"Request ID Help" button

How about a “request ID help” button that notifies/tags the top 3 identifiers of a taxon that a particular observation needs their attention.

Now, this is obviously something that would need to be implemented carefully, as it could easily be abused by a user clicking it for all of their observations. So here are the caveats…

  1. Perhaps limit it for curator use only. I regularly find myself copy/pasting tagged users into observations to fix misidentifications, etc. An automated way of doing this would be a godsend.

  2. Allow users to opt out of being tagged in this way… and to specify which taxa they wish to be tagged.

  3. Only tag users who have been active within the past 12 months. Doesn’t do any good to tag a prolific identifier who stopped coming here years ago.

  4. Only tag users who haven’t already provided an ID for the observation. I.E. if the top 3 identifiers have already identified, then tag users #4-6, and so on.

  5. Requesting help multiple times will likewise go down the list. It’s common for users to not respond. So clicking it once will notify users #1-3… clicking again goes to #4-6… clicking again gets #7-9


how often do you do this that you need a button to automate the process?


One issue is the taxonomic level that the observation is at. I’m in the top three for Apoidea, but I’m only really comfortable with Bombus in the eastern USA & CA. If some people are hitting a button that sends me a notification for wasps that I can’t help them with, that would get old fast.

So if something like this was going in, then I would want three things:
1 Some effort on the part of the observer to make an ID, I don’t want Bees, I’d want at least a family level ID.
2 Some required time frame on an observation that would have to pass before a button could be hit. That would tell me that the observer is still around and interested.
3 If this was implemented, I would prefer that it be setup as a filter in the ID page, so if people hit a “request ID help” button, then I could add that filter in the ID page, along with my region and taxon of interest. Basically, this would avoid the problem of getting inundated with notifications for things I can’t help with.


I think people should be encouraged to learn how to ID themselves rather than rely on others to do it for them. Especially since all of this is done on a voluntary basis. When I first joined iNat, It was fairly easy for my observations to get an ID, but now I’m lucky for anything really. I’m under the impression that Identifiers are swamped, and most new accounts aren’t actually interested in learning to identify themselves. I don’t think this behavior should be encouraged

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There’s only so much that one user can learn, for many groups keys are paywalled, for others it’s hard to id even when you have a specimen as you need years of training. And how much own ids are valid is a big question if nobody checks them.
But I agree such button will be overused, it will reqquire complicated filters for work, so old tagging is enough for now.


I think the point is for it only to be useful to identifiers, not observers, if I understand correctly. I’m not sure how that would work though (perhaps it just doesn’t appear on your own obs - or you only see it once you’ve made an ID on that obs yourself (for someone else). The point is for when you need to marshall people for an ID that’s stuck for whatever reason.

Although this is a very common occurrence, probably most people in that position know who to tag anyway - and it won’t necessarily be the ‘top three’. (I tend to try and share it out!)

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you could write your own browser extension to handle this.

you might also be able to leverage some RPA extension (+tool) to do this kind of automation however you like. just for example, in Windows, i can use Power Automate + Edge (or Chrome or FIrefox) to, starting at an Observation Detail page:

  1. get the top identifiers (from the Top Identifiers section of the page)
  2. get the Identifiers (from the Identifications section of the page)
  3. subtract 2 from 1
  4. return the list of users from 3 to your clipboard.

if you have Power Automate set up (it’s included with Win 11), you could copy and paste these actions to a new flow to achieve the above (feel free to adapt):

WebAutomation.LaunchEdge.AttachToTheForegroundEdge AttachTimeout: 5 BrowserInstance=> Browser
WebAutomation.ExtractData.ExtractList BrowserInstance: Browser Control: $'''html > body > div:eq(0) > div:eq(1) > div > div > div:eq(0) > div > div:eq(2) > div:eq(1) > div:eq(5) > div > div > div > div > div''' ExtractionParameters: {[$'''div > div:eq(1) > div:eq(0) > a''', $'''Own Text''', $'''%''%'''] } ExtractedData=> TopIdentifiers
Variables.RetrieveDataTableColumnIntoList DataTable: TopIdentifiers ColumnNameOrIndex: 0 ColumnAsList=> listTopIdentifiers
WebAutomation.ExtractData.ExtractList BrowserInstance: Browser Control: $'''html > body > div:eq(0) > div:eq(1) > div > div > div:eq(0) > div > div:eq(2) > div:eq(0) > div:eq(1) > div > div > div:eq(0) > div''' ExtractionParameters: {[$'''div:eq(1) > div:eq(0) > div > span:eq(0) > a''', $'''Own Text''', $'''%''%'''] } ExtractedData=> Identifiers
Variables.RetrieveDataTableColumnIntoList DataTable: Identifiers ColumnNameOrIndex: 0 ColumnAsList=> listIdentifiers
Variables.SubtractLists FirstList: listTopIdentifiers SecondList: listIdentifiers OutputList=> TopIdentifiersWithoutIdentification
Variables.CreateNewList List=> listOutput
LOOP FOREACH CurrentItem IN TopIdentifiersWithoutIdentification
    Variables.AddItemToList Item: $'''@%CurrentItem%''' List: listOutput NewList=> listOutput
Text.JoinText.JoinWithDelimiter List: listOutput StandardDelimiter: Text.StandardDelimiter.Space DelimiterTimes: 1 Result=> OutputString
Clipboard.SetText Text: OutputString

To me it seems problematic and just not very useful. You can already “@“ people, where you type the “@“ symbol before someone name, and it sends a direct notification to someone. Having an automated button just seems like it would keep people from directly talking to people and learning how to use the platform, among other things.


