Species-Level Research Grade Attained With Only One Species-Level ID

I’ve accidentally found a way to get research grade on a species-level observation without getting two people to agree to that species-level ID. I think this is a very important bug to fix, because otherwise it could provide incorrect data to those using iNat for their research purposes.

The observation I did this with is here: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/7441615
I assume that once I post this here, somebody will add an ID to it, ruining the point, so here’s a screenshot of it:

I believe this happened by following these steps:

  1. I IDed the observation as Lithobates clamitans
  2. Somebody else IDed it as Lithobates, without disagreeing with L. clamitans
  3. The other IDer marked the observation as “community ID cannot be improved”. This made the observation RG for Lithobates, which was the current community ID, as it was missing the second ID for L. clamitans.
  4. I re-IDed the observation as Lithobates pipiens. The community ID changed to L. pipiens because it had my ID and another agreeing (but not precise) ID. Usually this would leave it at needs ID, but it already had RG because of the “community ID cannot be improved”.

I’m not 100% sure if my knowledge of how the community ID works is correct, but I know that this observation should not be RG as L. pipiens without having two IDs for L. pipiens

As you can see on the right, the community ID is lithobates.

But it’s still RG for “Northern Leopard Frog”, if you look at the top.

The top is not the community ID.

To elaborate – if you click on “about” in the CID section, what is highlighted in green is what got RG. The title at the top of the page is the current leading ID. It may be misleading that the RG flag is displayed right next to it. But that’s a page layout problem, not a community ID problem. As far as CID goes, this observation is behaving as it should.


I may have misused the term community ID. However, if I search for research grade observations of L. pipiens, this observation appears, without the community ID being L. pipiens. That is what this thread is about.


Sure didn’t know that!


Yes, this has been an issue for a while. Other examples listed in a few old Google Groups discussions: https://groups.google.com/d/msg/inaturalist/LwFoxipCJkI/fiMmY9vQAAAJ

1 Like

You didn’t misuse the term. And what you describe looks like a problem with the Explore page. It seems to return obs. of l. pipiens that are also RG, even if they’re not RG because they are L. pipiens. Interesting question.

1 Like

Has this been mentioned on the new forums yet, though? I don’t want to repeat a thread, but I also don’t want to leave bugs if I can help it.

1 Like

The observation shows as RG not just on the explore page, but also on the observation page itself. It even shows up as RG on the Identify page (though it takes a lot of filters to get it to show up on the identify page at all).

Of course it does. It’s RG for the CID of lithobates.

As per @bouteloua’s reply the bug is with the inability to specify CID properly in a search filter – it’s not with the application of the CID and RG for this observation.


Oh, sorry, I thought by

you meant that this wasn’t a problem with how the IDs work, but instead a problem with the explore page.

That’s exactly what I meant. The problem is with the way a filter can be formulated, like what you’d use on the Explore page.

Evidently you can’t specify in a filter that you want RG results that are RG for the genus level specifically.


Nope, not yet, and no attempt to resolve that I’m aware of.

Yeah, as well as the big green RG banner next to the observation ID which is at species rather than genus, and that it’s exported as RG at rank=species.

1 Like

It’s research grade for genus because in the DQA, it’s marked as “as good as can be”. As far as I know, this is a feature and not a bug for stuff IDed to genus. If you go and check the box for “ID can still be improved”, that would take the observation out of research grade and back into “needs ID”


further, the RG magic works up to the Subfamily level if you have “can not be Improved”. In that case, RG as subfamily. At Family and above it goes to Casual. Don’t know about levels between Family and Subfamily.