Proper way to store and organize hints about identification of taxa

Hi there
I have run so far into some observations where getting a documentable ID implied some fine grained research on the web which brought me to get hints which could be useful for other iNats (e.g.
At the same time, I have been helped in my ID activity with important information (for instance this or this
Is there a proper way to store these hints so that they are searchable and available to other users?
Viceversa, is there any place where taxa specific hints can be retrieved?

I think it would help spreading knowledge, improve IDs of people who care spending a bit more time on it and ease the gargantuan task of the experts who try to rectify wrong IDs.

Your opinion/hints really appreciated.

EDIT: just to point out how much knowledge is in the group, have a laugh at this crash failure of mine :smiley::cold_sweat:


I have copied a few into a journal post, but that’s obviously not sufficiently structured and relies on consistent text.

They could be added to the linked Wikipedia pages, as long as they are specific to the species.


Maybe I lack imagination but in my opinion only a section or a subsection of the forum dedicated to this topic including the online resourches (scientific papers, keys, etc…) available for free could be helpful. Each thread should have the name of the taxa concerned and possibly also the geographical location, if pertinent, in order to seerch them easily.
Otherwise threads could be lost in the tons of other threads posted in “nature talk”.

yep, that’s a good idea. I wonder if out of the box (current box) there is a way to link that entry to the taxa or species.
It would be amazing being able to select a species and come to know that some keys (or simply identification hints) are available for the same or upper taxa or even different genus which might be confused.

1 Like

…and a way to locate observations with these long discussion threads? the more comments, the more possibilities of finding the hint you are looking for… in some cases they helped me a lot, because of the dialog.

of course a structured knowledge data base is more practical, but still you have to know it exists and find it.


I am a novice here but I did not spot a way to filter obs on taxa by comments (and maybe you would run into a lot of expressions of gratitude (wooops feeling guilty here :roll_eyes: )).
This would not be probably difficult to implement, but compared to @blue_celery’s idea you lose the chance of asking clarifications or debating the hint/key. Which would become an interesting and engaging way of discovering nature itself.
Linking to a forum section would also allow to make available the same hint-pages for different taxa (I am thinking of hints to get the right id for similar genus, or similar species where the comment refers to all the ambiguous items).
I have just spent the evening digging into the identification of larvae of Melolonthinae based on the disposition of the hairs at the end of their abdomen. Absolute fun, I assure!

Well, you can make a tutorial here on the forum and then have a curator link to it on the taxon’s about page. I just tried this on our test server for @JeremyHussell’s orbweaver tutorial:

Making a tutorial here on discourse is much easier than using iNat’s journal functions.


That looks really very neat. And a wikipedia-like engine would also allow to properly manage edits, history, allow cleanup bots and links to external resources.
An issue though: the same taxa could be affected by multiple hint links (for instance when you have issues between species in a genus and between genuses - but not only… Just think of Ichneumonidae) (this probably can be solved linking to a one-to-many-links intermediate page) and I feel a robust standard would be required to guarantee consistency. A format as a minimum.
But definitely a good way to do that in my view.
Being able to add a symbol in the drop-down of taxa suggestion would be the :cherries: on top of it.

There’re multiple topics on the forum about hints and such, just post them there.

1 Like

Does not sound a proper way to organise hints to me :face_with_raised_eyebrow:. Trying to get something out of the ‘hints and such’ box… Not easy nor immediate when you are trying to id. And I’m not a zealous tidy folk!
Moreover you miss the link to the taxa tree. You should perform multiple searches. And the result is not guaranteed since there is not a format which guarantees that taxa names are in place… et cetera.

Reading the other thread I believe also that the recommendations on ‘what to photograph for proper id’ should be added to this organized set of info

There’re recommendations on the forum.

That’s not to say it’s particularly easy in Discourse. Discourse’s interface is optimized for creating and editing small chunks of text, and it quickly became awkward to edit the orbweaver tutorial as it became a large document. If possible, I’d like to see an iNat-hosted wiki for identification tips.

Thanks, that made my day! Though, the link isn’t there anymore? (Edit: right, you said you did it on the test server.)

Your screenshot looked like:
The link should probably be on Araneoidea (some orb-weaving spiders aren’t Araneidae).


title of this thread: Proper way to store and organize hints about identification of taxa

I know there are multiple threads about this very question, but from a practical perspective, I think it is important that anything done here be done external to iNat, even if the content is managed almost exclusively by and for inat users. And then that content linked into the iNat taxa pages.

  • it allows much easier centralization and repetition of content - you dont need to enter content on related species pages over and over again or at a genus level (or even worse comparing similar looking but distantly related items such as vs etc
  • most importantly to leverage software that allows easy monitoring, management etc of content. Something like this has the potential to become a never-ending fight against copyright issues, and the iNat platform is not really set up to deal with that well.

I’m not sure if you’re referring to the edit window size, but it can be extended vertically by dragging this:

Thanks, that was just a quick and dirty test to see how it looked.

You can add links to the Taxon pages under the About (Informazioni) tab (see Look on the right there is a blue button with Add Link (Aggiungi collegamento). You can add links to comments or journal posts on iNat, or to external sites.

For southern Africa we have a traditional project called Keys (s Afr) - - and we add observations to the project that have ID notes, diagnoses, distribution info or keys. Perhaps you could start a similar project for your area or taxa of interest?


That sounds amazing!

@JeremyHussell you did an amazing job there - cannot imagine how you long you took to make that so neat
@tiwane and Jeremy: has it been considered to use something maybe less visually appealing but lighter like a wikipedia-like engine to be run externally?
The advantages I see are

  • support for multiple user contribution out of the box
  • consolidated mechanism to track edits, roll them back, link them to users (which gives possibility to ask direct clarifications)
  • bots for cleanup, formatting, annotations and in general low-level activities
  • leaner interface for creation and editing which is good for people with reduced resources (hw/connectivity)
  • platform well known by everybody which should help consistency, access etc.
    Link between the two worlds could be implemented using tags with a set format that might even be retrieved by iNat engine without requiring human intervention (apart maybe approval from curators or staff?)

just my twoppence here :blush:.
Don’t know Discourse at all, so maybe those features come in D too, just forget my remark if not helping.

1 Like