Problems with wrong suggestions


I’m pretty new to this site, and have mainly been giving some identifications for my field.
My main focus is diptera.
I would like to start sharing my observations in here, something I have neglected, because I typically have used another database.
The other day I typed in a Platypalpus annulipes with picture and everything. This is a collected specimen, keyed out using Cvhvala 1975 and double checked. Im not guessing, nor do I have doubt about the specimen (its pretty common although not often recorded because not many looks at 3 mm Platypalpus species).
Now I realise, that someone has made a suggestion for id to be “suborder Brachycera”. This is obviously wrong, but the thing is, that it has somehov overruled my own identification. I then had to type it once again, and luckily someone has confirmed my id.
But am I doing something wrong? The guy with the wrong id has made countless suggestions to observations, just naming some families or similar. I do believe in democracy but also in knowledge, and if anybody can change my identifications, then this lovely database looses all its value, and I for once can not use my time rewriting observations, unless they are questioned by skilled people (if in doubt I will always contact experts to verify my findings).
I have probably misunderstood something, but will not make more contributions unless Im sure that I have full control over identifications.

Cheers, Rasmus


Welcome to the forum Rasmus :)

In a situation like this where someone (incorrectly) overrules your ID, you can choose to ‘reject the community taxon’. There are two ways to do this:

  1. On an individual observation. Using your above example, you would go to the right hand side of the observation page, and beneath the map and under the heading ‘Community Taxon’ there’s a ‘reject’ option:
    Clicking ‘Yes, reject it’ means that the other user’s ID will be ‘nullified’ and the observation’s community taxon will be restored to your original ID and you can wait until someone either confirms it, or legitimately corrects you.

  2. For all of your observations. Given that your main concern is saving your time, you can set this feature up to apply automatically to all of your observations. On your profile page, click the blue ‘Edit account settings & profile’ button under your profile picture. From there, there is a section with the heading ‘Community Moderation Settings’:
    If you wish to apply this setting to all of your observations, untick the box and hit save.

I know it can be frustrating to have other users incorrectly and seemingly arbitrarily overrule your initial IDs, but keep in mind most of these cases are due to naivety/genuine mistakes rather than having any malicious intent. Having said that, opting out of the community taxon is a solution to your problem.

If you have the time you could also consider leaving a comment for those users explaining why their ID is incorrect, so that they can learn for next time and improve their IDing skills.


Just to also explain why your ID changed. The other user’s ID of ‘Brachycera’ wasn’t technically ‘wrong’ per se, it’s just that they took it up to a coarser level (P. annulipes is within Brachycera as you know) and selected the ‘explicit disagreement’ option, which was not the right option to pick in this specific case.

For example, if I were to type in an ID of ‘Brachycera’ on your observation right now, I would be prompted with this message:

Clicking the green option is me saying that I definitely know this is Brachycera, it could be P. annulipes, BUT I’m not 100% sure. In this scenario, your ID is maintained.

Clicking on the orange option is saying that I definitely know this is Brachycera, I don’t know which species it is, BUT it is definitely not P. annulipes. In this scenario, your ID is overridden and taken back to the level of Brachycera. This is what the other user did in your case.

In both of these cases, the other user is essentially agreeing with you at the level of Brachycera, but whether they pick the green or orange option decides whether your ID is also changed.


Welcome to iNaturalist and to the forum!
It’s great to have another fly person here. With tricky groups like flies there’s a lot of misidentification and it’s always helpful to have more correctly identified observations to reference and experts to help identify.

In a situation like what you’ve described, it can be helpful to reply with a comment and ask the identifier why they made the decision they did. Generally if the identifier is active, and you explain your rational for your own identification, they will withdraw their ID.


If this is the observation in question, is it possible that your first identification of Platypalpus annulipes was entered as a placeholder rather than an actual ID? I’m not seeing that as the first ID on the observation, and if that is how it happened then the ID of Brachycera was technically improving the overall identification of the observation (although it does overwrite the placeholder). It looks like the user exonie does a lot of identifying of Unknowns (observation that have no identifications).


