Why is State of matter Life not limited to observations with conflicting Kingdom IDs?

I think “Unknown” observations are observations where no ID at all was entered and that if there is an observation with only one ID (by the observer) that says “State of matter Life” it means that the observer typed in “Life.” Am I right about this? It seems like many people want to type in “Life” and I can’t figure out what is what is prompting them to do that. I don’t see any choice of “Life” in any list of suggestions on either the ios app or the website. Since there are no conflicting Kingdom IDs on these, it seems to me that it would be better if these ended up in the “Unknown” category so that they would come up in the “Unknown” choice in the Identify filter, and so the State of Matter Life category would then be just for observations with conflicting Kingdom IDs.

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How I understand it:
“Unknown” when there is no ID at all.

“State of matter Life” is not an ID one can add. When two (or more) conflicting IDs are added to an observation the highest common taxa is displayed as the ID for this observation. Take this for en example https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/23589926 The observer added that it was a fish (which it obviously is not). Two more IDs were added Fungi and Bryophyta the common “Taxa” of these 3 IDs is “State of matter Life”.

Ok I checked again, apparently you can add the ID “State of matter Life”, just type in “Life” , it does not work with “State of matter Life”

Yes, but I’m referring to the cases where there is only one ID (the observer’s) and it is “State of matter Life.” Just wondering why so many people choose to type that in, since I can’t find anything prompting them to do so, and it seems to me it would be better if those ended up with the other “Unknowns.”

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See my second post, I just discovered it after I wrote the first :-)
Type in “Life” and it works

Just wondering why so many observers do that, and why those aren’t treated on iNaturalist like any other “Unknown” that is searchable by choosing “Unknown” on the Identify tool. I am not referring to observations with any conflicting IDs, just the initial ID.

I think they do show up with the “Unknown” filter. Try filtering for “Unknown” and then add “Life” to the species field, you’ll see them. I guess you don’t normally see them, because they’re drowned out by the host of truly unknown observations.

What’s weirder is that some correctly ID’d observations do show up with that kind filter settings! I think those are mainly viruses and (some?) bacteria.

The taxa for viruses and bacteria are not active so it shows up as unknown even though you can select them.

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terminology. Active means something else (e.g. the name is valid).
A revision: Taxa for viruses and bacteria do not have an iconic_group and so are classified as “unknown”. They do behave normally in the dictionary.

I believe that there is a request somewhere to have Bacteria and Viruses (& Slime Moulds & Amoeboids & etc.) into their own iconic group and removed out of “unknown”

There is also a request to have “Not Life” for things mistaken for life (like stains or crusts for Lichens), as opposed to life. But “Life” or "State of Life, does display as “unknown” and is useful when one cannot determine the Phylum - is it a plant or a coral?


Yes, I agree that’s true. But is there a way to filter for State of matter Life observations so that the result is only observations that involve identifications belonging to more than one Kingdom, without all the observations that are just labelled State of matter Life but have no real identifications?

Yeah, see the affiliated topic here:

Or this composite URL:

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Thank you. That will do it.

Often when I am going through old observations that have no ID yet, I might add anything up to Kingdom (eg Plants!) and add a comment something like ‘It helps to have an initial ID’. Perhaps people are thinking ‘Life’ is better than nothing when they don’t have any idea what it is, so add that.

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