People making wrong suggestions

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.


They’re so…human.

Does anyone know if ring bill gulls sometimes don’t have rings but instead have dark tipped bills?

I think juveniles do, yes. Like this one I observed playing with a stick.

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Thank you, Kat. Your response and concern is greatly appreciated and reminds me that iNat is a community. Yes, I am still affected but I am enjoying getting back into the fields and making observations again. I am also again trying my hand at art. Thanks, again, and I hope you are doing well.


Yes. Here’s the funny thing: we have all these different words for animal sounds – lowing, bleating, barking, mewling, quacking, honking – but really, they are all the same thing: inarticulate noises. Yet animals understand each other. Meanwhile, we humans, with all of our fancy words, constantly misunderstand each other. Maybe we should go back to inarticulate noises?

@spiphany was correct that I have done a lot of complaining. She also – I suppose rightly – suggested:

Well, that is actually difficult. The irony is that tagging people to help – which is so often suggested here – feels like it is the iNaturalist equivalent of my complaining in the forums. Tagging someone feels like complaining that no one has come by on their own.

far be it for me to to dictate what you should feel, but imo very few, if any, will interpret your tags like this. To me, tagging indicates I value/respect someone’s expertise + knowledge, and would appreciate them taking a look, with the assumption that they haven’t yet seen that record; due to the tremendous number of iNat records flooding in, it’s far easier to miss a record than it is to catch one

I used to look at literally every single Australian record that had been uploaded in a given day, but that is now simply not feasible due to how many get uploaded. So there are plenty of obs I miss, and I don’t see being tagged in them as the user complaining, I feel chuffed that they think I’m a good person to offer my thoughts!


Thank you for the reassurance.


I’m usually fine with being tagged. Sometimes I’m embarrassed because I don’t know what the observation is. The only time being tagged seriously bothers me is when somebody will tag me perhaps a dozen times in one day. It feels like the person is taking advantage of me, tagging me instead of thinking for himself. Tag moderately and the ones tagged won’t mind. Often we’ll be happy to be consulted.


I have a little list of people who have snarled back - do NOT tag me.
That’s fine - I ask the other gazillion people. You have knowledge to share? You are active on iNat?
Help please?

On social media we only know what people choose to tell us about RL. Family crisis. Broken computer. Poor internet. And and and.