Recruiting more identifiers

but even if you have a section, that’s higher-level than species. so if someone has it at species level, if you put it at section level without disagreeing with the species, it’s still not research grade, right? if you disagree with the species, could you then say it’s as good as it’ll be? would that be antisocial?

1 Like

hmm i’m not sure how that all balances out. I’d probably mark as section without disagreement then if i was sure, like really sure, no one else could get to species, mark as not needing further ID. However, I am very leery to do so as a lot of times once you learn these ‘cryptic’ species you can eventually tell them from a glance in indescribable gestalt ways you can’t put in a key. But then again… if that’s the case, someone could still ID it if they searched that group, i guess.


I think this is my new fav term!


Gamefication or not, adding IDing capability to the app would be great. I enjoy it but sometimes it feels weird to be tied to a PC to go through other people’s obs.


It must be a generational thing. It would feel weird to me not to be tied to a PC. :laughing:


i like this because if it can be established as a norm among a significant part of the community, then it’s self-perpetuating. that said, i tried doing this in 4 cases where others provided IDs on my observations today, and it’s harder to do in some cases than in others. if you’re a generalist observer like me, you’ll get a lot of IDs on things you couldn’t ID yourself, and those IDers are often specialist observers in those things you couldn’t ID. so on the one hand, you could take the opportunity to stretch your ID comfort zone a bit. for example, i had to go through 4 pages of psyllidhipster’s observations before i found an observation that i had a chance of reasonably identifying accurately, though i did learn some things while going through all those observations. or on the other hand, you could stay your comfort zone, though that might mean you’d have to pay it forward on someone else’s observation.


I agree, it’s a good self-regulating process… and yes it’s surprising how much you can learn in the process!


Motivation is the key to all behaviour, so what you need is something that motivates many people. That is hard to do for the number of people on the site. Someone doing ID’s also needs to feel they are useful. That might be easier to implement, but I have been doing many ID’s and I am still not sure if how I do them is useful, especially after reading the negative comments mentioned above regarding basic ID’s. That kind of comment is easily forgotten by the people who know the site and have a lot of experience and training, but for someone like me who has a lot to learn, it can stick. My own motivation for doing more ID’ing is the severe brain injury of my spouse. As she needs 24 hour care, I have to pay someone to be with her before I can go out in the field myself. I would be out much more if I could be, but ID’ing is something I enjoy as well, and it fills the time for me when I am stuck at home. I say this to point out that what would motivate someone to do a lot of ID’ing is pretty impossible to know for sure. How they choose to do it and why is also difficult to know. I was identifying in my area, but usually there were more then enough people who could ID what I could. So I started going through the unknowns. My thinking was that the people with the training and experience would not want to, or have the time to, wade through endless potted plants, pets, photos of people and fuzzy bird pictures to find the things they are expert at ID’ing. But I can ID many to at least family. I also put in a lot of basic ‘bird’, ‘spider’ etc. ID’s because I can’t see the species well enough or I just don’t know enough to put in a better ID. I have learned that even if I can’t see what species say a bird is, many other people are easily capable of ID’ing them. I see what I do as making them visible and searchable so that can happen. I also usually avoid ID’ing for members who are very active, and focus on new members with few ID’s. But I still have no idea if this is a useful way to do ID’s. Only my lifelong interest in nature, and my inability to go out as much as I would like, provides my motivation. If you could make clear how doing ID’s is useful, and how to do them well, more people might do it. I still don’t know the site well, and am always surprised by what I learn reading this forum. I don’t know that the sites complexity can be changed, but I know many of the people I do a first ID for leave a comment saying thanks, and admit they are confused by how to use the site or the app.


Your ID efforts are very much appreciated! However it is that you find pleasure in doing observations is the right way to do it :) Always be open to comments from others, but don’t take the (often unconstructive) criticisms onboard. Any suggestion made to you should make you feel “yes, I like that idea, I think I will do that”, not “oh, I am doing it wrong”. That last one is your cue to let those ones slide!


I have often thought that IDing can be a virtual field trip for when you can’t get out yourself. One way to do that is to pick someplace you’d like to go, find a recent observation that needs IDing, and then track back to that observer and go over their trip for that day as a co-traveler or mentor. Especially if the observer is a newbie, there can be lots of things to help with and comment on, with maybe a “fave” pat on the back. Pointing out key features in an ID is a great way to review that species for myself. So what if I don’t get a large number of IDs done on that mission? I’ve had a good time, learned something, added to the database and maybe hooked an iNaturalist for life.


