A prolonged message from my profile.

Please take care when clicking the "Agree" button on someone else's ID (especially the Computer Vision / Auto-ID)

When you click agree and an observation becomes research grade it becomes available to researchers and false data can be extremely frustrating to them. "Research Grade" observations are also used to train iNaturalist's Computer Vision, so incorrectly-identified RG can mess up iNaturalist's map data and the Computer Vision for users who will use it later.

Research grade isn't a special reward for your observations. If you can't id something further thats perfectly fine.

When you click the "Agree" button, you are indicating that you believe it to be that species, based on your personal knowledge or research. It is important to remember that quite often most insects and spiders cannot be identified without microscopy. (The use of a microscope)

Furthermore, Some people’s identifications are more reliably correct in some taxa, so it seems like an easy shortcut to check how reliable the person seems and choose to agree or not agree based on that. Nobody is 100% reliable in any taxa. If you instead check the direct evidence (the photos, location, date/time, etc.) and arrive at an identification based solely on that, then the reliability (or unreliability) of the previous identifiers won’t, and can’t, have any effect on your answer.

That kind of independent identification is way, way more valuable than quickly clicking “Agree”, because it can be used to correct errors. It’s kind of like doing a long math homework question, writing down the answer, then throwing out your previous work and redoing the whole thing from the beginning. If you arrive at different answers, then you know you must have made a mistake somewhere, and if you arrive at the same answer then you can be more confident that you did not make a mistake. But if the person at the desk next to you thinks to himself “XYZ is reliable, so I’ll just copy down his answer” then having two identical answers cannot increase your confidence that the answer is correct. Please do not agree nor disagree with my identifications unless you know how to, i.e., you know what makes it what. Just withdraw the identification if you're wrong, or don't agree in the first place. Just carelessly agreeing can cause headaches for the iNaturalist identifiers. I must admit that some of my oldest identifications were just carelessly agreeing without me actually knowing what was right or wrong, and this led me to quite a few misidentifications. I also often wanted everything to be brought down to species. I am more conservative. Don't become my old self (he is really annoying at times...). I know spiders can be really difficult to identify, and often specific, generic, or even familial identifications just can't be made without examining the genitalia, a process which can be difficult and one which almost always involves killing the animal. A lot of the time, minor details must be located to confidently identify a particular spider, and some families can include members which can appear identical to another family and with other members appearing identical to a totally different family.

Posted on 12 December, 2023 22:04 by cs16-levi cs16-levi


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