Polite way to deal with misidentifications when the user is active but not reviewing

Hi there.
I wonder if there is a recommended way for dealing with misidentifications, in particular mavericks (for their impact on the scoring system).
I have an observation where a caterpillar was identified as a Lepidoptera instead of an Hymenoptera and I managed to ID up to species level documenting it with link to keys, pictures and the like. Tagged the maverick (whose acitvity is going on on iNat) in comments, but no reply at all.
In a similar case I just deleted the obs and reloaded it but when other people have contributed I consider this not correct.
Forum advice?

EDIT: the case is no longer there since I solved it the hard way - the topic and the problem is still valid though.

Tag top identifiers for the group and politely ask them for id.


well, I know that, but turns into an overhead for the community. I meant something more chirurgic

That’s how we do it and it was discussed multiple times, nothing wrong in it, just don’t tag everyone at once.

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ok. I wonder if any thought has been made on incentivizing some responsability on given IDs- meaning incentivizing that ID are reviewed when proof is given that is wrong.
This not only for the obs in se, but for the fact that an identifier who does not care of reviewing his ID is very likely to do the same mistake with similar IDs. This generates a workload for the community to clean that up with the mechanism you suggest is the current standard.
And this workload pushes people towards quantity of ID instead of quality.
I think this makes the ID system unstable.


I don’t see the problem you describe, we have a tons of obs without a single id, so it won’t make it worse. Mass identifiers turn off the notifications, but as the id was wrong it’s almost 100% a new member of iNat community, learning how to do it all. Also it can be someone using app only, not seeing your tags and comments.


I made a slight change to your title because “maverick” has a specific meaning on iNat with regard to identifications. It means that the community already disagrees with their ID, e.g. in this case that if they IDed as Lepidoptera, at least 3 other people IDed it as Hymenoptera.


When this happens (if I’ve already commented) I usually opt out of community ID and just wait for a few other IDers to come along.

I think for those who ID en mass, it isn’t always that we don’t care to review, just that it is very easy for one little @ tag to get overlooked in a long list of notifications. I am hoping the notification system revamp will help with this, but still no signs of when the changes will actually roll out. If I were the ID person in your case, I wouldn’t be offended if you sent me a direct message about the observation.


thanks. I restricted to maverick intentionally because of the impact - of course the topic could be generalized, but I felt that not necessary. Change fine with me, though.

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agree, and appreciate the effort of mass identifiers (I know the feeling, I tried to review some ID of Xylocopa myself and I got exhausted after three pages) kudos on your stamina guys!

well, I understand this thing of tagging is creating an overload of messages to mass identifiers, which push them to silence or ignore the stuff (reminds me of my mailbox with some ks of unread messages)
Maybe a special tag could be reserved for this case (such as I don’t know, @!someone or @@someone or the like) - with a related sticky notification icon in the notification dropdown. This would have a positive impact on the ID system, I believe.
In the meanwhile is it considered acceptable sending a pvt message to the user or considered nagging?

I really don’t know. I wouldn’t mind, but I seem to be a little more easy going than many, and I can’t speak for everyone.

The direct message system does this.

Keep in mind that they are making IDs based on what they think it is, so technically no-one makes an incorrect ID. Community ID is the part that can be incorrect, and usually resolves itself with greater community involvement. This extra involvement is a good thing, not bad…

Be aware that we don’t need to ID everything. Or even ID correctly. Even museums have massive volumes of material either not identified or identified wrong…

Just ID the volume that is comfortable and enjoyable for yourself


yep, but you know, once you have spent hours translating dutch forum pages to try to ID an observation of yours at species level, and you share and document the results of such a quest, you’d like to have it listed in your obs portfolio with a reasonable ID or motivated disagreement.
I know you can resort to avoid accepting community ID, but that would be a last resort approach for me.
Moreover I cannot see why people keen on identifying should not also be keen on improving their ID accuracy.

well, this is border line phylosophical. I know I can name dog a cow, but usually the reason people give a name to things out there is that they want to communicate.


I didn’t say they could name a dog a cow and be “correct”. I mean, they are identifying based on their understanding of what that taxon is.

An organism is collected, studied by (let’s say it’s a spider) an arachnologist, who determines that it is unlike anything else described so far. He writes a description and puts forward a name, publishes it, get’s peer reviewed, and assuming it is accepted widely enough, that taxa becomes associated with that specimen. When we ID some other specimen, we are saying that we think it is most like that individual specimen than any other that has been described so far. For many species, there is such a large amount of variation that it is easy to find examples that are on the cusp of two different species, or show characters of more than one species. Then also factor in that some early descriptions (1700s and 1800s) were made when what constitutes a new species was not fully understood. Early spider descriptions, for example, did not take into account internal genitalic characters, which according to current taxonomic understanding holds far more weight on species differentiation than any somatic characters do. Yes, often those somatic characters are enough to differentiate, but not always. Then also factor in that many identifiers are not working from primary literature, but from guidebooks written by knowledgeable people that are unfortunately human, and capable of making mistakes (or having used now out of date literature!). Then also factor in taxonomic changes that have occurred due to new species discoveries that change our understandings, and also factor in new technologies of dna that are dramatically altering the taxonomic landscape at an ever increasing rate. Then also factor in taxonomic authorities that might differ from one another in terms of what taxa they accept as valid…

I used to be like that too… but now not so much. There have been taxa that I have researched deeply, and I believe I have a good understanding of them, and when I see the (according to my interpretation) “incorrect” IDs, I just copy and paste my standard comment about them, and leave it up to the observers and other IDers to make up their own minds. Think of it as a “leap of faith” :)


well, you know, I understand.
When you are a nurse in a hospital and you see loads of people dying suffering either you quit or become insensitive and you wonder why a person is taking so much to quit.
But that is different.
I have read so many times these days that iNaturalist is not a platform for scientists, I hope we are not using the intricacies of the evolution of Science studies for argument now.
Because either we believe that science is a useless exercise since everything can be revised (and scientist are just there to get a living) or we do not engage in that intricacy and we stick to the current knowledge. After all I think that the tools used in iNat to reclassify prove that identification has got a value. Otherwise I’d expect that the old identifications of reclassified taxas would just be flushed dow the drain.

Let’s not be nihilists. Science evolves in pair with human tools and knowledge, it’s a part of business. That should not surprise.
We should not fall in the old dichotomy of either I get 100% perfection or it does not worth while engaging at all.
That’s why I believe a lot of us are around and spend time on IDs. It’s the only sensible way to understand and investigate what we’re talking about and navigate the natural world. Valuable.
Let’s try to make the best of this time making them as accurate as possible.

My impression is that you don’t…

My point exactly! Just add value where you can, you don’t need to force others to agree with you

you forgot this

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on the topic of accuracy, let’s not forget (I remembered this morning trying some IDs) that carelessly identifying is obviously muddling the set of pictures which represent a taxa, making idendification harder and pushing people to lose trust (since there is the phenomenon of “thank you [I agree]” or, don’t know but want Research grade).
I realized this morning browsing difficult stuff, like mosses.

Obviously people do IDs according to their current knowledge, nothing wrong about that - but I feel that ID maintenance should be part of the package they subscribe when they ID. My view, of course.
And that’s not a duty, but a perk.
I feel like identifying is like subscribing to a thread of knowledge which goes both ways, not like throwing a stone in a pond.


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