Rare should be seen as the rarity of uploaded observation not so much the organism, this way it prevents confusion. We want the uncommon/rare observations to be identified. I hardly doubt anyone will resits the urge to identify a Black Swan regardless of points involved. If worked in combination of a reputation system, then it may prevent misleading ID’s for quick point gain. At the moment there is nothing to separate a new user from uploading a distant silhouette tree of iNat 1st identified to a species level that’s out of range. Compared to an observation of highly skilled user that has supporting evidence to their observation. Both remain at ‘Needs ID’ except the silhouette is more likely to be identified due to the lower probability of not been proven wrong.

Some plants and algae species are poorly speciated, they make take more than 30 minutes pulling out books, some other plants may take minutes or seconds. So we need a way to prevent misidentification of these species whereas ensuring sufficient evidence is provided such as microscopic photos if necessary.

For the point system: Maybe something like 200 points for ID’s that have less than 2 observations in a 200km radius. 100points between 2-10observations, 50points 10-100 obs, 20points 100-500, 2points for 500-1000, 1 point for observations that have been uploaded more than 1000 times per 200km radius? Such methods should be tested with feedback to ensure the best results.
At the moment something needs to be done, there is not enough identifiers especially with Flora, yet too many unnecessary ID’s with birds.
I used to spend much time identifying flora, now I’ve found a method to multiply by identities by x3.5 by including the regular species, as a result it’s more rewarding for myself to miss any observations that takes more than 5seconds to identify. I’ve shot through many of the leader boards.

Those whom initially place an incorrect ID will likely be corrected. If you place an ID to subspecies level than you probably won’t receive an ID.

Not many people like to be corrected but most of us are happy to correct someone else, if that makes sense. If you want quality ID’s I suggest placing supporting photos to your observations this will act as a deterrent to incarnate ID’s.

Although it’ll become of less value to the public because many observations ‘Needs ID’ so it’s a catch 22

Just speaking for myself, I have felt the most useful when (1) I have found misidentified species that were already Research Grade, (2) when I have noticed species that were out-of-range in a particular area, so that they could be corrected as to species, location, etc., and (3) when I have realized that there are no or very few observations of a species in a particular area where it should be present and I am able to find it misidentified as something else so that it can be corrected and also remind other people to be on the lookout for it.


After reading this thread, I tried a new approach and began doing ID’s in my county from oldest to newest. As you can imagine, a lot of the old observations that still need ID out there are probably “as good as it can be” due to poor quality photos or not enough photos from other angles or showing enough of the plant/tree, etc. Would it be productive to mark such observations as “as good as it can be” or just leave them for others to look at another time?

I’m not an expert in any one taxon, just a mid-level user who has learned a lot from being active on iNat and reinforcing that knowledge when I’m out and about.

I’ve also been using the AI on a lot of these old observations to see if that would help narrow down the ID to species. In some cases, if there are only a handful of choices, so I try looking at the taxon and trying to make a determination, but there are plenty that just have so many options it is tough to decide and an expert is likely needed.

1 Like

i only mark ‘as good as it can be’ if i am REALLY sure no one else can tell or else if several people have already agreed to genus or higher.

If they have been at “needs ID” for a couple years, chances are it won’t go further. Also, if it is going to go further, it will be because a specialist has gone looking for them on higher level taxa.

1 Like

New feature request here.

there’s lots of older stuff I think has just never been looked at by the right person. I find tons of IDs when filtering by oldest first, some of them are even pretty straightforward(also lots of harder ones i don’t know!). I also get IDs on older observations still


+1 communicating about who has adopted which taxonomic/regional groups.

What I would really like to know, as a Very Limited Naturalist, is: To which group- could be a Family, Order, Kingdom, whatever- can I send observations, where a specialist is watching and will be game to try for a more specific ID? I could get excited about digging through the Unidentified bucket for, say, Fungi, the two plant families and one insect order that are being watched and that I could learn to identify. If this communication included advice or links recommended by those specialists about how to identify their group, then I would learn things and become a more useful coarse identifier. I might also end up learning more things about the groups I coarsely identify, from seeing how they get further identified.

Maybe this is already happening somewhere and I just haven’t heard?


The specialist identifiers likely filter to their specialties already. The best way to find them, is to make lots of observations for those areas (place or taxon branch) or to review (even if not IDing per se) with those same filters, and to pay special attention to who IDs and who engages. Look to engage with them, ask questions, introduce yourself as a person also interested in those, and when you have established enough a relationship there, tagging/recruiting them will be enjoyed and appreciated. Most IDers that actively want to “own” a place or branch will be super evident very quickly. And by far the easiest way to “draw out” a shy expert, is to have a go and maybe get some IDs wrong from time to time. They will eagerly correct you, because no enthusiast in a place or taxon branch can let that slide by!