What is an well balanced generalist iNater?

I started out thinking that I would be photographing plants. But I soon learned that where there is a plant there is an insect! And at certain times of year I’m photographing many more fungi and mosses and slime moulds than at other times.


I think it would be interesting to see how taxa diversity correlates to the observer’s hardware.

There’s more plateaus, I presume, with macro than telezoom stuff. After a certain zoom level, you are going to be able to get most bird and mammals. But going the other way, there are some mighty big technical hurdles including moving into optical microscopy and… beyond? (I think I remember reading about electron microscope driven observations once.)

And, environment, of course. Biggest split has to be aquatic/terrestrial. But there are others too (caves, high altitude, etc)


Everyone’s spread is gonna be different, but some groups will always be overrepresented. Birds are huge because they’re easy to spot, large enough to photograph with even a decent cell phone camera, and active in almost every habitat during the day. Mammals have similar traits but a much higher proportion of nocturnal species. Plants are stationary which gives them a boost, etc.


Thanks for introducing me to Raynox!

Interesting. I guess this assumes everyone is competent to ID. For most of my obs, I am relying heavily on Computer Vision Suggestions (CVS). I am not sure I would add value by throwing my best guess out there. If I just add another ID based on another CVS it would not advance the accuracy of the original ID.

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Identifying unknowns can be a great way to get there! A lot of observations will get an ID much quicker if people that search by order or family can find them and it’s easy for those of us with little knowledge/experience to help.

You’ll also almost certainly get softballs thrown in there, plenty of new users that most likely don’t ID not because the organism is a mystery, but because they don’t know how to.


You don’t necessarily need to be an expert in a bunch of species to be a good id-er though; sometimes it just takes knowing a couple of species REALLY WELL.

Like say there’s a plant you know really well, like REALLY well, but tends to get overlooked on inat unless people take up close photos of, say, the leaves or flower structure. This happens with a lot of trees - someone posts a winter picture of a tree so there’s no leaves or flowers but its a good pic of the entire tree with some up close bark shots (in this hypothetical, this tree species can be fully ided just off of these things), they upload it with the species because they KNOW its that species but then it sits in limbo forever because most people don’t bother even trying to ID trees that are just bark shots.

So its a huge help to take this one species you know you can ID and just go through and do the agreeing ids.

There’s definitely some stuff like this stuck in my observations; species that I knew 100% what they were when I photoed them but they didn’t get an assent before they fell off the first page and they just kind of end up sitting in limbo until someone goes through and just does cleans up the species.

Also sometimes hitting agree on just genus level is plenty; you can mark that the ID can’t be improved under data quality. There’s some species I’ll upload that I’ll just automatically check the box because sometimes, you just can’t get past genus, and that’s okay.


CV should be used for adding your own ids, not agreeing woth wild computer guesses.
You don’t need to know much to add general ids though.

You have 2.5K obs.
And you need roughly two and half times as many IDs for that, allowing for some that provoke some discussion. So … you owe back about 7.5K IDs.

City Nature Challenge has piled up Unknowns. If you set your filter to your preferred location, there would be lots you could pick out? Birds? Aves is fine, then the birders can sort them out.


The thing is, there is a huge variety of people that use iNat. Some are specialists, others generalists. I consider myself a generalist but my observations are mostly about convenience. I have lots of moths and other insects because they are fairly easy and I can usually get the best pictures with my phone. I love birds but don’t have a ton of pictures because I try and focus on species I don’t have and because many birds are not easy to capture. It is hard to make blanket statements about users, even more so if they view themselves as “generalists”


You’re interested in nature and have posted a lot of pictures. Surely you can identify some species from some places, at least if the photos are good. You can use “identify” to search for things labeled as a species you know and agree or not, as seems appropriate. Or check out those CNC unknowns and sort them to broad categories (birds, spiders, plants) if you don’t know the ID’s.

I personally think identifying is fun, like playing computer solitaire only with a purpose. Try it. You may like it.


To be clear, this is a recommendation. Certainly not a rule for participation on the site.


Update for clarity. iNat requires no IDs whatsoever from you! It would be your choice to pay it forward, to give back. There is a humungous backlog of Unknowns. And another of Needs ID. Which have both exploded with CNC23.


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