- It’s totally ok to just leave an identification at a broader level, like “sunflower family” or even just “plant.” If someone helps identify something further, don’t “agree” with the ID until you’ve confirmed the identification seems correct. Otherwise observations may become “research grade” mistakenly.
- Take the automated species identifications with a grain of salt. Sometimes it provides suggestions for organisms that are only found halfway across the world!
- Turn off “confirming identifications” in your account settings (only receive notifications about identifications that don’t exactly match your own). It greatly reduces the number of unnecessary notifications you receive. You’ll still get notifications if there is a comment attached to the agreeing notification.
- Join the iNaturalist Google Group.
- View recent comments.
- View recent journal posts.
- Show scientific names first, set your preferred common name place, or completely hide common names in your account settings.
- Use the Data Quality Assessment section to mark observations as cultivated, that they lack evidence of an organism, or that the community can’t improve them based on the photos provided. A few of us have prepared some frequently-used responses for new users and problematic content.
- View “Marked Atlases” – species that have observations falling outside of their known distribution (read more about Atlases).
- You can always download iNaturalist data and manipulate it as you please.
Special Searching Tips
There are a lot of ways to check out the data on iNaturalist. Most are included in the filters at the Explore page (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations), but some are hidden! You can always use the API directly to search for quite a variety of things, but there are also a few that you can access directly from the iNat website:
- Search identifications at /identifications, e.g. all my identifications of Nabalus albus.
- Search observations based on identifications with ident_user_id, e.g. Nabalus observations where I added an identification.
- Search all comments: typing your username as a search query is one way to search for previous mentions. You can also view all your comments with the addition of mine=true.
- Find species observed by others, but not yet observed by you, with URL qualifier unobserved_by_user_id, e.g. flowering plants not yet observed by bouteloua in the state of Illinois.
- Or observations by everyone except a specific person with not_user_id (you currently have to use the numerical user_id. Find that by searching here, e.g. mine is 8882).
- Search for observations within a group but without a specific member of that group with the without_taxon_id search qualifier, e.g. identify Silphiums, but not S. laciniatum, S. terebinthinaceum, S. integrifolium, or S. perfoliatum or search for milkweeds, but not common milkweed.
- You can do the same thing with places with not_in_place.
- And with projects with not_in_project.
Getting More Help
- Check the Frequently Asked Questions page
- Try the Getting Started guide or check out the Video Tutorials
- The Curator Guide has a ton of information
- If you’re having problems with another user, check the Community Guidelines and please feel free to reach out directly to the site staff at
Don’t hesitate to reach out to the site staff or the Google Group if you have any questions/feedback about iNat. If you want to get in touch with me, feel free to @ tag me in a comment (@bouteloua). For longer queries, email is better: firstname.lastname@example.org.