Should we change the way "opt-out" observations are treated?

Why do users opt out of community ID? I can see valid reasons for opting out of community ID for specific observations. But my experience with users who opt out universally is that they often show patterns of misidentifications, which leads to inaccurate data points, and frequently don’t engage with the community where there is disagreement. My sense is that some people use this feature without fully understanding what it means. This has caused me to question whether “opt-out” observations should be treated the same way as observations which are are subject to community ID.

Some ideas to float around:

  • Treat “opt-out” observations as Casual grade until there is community agreement
  • Turn off computer vision suggestions for users who opt out of community ID
  • Make the “opt-out” feature more difficult to find
  • Provide a pop-up when someone turns on the “opt-out” feature explaining what the feature means in detail
  • Don’t allow users with fewer than n observations to use the “opt-out” feature
  • Automatically turn off the “opt-out” feature for users who are inactive for more than n years

Any other thoughts? I see that similar topics have been posted but I wanted to draw them all into a single thread for discussion.

6 Likes

Personally I see no reason for the option to exist and would not be opposed to removing the feature altogether.

11 Likes

It’s a valuable feature in edge cases, so it’s good that it’s available. Although it should be heavily deprioritized in the ID interface. I have in the past called for setting opt-out observations (some call them “go away observations”) automatically to not verifiable.

3 Likes

I thought they WERE automatically casual-grade! That absolutely should be the case, and I say that as someone who’s used the feature for a handful of observations because I knew they weren’t necessarily verifiable to other users from the photos I added but contradicting community IDs would interfere with my use-case (mapping visualizations) and I didn’t mind if they never got to research grade.

I agree that it certainly shouldn’t be done away with, as it has its place, but I also agree that they should be set as casual or not verifiable.

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I am also quite opposed to the feature as it does lead to many incorrectly identified observations. Often I see that a user who has the feature turned on will post a few observations with incorrect IDs and then become inactive on iNaturalist, leading to observations with permanent incorrect IDs and no way to contact the observer. I just don’t see any reason the opt-out feature is useful on iNaturalist.

6 Likes

I definitely agree with this. If the opt-out feature is kept then observations by users with the feature enabled should be casual unless the community ID supports the observer’s original ID.

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this is already true

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Just for clarification- you don’t mean all observations by that user, right? Just the ones that are set as opted-out of community ID? I know users can set their account for all observations to be that way by default, but in other cases (like mine) it’s just a handful of individual observations whereas the vast majority of my observations are set for community ID.

1 Like

For clarity’s sake, some of these issues have been addressed in other forum posts, see:
https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/opting-out-of-community-id/3078/8
https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/what-to-do-about-opted-out-of-community-id-when-identification-is-wrong-and-user-is-inactive/6790
https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/needs-id-but-has-opted-out-of-community-taxon/4462

2 Likes

I absolutely agree with either treating obs with this turned on as casual or getting rid of it altogether. It is often used when the observer thinks the community is wrong when actually the observer is wrong. If the community can’t give any feedback than I feel that there is no point in having these obs treated like normal observations.

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Also some discussion here with explanation of why some experienced users use it: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/strengths-and-weaknesses-of-inaturalist-data/17288/25

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I like this suggestion. Is there any argument against this? I can’t think of a reason why anyone would want their opinion to prevail against community consensus except if they were still around on the site.

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I’m not sure if you’re referring the general setting or for specific observations here. There’s already a decent pop-up when you click “Reject?” on one of your observations. There is currently a detailed explanation in the account settings, but I think it could be improved.

image

This is long and confusing, and I feel like for a new inexperienced user it could actually look like a good thing. Even just a (recommended) label would help, but something indicating more clearly why opting out is so frustrating for the community would be nice. The community can’t correct mistakes or improve the ID, and you might not be around later to correct them yourself if the community gives you feedback. Maybe the checkbox should even be switched to “Don’t accept community identifications” and default off.

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It at least used to be that an opt-out observation is “needs ID” until either the majority disagrees, then it will be casual, or it is confirmed to species, then it is RG. But it starts out as needs ID. Has this changed recently?

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I think I interpreted lucareptile’s statement in a slightly different way. I took it to mean “if the community ID supports the observer’s ID, the observation doesn’t need to be casual, but if the community ID doesn’t support the observer’s ID, then it should be casual”. This is currently true.

However, observations that have only a single ID don’t have a community ID. In my interpretation, the statement doesn’t apply to these observations. It is true that right now, an observation with only a single ID from an observer who has opted out of CID is Needs ID. I think if we say that observations where the observer’s opted-out-ID is supported by the CID should be RG, it doesn’t make sense to make the obs Casual before it even has a CID.

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Home many ids it take then? I see observations with 4/5 ids of another taxon or higher taxon and it doesn’t change anything in observation.

1 Like

Agreed - this seems totally sensible and helps prevent both incorrectly identified opt-outs from reaching RG and removes them from the Needs ID queue if the observer is unresponsive after the identification has been corrected by multiple other users.

It seems like the current system deals with all of the issues raised above.

At the very least, how about turning off the “opt-out” feature for users that have been suspended? I’ve seen some observations that will never reach the optimal ID, because the user opted out of community ID and they were suspended.

2 Likes

It’s frustrating to see an observation that’s still “needs ID” when it has five or six identifications all agreeing with the observer’s ID. I’d like to see the “opt-out” feature have an automatic time limit. Maybe it expires a year after the posting, unless renewed by the observer?

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I only mean specific observations where the observer has chosen to opt-out. I think those observations should stay at needs ID until there are identifications by users other than the original observer, how they are now. I’m actually not completely sure if the observations are automatically casual if the community ID disagrees with the observer’s ID (I think someone has to manually mark the box that says the community ID cannot be improved), and if that is the case, it might be better for those observations to automatically become casual.
I do think that disabling the opt-out feature on observations by users who have been inactive for a certain amount of time is a good idea.