Thank you so much for useful information. I will look into the settings.

:-) Rasmus


Just a couple of notes on this:

  1. If was the case that there was a placeholder ID instead of an actual ID, it turns out that it is very useful having users who assign a higher level taxonomy to Unknowns. This is even the case for something as simple as identifying to “Plants.” This pops the observation up for any identifiers with taxa “subscriptions” that are basically automatic filters showing new observations on your Dashboard. It also puts the observation into search filters where it wouldn’t show up otherwise. I know it’s not the case for your observation for which you knew the ID, but otherwise this is a helpful community function.

  2. Sometimes weirdnesses pop up such as identification disagreements or even taxonomic disagreements, which are not supposed to play out here, but do. Overall, though, the iNaturalist community is wonderful and the tool is pretty amazing with some really conservation and documentation value. It’s definitely worth looking past the occasional thing and discovering the community and value of the tool.



Welcome to the forum!


i’m curious on another aspect of this observation. over in the annotations, there’s a disagreement on whether or not this individual is an adult. is this an actual disagreement about the adult status, or is this an attempt to disagree about some other aspect of the observation?

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Just a note about turning off community ID: if it was true that your original ID was in fact a placeholder and not a real ID, and you’re now turning off community ID, then you want to be very careful to make sure to type in only real IDs on your future observations. If you create more observations with placeholders, they will not be connected to the database at all; they will not be searchable and no one will be able to find them for scientific use. Plus no one will be able to connect them for you, because you’ll have turned that feature off.


“Clicking the green option is me saying that I definitely know this is Brachycera, it could be P. annulipes, BUT I’m not 100% sure. In this scenario, your ID is maintained.”

I asked an (skilled in his group!) identifier once, why he disagreed with a more specific identification. He explained that it could well be the mentioned species, but there would be no way to tell with a picture alone. So he choses the orange option in these cases to overrule the unclear ID and to make it harder for others to just jump on this train. It kind of made sense to me and I do the same now actually.


This is great info! I’ve had a couple of situations like these, and tried to contact the user who overruled a correct ID. Good to know. Thanks, @Rasmus to bring this up.


Welcome to the forum!


Please only do this if you are certain it can’t be identified from the photo, and that you are certain a conversation amongst the community would support that conclusion. Being an expert is not enough to be certain, as there might be characters in a localised population that might be evident to a field worker that had worked closely with that population. It stands to reason that if you don’t know the minds of others in the community, you can’t say with certainty that they don’t know of such characters, so start from a position of assuming they can determine, and then work back from there (ie they appear to be a new inexperienced user that had utilised a CV suggestion, then maybe explicit disagree but tag them and ask why they think species etc)


Actually, I prefer the opposite. I have made the experience that users, which for whatever reason think they are sure it hast to be a certain species, will contact me and I will retract my evaluation if their argument sounds somewhat valid. But for example look at Araniella curcubinita, which cannot be determined in the field due to similar sister species, but look at how many research grate observations there are on iNat of this species. Many people are all too ready to ID to species and them not being experts I understand that there sometimes is not much knowledge of possibilities of getting apparently very prominent species like Araniella curcubinita mixed up.


That’s not the usage I was talking about for the green option. In some cases users want to add an ID to an observation; they know it’s definitely that genus/family/etc, but unsure of the species, so the green option can be a way of still contributing (as one example of its use).



Maybe I’m in the minority on this then, or perhaps just on the wrong platform…


I’d been wondering for a while what the purpose of these prompts are!

I think these prompts are pretty unclear with the current wording.


I support that point, and I am sure I have clicked on the wrong option in the past because of that. Thank you for bringing it up!


Consider adding that species to this post:
I do think using the orange button is warranted in situations like these because otherwise they’re impossible to fix.

Here is a feature request for clarifying the wording (along with a lengthy discussion about how it’s meant to be used, with some clarification here):