Taxon default photo - who did it?

ive been obsessing over a certain species and trying to rectify an absolutely massive amount of misidentifications, many even up to research grade. i noticed awhile ago that the default taxon photo was the wrong species, so i changed it. i recently changed it again, admittedly to a pretty goofy looking picture, because i felt that picture was the best possible showcase of important visual features (size and leg coloration). someone must have thought it was too goofy and changed it again, to a picture that i had previously added to my favorites to revisit because although i dont even think it is the right species, i honestly dont actually know enough to be sure let alone prove it (i have a lot in that same vein… im trying my best!!)

so on that, i was wondering if there is anywhere that i can see who edits the taxon photos? because i would like to be able to potentially message people who do it, considering its been wrong at least once before, and i think with a species that has this bad of a misidentification problem, having not only a correct image, but an image that shows important distinctive features is important

of course i wouldnt bother people too much, i probably wouldnt bother messaging the person who just changed it, but i would like the option should there be a lot of issues


Users can edit default taxon photos, but as I understand mostly it’s done by an algorithm drawing from the pool of research-grade observations. Unfortunately, for heavily misidentified species this does lead to the problem you describe. So there may not be anyone to message about it. It does seem like a site component that could be improved.


Correct, there currently isn’t a way to note who changed taxon photos. Regrettably, this does sometimes lead to similar issues (essentially an unintentional vandalism). It’s also been an issue with wasps as well, especially with Flickr and Wikimedia imports. Local issues probably took a good part of a year to become stable with correct photos for US paper wasps, so it can take some time. From the side of curating, the best things I’ve found are:

  • Correct misidentifications. This can be quite time consuming at times, and I generally keep a sort of boilerplate response (or two) handy to copy and paste for noting proper identification and commonly confused species. But this can also be an opportunity to note on the observations that the photo shouldn’t be used as a default photo for the misidentified species. I’ve even taken to Flickr and Wikimedia to try to sort issues from the source (and if explained respectfully may even gain a fan or 2). I’ll also note that many users identify based on Computer Vision, so correcting misidentifications can help a bit with CV suggestions in time.

  • Recruit identifiers. If some people can be given a bit of training with the group in question, you can get some help in kicking misidentified research grade observations out of the wrong species.

  • Mark as needs improvement. Under DQA, check the “yes” box where it asks if the community ID can be improved. This will manually force it out of Research Grade if one disagreeing ID doesn’t kick it out if species. This way, users searching for taxon photos that are RG status won’t have the misidentified ones suggested. I’d especially suggest this if you keep seeing the same incorrect images over and over and they come from local iNat observations.

  • Flag the taxon. If it’s a persistent issue, having an open flag should, at least hypothetically, alert those editing photos even if you can’t directly message them. I’d consider documentation of photos that were used and why they shouldn’t be used. This is really the only means of documenting the history

  • Try messaging the current top identifiers about taxonomic issues. It may not have been one of them changing photos, but it at least opens things up and can potentially help in recruiting identifiers. This may be able to help curb future misidentifications.


thank you for all the advice!

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