Quality control checks?

One thing I’ve started to do more … when I’m confident that the submitter’s ID is incorrect but I’m maybe only 90-95% sure of my ID, I’ll add a comment indicating my suggested ID rather than provide the ID. I’ve seen too many cases where the submitter will automatically agree with the suggested ID of another – who might not be fully confident — and that leads to erroneous RG record. I still think 3 agreeing IDs are best for RG.

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Yes, I’ve noticed that there is really not enough communication, and way too much just scrolling through dashboard updates and clicking on IDs. Dialogue is extremely valuable. It’s a shame that our culture has become so automated and distant. I think it’s our responsibility to not let that be at the expense of understanding the natural world.

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iNat is first to encourage us ordinary people to notice nature.
The scientific data is a secondary benefit. Which makes life interesting here.
(I naturalist, not I scientist)

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Precisely.

I’m a Synechist. Engaging with a ‘Community of Inquirers’ is the avenue to truth. Again, dialogue. That’s why I posted this topic. :) It was not a complaint. It was just meant to open up discussion, and perhaps bring it more to the forefront of the community mind.

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That is why I follow my notifications. It can be fascinating to watch the discussions swirl, like the tide rolling in, and out.

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In a way, yes! Here is one way: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/computer-vision-clean-up-wiki/7281

Other ways are just by people interested in a taxon or species methodically going through records to check for “false positives”- (like @ddennism would for certain goldenrod galls heh. -Thank you for your service!).

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I’m not one of the methodical QC reviewers, but I will occasionally dive into records of particular interest from my area and double-check IDs for RG records as well as check the unreviewed records. One way to catch some of these is to look at the distribution maps for your favorite species and focus on the outlier records … fixing those, to me, is important since they can lead to a cascade of further erroneous records.

There are simply way too many records to have a comprehensive review process. So it does take time to correct erroneous records which can languish for a while, sometimes for years.

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The outlier idea is great! I do that randomly if I happen to notice it on a species’ map, whether or not I know something about the species. Then I end up learning something about the species by comparing the “probably is” vs “probably is not” record pools picked from the map areas.

(BTW Brefeldia maxima, good example- from that cleanup page cited above- that is currently getting cleaned up after years yay.)

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I also feel like two ID’s is probably too few to warrant Research Grade. It would be nice if someone could spot-check the accuracy of RG IDs for various taxons from time to time, so we have some data to go by, but who has the time for that?

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Lots of us do that. :)

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I don’t do lots of IDs but I do this sometimes. A while ago I looked at bobcat observations and lots of them were obviously domestic cats. Recently I looked at the species list for a specific area and there were some way out of range RG captive observations that hadn’t been marked captive.

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Almost 100,000 records are added to iNat on a daily basis and that number is growing quickly. With the resources on the site, it simply is not possible to double and triple check every identification that is submitted. As it is the number of people willing/able to do ID’s is quickly getting overwhelmed.

As others have said, one thing some people do is either monitor a taxa or group they know is prone to mis-identifcations and try and watch those. Another thing you can do is monitor the checklist of a place for the newest additions (the default view is order added to the checklist, so they will be last in line) to see if anything that raises suspicion has been added.

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This may be taking the conversation in a different direction but I wonder if the project “iNaturalist” needs to actively remind people of the need for caution for the very specific reason that climate change increasingly affecting what is seen where. I don’t want to make this a political conversation and the caution is relevant for any natural range expansion.

I’m as guilt as anyone at assuming what to expect in my area but maybe the idea that you have to look to what’s been seen in nearby areas, before users of iNaturalist offer identifications, should be emphasized in some way. For people following birds, butterflies or dragonflies, they may already be doing this, but here in Ontario even within some taxon considered relative immobile, such as crayfish, new species have been posted and confirmed, that are found in an adjoining jurisdiction (Michigan) that had not previously recorded in Ontario.

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Yes, that is a major source of error.

That’s not strictly necessary. Two IDs serve the same purpose as long as one of them isn’t the observer. It’s a subtle but important distinction, I think.

That reminds me, does anyone know a way to find all observations of a given taxon that do not have at least two IDs not counting the observer?

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I agree that, just because a RG record lies outside of the previously-documented range of that species, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily wrong. It can become a circular verification process to rely on the known range as the main criterion for accepting or rejecting an ID. But an outlier is often a flag to a reviewer that the record needs another look, especially if it is WAY outside of the range (100s of miles). There certainly are many good range extension records on iNat, especially for more mobile species or those that tend to get moved around by humans.

We also have to remember that not everything we know about a species distribution is captured in iNat records. Many species have had their ranges well-documented by specimen collectors long before iNat came along. However, I’ve also noticed that the shaded range maps for some iNat species accounts, especially for many mammals, are not particularly accurate or up to date.

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Just to give an idea of how the rate of observations is now outpacing identifiers.

Of verifiable records submitted from August 2019, 60% are research grade, for those from August 2020,it is around 45%.

Yes, the 2019 ones have had longer to get looked at, and some of the 2020 ones will still be reviewed at some time in the future to raise the numbers.

Observation numbers for August in North America increased by 50% from 2019 to 2020, but the number of identifiers dropped by almost a quarter in the same period.

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Hi,

I am a beginner at IDs with a special interest in birds, but also butterflies and wildflowers. (Local nature walks and hikes, some travel abroad.) This and other threads that indicate that some observations incorrectly become research grade make me i wonder whether this has happened to me. I am trying to be very careful about IDing my own observations, using the automated identifier, but also other sources—and am trying to learn about distinguishing features in what are for me close calls (viceroy vs monarch; northern vs southern leopard frog) I have been getting confirmations pretty quickly, and it is thrilling to get them. But still i am a beginner. So, I am hoping these are not pro forma ratifications of my initial ID. As i beginner, i would be very happy for my own ID to be considered tentative (and have sometimes indicated this in my comment) —and alsoto require 2 other confirmations before becoming research grade. In the meantime, would it be better for me not to do the species ID— and to indicate my tentative ID in the comments?

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You can do it any number of ways. If I’m somewhat confident of my ID for one of my records, I’ll use it but add a comment to my own ID indicating some reservations or will mention an alternate species that should also be considered. Or I’ll indicate in the Notes on the record that this is a tentative ID. It always helps to add extra information on your thought process for why you provided that particular ID, which allows other reviewers to know what you were thinking.

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I do the same, sometimes. Alternately, I’ll just put a tentative id in a comment, saying I think it’s X, but I’d be more comfortable if I could get an opinion for someone more knowledgeable. That way, if an opinion agrees with me, adding my own official suggestion seems less like an easy agreement.

The less confident I am, the more info I’ll add in the comments about why I’m making that suggestion. I often go back and reference this info for subsequent obs that might be the same species. I’ll often add links I referenced, as well.

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I would encourage you to make the initial ID based upon your research, and, if you have a specific comment to make about another possibility include that as well. If someone confirms your ID but doesn’t address your comment, and you are still unsure, you can check the box in the Data Quality Assessment section that the community ID can be improved. That will put the observation back in “Needs ID” where it can come to the attention of additional identifiers.

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