User opted out of community ID and observation doesn't become Research Grade?

There was an issue with the observation here:

A poster had added the observation years ago without an ID and another poster added “Lepidoptera” to put it in a bin. Then the original observer added “Catocala grynea” as the ID and then a bunch of other users correctly IDed it as “Catocala illecta” subsequently. Now the “needs two or more ID’s to agree” is marked with a Red X despite 4:1 in favor of illecta and I’ve clicked “No, the ID is as good as it can be” and nothing happened to the ID as Catocala grynea besides it go casual. I don’t think I’ve run into this before. The user only has 70 observations so it seems unlikely they changed the ID settings, but Paul in the comments suggests that they turned community ID off.

Without getting into why the site allows people to be above correction and not allow incorrect ID’s to be changed, is there a way to force the ID to be simply at the genus level like what usually happens when there is disagreement. Having a wrong ID locked in by the user at species level kind of defeats the purpose of having users suggest ID’s!


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The community id is C. illecta, you can see that on the box at the right of the observation.

The display (or whatever the technical name the site uses for it) is what the user has chosen, and will remain that way even if 1000 users enter the C. illecta ID as has been noted, the submitter has disabled community ID’s. As the user has not logged in since February, i doubt they are coming back to review any comments.

Nothing can be done to get this to research grade without the user either agreeing to the ID or turning off the community ID.

I will leave it to site staff to explain why this is permitted.


It’s frustrating to see some amazing observations effectively be sidelined by somebody maybe even checking a box they didn’t realize would have that effect. But, likely best to check the “no can’t be improved” box whenever you see this type of record in the meanwhile. Then not at many others will be similarly frustrated to see it.

If the observer comes back later and either opts back in or updates to a species correction, the record would go to a normal non-casual status.

There’s usually not a need to check that box, since:

Observations will revert to “casual” if …

  • the observer has opted out of the community ID and the community ID taxon is not an ancestor or descendant of the taxon associated with the observer’s ID
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Yes, I don’t know how a user could “accidentally” change their settings like this but I really don’t understand why it even exists. For the site to have usefulness for research and helping others ID things, the correct ID should always rise to the top, and it works with the community ID on as the incorrect ID’s will only be removed by careful curation by ID experts. If a user has very few observations and is unsure, they can keep the ID as something broad like “Catocala” and wait until an expert comes along and vets it. If they ARE sure, they should be confident enough that the community will only verify their choice.

All users make ID mistakes and even the experts misID lots of things, but allowing users to LOCK incorrect species-level ID’s makes little sense. I cannot see ANY use for allowing this feature besides confusion and mislabeling that data-miners may miss altogether if they are skimming a species for observation dates and localities. I’m sure this has come up before so I’ll just stop ranting now.

“and will remain that way even if 1000 users enter the C. illecta ID as has been noted, the submitter has disabled community ID’s. As the user has not logged in since February, i doubt they are coming back to review any comments.”

I don’t see the utility of this feature. If someone posts a Raven and calls it a Robin, and opts out, and 1000 users call it a Raven and it stays “Robin” this is not a useful feature. And on top of that if the user never returns this will never get changed, so this should be a situation where an observation can be flagged and removed.

My understanding is that one of its uses is to allow experts (in species, taxonomy, etc.) be able to enter IDs that may reflect changing opinions as to what something is - the person may be at the forefeont of the field for a species, but others are holding to the old ID. Having the feature allows the expert to override “common” knowlege on their own obs. For as long as not all species have firm, separate and clear IDs, there will be legitimate disagreement. And i think that will be a very long time indeed :-)

I have no problem if people are actively curating their observations and respond to other identifications, but zombie accounts where over and over people are drawn into identifying something to no effect, are a bit annoying. It would be nice to have a filter to exclude observations of ‘opted out’ users.

The user has been active since 2015, we don’t know whether that’s a once a day thing, or once a year … they may still return again. A friendly personal message might be appropriate, it may get through to their email …

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this is a pretty well worn topic that we have gone through a bunch of times here and on the Google Group. At this point, i think your best bet is just to email because i don’t think discussing it on here is going to change anything. The iNat devs want people to have control over their data. i agree that it only works when they are still active users, and when people leave, it’s problematic to let them block community ID. Note though that if you do enough disagreeing IDs it will remove the observation from the range map at least

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How many is enough ? :-)

i think you need to get the ID to ‘maverick’

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