Tips for identifying observations

When adding an identification (ID) to an observation you made, you may wonder if it is better to use a general ID ("e.g., plant", "insect") or an ID that iNaturalist suggests. While a general ID is often vague, the specific ID can often be wrong. So which is better?

iNaturalist users have varying opinions on how to ID something when you don't know what it is, yet here are a few common guidelines:

ID guesses at the species level tend to get identified more quickly. So if you are active on iNat and willing to withdraw an ID if it is wrong, feel free to make specific guesses. This often encourages discussion and sharing of knowledge.

If you are not very active on iNat, or don't like to be wrong, ID an organism to the best level that you are confident - even if this best you can do is "plant" or even "Life", both of which are better than "Unknown".

For IDs that you are unsure of, it can be good practice to comment on your degree of confidence in the "Notes" section of an observation. For example, writing "This looks right, but I am not sure" can let other identifiers know that you are not 100% confident.

Happy observing!

Posted by slamonde slamonde, June 13, 2020 16:28



Posted by marykrieger over 1 year ago (Flag)

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