People making wrong suggestions

Isn’t a load of people agreeing with ids the problem?

Is there any way to delete someone else’s ID on my observation?

I’ve got one person making an ID which I disagree with and they’ve made no comment to explain their ID. How come I can’t just delete this bad ID?

  1. I don’t think you’re supposed to call out individuals by name no the forum (no matter how much they may deserve it).

  2. You can either tag people, asking for further ID’s, or opt out of the community ID (for this observation only, please).

  3. Contact the help desk to explain the problem and this person may get his prediction confirmed.


thank you.
And pls excuse my disregard of the forum guides… unintentional.
I will edit to delete that part of the comment.

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Thank you!

There is no requirement to leave an explanation when making an ID (even a disagreeing ID). If you want to know someone’s reasons for their ID, it is always OK to ask.

Please see some of the discussion upthread about how to respond to IDs you don’t agree with.

In general, I advise patience and communication before taking measures like deleting observations or opting out of community ID. A wrong ID doesn’t devalue your observation. It is generally correctable (the user who made the ID can change/withdraw it; other users may outvote the ID).

I think it is helpful to realize that determining an ID for an observation isn’t necessarily a simple, straightforward matter of labelling the organism once and forever. A lot of the time, it is an iterative process of figuring out what something is. Making suggestions and refining them. It is OK and normal if mistakes happen or people change their minds along the way: that is how scientific knowledge generation works.


Yet the leaderboard serves an important function. It reveals who might have seen enough of a thing to be able to confirm or refute the ID. Lacking it, who would one call on to aid in ID? It would make that process of getting the right kind of identification help much much more difficult as you’d have to remember the sometimes long and convoluted user name of someone who you may or may have interacted with. With the leaderboard, the helpers are listed out for you. As someone who sits atop the leaderboard for quite a few taxa, I can say I’ve done it on purpose not because of the desire for recognition, but the desire to help. That is, with the express desire to have people tag me so I can help with those difficult IDs. And it works. I get 6-12 tags a day asking for IDs and I try to help when I can. Leaderboards also aid when one finds an incorrect ID and need to overturn it by tagging identification leaders who can help. To me, the benefits of the leaderboard as readily available information vastly outweigh the drawbacks of the occasional person trying to game the list through endless agreeing.


In my particular case, the generic ID I gave, and the genus of the fully named species were the same. Sadly I just cannot remember the specific instance, only that it happened.

I thank everyone who has helped me and others understand and see different perspectives.

My brain works a little different from the average person’s so if I ask strange questions or interact in an odd way please understand that it’s not on purpose. I don’t know if I needed to explain that, but lately I have had people misinterpret what I say, (elsewhere) and figured “better safe than sorry”
Social interaction is mysterious sometimes


So true!!


…in about 5–10 years.

Look, you have made it amply clear on multiple occasions that you are unhappy with the amount of IDs (or the lack thereof) on your observations.

We get it. I suspect nearly everyone here has experienced your feelings at one time or another.

If you observe in an area where there are relatively few IDers, or your preferred taxa are ones where there aren’t enough experts – yes, it often is frustrating and disappointing to upload observations that you feel are interesting and wait and wait and get little or no feedback.

As I see it, there are a few options:

  • One can decide that it is not worth spending one’s time on iNat if it doesn’t satisfy one’s needs and is making one unhappy.
  • One can attempt to change one’s point of view and expectations – for example, to see feedback (IDs) as enhancing the experience, but not a basic requirement for an observation to be worthwhile or successful or meaningful.
  • One can be proactive about being part of the community aspects of iNat (on iNat, not the forums) – getting to know other users who have similar interests, starting dialogues, tagging people for help with an ID, etc.

It isn’t clear to me whether you have ever actually tried contacting other users when you want feedback on an observation. If you have decided that it is hopeless to begin with, it is unlikely that you will experience anything that disproves these negative expectations.

I don’t see how making pointed comments at every possible opportunity about how it’s impossible to get an ID serves any constructive purpose. (It also strikes me as rather dismissive of the many users in this forum who spend a lot of time and energy helping provide IDs and trying to make sure that observations don’t get lost in the pile.)

I’ve corrected wrong IDs on observations that had been sitting there for years without anyone noticing. But from what I have seen, this is not the norm, particularly if the observer is active and engaged concerning IDs they have doubts about. I have seen countless more wrong IDs – some of them my own – get corrected within hours or weeks.

Nor did I say that waiting and hoping that the community will correct itself is the only option. One can communicate with the person who suggested the ID. One can tag other experienced IDers, etc.


Yes, I have. It is hit or miss, like identifications themselves. And as has been said on these forums multiple times, some of the subject matter experts get more messages and notifications than they can keep up with, so I understand why it’s hit or miss.

But you assume that my comment was just me complaining again. It was partly, but it was also to provide a realistic expectation. As you said:

…and it is important to understand how much patience may be required.

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I apologize if my response was snippy.

This is the second time in this thread alone that you have quoted snippets of something I have written and used it as a springboard to express your unhappiness with iNat as though I were responsible for it.

Please stop taking my words out of context.

How you say things matters. If all you wanted to do was make clear that “it is important to understand how much patience may be required” why not say that: “in my experience it can take a long time for IDs to get corrected”? Phrasing it as “…in 5-10 years” specifically emphasizes the futility of anything, so yes. I would consider that “just you complaining again” (i.e. unconstructive negativity for the sake of being negative) rather than pointing out that one shouldn’t expect immediate results.

If you think that the thread creator has no chance of getting a wrong ID corrected within the next 5-10 years, tell that to them – not to me – along with a constructive suggestion about how they should deal with wrong IDs.

