and being able to fix them or at least withdraw my wrong ID. Do communicate, please.


I’m not sure if you’ll see this, joerich, since I’m a little late to this thread, but if you’re talking about the observation I think you are, I too was surprised by the rudeness of that response. I saw the exchange, and though I chose not to get involved, as I figured you’d be more than capable of defending yourself (and you did!), it was a disappointing comment, and I was actually taken aback by the tone of it. It came off as hostile, and definitely condescending, which has NO place on inat, as far as I’m concerned. Especially when, as others have pointed out, the site is eager for more identifiers. I had no idea it had such an effect, and now I wish I had spoken up. I’m just excited someone had acknowledged one of my observations! It can be discouraging to put so much time and effort into making them (and providing feedback for others), only to get little response, so I wanted to say how much I appreciate you noticing and providing input. I am always grateful for it. I won’t tell you to get back out there, as you have to do what’s right for you. But will only say, that as someone for whom inat is also very therapeutic when life has dealt a difficult hand, I sincerely hope you regain the love for observing and posting nature, and feel up to doing it again. The few may be rude, but for the many, whatever you have to contribute is always welcome :)


Makers of occasional mistakes, unite!


The now closed thread Why do some observation receive plenty of agreeing IDs? suggests a possible solution. Just get a whole lot of people to agree with your initial ID, and then anyone who comes along to disagree will go straight to maverick.