What if someone keeps devaluing observations by confirming IDs?

I’m having a slight issue with a certain user for bird IDs in my country. They are agreeing to majority of people’s suggested IDs, if not suggesting or agreeing with a species completely out of range. I already know their ID ability is that of a beginner birdwatcher, so when they are agreeing to IDs of Leaf Warblers and tricky species, it’s undoubtable they aren’t actually confirming out of their knowledge. Observing them long enough to understand what would they can/can’t know.

I’ve messaged them on multiple occasions, left comments on multiple occasions but it won’t stop them confirming everything. Do I just leave them to it? And correct everything they mistake?


That’s a hard one. Do you know anyone who knows them in real life, who could maybe speak to them face to face and tell them they are making mistakes? Lots of mistakes, publicly?

Beyond that, I think the only thing you can do is keep correcting their mistakes. Tag in other competent identifiers to help, because if the errant IDer sees that more than one IDer disagrees with their ID, maybe they’ll stop.

Good luck!


There’s one user like that I know of, making silly mistakes and never responding to commentaries.

@hansambly write to iNat help email, they can contact the user directly.


If you run into those RG observations that have been confirmed by the IDer and you are not sure if this is right, you can use “Can be improved” at the bottom of the page to ensure another IDer could confirm the observation.


Some discussion about this in a different topic here.

My experience is that the can / can’t be improved buttons are a bit annoying, for reasons related to this discussion. There doesn’t seems to be any general consensus in iNaturalist about what these buttons mean and when they should be used, so I don’t really think they convey any information. However, when I encounter plants in “needs ID” that already have a bunch of correct IDs on them, it’s usually not because the observer opted out of community ID, it’s because someone clicked one of those buttons. My response is to click the opposite button and move on, not to add another superfluous ID.

It’s not a big deal either way, of course.

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What they mean seems pretty clear to me in the plain language describing them. That being the case, though, there are several appropriate (and some inappropriate) uses.

Sometimes I will vote “can be improved” on one of my own observations when it has reached research grade, but I’m not very confident of my own ID nor the “agreements” to it, and want to encourage additional opinions first by keeping it in the “Needs ID” pool a while longer. Seems like a less impactful alternative to opting it out of community ID.


If the current ID is correct, to my mind the ID it can’t be improved. It can be confirmed. Of course, I could add another confirming ID to any observation—all IDs can be confirmed.

In practice, I think people use it to change the behavior of the “Needs ID” and “Research Grade” designations in ways that they believe to be helpful, but which may or may not have an obvious relationship to the associated text—or, at least, I often can’t tell what that relationship might be.

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Please email help@inaturalist.org and provide some examples of continued poor IDs and feedback that’s gone unheeded. Situations like this are why we added the following to the Community Guidelines in October:

Add accurate content and take community feedback into account. 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.


From the web site:

Based on the evidence, can the Community Taxon still be confirmed or improved?

To me, a Community Taxon is “improved” not by just by refining it, but also by having more of the community involved (knowledgeably) in its construction, whether or not it is in fact correct at any point in the process. Maybe that’s not a valid interpretation of the language, but it’s what I’ve been going with…


I think the structuring of the ID system—focusing almost exclusively on the “correct ID” concept—really limits the scope for constructive input beyond mere correctness. Absent that context, I agree with you…


I’m afraid I might be one of those people so I’m always a little embarrassed when I get an ID wrong. But I will say that with the wide amount of information available on the internet it’s best not to assume that people don’t know, they very well might. For instance I’ve never seen a Great Knot, but I’m fairly confident about identifying them even in non-breeding plumage because of online sources.

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True, we all make mistakes too. Although in this particular case I’ve been observing their interactions and observations for probably over 3-4 months and have a clear picture of their abilities. Some of the stuff they’ve done in the past couple weeks includes suggesting hybrids of certain species and when questioned, they said ‘their friend said it was’.


Standard iNat practice when an observation isn’t an exact match for someone’s concept of the species.

But in this case it makes no sense whatsoever because it wasn’t a hybrid and no hybirds in the country have been reported

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