Verbiage for those who ID observations with multiple species

This may already exist somewhere, but I haven’t seen it.

Is there some already-written verbiage to tell identifiers that they should not ID something in an observation when the additional photos are all of different species?

I have (and use) verbiage to tell the observers that they need to make the single observation into multiple observations, but that is useless when someone (I’m sure with the best of intentions) IDs something in the first photo without noticing my comment. So is there some polite verbiage available to tell the trying-to-be-helpful person that IDing something in the first photo is not really helpful?

It doesn’t look like that has been included in the following page, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have your own.

I just disagree, bumping the ID up to whatever level is necessary. I’ll add a comment that we shouldn’t ID just one photo because that puts observations photos in the wrong place. But this doesn’t happen often enough that I think I need a boiler plate response. If the same IDer seems to be doing that repeatedly, you could message them.


This is mine -

Only one species per observation please

Please don’t ID for only ONE of the multiple species - until the observer has split to single species.


There are two ID situations: First, as Diana has already stated and also the solution has suggested.
Second: different species on one photo.

ad. 1 Make clear to the observer, that you can only ID his/her observation after he/she has split it up into different observations and posted them. Helpful is , if you give him/her already the right ID in your statement.
ad. 2 tell him/her of what species explicitly an ID is wanted, by telling the location on the picture (like left, right, center, above…etc.). Now either to use the same photo or copy of it, load it up anew and locate the next species wanted to get an ID of. Some can also use a picture editor to cut out the species of interest and make a “new” observation to get it ID-ed.
In both cases not to forget to add some flag to the new photo in order to avoid a number conflict at the PC.

Here’s what I usually write: “Welcome to iNaturalist! Your photos show different species. Please post these species separately, so we can give each one its own name. Here are some tips for splitting the observation up here:

If the 1st photo has been ID’d (a too easy mistake to make, as I know too well), I bump it up to the highest common denominator ID and then add my little copypasta which will alert the earlier identifier as well as the observer.


And since only 1 in a 100 observers does come back to resolve their problem children.

My previous workaround - which is not allowed - was tidy and efficient.

My above copypasta with
Life + Life + DQA good as can be = Casual
Problem was solved.

And that workaround was originally suggested to me by another identifier - as a courtesy to the next identifier.


Yes, I have verbiage like your first paragraph for the situation when the observer posts photos of different species (sometimes as different as ferns and birds). The polite verbiage I would like to have is AFTER I have commented with this verbiage about separating their observations into different species, some THIRD PARTY comes along and enters an ID for the first photo of the series.

That third party is a person who thinks that they are being helpful. I would like assistance with polite verbiage to tell them that they are not being helpful and, in fact, they are muddying the water. I can draft something myself that I think will be polite, but I find that having several people look at it will make it better, and, I was hoping that several people had already looked at that kind of situation and drafted a recommended response.

I would add a hard disagreement and say something like, “Please leave this observation at the higher identification level of ______ until the observer resolves the problem that the photos show different species. They need to be separated.”


Huh you aren’t supposed to mark multi species posts DQA as good as can be?? But the community taxon can’t go any lower so what’s the issue?

It’s not really clear what to do with multi-species observations. Here’s what I think (@tiwane, correct me, please!) identifiers are supposed to do:

Make a comment alerting the observer that there’s a problem. I say this (the Spanish is copied from Jason Hernandez): “It appears that you have included several species here. iNat is only set up to identify one species per observation, so you will need to split these up. Here is how to do that: Parece que tu observación contiene várias especies. iNatualist solo puede tratar de una especie por observación, entonces tienes que separarlas. Aqui hay direciones:

Wait to see if the observer responds. I generally allow a month for this.

If the observer doesn’t fix the observation, then ID it at the lowest taxon that works for all the observations, which could be Dicots, Insects, Animals, Life, etc.

If another identifier comes along and agrees with that ID and if someone marks the DGA as good as it can be, then the observation goes to Casual.

One way to speed this up is if the original identifier not only alerts the observer, but also IDs it at the lowest taxon possible for all of the photos. Then the second identifier can just agree (assuming they do) and mark it as good as can be.


I totally agree with the need to comment on multiple-species observations! However, I won’t be back later. Therefore, I ID to the lowest common denominator taxon (or occasionally leave ID blank). If it’s an old observation, I also mark “good as it can be” with the assumption that the observer won’t be back to fix it. Then if a second person adds an ID, it goes to Casual without my doing anything further.

The official help page seems pretty clear:

What if an observation has photos or sounds of multiple different species, like birds, lizards, and flowers?

If you see an observation that has two or more photos depicting different organisms in each, it’s best to identify to the lowest taxonomic level that fits all photos and make a comment politely asking the user to separate the photos into different observations. For example, if the first photo is a flower and the second is a bug (without the flower), identify it as “Life”. If the observation has photos of grass and a rose, identify it as “Flowering plants”. If the user is unresponsive to requests to separate the photos, mark the observation as “Based on the evidence, can the Community ID still be confirmed or improved? No, it’s as good as it can be” in the Data Quality Assessment section.

We’re supposed to do what you said, including the “one way to speed this up” part: make an ID that fits all photos the first time you see it, instead of waiting a month.

This is not to be confused with duplicate observations, where there’s no way to resolve them other than identifying them correctly and ignoring the fact that they’re duplicates.

If you come across a duplicate observation, please do not flag it or identify it differently.


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