Absolutely tired of plants not marked as cultivated - Solutions welcome

connect people to nature, and by that we mean getting people to feel that the non-human world has personal significance, and is worth protecting

It is surely a noble intent and it should be fostered as most as possible.
Anyway, let’s ask ourselves if many users really want to be “connected to nature”. Of course we cannot ask this question to every new users but, let me be frank, I am really doubtful that a user that posts a handful of observations of potted plants, some other plants he cultivates in his own garden and, while we are at it, also his dog and some friends, is genuinely attracted by nature.
Yes, there are users who started posting that stuff and then turned to “more interesting” subjects. But I can say that they are not the majority, at least in my country.
I also think that for a new users who, maybe, do not understand well English and so are unable to understand the site instructions and, possibly, are not even aware that there is a community beyond the app, seeing their observations somehow disappeared could turn out to be mortifying. So, let’s consider the possibility to keep visible, but at the same time easily filterable, the casual observations as it has been already proposed. This could make their identification easier by those users who are interested in such observations. If they are or will soon become interested in nature, they will probably turn to wild organisms. Differently, if they approached to iNat just for curiosity, they could possibly soon lose interest in posting observations at all.

Here I reaffirm again that the stating if a photographed organism is wild or not should be a duty of those who post that observation. In this sense, as already proposed in the forum, let’s consider if there is a possibility to draw to users’ attention this issue before they post one observation.



I had an idea a while ago, which I posted in another thread. The feedback was rather poor, so I’m repeating myself here: Make Captive / cultivated observations Casual instead of Research Grade, rather than Casual instead of Needs ID. This seems like it could solve almost all the problems; new users wanting their cultivated plants IDed, identifiers wanting a “Needs-ID equivalent” for Captive / Cultivated obs, and other identifiers wanting to filter them out (it would still be easy to do and a default setting in Identify). Plus, the chances of cultivated observations being marked as not wild would increase, because there would be much less motivation to leave them in general Needs ID.


It didn’t get much responce cause there’s an old request to separate cultivated and casual and it was discussed quite a lot in any topic about cultivated stuff.

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If other people have suggested it and it’s been discussed before, why hasn’t it happened?

Because the site decides what changes they are going to take up and implement. Discussion and/or number of votes on a request etc do not determine priority or even acceptance.


I believe it will happen one day, sooner or later. Today I though about new level of RG, like Ultra RG, it would need 3-5 ids, one of them from curator, and at least one annotation, there’d be much fewer of those than RG, but they will show observations that were truly accepted/reviewed by community.


I really don’t think there is anyone out there who would have trouble finding a wild plant. There’s always garden weeds and plants growing out of cracks in sidewalks.

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But. If you force confused new users to choose - they will either click whatever so they can continue. Or flee iNat in despair 'cos I have no idea if it is wild or planted?!


All you need to do is have the following link to refer them to: https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/help#captive
Perhaps you could even include something about this in the screens that the users have to view before they log into the app.

Regarding clicking whatever, I’m sure it will happen, but at least the user will know how to correct it when they are corrected. Furthermore, I don’t really foresee this being worse than what we have now. Worst case scenario, the first 10 observations by new users are incorrectly labeled as captive. In my mind, this is a small price to pay to teach new users how to contribute better observations.

Regarding fewer folks picking up the app, I’m not sure it would have that much impact if done well.


I’ve been thinking about the problem some more today and I wonder if this and many other issues are simply symptoms of a beginner transition problem (i.e., beginners not given enough structured instruction to do things correctly).

I know some folks like the idea of the community helping them through this transition period but I feel like many fall through the cracks, or worse, encounter an exasperated response from a frustrated identifier who just wanted to go through the Euphorbias or plants of Oklahoma to see if there was anything new and interesting posted today.

I wonder if this could be helped with a tutorial in the app for first time users. I know there’s a link to a video tutorial in the app but it’s not easy to find. It would be better if a tutorial is the first thing the user sees and is something that walks them through the necessary elements of an observation. The user could then be instructed to observe something that is cultivated and something that is wild and instruct them to choose the correct option. Links to learn more should be provided throughout. The tutorial would also instruct them to add an ID, make sure there’s a date and location and generally show them how things work.

There could be a similar thing for desktop users. And perhaps even a link available to the community so we can recommend it to existing users who haven’t figured it all out yet.


Like the damn field madder I keep trying to control.

or the random lyreleaf sage I like but have no idea how it got here


URG… has a ring to it :)


There’s just too many new users compared to identifiers. We’re outnumbered. Personally I think a lot of new users leave and don’t return simply because no one interacted with their observations at all in any way, never mind scaring them off with the idea that some plants are cultivated


Probably true what you say. iNat is not Facebook and I suspect some new users are disappointed in that. If the submitter wants quick feedback on some photo of a plant (potted, cultivated, or wild) or another organism there are many FB pages that can fill that role. iNat is a little more technical and less chatty – someone slaps an ID on your pic and usually that’s it – so might not be the best fit for the very casual photographer of nature.


And as long as this image is the first sentence advertising iNaturalist to android users, there is nothing existing users can do to change the expectations of new users. It’s marginally better for apple users, but it’s still the third sentence there.

The problem with how captive/cultivated is treated, and how user expectations are managed can only be solved from the top.


I went through school kids observations from Hong Kong one time. Believe me, those kids have trouble finding wild plants. They visit botanic gardens or parks and that’s probably as wild as they’ve ever seen. They usually posted the planted plants, not the inconspicuous weeds. Conveniently, they often posted photos with the plant’s identification label visible, so I learned some tropical plants. :-)


So did I, but it was clearly lack of guidance and their will to do the job and get free, on the pics with planted bushes you could see weeds here and there, I’m sure there’re tons of small plants they could find, but they didn’t even think about possibility like that, no wonder kids see trees over some 10 cm littles.

I would have appreciated more mouseover prompts, and then clickable links - when I started. Information that is easy to find and click on again till it is in the blood.
It took me months, when I started, to realise I should work thru my notifications - especially since it was bioblitz and there were hundreds!
People have different learning styles. (I am not in the work thru the manual methodically from page 1 group)


that is one of the reasons I ID my ‘here and now’ today around Cape Town. Then I can see where I have to try harder to bring a kind and helpful ID - and skim the others from that newbie.


(Anybody know what disperses pawpaw seeds?)

The most prevalent belief is that the present day patchy distribution of pawpaws across its range indicates it depended upon now extinct megafauna for dispersal. Beasts such as mastodons and ground sloths ate the large fruit and deposited the seeds throughout the environment. Today, rivers and streams are the main dispersal mechanism.

On the subject at hand, I think that guidance (through the form of mandatory onboarding and community engagement) can help, but the wider knowledge of what is a century old cultivated planting, vs. something that has naturalized, is always going to be mostly dependent on building knowledge, outside of iNat, of our local ecosystems. I think iNat helps with this, even at the cost of its own data pool, by giving many people an easy way to engage. Making it mandatory to choose, and widening to three options (wild|unsure|cultivated), as well as the option of including captive/cultivated in NeedsID would help, I think, but in the end anything iNat does can only help so much, that other part of the equation (local knowledge) is a gap that probably can’t be filled.