Problem with People Ignoring Description

When there are multiple species in an observation I make, usually I will list all species in it, except for the one that the observation is for, in the description. Sometimes, people will make a comment listing all the species in the observation and either tell me that I need to split the observation up (which I already did) or add a different ID than mine, assuming what species I want IDed. It has especially happened the past 2 days with a particular user. It seems to me that they are just ignoring my description, which is frustrating, especially if they don’t respond to my comments explaining what the particular observation is for (and not for). Does anyone have any ideas in how to fix this issue? Should I just stop using the description (and maybe use a comment instead)? Should I just ignore them or just keep responding to them (even if they won’t respond)?

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Can you share an example or two so we can get a better idea of the issue?

I would still use the description, and still use the comments.

Even if that user never responds, it helps for other users.

Also, the comments can (briefly) put your observation into the “Real Time Discussions” tab, which can help get other users eyes on your observation to counteract the ID of the user ignoring the description.

Here are some examples:

If it were me, I would move the modified picture that zeroes in on the terns to the first picture of the set. I would also try to do close-ups of the other birds I want identified as you did with the tern rather than just relying on comments–but that’s just me and because I sometimes submit to Bugguide where the policy is “just the bug,” so I’m in the habit. That said, those are your observations, so you have control over them and iNat rules are different. I don’t think the comments are bad–I suspect the person is trying to help and just overdoing. I agree that you don’t need to be told repeatedly–once is enough. I’d ignore the commentary and just move on.

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Usually I would ignore it, but sometimes a user will add a different ID along with the comment and then another user will agree with them, causing a mess and making it really hard to bring it back to the ID I want. I like posting my pictures chronologically, and when I have to crop I usually like to add the ‘big picture’ first before zooming in on the specific subject.


I see. It is frustrating to have someone ID what you don’t want identified. In the case of other identifiers, I suspect they are moving through quickly and not reading descriptions, so just following the first identifier. That’s too bad because it’s not helpful to you. For those observations, I suppose you have to comment to call attention to the error. I’m sure others will have ideas about how you can deal with the situation because I’ve seen discussions regarding this issue before. I know you can block people, but I always think of it as the last resort and haven’t done it.

Since the iNat computer vision is looking at the first photo to determine what a --insert species-- looks like, I’d think the first pic needs to include only the organism that the observation is attempting to document. Otherwise, isn’t the computer vision going to get fed noise making it less effective? I think the intent of iNat is to document occurrence of an organism. That’s what guides my own posts. I often don’t think about reading the “description” since it doesn’t exactly “pop” out from all the other stuff on the screen. Maybe the person is just not noticing it.


Yeah this person is applying “standards” that simply don’t exist. They shouldn’t be adding wrong ids. I guess override community ID in those cases and once you’ve explained yourself ignore them. If they keep pestering you email


If it’s the same person who is doing it frequently, I’d directly address with them that this is how iNat works and point them to the identification etiquette post about respecting the observer’s request for which organism the observation is about. The ID you give does not have to be the organism in the center of the photo and you’re by no means required to point this out in the description, though it’s a useful addition, and people willfully ignoring it are definitely in the wrong.

If they’re not responsive and continue to do it, I’d email the site staff (or another tactful user/curator ) with examples and request they take a look and reach out to the user as well.


This person has done the same thing in the past and also never responded to comments. They aren’t they only person doing it, but definitely the most frequent.

My experience with controlling human behavior is that you can’t. But you can do things that prevent the unwanted behavior. In this case, that would be for the first picture to be the organism that you’re wishing to document, and the subsequent pics documenting how that organism fits in with its environment. I think that fits the spirit of how iNat is set up and is what most users are expecting. There’s no “rule”, but again, you’re not going to be able to prevent this from happening because you’re doing something that most people aren’t doing.


You can block them. Whether that’s what iNat wants you to do or not, it is an option.

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A lot of people post photos like this. I don’t think it’s fair to ask someone to modify behavior to accommodate someone who isn’t responsive nor following the protocol. There’s just simply no requirement to do so. Maybe someday the site will have internal tagging or cropping or photo annotation capability which would help.


Jeez, no wonder you’re frustrated. It’s not a standard way of uploading observations but it’s not like it’s difficult to understand what you’re doing, and they so consistently get it wrong I’m almost convinced they’re doing it on purpose.

Have you tried messaging them privately to explain why you need them to stop?


You seem to be using the CID and description to form your complete idea. I would put the complete idea in the description along the lines of “Terns and Noddies, not the pelicans and cormorants.” Not sure if it would help in this particular case though. The user seems to be trying to force their standards upon others.


I see it that the person making the comments, is simply being more precise as to where the bird is in the photo. Yes you put in the description the other birds, but you don’t define which bird is the observation either.

Out of all the examples I only see one observation that he made an actual identification, the rest are comments only. To be fair the one that he did make an observation on, the photo that is supposed to be the cattle egrets is pretty blurry to make a definitive ID.

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It doesn’t seem like they’re being more precise since they’re just repeating what @brennafarrell already included in the description, and more importantly they continue to do so after she has explained repeatedly that it’s not necessary.


@jimbee, What I mean is she doesn’t define which bird in the photo. She could say the terns are on the far right or the egret is in the tree etc. She says this photo is for the terns but there’s a pelican in the picture too… that doesn’t define anything if you don’t know what the tern is.

He only changed one ID, the rest are just comments/opinions and we all have them. If she doesn’t like them, ignore them. If he was changing all of her IDs, then maybe it would be a problem.


I haven’t yet. I was hoping that I could have a discussion with them in the comment section to fix it. Also, I don’t know what I’d say differently in the PM than in the comments.

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