Placeholder text and IDing Unknowns

I only use a laptop, and download photos from my camera later - so that is the workflow I know.

We have a conflict around Placeholder text. Especially for newbies (and the City Nature Challenge) When uploading observations, in the prime spot top left - Do this first - this is important - iNat has the placeholder text. But iNat treats that like a postit note, and discards it when you blink. Maybe the placeholder said for the ant and I add a plant ID. Gone!

Because the low hanging juicy fruit is gone, I am speeding thru the last 5K of Unknowns. Much blurry green smudge, might be a plant? Nextnextnext. iNat is visual, we can only work from the photo. My workflow is to call up a page of 20, click the first to get the mid-size picture. I start by studying the picture (on the left half of the screen). Then my attention focuses on the right half as I try to add the best ID I can. Nextnextnext. And in the split second as I click next! I notice, top left but blurred out in grey, sigh, there was placeholder text. But now I can’t find it.

I am missing the logic here. I have learnt to put anything, either in the note when uploading, or a comment later.

What is the point of putting the placeholder first, then discarding it?

It would help if the placeholder text was displayed with the other text on the right


You get me thinking. What is the point? Maybe make it so it stays as a afer the name? The placeholder is still a placeholder but to make it go away? Maybe put it somewhere else next to the name. Why?


This does not fix the underlying issue, which I envision with the implementation of some kind of “paste placeholder in comment field” button so I can limit the repetitive stress injuries from so much placeholder copy/pasting. But it’s a good workaround if you realize you just trashed the placeholder:

I’ve been going through the non-plant CNC21 SA records and can see the scale of the issue- I commend you for going through all those plant-placeholdered items!

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To my knowledge I’ve never used a placeholder. I upload an Observation (one or more photos) from my camera via my laptop and enter the info. If I’m not sure of an ID, I’ll enter the closest I can, then put any additional info the Notes field, where it persists.

I hate to erase Placeholders by adding an ID to unknowns, so I check before IDing. (It slows me down a little but it preserves the user’s first impression.)

If the Observation is recently uploaded or from an experienced user (50 observations or more, approximately), I’ll leave it. Maybe they haven’t reviewed and edited a recent observation, or it’s an oversight they will catch. But if the user is new–and especially if it’s been around for a while–I will ID in general and mention the placeholder in the ID comment field. For example: “I agree that it’s a hawk, but I am not an expert and cannot be sure from the photo, so I am IDing it generally. If you are confident that it is a [placeholder] feel free to ID it as such.”

That might help the user and preserves the Placeholder in a way for their reference, and it helps move Observations with a Placeholder but no ID out of “unknown limbo.”


If your ID is still the only ID, withdrawing it will cause the placeholder to reappear.


I agree the placement of the placeholder text is bad, and the fact that is easily overwritten, worse.
Placeholder text is supposed to be an ID, but something prevented it from becoming a “real” ID: spelling error, lack of internet connection, or just the typing of a phrase that doesn’t match any taxon. I think therefore the placeholder text should go in the area of the page where IDs and comments go. Obviously it is not a taxon and not going to count towards the community taxon, but it could still be formatted to look like an ID/comment.


and thank you for following my trail and adding the how to … for the endless - only one species per obs please.


The good news is our advice actually worked for some records during the challenge, a few people did narrow them down so they got id’ed in time. :)


Weird issue I’ve had lately- when doing that workaround there has been a lag to see it reappear (could be during a heavy use time though).

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