Why do some serious "power users" add so many unknown observations?

Thanks @charlie and @graysquirrel. Those were some of my initial thoughts (because I’ve experienced both frustrating scenarios personally) but I’ve noticed the same obs sitting there for a while. I’ll keep waiting and see if they revisit. Not a big deal, just adds to the pile. Thanks again for weighing in.

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If you get sick of them, and are using the Identify page, you can sort them so that older observations come up first, or so that they are in random order, so you don’t first see whatever is uploaded first. Or you can filter for more specific taxa, i usually filter for ‘vascular plants’ so i don’t even see the unknowns. Or you can search for unknowns and give them coarse IDs but if you do that keep an eye out for ‘placeholder’ text and don’t add a coarse ID without copying that over because it gets deleted otherwise

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Cool. I do the unknown as my personal community service and I enjoy it mostly. I also have “Aves” in my search to keep it interesting. I didn’t know about the deletion of a placeholder text but instinctively I usually skip any obs with a placeholder that’s more specific than, “weird bug” or “cool flower!”

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I copy and paste the “weird bug” or “cool flower,” too because if there are both a bug and a flower in the photo it indicates the one the observer wanted to identify. Sometimes the placeholder is a species name that isn’t on iNaturalist and the person wants the placeholder left just as it is, as a placeholder, so I skip lots of those by zipping through “Identify” and marking those “reviewed” en masse. If I don’t do that, I worry about missing the placeholder altogether since it’s not easy for me to notice sometimes.

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If there’s really a lot from a single person, I sometimes filter on that person, then mark all as reviewed. If you do actually want to review them later, just make a note somewhere and do the reverse later.
Example: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/identify?iconic_taxa=unknown&user_id=username&per_page=100

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As someone who generates a lot of unknown observations:

  • I had a bad data connection in the field
  • I don’t feel like typing out sci names with my thumbs
  • It was cold and I was wearing gloves
  • I’m uploading a ton of observations and plan to use /Identify to add IDs because it’s so much easier to do it there than on the uploads page
  • I know it’s between a couple species and will key it out at some point
  • I collected a specimen and plan to key it out at some point
  • I don’t even know what kingdom it belongs to and adding a “Life” ID seems silly
  • It’s an easy taxon that I don’t personally know but do know the community will prob ID in like 2 minutes
  • I’m feeling lazy
  • I forgot
  • sorry : )
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I didn’t even think of using identify on my own observations. That’s a good idea.

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That all makes sense…see, I knew I was missing something others would know here!!! Now I won’t feel like I have to use my tiny phone screen to key out plants with tiny pictures. I like the idea of using identify as an easier way to deal with IDs for my own obs. No apologies necessary…it just didn’t jive with my (mis)understanding of expectations. Thank you @bouteloua

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It’s fine to leave it as unknown for any and all the reasons that Cassi and others listed. The only comment I would add is if you do this and someone adds a coarse ID (comes in and adds Plants or Insects or whatever), don’t send them back a snarky message saying ‘I know it is a plant, why dont you do something helpful’ or similar, when that happens to me it takes willpower not to reply back in kind.

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@cmcheatle when folks do that I cry…I don’t think I’ve been nasty to anyone to date and have only had one terrible interaction (receiving end) out of thousands…I’m lucky I guess. Thanks for the comment

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How do you copy over a placeholder ID? I admit I have not seen a lot of them, but I don’t want to mess things up.

Ian

I use a laptop only, so when I use Identify I just use the curser to highlight it and then copy and paste it in the comment under my ID.

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I’m not sure what that means. I only use a laptop/pc as well. Do you copy the whole observation and add it back to the same observation with an ID? I use Identify a lot for moths, but open each one and confirm the ID. Does your system allow you to add observations to projects?

Ian

The behavior you describe is the major reason I don’t do as much with the “Unknowns” any more.

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Here’s an example. I would just highlight and copy all the info next to “Unknown” and then I would enter an ID of “Fungi” and paste the info into the box under it. That way both “Fungi” and the placeholder’s ID are there for others to see. I don’t usually add things to projects, though.

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I see now. Thank you very much.

Ian

You’re welcome. I think someone raised the idea somewhere of adding to the Identify tool a way to add the observation to a project at the same time.

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One reason I add multiple obs with no ID initially… I have a flaky computer and it crashes at really annoying moments, like when I have been waiting for all the pics/and meta data to upload so I can start adding the IDs, get about halfway through them, and down she goes… start all over again! If I’m feeling organised, I will break them up into smaller groups… but mostly I just get them up there and start adding the IDs later.

I do find it frustrating when I know the ID, will be putting it on within 5 mins of it uploading, but I get bombarded with questions within a minute from 2 or 3 users regarding it… I feel like saying “just wait, you will see I already know what it is if you just give me a chance to finish the upload!”. I reckon Needs ID should have a 5 minute delay before showing an obs, to give uploader a chance to finish the job!

As part of my “don’t want to miss learning ops” approach, I already have a needs ID query with ascending date order and starting from the date I joined iNat. I sometimes go back past then and do a few, but mostly I am just scanning obs for learning ops and chances to apply what I have learnt.

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I really wish there was a draft mode where you got to review stuff before posting it. I think Flickr did this? I would add it as a feature request but since this board may get deleted and recreated soon i should wait

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At the risk of being tangential…I just want to clarify that my original question is sincerely based on trying to interpret what can feel like mixed messages about what the ideal way(s) to interact/use the site are. I remember reading somewhere that encouraging new users to add coarse IDs (or any ID they can) was desirable and so have been voluntarily welcoming people and offering that advice (mainly because I also realize having no one pay attention to observations when you’re just beginning could potentially deter folks from continuing to participate). I’ve seen a lot of wonderfully rich debate on the google group. and now here, on all sorts of nuanced subjects and have more recently been participating myself but it wouldn’t be a bad idea for me to point out that will all the beauty of the complexity and potential of iNaturalist, as a relatively new user trying to be more dedicated and active in the community, that the complexity can be overwhelming. I like a challenge, personally, and perhaps clarity is elusive. In this case, I don’t have a suggestion.

I was just confused as it seemed I had either misread, misunderstood, or misinterpreted (or all 3) the expectations around the “unknowns,” but it is quite possible that I conflated a few discreet issues in my quest to be of service. I still enjoy the pleasant exchanges with new folks so I’ll keep doing what I’m doing (until I’m told not to) and utilize the generosity of knowledge shared here to try to mitigate my frustration. I realize too that I have assumed that adding IDs to unknowns of pro users might get me yelled at or something but if it’s permissible to view them as I would anyone else’s obs then there is no issue and I’ll get back to work! Thanks again, everyone. :slight_smile:

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