What's your worst/most embarrassing ID mistake?

I recently accidently added the ID of Euphorbia curtisii to an Oenothera curtiflora observation (probably my worst accidental ID, but probably not my most embarrassing) which made me wonder, what’s the worst/most embarrassing ID people have made? I’ve made too many embarrassing IDs to recall any others at the moment but I’m sure people have some good stories on this topic.

13 Likes

Not sure about most embarrassing, but my most common is “Pseud. microcephalum” which is (to me) supposed to be a plant in the aster family, not a damselfly.

6 Likes

I don’t know. I’ve made so many! Labeling a large waterbird as a Canada Gooseberry was memorable. I found out that besides being the genus name for willows, Salix is a marine invertebrate. Just now I found that I’d labeled a lichen I supposedly know well as a different-looking species I know well. Sigh.

23 Likes

Can’t remember making any big mistakes myself, but several from other people come to mind. Once @sedgequeen IDed one of my gull observations as an Olympic Grasshopper, and I also saw @shanafelt_ben identify his own gull observation as Friar’s Cowl (it comes up in the CV suggestions when you type “Larus”).

6 Likes

Considering that Nathan is as often as not the one to catch my mistakes, I’m sure he’s aware of the many, many times I’ve missed the blatantly obvious. Here’s a recent one.
I’m sure I made many, many gaffes when I first started identifying. Although even nowadays, sometimes I move too fast for my own good and call a tree an animal, or vice versa.

Ah, here’s another one. I wrongfully “corrected” a very prominent identifier in my area, and on one of her own observations no less, due to an incorrect assumption / lack of knowledge. I think I’d been identifying for like a week at that point. She gently explained my error, but at the time I found the experience totally mortifying. I actually avoided her observations for months afterwards because I was convinced she thought I was an idiot.
We’re friends now. Lol.

17 Likes

I think we’ve all made embarrassing ID errors. None immediately come to mind for me but assured I’ve made lots.

3 Likes

Probably typing “eastern black” and then clicking “eastern black racer” (a snake) when I meant “eastern black carpenter ant”, I did not catch this until someone asked me about it 2 days later

6 Likes

Probably that time I identified a species of Blue-eyed grasses in New Brunswick as a species that only grew in Mexico. Didn’t bother to check the range map on it and was none the wiser until someone corrected me two days later. Was quite embarrassed by that one.

4 Likes

I’d forgotten about the Olympic Grasshopper! That was pretty good.

7 Likes

I don’t know. I do make mistakes like everyone else. Either I misidentify the organism based off this or that, or I trust the CV too much and pick the first thing it offers.

I have a friend that is always so embarrassed by their mistakes. It makes me afraid to correct them sometimes and this extends, at times, to others. I also worry it’s abrupt and rude to offer an identification without explaining why but it would be tiring to me to type it in each time. I’m always happy to explain, even if it’s not a good explanation, though.

3 Likes

I didn’t realize that domestic mallard ducks come in different colors when I started birdwatching a few months ago, and I excitedly ID’d one as a bean goose. I almost ID’d another as a snow goose but realized my mistake at the last second.

9 Likes

Mine was less about the ID being incorrect, but in how I went about doing it. I was discussing whether or not a mushroom was a Trametes sp. or a Stereum sp. without a picture of the pore surface. I was (and still am) quite new to mushroom ID and overconfident - think that early peak on the Dunning-Kruger curve. I was asserting without evidence that the curve of the mushroom appeared to be Stereum, but the replier said that without further evidence I couldn’t be sure. This went back and forth for a couple of comments. Sure enough, this was the brand new account of professional mycologists Arleen & Alan Bessette, and a kind stranger let me know that they were correct and had done lots of original research on the fungi in the region. I now own a book authored by the Bessettes and try not to leap to conclusions so quickly.

15 Likes

I dont think I have one really; i actually often label things somewhat blindly because getting it looking close but wrong surely enough makes someone experienced in that organism correct it. If I just leave it highest level I know, ID never happens. Since I am trying to make a guidebook for myself of everything I find on our new bit of forest, learning the full ID is important to me. Annoying to some? Maybe. But it works. And I find generally people are kind with fixing wrong IDs. And sometimes I get excellent book suggestions out of it, like a great buttery guide with real photos! And I always get to learn, like i had no clue there was false turkey tails and you have to look underneath! I do mostly karst entomology and So mushrooms are way out of my wheelhouse.

(Edit to clarify since this caused confusion:
to me, “somewhat blind” is anything less than 100% sure in an area you’re an expert in)

1 Like

M, there’s a whole topic about stopping this behaviour, don’t do it, tag experts, don’t id incorrectly if you know it’s wrong, it’s not “annoying”, it’s against iNat guidelines.

3 Likes

Well I didnt say incorrectly on purpose, just dont know for sure? Its what iNat suggests always. Im not rando guessing. Looks close and iNat says it is so I go with it if unsure how to tell for sure. I thought that was the whole point of the suggestions! Why else would iNat auto-ID?

How do you tag an expert? Is there a list?

2 Likes

Yes, at any explore page, e.g. for your region, there’s a tab with identifiers, tag one or two from the top asking them to help.
Auto-ids are mostly used to not type what you know and save time, other than that it’s a help for your search of right id, system is far from being a smart human and often suggests weird stuff.

4 Likes

I mean. You cant say labeling something as turkey tail as turkey tail, because thats all one has ever heard it called, and iNat says it is, as turkey tail, to have someone pop in and say check under since it looks a bit off, is wrong. Thats just learning.

If I had just labeled it mushroom, it would never be ID’d. And, it looked to me prettymuch like turkey tail (was slightly greener than ones Id seen before, but colours vary I thought), iNat confirmed. Someone came along and disagreed and I actually then figured out what it was and asked them to confirm - and I was correct it wouldve been one of two species and I selected correct as it was on an oak. That is using the system and learning. If thats illegal than I shouldnt bother using iNat at all :woman_shrugging:t3:

2 Likes

Iding incorrectly cause you thought it was right is not the same as just agreeing with suggestions.

3 Likes

Yes I always use the auto ID to search those pages and info and select best! Sometimes I really cant get close and those stay at family or genus…but those are the ones still sitting there ignored. :( really sad as like one I was worried was an invasive and wanted to get it gone and still NO replies. I have since gotten a forestry commissioner to come look, and we confirmed it is not invasive species. I have another one that is “plant”. I have no clue and it acts invasive too and I am curious. Spent hours on google, iNat, no luck. The iNat genus suggestion was way wrong (looked good initially but after 30 min realised and withdrew) so its back to plant :woman_shrugging:t3: Someone agrred with me that it is “plant” :joy:

1 Like

I’ll look into your observations when I’ll be home, most of things can be ided further than plant.)

1 Like