What to do with long unidentified observations

Pretty much what it says on the tin. I’ve got a few observations, mostly arthropods and plants, that have gone without identification of what species/affirmation that they are the species I identified them as for a decently long time, what should one do with these observations, since its unlikely someone with the knowledge to properly id will find them via the identification section and all that.

Just curious what you consider a “reasonably long time?” The only unverified plants I could find in your account were both posted within the last six months. I don’t know the Florida flora enough to know whether they can be confirmed to species from the photos provided, but I do know that there are quite a lot of plant observations in my account of pretty easily confirmable species that are now over three years old and still not research grade. Hundreds, actually.

That said, taxa like the ones you’re waiting on are most likely to be identified by someone who’s concentrating on iNaturalist observations of that specific genus or species. I do that at times, for example focusing on Pinus resinosa or genus Houstonia- and I doubt I’m the only one who starts with the oldest unverified observations of those taxa that come up when doing that kind of work. So I wouldn’t despair of having them verified at some point, if I were you- just maybe adjust your expectations on the timeframe.


I our experience it can take years and suddenly someone who is interesting in a certain genus gives and ID.


It can take a long time for plants to be identified but every now and then someone comes in and ids dozens of them. Happens for other groups too.
I´d say try to identify them yourself to the best of your ability and they´ll eventually be found


This should probably go to the feature requests section but I wish there was a way to view random observations (maybe there already is?). Because only the most curious people will look for the oldest observations.


@er1kksen Yea true, I guess its just mostly a worry that observations of the more unpopular and less studied groups will get lost and go un-id’d forever lol

We could choose one day of the month when everyone is encouraged to go through the records and look for old and/or unknown observations and try to id as many as we can


I wish there was a way to view random observations (maybe there already is?).

There is! In the ID tab, in filters, under “sort by”, Random.


I am one of the “sort by date ascending” types and I’m limiting myself to the UK but there are less than 3,500 Unknown observations left in my filters and I am determined to whittle it down. :D After that I might start on the captive/cultivated unknowns.


You can sort by random date in the Identify portal :)

There’s not an option in the Explore user interface to randomize by date, but there might be a way to modify the URL to accomplish the same thing

ive had lots of observations that have gone like a whole year without ID, then finally someone gets to it. it takes time, and sometimes, they might not get IDed. theres not really anything to do with the observations, just leave them. arthropods and plants are both really hard to get IDs for. also, with arthropods and plants, getting a variety of angles and clear shots can be essential for identification


In some fields there are lots of people participating, and in some none. And when there is only a few people around who can do the identification, then those people are very “valuable”, and IMO should be tagged.

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Maybe there could be an “unidentified observations over 2 years old” thread here in the forums, where people can post links to their unidentified things, and folks can attempt to narrow it down. :)

please no :sweat_smile:


Ha, oops. :D I am not super familiar with these forums - why not?

It would be incredibly redundant! iNat has the greatest “audience” of the two as far as identifiers is concerned. There is a discord chat group, and I left that group largely because it just seemed to be a “who can identify my obs from today” group.

For chat about a particular observation, hold it in the comments section of the observation

For more general chat about iNat (such as bugs or feature requests, or questions about how to use it better), here in the forum

For more “personal” iNat experience, perhaps in the discord groups where the rules are a little more freer… In a chat server like discord, there is a better handling of real-time discussions

The best option for OP I think is to get to know who is good at identifying the plants etc from your area, and then introduce yourself via direct message. Find out if they mind you tagging them on observations that seem to get stuck. But definitely consider that all your observations DO have IDs… it’s just whether they are fine enough for you or not. Keep in mind that for many organisms a family level ID is all you will realistically get to from a photo, while others might get to species quickly from a blurry photo. It’s just how things are!

I would strongly suggest that you consider how pressing the finer ID is. If you are writing a report that relies on that identification, then there is a real and pressing need to progress that ID… but if it is just to get it to Reasearch Grade, I would recommend letting go of that objective. IMHO there is far too much emphasis placed by iNatters on getting things to RG…


Thanks, that sums it up well. :)

Very much a discussion that is only relevant to macro flora and fauna. For most other things they may never get to species and even genus may something to only hope for.


Thanks for the thorough reply! :)

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