Fight against Needs id

Winter is a time of ids, but it's hard to feel for me, for more than a month I wait to see my level of unided observations to drop to 11k to upload some backlog, but it just doesn't happen even though my rate of uploading is close to zero. I already have a list of taxa I dropped observing as they get no or little attention attention no matter how much you try (lichens, mosses, tipulids, mosquitoes, snails, worms, etc.), it really seems birds are the only group I can be sure in to get an id/agreement, everything else fails.
This year brought me 4+k of needs id observations, 1/ of all observed that time, last yar (2020) it's still 3,7k, so again still 1/4, it's frustraiting as far from that is unrecognisable observations, many are, but just checking what's already on species level would be cool enough. I know it's a rant that won't change anything and I don't want to have some blind agreements, but recieving ids is very motivating to both observing and making own ids, so in the end it's the platform that wins from it, not just myself. Facts that I fail at everything I try doesn't help that situation in a slightest, so I have no motivation to go out in winter.
It's just amuzing how slow it's still in winter times, last summer it was just standing still, now it's 10 ids/day as a max and mostly lower.

Posted on January 24, 2022 09:58 AM by marina_gorbunova marina_gorbunova


Photos / Sounds


Moose (Alces alces)




December 5, 2021 02:12 PM MSK


I totally understand this feeling. I also have some unidentified observations which bother me - however, not as many. But working as a taxonomist myself, I also know that in some groups, it is hard if not impossible to give IDs based on pictures. For others, you need years of experience to give a qualitatively good ID. And last but not least, experts need to be active on iNaturalist - which most of them are not. I have started on iNaturalist with carabid beetle IDs but soon went away from this task. On the one hand, many species and many observations simply cannot get species level ID due to very subtle differences between species that would require a close inspection of the specimen and often abyssmal picture quality. On the other hand, it takes A LOT of my time. I decide to invest my time in the things I deem to have a bigger chance of success and basically stopped giving IDs to carabid beetles. I know this is not helpful and does not solve your problem, but I thought it might help to also hear from 'the other side'. Keep up the good work! Your observations halready helped a lot filling the many gaps in the Russian fauna!

Posted by fboetzl over 2 years ago

@fboetzl thing is I id quite a lot and I don't want to shame anybody, but we all could do better, it's hard to id from photos, but if there's a species id it means photos are sufficient enough to at least try to id it again by second person, I have 3k obs as species level and big chunk of them are easy to check and id, there's just no people to do that or they're busy with something else. I wrote this because I have big plans for this year, but from last year I learnt that with no ids at one moment I just get tired of things and make much less observations than possible.

Posted by marina_gorbunova over 2 years ago

If I may ask the question here (if not, please direct me to the proper place in the forum), but should I ID other people observations if I have no biology background? How sure can the community be of my confirmation if I am but an amateur and have no relevant expertise?

Posted by alexey_kubarev over 2 years ago

@alexey_kubarev all iders on iNat are on the same level, the main rule of ids is to add only those you're sure in and could prove if you're asked about it, expertise outside of iNat is a positive fact, but lack of that doesn't make ider worse if they're willing to learn, if you know the object that you id and know which similar species live at the area, it's all that matters. Community can see your correct ids and remember it. Of course it's better to play safe with groups you know worse, but also we all make mistakes, so don't be afraid.

Posted by marina_gorbunova over 2 years ago

@ alexey_kubarev You are very much encouraged to give IDs! You should, however, be sure about your ID (as Marina said) and be willing to accept when others prove you wrong. Experience builds with time!

@ marina_gorbunova I completely get your point - believe me. I surely could also do more. But I also have to earn my living and iNaturalist is not the only thing I do in my spare time. So everyone decides for themselves how much time they want to invest. We have to respect this.

Posted by fboetzl over 2 years ago

@fboetzl I certainly respect this! Those problems are mostly because of how many iders we have vs how much everyone ids.

Posted by marina_gorbunova over 2 years ago

A very sad story. But as long as I do not ID observations of others I will not blame other people not to ID my own observations. Ofcourse I prefer to have my observations reaching the Research Grade status it will not prevent me from going out side and make new observations.

Posted by optilete over 2 years ago

@optilete it's cool if it is so, but I need motivation, 16k a year is not my best, and as because of health and complications I missed different plans for January, I need it even more than ever, I'm afraid that I will get less than last year which is frightening.

Posted by marina_gorbunova over 2 years ago

I have far less then 16k, but I also use a local website in my country to get id's from. But it's no problem if it takes years to get an id..

And maybe I am lucky to live in a crowded country where many people live, some add observations and very very few add ID's..

Posted by optilete over 2 years ago

I'm quite envy! I can't do that, e.g. out of almost 70 Nephrotoma observations I got confirmed 2 of 1 unique species and of the same amount of Tipula I have 1 RG, I'm quite sure of some of my ids, less in others, but I want something back, I can't keep observing them if I have no idea if I id them correctly, I just stopped going out and focus on them, there's a local expert who is not on iNat, but I'm sure there're more people with that knowledge. So I just moved to a new group for me, where lerning curve is still going up, that way I don't care that much about ids.

Posted by marina_gorbunova over 2 years ago

Hello Marina,

I totally understand your frustration here. It’s very motivating to get your observations identified. And you get more identified if you stick to birds and butterflies and if you live in the US or Western Europe. I’ve been to Ghana in December last year and there it’s even a lot more difficult to get observations identified. The knowledge is lacking or the people who know are not in iNaturalist. But that doesn’t stop me from observing whatever I encounter. I’ll try to explain why.

First of all it’s fun to be outside and to enjoy all things that live there, even if I don’t have any idea what it is. The mission of iNaturalist is to connect people to nature and to feel this connection has a lot of value in itself.
Secondly all the knowledge in iNaturalist is incremental. If an observation is identified correctly, it’ll stay for ever. So I’ve got the trust that eventually even all my beetle observations from Africa and South America will be identified. It gives me a smile when I realize that maybe in ten years I’ll get a message that I’ve seen a “new” species many years ago.
Thirdly I’ve seen the strength of technology and artificial intelligence. I’m pretty sure that in ten years most of the observations will be identified automatically by the system. Of course the system has to “learn” by feeding it many observations and identifications and to do that we need many observers and identifiers. The only thing we have to do is to keep learning and get the stuff into the system.

I hope this helps you to keep up the wonderful work you do. You add value to the community every day and I wish you to enjoy that and to be proud of that. We all get demotivated some times and there is nothing wrong with skipping a few days and stay inside where it’s warm. It’s not a task to be in nature, it’s a gift.

Have a nice day,

Posted by jeanpaulboerekamps over 2 years ago

@jeanpaulboerekamps thank you for your kind words! I definitely understand this, my husband says the same about ten years, but I feel too young as waiting half of my life would be not great, but I am sure there will be something ided in ten years if iNat will be still working.

Posted by marina_gorbunova over 2 years ago

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