Add a banner to the app to direct new users to mark captive organisms captive

It looks like a large number of new observers usually upload captive plants but never flag it as captive, likely since the “captive/cultivated” switch is so inconspicuous among the options when uploading using the app. While it’s not too bad of a thing to upload captive plants (in fact it might help figure out where to find specific parasites and herbivores), it’s a bit annoying having to sift through hundreds of captive observations while looking for observations of wild plants.

Similar to the green informational banner for adding an ID (appears when you first use the Android app)?


I’m a fairly regular user and I sometimes forget, and have to edit the observation to check the box. Another approach might be to make it a mandatory yes/no radio button so you can’t save it without choosing.


But it might also deter new users from posting more observations on iNat. Most new users, I guess, want to see how the community responds to their observations and if their observations are marked as captive/cultivated, they remain hidden from the community and the users may wonder why no one responded to their observations.
Even though marking such observations captive/cultivated is necessary, it can have such an effect on new users, I guess.


But it might also deter new users from posting more observations on iNat.

While I won’t disagree with this, I do question the relative value of not doing it. Is quantity vs. quality really the right thing? For every one that isn’t marked, someone is going to have to go back and fix it at some point (if it’s even possible to fix it). In my opinion, better to deter them from posting in the first place if they aren’t willing to put forth that small amount of effort to complete the log. A tickbox for cultivated or not doesn’t seem like it would be a barrier to entry on a platform like this…but even if it was perhaps we don’t want extremely low effort content added?

Don’t get me wrong here, I am not saying we should actively dissuade new users…but I also think having to sift through mountains of data is pointless as well. The risk of not labeling something as captive or cultivated is ultimately the risk of discovering a new invasive species and not knowing if it is loose in the wild or not.

Just my 2 cents.


There’s a better way to automate this without adding a requisite button press for every observation.

It’s pretty backwards, but couldn’t you use a very-high resolution landcover dataset and select captive if it’s clearly in the center of an urban area? The high resolution should allow observations in urban wild areas like Rock Creek Park to remain wild observations as a default. I know this leaves out wild observations in, say, the streets of Washington DC, but I believe a wild observation is the exception in that case and it would be easier to fix than 25000 observations that are really captive plants or landscaping.


Maybe OK for mammals, but not for insects, fungi, mosses. Even for plants, as it will put all weeds and self-seeders into capptive/cultivated. If I understood your proposal correctly.
In general, I think that even a banner won’t help. For one, many new users do not pay attention or even pointedly ignore information (probably OB numbers count). Another thing, many users do not get the point that landscaping shrubs and trees are not wild.


I briefly considered pulling observations of sidewalk weeds, mosses, lichens, birds and flies from NYC, DC, and San Francisco, but then I thought “there has to be a better way to automate this without adding a requisite page visit for every observation.”


I agree. Perhaps there should be a more controlled tutorial for first time observers, where the options are more cleanly explained. Pretty much every “game” app on app stores have a 10 minute long sequence of poorly-drawn avatars giving self-explanatory instructions. This is an important designation for an observation that should be plainly displayed when starting out. I just think that requiring additional taps when making an observation is more tedious than helpful for users, especially users who only take wild observations (as is the intention of iNat).


Now this is a great idea. It will not help to avoid malicious pranksters, but would be excellent for ill-informed newbies.


It’s been suggested a few times, but an actual feature request might be good. (since that post a message was added for not posting multiple species in one observation)

I think little messages by each problematic button/textbox for new users isn’t a bad method of doing it, but it would be helpful to have that for captive/cultivated, posting photos of the same organism across multiple observations, etc. in addition to what is there already.


I don’t understand this. I’ve had plenty of IDs of cultivated plants confirmed by other users. And I think new users should be encouraged to provide the best quality data they can, not just try to get more observations seen.


Agree. I post cultivated plants and domestic animals (all marked!) for two specific projects here, following their rules. I receive a lot of IDs. Also, it is possible to see non-wild organisms by applying filters. Yes,I suppose that non-wild organisms will be on a longer waiting qeue for ID, but this should not be a reason for not marking them as captive/cultivated.


I would enthusiastically welcome the implementation of some kind of mandatory intro tutorial that includes language directing/urging/encouraging new users to A) include an ID, even if coarse and B) mark captive/cultivated obs as such while explaining iNat’s focus on wild organisms. If it’s informative, friendly, and over in 5 minutes, I don’t think it would be a barrier to new users.


iNat says it aims to encourage people to engage with nature. It doesn’t say - must be wild.

Marking a plant as Not Wild - is to avoid skewing the distribution maps.

Many / most people live in cities. Many of us are currently in lockdown.


I see a lot of posts about missing IDs or not checking the captive/cultivated box.
I also spend quite some time every day adding basic IDs to observations where the ID field has been left blank.

Why not simply make it so that you cannot save the observation if those fields are blank?


You cannot make the ID compulsory. Some come to iNat because they don’t know the ID.

Also small typos, or spelling mistakes. iNat doesn’t help as Google does - did you mean

Thank you for the correction, Diana. I often add the standard comment template featured on the Frequent Responses page, but had an experience a week or two ago where a user responded to me saying something along the lines of “Ok thank you, I’ll only upload wild organisms from now on.” I immediately tried to backtrack, saying that the site has nothing against captive/cultivated and mentioning my own uploads of cattle, horses, and such. I think I’ll add some language to my stock response explaining that captive/cultivated observations are perfectly acceptable.

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I’d be OK with a little more onboarding for new users, and as I’ve said elsewhere here it’s something I’d like to tackle when we have the bandwidth, as it needs some thoughtful design and implementation.


I definitely feel that there’s a line where onboarding becomes tedious, or where users are more likely to skip/ignore onboarding. In a recent discussion about it, a friend suggested that a dialogue box clarifying captive/cultivated might be a more useful, smaller form of a tutorial as opposed to a drawn out ‘workflow’ like tutorial.