Re-implement limited "ID Please" flags for observations

Per recent suggestions here and here,

  1. Re-implement an “ID Please” or “ID Priority” flag (checkbox) on observations. Setting the flag would automatically reset (clear, blank out) the “can the Community ID still be confirmed or improved” DQA for that observation, and force “Needs ID” status regardless of other observation attributes.

  2. Each user would have a strict limit on the number of active flags at any one time, analogous to feature votes on the Forum. I’m thinking of a number like 5. 10 at most.

  3. Add “ID Please” as an explicit filter option for Observations and Identify (with a “mine” option to see only one’s own active flags).

This is the meat of the request. It would allow identifiers to include (or not) observers’ perceived ID urgency as an explicit filter criterion when selecting a set of observations to identify. Among other effects, this would increase the general “welcome-ness” of IDs for both observers and identifiers, and help identifiers prioritize their work. Observers more often get the IDs they most want, and identifiers can (optionally) have the satisfaction of knowing their IDs matter more to the recipients.

  1. Automatically clear any ID Please flag when a new ID is added to the observation by a user (not by a taxon change), and return it to the flagger with notification. They can choose to re-flag the same observation for further ID, or flag something else.

Also Consider:

  1. Allowing users to flag each other’s observations for ID priority, not just their own – but only one flag per observation, and it would count against the flagger’s limit. This is for cases where a user sees someone else’s observation that they really really really want to know the identity of. I’m not seeing any downside for the observation’s owner in such cases – they get a freebie – but maybe I’m missing something…

I wish I could vote twice for this! It would go a long way to building strong connections in the community… It would be great to be able to prioritise reviewing the top ten needs ID of everyone. I would vote thrice if it could be done on others obs too!


Thanks for making this feature request!

This one could encourage the creation of sockpuppet accounts.


That, and asking (pestering?) people via PM to get an “ID Please” flag on their observations. But that’s thinking of a worst case scenario and may not necessarily be what happens.


Any more so than what an unethical user could currently do to get RG observations faster?


Not sure, since I’ve never really understood the draw to get research grade. But I do want my stuff identified correctly…


Given that pushy observers that want instant IDs for little in the way of legit urgency already push by tagging top ten, perhaps them figuring out sock puppet accounts would be less obvious and therefore less bothersome to IDers, and we as identifiers gain the advantage of filtering those to our branch or place of expertise. It could also be limited to no more than 5 or 10 flags from others. There could also be a structured reward system built into it, in that for every 1000 IDs matching CID for others, an extra flag gets awarded… Again, could be gamed, but maybe an idea worth exploring?


Excellent idea. We all have some observations for which we really want an ID or an ID confirm.

I had been thinking that it would be nice if iNat had a mega-project for reviewing special requests for ID during the less busy season. For example, January might be a good time to ask for IDs of plants in the Southern hemisphere’s temperate zone; and July might be good for fungus IDs in places in the Northern hemisphere that have a winter rainy season. My thinking was to add a limited # of observations to an ID-requested project for a large region and a broad taxon, such as North American birds. Flags are probably less work for iNat’s coders.

Kiwifergus’s idea about awarding extra flags is also well worth exploring. Someone with 1500 observations should ideally be given more flags than someone with 15 observations.

jdmore, do you envision the flags being moveable? That is, once the observer gets a satisfactory answer or gives up on getting a good ID for one observation, does the observer take the flag off that observation and use it somewhere else?

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Yes, see #4 in the original post. The flags would be moveable at any time, but would automatically be returned when a new ID is posted on that observation. Again, analogous to Feature Request votes on this forum.

As for awarding extra flags under certain conditions, I have mixed feelings. The logic for doing so is definitely there. And I can also see a view that the newer, less experienced users (using number of observations as a proxy for that assessment) need the encouragement of relatively rapid IDs more than the older more established users with more observations.

In other words, we might not want someone with 10000 observations and 100 flags competing for priority IDs on par with 20 newer users with fewer than 100 observations and only 5 flags each. (Just making up some possible math here…)

Just a thought…

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I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but there isn’t support on the team for implementing this. It would be complex to code and design, and I think it would also be difficult to explain to users (especially new ones) how the whole thing works. I understand the sentiment behind it - there are certainly observations of mine that I’d love to have IDed more than others - but it’s not something we’ll be doing.

Ah well, we had to ask. Thanks to the team for considering, and to you for being the messenger.