Poll - How many people seek out "unknown" observations to ID?

I’ve seen quite a few people mention that they like to search out observations marked “unknown” and then add at least coarse IDs to them, which is cool. So I thought it’d be fun to see exactly how many people do this on regular basis.

So, please tell us how often you actively seek out “unknown” observations when you are identifying on iNat. Thanks!

  • Always! It’s the main way I like add IDs
  • I sometimes search specifically for “unknown” observations
  • I never actively seek out "unknown " observations for identifying

0 voters

1 Like

on multiple occasions when i’ve created a new place or started following observations in a place, i’ve gone in and added identifications to as many observations that need identifications as i can, including unknowns. if there are a large amount that need identifications, i’ll start with unknowns. occasionally, i’ll follow up in these places do additional cleanups.

there some some people that i recognize who add observations without ever adding even coarse ids even though i know they are capable of doing so. and in those cases, i will purposely ignore those observations.


Are you including State of Matter Life in the Unknown category?



I should say I used to filter by “unknown” a lot, but don’t do it much any more.


I selected the “sometimes” poll option as closest to what I actually do, but it’s not a perfect fit. What I actually do is review plants + unknowns (&iconic_taxa=Plantae,unknown) in places where I know the flora fairly well. (Will also add Research Grade observations to review for places I know really well.) Took me a while to catch on to doing both of these things, once I realized what I had been missing. I’ll try to ID every unknown at some level, plant or not.

Otherwise, sadly, I hardly ever seek out unknowns on their own. Just not enough hours in my day. When I do, though, I try to &order_by=updated_at&order=asc (to see the longest neglected ones first) or &order_by=random to avoid specifically focusing on the newest ones.


I started doing unknowns in the DFW Metroplex, TX, US in reverse order shortly after the State of Matter Life cleanup push. I recently increased the range to Cross Timbers and Blackland Prairies, Texas Ecoregion, TX, US, TX, US and also switched to random order at some point along the way. I have it down to 39 pages, 63 pages if adding pages of reviewed but uncategorized observations. I do several pages daily.

I wish there were categories for scenery shots and State of Matter - Inorganic, more so the latter. Not much you can do with a rock or dirt. The first you can categorize as either captive or vascular plant and flag can’t be improved in a lot of cases, though when a stream is central in the photo . . .

I’ve also been annotating Life Stages of RG butterflies in the area. 1948 pages left there. :cry: Fairly quick to do though. Right Arrow, L, A, repeat except for the very few that aren’t adults.


I typically identify from a filter that has “needs ID” turned off, so I would identify them “as part of normal identifying” rather than actively seeking them out.

That said, I am actively inactive in identifying at the moment, while I sort out a few real life issues.


I do not search for unknowns, but I try add an identification when I see one.


I ID mostly planthoppers, but occasionally I search “unknown” specifically for hoppers, usually filtered by regions that are likely to have cool species. Most unknowns seem to be plants, and I usually just skim past those without providing a coarse ID, since I am only looking for specific things.


I like placing unknowns broadly when I can, so others more expert can find them. When I do, I often try to leave a friendly note explaining that “unknowns” take longer for people to find. It’s kind of fun because I meet some of the newest iNat members and get to welcome them to the site.


I do it every few months, but only for my state. The aim is to keep the # of unknowns to just one page.

However, my settings are that on my dashboard all observations of my state show up, and I usually directly add an ID to an unknown whenever I see it there. For new users, I leave a welcome as well. Thus, I don’t have to actively search for unknowns that often.


I stick mostly to unknowns because right now there are very few things I can identify at a species level, but many more I can at least give a broader taxonomic level to. It is a way for me to learn more since those things may eventually get a more specific ID. I am not sure my IDs help much with plants because folks that ID plants in my geographic area seem to work pretty generally and likely include unknowns, but if I find a bird or butterfly in there and label it as such, it often very quickly gets identified to species.


I do it that way too, but I chose to select the “always” poll option. I also do the unknowns alone in reverse order sometimes.


One page! Oh wow that puts things in perspective.


It’s kind of funny how it’s impossible to have a leaderboard for unknowns, since the obs leave the category upon being identified. Analysis in general must be difficult.


I like to identify species from the county I live in and sometimes in places I have travelled, am familiar with, and like to see what observers have posted since my visit (or sometimes before I visit). I regularly use 2 filters: plants and unknown and try to id unknowns at some level. I never just use unknown. Some unknowns I can at least use course categories so that the previously unknown organisms show up on expertise searches.
From reading the replies it looks like many of us who use the unknown filter are strategic about it: curiosity, target geographic region or taxonomic group. I am appreciative of the filters and assisting others toward accurate id’s.


It might just mean that there should be a higher activity in Austria and more people starting to use inaturalist…


I used to search for the unknowns, but with the massive increase in submissions I can’t even keep up with observations identified to areas of my interests…


In my usual Unknown identifying pane (including Life but excluding id’d bacteria etc), I do see a leaderboard. Above it, it shows that I have almost 6K reviewed (only ~3.5K of those ID’d- I have to skip over most sea life, microscope views and algae), >500K to go. ;)