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A word of warning about iNaturalist

I know this is not a true BugGuide topic, but I also know there are a lot of shared users among the two platforms. And there might be people who pull data from both.

And I also know some of this has been covered in 'frassing' threads, but I wanted to have it more 'visible' as it's own topic.

I have been an iNaturalist user for a few months now. While for many groups of animals the concept of consensus IDs might work, for a good many groups (especially among the arthropods) the concept of consensus IDs is actually a very bad idea. There are just too many laypeople offering up faith-based IDs. They don't have the training needed to properly ID something but feel the need to chime in anyway because they think they know what something is. And then people jump on the bandwagon because they think that person knows his/her stuff. This really mucks things up as it becomes difficult for an expert to 'move something where it needs to be'.

There does not seem to be much (expert) quality control on IDs, at least for certain groups. I recently went through the Phalacridae observations and weeded out about 20-30 things that were not phalacrids. These misIDs included several families of beetles and a bunch of bugs (mostly pentatomomorphan, but some Auchenorrhyncha as well). Some of these had been 'sitting in the Phalacridae' for months. The submitter (or system?) made an initial guess at the submitted taxon and it just sat there and languished in Phalacridae until I came along and 'tried to correct it'. I say 'tried to correct it' because even if I correctly suggested a misIDed phalacrid was a nitidulid, I couldn't 'move it' to Nitidulidae because my suggestion only counts as much as the original bad suggestion. It would languish in a higher-level beetle taxon until the bad suggestion(s) were withdrawn or someone came along and backed up my correct ID.

Sorry for the long-windedness. I just wanted to share my experience and offer up a warning to those BugGuide users who also pull and use data from iNaturalist.

Be very careful when pulling data from iNaturalist. Verify each observation you use in the data you pull. There seem to be a lot of misIDed observations in certain areas and it is much harder for experts to 'move something to the correct' spot than it is here.

If anybody needs examples I can point to them. Let me know quickly as I don't plan on being a presence there for much longer.

 
Unfortunately Blaine picked a
Unfortunately Blaine picked a bad example for you to harp on. Most diagnoses written in the time of Frabrcius are A) written in Latin, and B) less than a paragraph.

This is not confined to entomologists (which for some reason you seem to despise I've noticed over the years). The description of Audubon's Shearwater by Lesson is two sentences in Latin. And it took me a request from my university's library to track down the book it's in. Things were done quickly and without much thought to the idea that there may be the need to diagnose it from similar species. Linnaeus is even worse. His descriptions are often a single sentence. But after 250 years, people kind of get the idea what the animals and plants he was talking about look like.

The Onatario paper is not a description of a new species and I'm surprised it has as much of a diagnosis as it does to separate out Athous haemorrhoidalis. Things rarely get re-described unless they're being worked on.

 
apples to oranges
My example had nothing to do with the original description, which is a moot point, it had to do with the current understanding of the distribution of the species.

 
I know that, but Lee fixated
I know that, but Lee fixated on the identification aspect. I used iNat data in a paper on the distribution of a cicada and had to personally check the ID of every record in the database (thankfully not many and a very simple ID).

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