Positive Feedback Loop of Identifications -- it's a big deal!

Encouraging others, through words or actions helps to inspire and encourage you in return. You are helping others exactly the same time you are helping yourself. ~Nasreen Variyawa

I'm in a really lucky position to interact with lots of naturalists and nature enthusiasts. When we talk about iNaturalist, we talk a lot about the community. We speak of the great observations from around the world, some of the magnificent observations (which, the observation of the day and observation of the week highlight as well ), and the folks that make these observations. Most of all, we talk about the identifiers and experts that dedicate so much time and energy to welcoming us all to the community.

This process of adding identifications is a positive feedback loop. When we add on an ID to an observation, we welcome that observer to the community. Yes, we make the entire database better, we train the AI to give better suggestions, and we learn a lot when we ID. But, I think that the welcoming part is the most relevant and meaningful.

In my very biased opinion, this is the real power of this tool -- iNaturalist is all about engagement for me. We engage with nature, and we engage with the community of naturalists. Those are really meaningful experiences! When I'm outside, I feel like I'm traveling around with others -- other naturalists and other species! It's always fun to find a 'new' species for me, and I have some fun researching to try to figure out the name of my 'natural neighbors.'

I am in awe of the taxon experts that give the tremendous gift of their time and energy to adding in ID's. It's freaking amazing how talented these folks are -- and how generous they are with their knowledge. Some day, I hope that I can get to that level of experience with a particular group of organisms. In the meantime, I'm simply in awe of these amazing people.

I tend to be a 'regional ID'er' -- the vast majority of my time ID'ing is focused on north central TX... I'm far from an expert, but I've learned so much from helping folks learn the names of species. And yes, I've made thousands and thousands of mistakes on ID's -- it's ok. How do I know they were mistakes? Well, they were corrected by someone else! This is all part of the process -- I've learned a lot from these mistakes too. I still make them sometimes, but I'm still learning as well. :)

So, ID'ing is such a valuable part of this process of welcoming a naturalist to the community -- it inspires them to go out and make more observations, learn a little more, and engage again with nature. I love it -- it makes me so happy. :)

Inspiration is given to inspire. We give what we receive. ~David O. Mears

Posted by sambiology sambiology, July 29, 2021 15:53

Comments

Well said by the #1 person who inspires!

Posted by suz 3 months ago (Flag)

Hear hear!

Posted by tiwane 3 months ago (Flag)

You've definitely inspired me to be more active in adding ID's, at least in my little corner of the world and on things I feel I know decently well- but I've also realized that there's something in it for me too; when I see observations that other people add, I often get ideas on new places to check out in my never-ending search to find all the ode species in north Texas.

Posted by jblinde 3 months ago (Flag)

This encapsulates so well how iNat inspires and deepens my understanding of nature, while also helping me feel connected to like-minded individuals. It is a delight to be part of research, discussion, learning, etc. about all things "nature", all through this venue. Great post! Thank you.

Posted by rollingplainst 3 months ago (Flag)

Thanks for expressing so well the warm feeling that comes from being part of the iNaturalist community. I'm so grateful for the experts and for everyone curious about life on our beautiful planet! Welcome and thanks all!

Posted by ejwildlife 3 months ago (Flag)

Ditto to the previous comments! And way to be posting before 6 am!

Posted by northcut1 3 months ago (Flag)

Thank you for this awesome post! You are an inspiration to countless people.

Posted by connlindajo 3 months ago (Flag)

And again, hear hear! I started out making some egregious IDing errors, but the outstanding iNat community generously shared their knowledge and inspired me to learn and to keep learning all the time. I hope I have helped others to feel welcomed and supported in the same way that I was. And the A.I. is really cool and gets better all the time, but having real people weigh in on observations is much more engaging. So much love for the people who give their time to help with identifications! Thank you for your wonderful positivity, Sam!💗

Posted by tigerbb 3 months ago (Flag)

You are the reason I started trying to ID for others. Went from 600 IDs to 15,000+. I make mistakes and learn a lot. I am grateful for those that help me!

Posted by lulubelle 3 months ago (Flag)

Vote Sam Kieschnick for Inspirer General of Texas! :)

Posted by jwn 3 months ago (Flag)

Yes!! Thank you for inspiring us all, Sam! This post gets to the root of why I (we all?) love iNat. It is truly my very best teaching tool because of all of these things you have so eloquently described.

Posted by jessicabeckham 3 months ago (Flag)

I couldn't agree more with you Sam, and all the other comments. It's such a boost to get IDs on posts. and it leads you down other trails to explore other species, others observations. This leads me to explore more placed, and look more around me for flora/fauna to capture.

Posted by texslm 3 months ago (Flag)

I've recently found that by going through old obs of flowering plants in my area limited to higher level taxa IDs, I end up learning about species I've never heard of (or seen) before. Now I'm excited to be on the look out for them.

Posted by lappelbaum 3 months ago (Flag)

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