Users disrupting species identifications

Welcome T. Misheff from me.

I have had the same problem with a small minority of iNat users treating identifications like click bait plants’ and animals’ photographs’ pornography.

I have removed all 916, except 1 example, of my own iNat observations and all of their several thousand photographs. Keep them for my social network – iNaturalost.
A substantial minority (ca. 20+) of these species,
my observation was the first in iNat
and some of the few or only photographs available anywhere on the internet.
(All, I deliberately after months of consideration, have recently deleted, expect the one example left – please look at this one, including the identifications, from great fellow botanist Karen L. Wilson and I, our comments, its tiny size and the great care I had to use to make these three very close up ground level photographs while myself lying down as flat close down on the vegetation as possible. All the other hundreds of observations from that RMGC botanical survey I have deleted now).


Of course you are entitled to do what you like with your observations, but it seems a shame to have deleted them.


There is one thing you can do to get it back to “Needs ID” though it has already two (or more) agreeing ids at species level. At the end of the observation page, there is a section titled “Data Quality Assessment”. At its end, you find “Based on the evidence, can the Community Taxon still be confirmed or improved?”; click “YES”, and it is back to “Needs ID”. Remove your chekmark when other (i.e. more credible) users provided their ids.


So pushing back your own ID to a higher level - with a comment - would be resolved almost immediately by the next birder.
PS one user, one vote - is easy to push back. 5 against 2, or 7 against 3 or nightmare numbers drifting towards 30 on a single obs. That is between difficult and almost impossible.


You have removed the ‘time and effort’ other identifiers put in, and the data scientists may have been using. If you deleted recently - tiwane may be able to restore them for you.


Mistakes happen. People make assumptions. I’m going to make some assumptions too. If you keep seeing the persons, then he/she is probably from your area. The way this system works is when you make a lot of ids, you’ll get a lot of messages too. Perhaps you can think in such a way that the persons responding to your observations gets a message each time someone else respond to that observation. The first identifier tends to get it correct, like the computer vision does get it right about maybe 70% of the time.The second identifier may sometimes be viewing the small icons in the Identify Tab, and since someone makes an Id already and looks like the species in his/her mind may tend to agree. Some species are indeed more than it meets the eye. It is a learning process for the Identifiers, whether for newbies or people who have been observing that species for a long time.
The system is designed to correct itself. Someone else will come along and get it out of research grade and re-evaluate. This is only possible by active participation by others, which is the community. The research grades data are exported to some other websites or organisation, and it seems they will realign periodically. They got a method of doing things too. The persons making the observations has inside information not known to the identifiers. The picture is 2D. The observer has seen the organism in greater detail. Pictures may sometimes lose some information as the organism may be further away. When ambiguous pictures are presented, the ids may be ambiguous too.


I too would encourage you to reconsider. Your observations can make a meaningful contribution. On iNaturalost they are exactly that - lost. There are ways of dealing with disruptive identifications as have been mentioned in this thread - adding disagreeing IDs, tagging others, using the “can be improved” checkbox, etc.


This is not the case. That person is not from the area and has like 100k identifications for the last year. I am like 80% sure about the species, but I wait for people who specialize in these species to have a look too, but if it’s a research grade seems get ignored. I understand, I would do that, there are so many observations coming constantly that I would look only these in need of id. Should I just on purpose disagree with my own observation just so I remove the tag in need of id, even thought I agree?

When you disagree with your own id, without inputing a new one, the id will be the one made by the next identifier. It will be need Id status. If he/she withdraw too, it will be unknown status I suppose. When you realise an identity is incorrect, it is logical to correct it, and if unable to pin point the species, you can use the closest classification you are confident it is in. In my opinion, naming it at a higher level is allowed.
It can take more effort to disagree with a Research grade status observation. It is the job of other identifiers to review the observation regardless of the status. The chance is that those observations are really what it is. But identifiers can get a kick out of refuting a research grade observation and win. Win meaning getting the id right.
I will click on a species small icon, and it goes to a wikipedia page with a “View more” link, and upon clicking, it goes to a picture archive which is a collection of pictures of the same species. From there identifiers can pick out the odd ones.