I like the idea, but I think it is better to approach from different direction.

Instead, I would suggest making another status of “ID under review” besides “Needs ID”, when there are opposite IDs suggested for 1 observation (not including broader and finer ID which are not disagreeing). I think this would work quite well because many people refrain from correcting wrongly IDed observations because the number of helpers needed to completely change the community ID.
I might make another topic for it if there weren’t any similar topic in the past.

I personally think it is much better to tag those identifiers for every observation because such botton can be overused by people, and in fact Inaturalist itself is a place to request ID help.

I’m pretty sure majority of curators and “big users” already know that mentioning active identifier of the taxa is a efficient way to get observations IDed, so if the botton is limited for curator use and just for the observations which need particular attension, I don’t find any reason to use the botton instead of mentioning.

However, almost all of new users and some of experienced users do not know how mentioning works and so observations of them or observation they tried to suggest correcting ID will be forgotten as “needs ID” or wrongly IDed status.
I have been top identifier of hundreds (maybe thousands-I don’t know) of invertebrate taxons here, of both common and rare species, but I normally only get mentioned for ID help a couple times in a week, probably because people are not very familiar with mentioning or refraining from using it.

I think our “Help” section is quite useless for both new and experienced users, considering the amount of people who don’t know how to ask for help by mentioning, how to turn off notifications of fully confirming IDs, or how to edit icon photos of a taxa. I might make another topic for it.

Incidentally, I recall there was a bottom like that just after Inat launched, although I think it was removed a few months ago for some reasons.


The benefit of this idea is it would be a quicker way to tag top identifiers (many usernames are difficult to easily write and have to be copy and pasted). For that matter, it would help to have a button next to every user’s icon in an observation to tag them without writing out or copying and pasting their name. But top identifiers and especially ones considered experts already get too many @ tags from users, so I don’t think it would be sustainable to add more. It would get overused like you anticipated.


Maybe it depends. Top identifiers of less discussed taxa e.g. molluscs and brachipods do not get much mentions. I am mentioning many people every day to request reconsidering their IDs of molluscs though…

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I doubt that’s the case, disagreements send observations to a higher taxon, often one that has many obs and little iders.
You can use urls to find such obs.


Oh I see, that makes sense. I mostly ID bees and wasps. My number of mentions is still manageable currently, but identifiers with the top expertise get an almost unsustainable number for bees and wasps. Sometimes I do see people seem to repeatedly mention me just by copy and paste. So far the number isn’t too high, but I can see how that could get tiring if it was nonstop.


The lists aren’t always accurate, as neylon said. I am listed as a top identifier of the Black Dash, but all of them are my own observations. I mostly identified them by seeing them in the very small areas they occur in my location at the right time of year. I am definitely not an expert on this species.


Yes I think this is more efficient. I would like to be able to do a search for “observations with high-level display taxon due to conflicting lower IDs” separately from the simple “observations lacking finer IDs.” I’m sure many other identifiers would love to look through such a category if it existed, and would prefer that over being specifically tagged.


Um, I was just talking about it, and mollusca is the one I identify and lacking IDers for the number of observations.
Could you please share the url to find those? So many of mollusca observations are left with higher taxon after wrong original ID corrected by one or two users and I am always trying to add ID for such observations. I think those observations need IDs by identifiers more urgently compared with the ones with no precise ID at all. Thanks!

You told people refrain from doing it, as if they actively don’t do that, while probably they just never get to those observations.
You can use url for active identification https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/how-to-use-inaturalists-search-urls-wiki-part-1-of-2/63 then you choose lowest taxon in filters that’s depending on what you search is 1. one above it which will show observations with disagreements 2. one of the chosen id level, that way it has both observations without disagreement and observations with disagreement, but at least they’re both shown together.


I don’t mean to derail this completely, but I often get tagged by a few people a lot and then when I look at their page they have done very little identifying of others. Now there’s lots of people with no expertise but there everyone knows something to some degree, whether that just assigning plants to family or identifying mallards.

It there was a request ID button, it should be something that you “earn” after contributing to the overall ID effort. Maybe you get it once you’ve done 1000 IDs for others or something.

I guess at the end of the day, I just want preferential treatment haha. I’ve ID’d 50K+ observations yet I still have observations from taxons I’m not familiar with languishing. Would be nice to get at least some IDs of my things in return for my efforts.


Have you tried tagging in help for your languishers?


no because the process is super onerous (as others have mentioned above because the top lists are not great for a variety of reasons) and I don’t like getting tagged for IDs so I don’t want to do it do it to others.

A lot of the people I see asking requests have super coarse IDs that they posted 5 minutes ago (and usually very low quality photos). I think observations should sit for a before people can ask for requests. All this has made it so I don’t ask