Why/how am I still getting IDs on very old observations?

(I searched but couldn’t find any topic about this…)

What the title says. I routinely get IDs on observations that are five or more years old. I’m not complaining by any means! But I’m just curious how folks are finding them, since by default “Identify” is sorted from most to least recent.

I assume folks are searching for specific taxa… but even then, I assume there would be, say, lots of observations in family Fagaceae that came up before mine, or that they would have been reviewed earlier.

I dunno. Can someone explain it to me?

Identifiers choose how to sort what they want to ID.
Some like random.
I will often work thru a page from the top (recent to encourage newbies) and a page from the bottom (they may just have missed being seen and be possible to ID)
Taxon specialists do taxon sweeps, in their own time.


There are lots of ways to sort observations – recent to old, old to recent, limited to a specific date or range of dates, etc. Or people may be review observations for a certain species or place, etc. For me (using my computer and Firefox to access the website, not using an app) the options for sorting by date are in the middle, below the pictures of the iconic taxa.


Some like random.

… there’s a random option??

Yes, in the identify portion of the website.


Sort by

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I learn something new every day about iNat!


If I’m learning a new taxon, I’ll sort by date ascending (“asc” instead of the “dsc”). I figure the observations on there the longest have the most eyes that have confirmed a thing. I often ID those as well while I’m there. Another reason I interact with older observations is I’m a bit of a complete-ist trying to ID all of as many of my specialty taxa (lizards) as I can. I still find old observations mis-ID’d by two or three people, so it’s been worthwhile to me to do so.


I do not use iDentify, i use iNaturalist…

You could tag one of the identifiers to thank them for the ID and ask how they found your observation, what their process is…


I’ve been using Identify sorted by random to go through old observations stuck at Arthropoda, eg https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/identify?order_by=random&verifiable=true&hrank=phylum&lrank=phylum&taxon_id=47120


Occasionally I go through all katydid observations of South American countries, one province or department after the other, and ID them as good as I can to subfamily, tribe or genus, in rare cases directly to species. The oldest observations are often 5 to 7 years old. When I learn how to ID particular species I come back and filter by tribe or genus.


I often go through the oldest needs IDs for taxons I am most familiar with. Sometimes those are the ones most difficult to ID, things outside of their flowering phenology. Some of the oldest can’t be IDed, but I like to clear the ones I can where possible, so I often spend as much of my time in IDs 5 or more years old as ones that came in that day.


I’ve recently been picking a country in Asia and going through the Unknowns to identify them to the best of my knowledge. (I recently got the Unknowns in Mongolia from 8 pages down to just 6 observations.) Similarly, if I ‘finally’ figure out a way to distinguish two species I’ll start with observations of that genus in my area before moving to a larger geographic region, especially if I’ll need to filter out a number of species/observations I still can’t identify yet.

An approach like either of those might be seeing your older observations receive identifications.


Many possible reasons.

  • searching for a specific taxon, genus, or family
  • searching within an area
  • random browsing
  • taking a look at your observations
  • an observation in a project that someone is looking through
  • etc

There is no time limit on providing IDs for observations, and it’s not uncommon for observations to get no IDs for many years, then you suddenly get a flurry of them.

I still have observations from more than a decade ago that have no concurring IDs, but every few months I’ll get an ID on some very old observation.


I will go to the ‘Identify’ Tab. The ‘Explore’ Tab can make identifications too. The identify page is faster. From there, Enter ‘Fagaceae’ and the country for example ‘USA’, I found that the records are very many at 12952 pages. In such cases, an identifier can only start from page 1. If you have a Taxon or species where the pages are much lesser , like 500, the system allows an identifier to click on the last page, and make identification from there. If filter down to a state of USA, the number of pages gets lesser. It is difficult to get to page 200. It requires a lot of clicks, so other than working from page 1, the other option is working at page 500. Slowly we chip this chunk down on both sides until we can see the middle.
The world’s 3 big countries, China, India, USA, one have to identify at the state level because the data generated tend to be substantial.
The answer to the question is that an identifier may be working at the last page.
btw, another possibility is when clicking on a thumbnail image of a species and click ‘view more’, there is an archive. If a user spotted an error identification from years ago and add a suggestion, the messages will pop up to all parties who participated in that observation.


You can also use the Pre-Maverick project to filter for those.

Or use the yellow label project for Sauria

Or identifiers can tackle their preferred taxon from the whole list.

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Not if the observations don’t have conflicting IDs. I think @petezani is talking about looking at all observations for a taxon, not just needs ID ones.

I sometimes include RG observations in my search (if I am populating a project, or cleaning up a frequently mis-ID’d taxon), and it happens quite often that I will find at least a few observations that are RG with two or three wrong IDs.


Were they observations with ‘research grade’, or ‘needs ID’?
There are many hard working IDers who trawl through old observations to help clear them up : )
Some more specialist IDers also search by more specific groups that may not be ID-able by more generalists, reaching faaar back in time!


True, but on the “identify” tab, page 1 can be the newest or the oldest depending on the sorting option. (Using the “random” sorting, there are no page numbers.) It can also be page 1 of a given range of dates if that filter is set. There are all sorts of ways to customize which observations one sees.