If you think that users should only offer species level IDs because a higher ID might turn into a disagreement due to a future taxon change, suggest how they should go about learning to reliably ID organisms they have no familiarity with.


It was and it bothered me while reading it, and I accept your apology.

To expand on my point about wrong IDs getting corrected over time: I’m active in central/western Europe, where the IDer/observation ratio is reasonably good. The values I describe below may be different in other areas.

I do lots of different types of IDing (some difficult taxa, some easier ones, some broad-level sorting, some finer IDs) and overall, I would estimate that, among the observations I look at, most wrong IDs get addressed within a couple of weeks, most of the rest within half a year to a year, and there is a small remnant that might remain stuck for a long time for one reason or another.

Where they fall depends on a variety of factors.

Most of the time, when an observation gets stuck due to conflicting IDs, it is because the user who made the wrong or disagreeing ID is not responsive. Often this user is the observer, sometimes it is an IDer who is no longer active on iNat (or one who can’t keep up with their notifications).

Sometimes observations get stuck due to ancestor disagreement – because an IDer corrected a wrong ID by pushing it back to a high level like “plants” or “insects” without realizing the consequences of this.

Older observations (> a month or so) generally have fewer people looking at them than newer ones. So if the disagreement happens after an observation has passed out of this sweet spot, it takes a lot longer to get enough additional IDs to override the wrong ID. (Starting a discussion with the disagreer is therefore invaluable in such cases – often one party will withdraw or edit their ID as a result.)

Sometimes observations also simply get overlooked – they sit there with a single initial wrong ID that doesn’t get corrected because nobody with the relevant expertise has looked at it. I and many other users do make an effort to go through older observations for this reason, but it can be a rather discouraging experience, since the further back you go, the higher the percentage of observations that are blurry, or lack the necessary features for ID, or have other problems that aren’t easily fixed.

Another exception is cultivated plants, which often don’t get looked at due to the dynamics connected with the “casual” status. (Feral cultivars may also end up with wrong IDs that take a long time to get corrected, due to how iNat handles hybrids as well as lack of relevant expertise among plant IDers.)

However, in the situation like the one that the people posting in this thread are concerned about – i.e., receiving an ID from another user that they believe is wrong – my experience is that these cases do not, in fact, typically take years to sort out. Because one of the following situations is likely to apply:

  1. the IDer is an inexpert user who is adding an ID based on the CV. I’ve had this happen to me on a few occasions, though it doesn’t happen very often because it takes courage and confidence to actively disagree with an existing ID. Such users typically do this with recent observations in taxa that seem interesting and identifiable to laypeople. What this means is that these are also observations where it is likely that there are active experts who will see it and override the wrong ID.

  2. the IDer is someone with expertise who has made a mistake; they want to know about this mistake and see that the ID gets corrected.

  3. the IDer is correct and can explain to the observer why the observer’s original ID was wrong.

  4. an intentionally wrong ID. This is rare, but if it happens, malicious IDs should be flagged and can be hidden.

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I suppose it depends on the taxa under consideration. As mentioned recently at a conference, even in some well-trodden places 6 people only are involved in ~25% of IDs for vascular plants. A (relative) shortage (or imbalance) of identifiers and experts is of concern.

It means a “bad ID” on the part of these happy few (misplaced click, brain fart, overlooked detail: it all happens) may have lasting effects, as it then takes a long time (even years) before the situation eventually gets fixed - either once they manage to clear their huge backlog of notifications and accept to reconsider, or in the unlikely event of a new expert of this taxon/place entering the iNat arena to immerse themselves in their favourite subject.

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Lack of IDers is absolutely a problem (in most taxa, in most places, though the degree varies). I am not denying this.

But in terms of sheer numbers, the source of the vast majority of wrong IDs that I see are incorrect CV-inspired suggestions or other errors by people lacking in expertise, not mistakes by experts. And sometimes yes, these initial wrong IDs don’t get corrected at all for a very long time because nobody else has managed to look at the observation.

Expert mistakes may also take time to get corrected – particularly if observers blindly agree and do not question them.

But in the case at hand, where an observer receives an ID that they don’t understand, asking the IDer about it is generally a reasonably effective way to start sorting out the situation. My experience is that most experts do endeavor to follow up if someone responds to or queries their ID. Obviously not everyone will manage to do this all the time; those who can’t keep up with notifications will often indicate this on their profile. In such cases one may have to try to find another solution for getting the suspected wrong ID corrected. But contacting the IDer is a good place to start.


I viewed this as a humorous mild complaint. Perhaps I was wrong.


A few minutes ago, checking my notifications, I found several regarding IDs I had made two years ago for other observers, which in turn was a year after they uploaded the observation. Nobody had touched them between then and now. Now granted, as you alluded to, these were not highly active observers – less than 1000 observations. But how long did it take some of us to catch on to being proactive and reaching out to top identifiers?

In these cases, my ID was to genus, and new IDs were to species. A year from the upload to a genus, then two more years for a species adds up to three years just for an initial species-level ID. Within the past week, I have come across uploads from three years ago, and I am the first to suggest anything narrower than family or subfamily. If the same rate continues, and another two years elapse before a third identifier comes along, that is five years+ for either an RG or a bump back to a broader level, as the case may be. It seems highly likely to me that those observers will have given up and left the platform, unless they have somehow been clued in to how to be proactive.

This is why threads like Research Collaboration: Method for supporting non-experts to label in ‘unpopular’ taxa - General - iNaturalist Community Forum are so important. No matter how you slice it, there simply aren’t enough identifiers.