(Poll) Experienced Identifiers, What are your Search Filters?

I am curious what identifiers, both those identifying to species and those adding coarse IDs, set their filters to when searching. E.g, are you looking at a specific Family most of the time, or adding Order to Insecta, or what? And where?

I’d prefer that only those who have identified at least a few hundred observations take part in the polling. I welcome and encourage new identifiers (I was like you once!), but I’m curious about those who do the majority of the identifying.

I often search at the following taxonomic level:

  • Unknown
  • Kingdom
  • Phylum
  • Class
  • Order
  • Family
  • Genus
  • Species
  • Subspecies
  • Other

0 voters

I often search in the following areas:

  • Worldwide
  • specific country/ies
  • North America
  • South America
  • Asia
  • Europe
  • Antartica or the Arctic
  • Australia or Oceania
  • Africa
  • Custom Area

0 voters

I include the following types of observations:

  • Research Grade
  • Needs ID
  • Casual (captive/cultivated)
  • Casual (other)

0 voters

I often identify the following taxa:

  • Animalia (Vertebrata)
  • Animalia (other)
  • Plantae (Angiospermae)
  • Plantae (other)
  • Fungi
  • Other

0 voters

Thanks for your answers!


I realize I should probably have included Animalia (Insects) but my Animals Blindness got in the way. Whoops!


I regularly patrol all the observations in Indonesia (tagging captives, adding coarse IDs, correcting people who input american species as ID, explaining stuff to new local users) while IDing Arachnids in Southeast Asia


I’m a non-expert and generally add coarse IDs, with finer ones for the fairly small number of species I recognize (mostly birds or wildflowers). I generally search UK and Ireland, sometimes specifically for unknowns, sometimes just for everything that people have posted.


Your options for geographic area made me laugh because I default my searches to just my county (948 sq mi) and that is more plant results than I can possibly look at. If I am doing a specific species of plant I might up it to the state level. Are there really people who search whole continents?


well… I meant more like “within the continent of”

I am/was expecting many identifiers to be searching in relatively smaller areas.

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i do custom search Europe+Russia+Central Asia (including Mongolia and pretty much half of China) down to Arabian peninsula from time to time ;)


I have saved searches at both ends of the size spectrum. I subscribe to all observations in a few parks. I look at all plants from the Great Basin (~200,000 sq mi. in Nevada, California, Oregon, Idaho, and Utah, though I pretty much ignore the Wasatch Front because it’s all garden flowers and street trees.)

I also subscribe to worldwide observations of a few showy western natives that frequently show up as wrong IDs far outside their natural ranges. Occasionally I search for unknowns within my state and ID them to Kingdom or Order so they’re not just sitting in the midden heap of “Unknown.”

PS. If anyone is near the Wasatch Front and needs help identifying a wild plant, feel free to tag me on the observation.


I have my search filters set for any plant that gets observed in the counties surrounding where I live in Kansas and I also have search filters set for specific species (I think only like 10 species, it’s still a lot of observations per day though) that I can readily ID no matter where in the world they are observed.

Interesting poll. If I’m searching for a species than I am less likely to specify a place unless it is a popular species with numerous observations. Native range is self limiting.

If I’m searching for an order butterflies and moths then I will narrow to country, state or province unless too many results come up
and then I will search by families as best I can.

Occasionally I hit explore and see if I can identify unknowns at some level wherever in the world they may be. Even cultivated flowers are worthy of my attention. Once I found a patio gardener in Dubai growing pentas—the same flower featured in my thumbnail :)


I am pretty new here. I joined in February and only became active the second week of April. But I have been identifying plants and studying nature all my life. I live in southern New York and grew up in Iowa. I will ID plants that I know. I will pass over things that I don’t know well or that don’t show for me distinguishing characteristics. I have found a region called northeast but I do not know the name of the other us regions except midatlantic. I would like to know the region name for the northern midwest. It would be good to be able to see a map of say a continent with regions specified. There are many features of this site that I stumble upon as I go.
To answer your question I usually filter for plants or unknown and regions or states or counties.
Sometimes I will id insects to order or family. If I am looking at a plant and realize it is the bird they are referring to, if I don’t know it, I will just say ‘bird’ and move on. Although I do have a certain level of knowledge of many of these areas.
inat is a great resource. It does have it’s weaknesses to be aware of. But that is far outweighed by the extensive amount of contributions.
I have learned by being corrected too.
Thank you to everyone who contributes.

