What do you wish people knew about DQA/Annotations

You covinced me not to do any more annotations. I had no idea that I would be preventing others from adding a contrary annotation, or that I wouldn’t automatically get any notifications of down-votes.


I just noticed today that when I hover my mouse over the annotation, it no longer reads out the definition, just repeats whatever word I’ve hovered over…

Can you please make a bug report for this?

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yep, I just started typing it out lol :)

Edit: in case anyone else is having the same issue: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/hovering-overe-annotaion-no-longer-displays-definition/40706

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Oh no, please keep adding annotations! We need more of them. I hope that notifications will eventually become available with the update of the notification system we’ve been promised. In the meantime, I think it helps to be aware and tag folks if you notice a wrong annotation, hoping others will do the same if you got something wrong. The observer can delete annotations on their observations, even if they were made by others, so that can help with getting errors corrected but they might just need to be made aware of them.


Is that right? I never knew that!


Yes - I learned about this when I was asked to delete an annotation that seemed to have been added in error. So if the observer is responsive, this can help fix annotation errors.


It would be nice if similar phenological annotations existed for conifers, too, viz., “pollen cones present,” “seed cones present,” and “no evidence of reproductive structures,” or similar terms.


It’s worth noting that the “cannot be improved” box only takes effect after there are at least 2 IDs for the observation (i.e., it has a community taxon).

What this means is that for taxa that can’t be ID’d to species level without very specific traits that often aren’t visible in pictures, they require not only checking the appropriate DQA box, but also a second ID for the genus/subgenus/complex in order to be able to take them out of “needs ID” and make them “research grade”.

So whether or not you choose to check the DQA box, please do consider at least adding an ID to confirm the genus when you know there is a consensus that a more specific ID is often not possible – even if theoretically someday a specialist might come along who has found a way to distinguish the species without genital examination or a photo of the underside of the leaves or whatever, the higher-level ID is still helpful; there is nothing to prevent it from being refined later.

Also, some new users will check the “yes” box here because they think this is how they indicate that they want confirmation for their ID. This is unnecessary and means that the observation cannot reach “research grade” until they remove their vote or another user votes “no” to cancel it out.

There are also a small number of users who will check “yes” not because they necessarily think the ID is wrong/can be improved, but because they want the ID to be checked by more people than the minimum required for “research grade”. (Please don’t do this; if you want additional confirmation, tag an expert in the taxon in question.)


Thanks for bringing that feature request to my attention. I upvoted it as I’m working on a project to record aquatic macroinvertebrates which include the nymph stage of critters like odonates and larval stage of flies. We have to have separate collection projects unless we want a traditional project.

With scant biology background, it would seem to me that fruiting is the next stage and would follow flowering? I’ve noted it as fruiting (post-flowering when a fruit is forming, though not in the shape it takes finally). I’ve also included fruiting, although, I don’t think it would be as useful phenologically when the drupes are still on the plant, long after it fully matured.

I do think, there should be a distinction made in budding. New shoots visible in trees which will develop into leaves and buds (which will develop into flowers). Both, it seems to me, would be important points in the annual stages of the tree or shrub.

But I would not be a user of data, only one who posts what I hope is useful data, so these may not be as important.

I agree with spiphany about the 2nd “agree” by the people that post the photos–I think they are too used to <3 clicking hearts to like something. I wish there was a way to say they like it without adding the 2nd click to make it research grade.

I have never added one of those “cannot be improved” partly lack of confidence and also because it is way down at the bottom off the screen where it is easily ignored. I had not realized it was part of getting the bee to research grade. IF not clicked, does that mean when a person agrees after someone else tells them what it is, then it won’t get to research unless someone comes along to either add the 3rd ID or click that it cannot be improved?

I have been using the ones for adult, sex, organism, alive/dead all the time for bees however.

I’m not sure I understand you.

I wasn’t talking about people blindly clicking “agree” to a previous ID. (I agree that people shouldn’t do this.) I was pointing out that the DQA “cannot be improved” does not take effect unless an observation has more than one ID (including the observer’s ID; these IDs may be anything and do not necessarily have to agree with one another).

For example, sometimes there are genera that usually can’t be ID’d to species, but users keep trying to do so, and IDers become so tired of explaining why the species is not possible that they have given up trying to ID that genus. So observations sit without anyone ever IDing them besides the observer, but can’t be made “research grade” at genus level using the DQA because nobody has confirmed the genus.

The DQA “cannot be improved” is only needed if an observation does not have a community ID at species level or below. If an observation has at least a 2/3 agreement (minimum of 2 IDs) for the species, it will automatically become “research grade”. No third ID is required.

If an observation does not have IDs at species level, it will never automatically become “research grade” because the assumption is that a more specific ID should be possible. When this is not the case (i.e., genital examination or whatever is required), the DQA may be used.

Some users click “yes” for “ID can be improved” because they want more people to ID their observation – as long as “yes” is clicked, the observation will never become research grade even if the community ID is at species level, and even if 3 or 4 or 12 other people have ID’d it as such. The only way to make it research grade is if the user unclicks the “yes” box or someone else clicks “no”.


Humans, pets, trash, rocks … should not be on iNat as I understnd it, as iNat is helping you to recognise and ID natural life preferably in a natural environment. There are as well invasive organisms that have escaped from captive cultivation and should NOT be marked casual.

…included on a short list for teachers/students so they don’t waste so much time on campus and yards.

I’ve added some bird and frog voices recently, and I miss the option to indicate the voice recording instead of a trace or a bone

I think people should know that amphibian larvae (e.g. tadpoles) are NOT the same as juveniles. I see this annotated incorrectly more than I expected.

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This is true. However, if anyone reading this should happen upon such observations - there is a correct way of dealing with them! For humans, just ID as human, and the observation will automatically become Casual. For pets, mark as captive/cultivated or “Not Wild”. Trash, rocks, and other nonliving things can be marked as “Evidence of Organism: No” in the DQA. Please do not just mark everything as captive/cultivated; that does change them to Casual, but it’s not usually accurate and could interfere with possible future changes in protocol. The system has been designed to accommodate these situations, so use it as intended.


Trash, rocks, and other nonliving things can be marked as “Evidence of Organism: No” in the DQA.

I would think trash would be more accurately identified as “human”, because it’s evidence of human presence, unlike rocks, etc. that weren’t produced by organisms. I know trash can move quite a long way from where it was dropped, but I don’t see why that would be an issue in this case since the same thing happens with unattached shells, seeds, etc. too


You could go either way on that one. Identifying as “human” is technically accurate, but I believe “no evidence of organism” fits the spirit of iNaturalist better, since it’s intended to collect data about wild, non-human organisms.

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