Questions--"Unknown" v. "State of matter Life"

This question relates only to observations with no ID–why do some of them get labelled as “Unknown” and others as “State of matter Life”? If an observer does nothing other than post a photo, I understand that it would be labelled “Unknown” until at least one identification has been entered. But when an observation is labelled “State of matter Life” despite no identifications, is that because the observer has chosen to enter that, or is it a default? Sometimes it looks like an observation has no identifications and that the observer has chosen “State of matter Life,” but then the observer asks why it says that. Is there some default that goes to “State of matter Life?”

A related question: Is “State of matter Life” intended to be a category for only observations with identifications in different kingdoms? If not, for observations that begin as “Unknown” and are moved into “State of matter Life” with no identifications yet, what are the criteria for moving from “Unknown” to “State of matter Life”?

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I’m someone who does that fairly frequently as needed.

My personal criteria are to do that when:

  1. I can identify the focus item as some kind of life vs say, a piece of plastic or a rock crystal, but can’t determine on my own what kingdom it could be among one or more. Algae (a couple kingdoms right there?) vs plants, slime mold vs fungus, living objects under microscopes, etc. A Life label is a handoff to someone with a better eye/more knowledge who can nudge it higher in the future.

  2. There are multiple possible foci potentially from different kingdoms and it may be hard to disambiguate (due to absent/unresponsive observer or whatever).

If there are site criteria that differ from those, someone please give me a heads up, thanks!


That makes sense, as potential conflicts with respect to kingdom.

On this one, I’m wondering whether it might be better just to identify one of them, say a plant, so it gets labelled as “Plants” instead, and maybe reduces the number of observations where different factions of identifiers are focusing on different organisms in the photo (pending hearing from the observer).


If submitted with no ID at all then it says unknown.
Submit with a name that is not on iNat or the taxon frameworks (sometimes this is a misspelling issue) and it also says unknown.
If you submit with id ‘life’ then it will say State of Matter life. It may appear that no ID was selected though, even though it was.

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I had thought the State of matter Life category would be reserved for the observations with actual or potential uncertainty as to the appropriate Kingdom. Thanks for explaining.

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