I am still learning the ins and outs of this


After I entered a couple of observations of Chaga Mushroom, I found that they stayed as “Needs ID”. I went through all the Chaga observations I had time for and identified those that were “Needs ID” and added to those with only one identification (in addition to the observer’s identification). I now “subscribe” to Chaga Mushroom and identify the observations as they come in. The same thing happened with Western Gall Rust and Pine-Oak Gall Rust.
I also subscribe to observations in the city (and surrounding area) I live in. I will identify anything I think I, reliably, can. I will also try to narrow down an observation of “something”.


I have set my filters to Cape Town.
First Unknown which can be easy to clear.
Then Needs ID which is endless. Almost 13 000 pages to go.

Mostly plants, so it’s a learning curve for what’s blooming now.
But I am also curious to see anything nature based, which I in turn might come across. I will fave or Follow to stay ‘in’ the discussion towards an ID.


I id everything I can from either the whole country/region/my tiwn/nearby forest, I rarely use filters, usually for qick checking of new unknowns, before I sometimes ded only birds or only plants.


When I joined I was (and still am) subscribed to observations from Hong Kong, so I mostly look at an interact with observations from that area. But now I also live in the USA (for my grad studies) so I also have a look at what is there every now and then, though definitely not nearly as often compared to the former location. Occasionally I would just select a random country/continent and view and interact with the observations there. As a mere enthusiast who has learnt through use of iNat, I typically look at observations of Lepidoptera; for Hong Kong I can identify a good portion to species level, and now I am able to for the most part identify to family level for other locations, which of course helps to narrow down the search for a species.

Edit: Despite the title I don’t claim to be an experienced identifier, but I know enough to make reasonable and reliable guesses.


I either just look at whatever comes up on the Identify page, or I set unknown as my only filter. I generally add coarse IDs.

I have one place and a few taxa favorited, so they come up in my feed. I don’t usually ID those unless they haven’t gotten a specific ID or I if disagree with the ID.

So I’ve entered the current data into a spreadsheet and will be playing around with it. Will talk about my findings in a new post. Might be a few days, got to study for my Cellular Biology final…

ps. I was actually curious about where the bottenecks in IDing are. And expect followup questions :)


While not an expert by far, i am relatively knowledgeable about the marine fauna around Scandinavia, especially the area of Skagerrak/Kattegatt, as that is my home turf and i have a background i marine sciences. So, i almost exclusively identify marine organisms from this area, i follow the Cnidarian, crustacean and echinoderm phyla from all the Scandinavian countries (meaning Sweden, Norway and Denmark) and also search in the Actinoperygii and Mollusc (mostly nudibranchia) phyla for the same area.

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I’m pretty new to be answering a poll for “experienced” identifiers, but I’ve racked up a tad over 2,400 IDs since uploading my first Observations in mid-March, so I think I qualify.

I mostly ID Unknowns. My computer skills are better than my naturalist skills (but I’m learning!) and I spent a good deal of my professional career mucking around in databases and spreadsheets, trying to wrangle data into shape.

My geographic area is usually pretty specific. I start in Staten Island NY (my home borough), then go to Gateway National Recreation Area–although the location says NJ, it actually encompasses parks in NJ, Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens. If I’m bored I’ll try all of New York City or even State, but that can be a lot. One weekend I was really bored and tried Eastern US but that was tooooo much.

Along the way I’ve created a few “boilerplate” comments to accompany my very general IDs and, I hope, guide new users to making their own general IDs when they upload Observations. (I’ve adopted @peakaytea’s helpful guide to separating out photos of multiple organisms in the same Observation.) And I’ve recently begun directing some Observations–mostly feathers, eggs and nests–to Projects that specialize in that kind of thing to help speed a good ID.

I’ve learned a few new species since uploading my own photos to iNat. One of my favorites is Red Deadnettle–turns out it’s all over the place here. I’ve discovered that dandelions are a lot more complicated that previously believed.

In my own socially-distanced walks I’ve discovered where the Brant like to hang out–and it’s not where the local birdwalk groups go.


I was at a bit of a loss as well. I confine most of my identifications to Noctuidae (mainly 4 tribes) of Eastern Canada. Western Canada is a different beast, and as for the whole of NA, I gave that up a while ago. I tried to go wide, and wound up competent in nothing. Since my concentration, I have learned a great deal, and occasionally do Western Canada or other parts of the continent. Partly that’s due to where most collectors are - there are more E. Canadian collectors than Western.

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