Not much to do about such behavior. Having the same problem with lepidoptera. The main problem is, if I do a wrong ID and it is verified by a “mass” klicker, the observation is lost, because it is graded “research grade”. Most likely nobody else will look at this ID again. If sombody else now makes a new correct ID, the problems start. So what to do?
1.) You could delete your observation and upload it again with the new correct ID. But this is not fair to the person having given the correct ID.
2) Write to the other person and ask to correct or remove the wrong ID. That may be accepted, but quite often is not the case.
3) In case 2, adress sombody else who might be mostlikely to veryfy the correct ID. But don’t always trust the “Top identifier” list, because it could as well reflect the "expertise"of the mass-klicker.
Thus the dilemma is perfect.

iNaturalist could easily solve this problem. If apart from the observers ID, if correct, only the first or at maximum also the second correct ID would be counted as scoring point for “Top-Identifyer” and IDs made.

It is kind of nice to see that more people, especially real experts, are interrested in your observation, and value it. But there is no sense in a scoring race, and that is what you presently see in the top ranking.

For me personally it would free my inbox and dashbord from all those ones giving IDs just to rise their score, which would save me a lot of time!
Still I could give IDs für species that are close to my heart, even being Number 2+… and in such way honour the observation, which I already do.

This makes me wonder if it is a shared account?

I guess I am wondering what makes you call the staff abusers? Or maybe I am reading what you said wrong?


I would say as a Wikipedia editor with thousands of edits since it was created and admin for some time, I think here should be done something similar, big enough number of admins and bureaucrats who should be able to intervene and edit observations, would be able to counteract such disruptive behaviors. If a user ignore numerous attempts for communication he could be banned. Better if species stay “in need of id” than falsely made “research grade” by mass clicker and tricking people trying to compare photos and locations as happens often enough.


No point feeding trolls.


The Community Guidelines suspension is a potential response:

Any account that adds content we believe decreases the accuracy of iNaturalist data may be suspended, particularly if that account behaves like a machine, e.g. adds a lot of content very quickly and does not respond to comments and messages.

In my experience most users who do this believe they’re being helpful, and productive comments or messages from the community usually resolve the situation.

I believe the user referred to by the OP here did eventually respond and removed their account to remove their IDs and have started a new account.


I tend to agree with identifications a specialist (for example, an entomologist’s id on a picture of a beetle) has made. Doing so generally just moves my tentative genus- or family-level identification to a lower taxon that seems more appropriate to me as well. But to do that, I usually need to go to the identifier’s profile and see what they’ve said about themselves. I’m more wary about agreeing with an id from an undergrad or amateur enthusiast. Maybe I shouldn’t agree with anyone at all? I’m not sure.

EDIT: never mind, many people have debated this topic before and I doubt there will ever be a consensus on what’s the correct way to go about it; I don’t think a concrete rule would be best, anyway, because some taxa are simply easier to id than others.

Please don’t, unless you understand how to make the ID yourself and rule out possible lookalikes. Every single one of us makes mistakes – including experts. (Bad day, tired, overlooking key details while rapidly IDing, misclicking, etc.)


Why you believe so? The user keeps mass-clicking, today he added dozens more, and keeps ignoring all attempts for communication.

Please message with details. Perhaps this is a different account than the one I was referring to.

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Agreed, please don’t just agree with experts unless you can also validate the ID. Pretty sure is good enough, but everyone messes up.

People just blindly agree with me sometimes and I’m to the point where sometimes I’ll put a genus ID even though I’m pretty sure I’m correct, and wait to see if someone else who is knowledgeable agrees with my original assumption. Too often I go to ID things and the original poster will just immediately click agree, when their initial obs was a wildly incorrect CV suggestion and their profile gives no indication that they’re knowledgeable.


What a headache, I will probably need to remove all of my observations that aren’t plants, because I know I’ve gone, “Oh, this expert user says this is Trochosa, that looks right to me too, although I’m no expert, so I’ll agree.” There’s probably a way to mass-delete.