Add pop-up to ask observer if captive/cultivated (for certain species in that area)

I am a little bit tired of seeing and telling people that an organism is planted, and they should mark it as cultivated when it is a species widely cultivated in an area, specially when they already identified it correctly (for example Magnolia grandiflora in a street where there are those planted trees, or a Nelumbo nucifera in a botanical garden).

Maybe it could be useful to add a feature that search how many of this species are cultivated in a country or a place (or even the curators could add that option in the specific taxon), and then the app or web could make a question that asks explicitly something like “The identification that you are about to say belongs to a widely cultivated/captive kept species in your area; you think that this could be a cultivated/captive specimen?” and if the person respond “Yes”, the page automatically could mark the observation as captive. This also could be also helpful with the enormous amount of observations of captive cats and dogs, and other domestic animals.

On the other hand some species could have this question as a default; for example Canis familiaris, that is manly found in captivity.

I do not know how difficult could this be to implement and what implications this may have. Let me know what you think :+1:

I edited your title to match the description a bit better, but feel free to change it.

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Much better now :ok_hand:

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I think that for taxa that only have cultivated observations near by, the cultivated flag gets automatically set with a “system vote”.

Largely it is a “new user” issue, and a good opportunity to connect with new users and educate about how the flag works, and even to welcome them into iNat. I remember the first time I posted an observation and someone “talked to me” through a comment, I was surprised to discover “that there are real people behind this”, and now, wow… the people behind iNat are what make it so great!

If it is becoming burdensome, or unpleasant to have to mark cultivated, then take a break from doing it. I think of the observations as a continuous conveyor belt going past me, and my “job” is to add value by identifying where I can, adding annotations for gender if I can tell the difference, suggest improvements that could be made in terms of diagnostic features they might capture on future observations, as well as to generally encourage further participation in any way I can. If I miss something, there are hundreds if not thousands of other iNatters doing the same as me, and what I don’t pick up on, they might. Even after an observation has reached RG, there are a number of iNatters that review specific taxa, or obs from a specific place, so the “quality assurance” work never ends. Just do what you are happy to do, and click reviewed on the ones you would rather not be bothered with.


I’d rather see a pop-up asking if native/introduced.

One of the (many) problems with the captive/cultivated notation is that many species that are often captive or cultivated escape and reproduce, even adjacent to the areas they’re still captive or cultivated in. These are important to mark as “wild” as they tell us a lot about the gradual (or not so gradual) infiltration of introduced species into ecosystems.

This is true of many, many species, including Canis familiaris as there are vast feral dog (and cat) populations all over the world that are important to track and have immense impacts on local wildlife.

As it currently stands, the problem I often have is the opposite one, people marking wild species as “captive” if we post images of them while they’re being confiscated and re-released.


Well the proposed feature should give more value to the observations that are wild, because what happens now is that; following your example, a lot of the research grade observations for Canis familiaris are dogs inside a house, or with a harness… The pop-up should provide with a layer of seriousness to those observations that are a common captive/cultivated species and that there are still in research grade, and probably it would help in a long run to locate easier the places where that species are breeding and thriving in the wild, now you see in the maps a lot of dots, and you do not know what of them to trust if you do not click specifically in each of them. Also I would rather have certainty that an invasive organism is wild than to have certainty that it is a captive specimen (better false negatives than false positives someone would say).

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I vote against any pop ups on the app anyhow, as it would slow things down, or else ability to turn things off. I am not opposed to it existing on the website but, many people don’t seem to use the website and only the app.


I think this is a great idea. Some of the taxa I try to pay attention to are helplessly awash in observations of cultivated plants from users that rarely (or never) check back in to the app. I’m not 100% sure that they are cultivated most of the time, so I don’t feel comfortable marking them as such without input from the observer. But that input rarely comes.


I can only say that Pablo’s proposal is good and that it could turn out to be extremely useful for the community.
Users must take their responsibility for what they post.


Like some of the types of prompts on other sites/apps, including some of the messages that appear on this Discourse forum, it could ideally pop up when it’s expected to be useful and not for users who, like @charlie, already know what they’re doing.


This is a wonderful idea. There is a huge problem specifically with cultivated plants (especially trees) becoming research grade, and then going on to various sites such as GBIF. I notice that many of these observations come from new users, especially from students doing a project for a biology class and abandoning iNat afterwards. Apparently they are taught to upload to iNat but not about the data quality assessment.
The current system only flags observations that are very rare for a certain area. This means that uncommon species that are native to an area are not flagged and appear much more common than they should be if they are widely cultivated. For example, Eastern White Pines and Honey Locusts are uncommon in the Chicago area and exist in isolated native and naturalized pockets. However, they appear to be very common because they are both popular cultivated trees.
Having a popup would not really hurt anyone, but faulty data being entered into scientific databases can.


Welcome to the forum, @vnevirkov!

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I would not be for a pop-up that always appears (like @charlie I think it would slow things down too much and be aggravating for experienced users) but would be for a few pop-ups that appear for new users, maybe for the first few observations.


I am rethinking this. I still like the idea of a pop-up, because is more explicit; but maybe a signal like it already exists for “Introduced” and “Conservation Status”, that says “Widely cultivated/captive in your area: please consider to mark this observation as cultivated/captive if you think that this might be a non wild specimen” and probably a link to make it easier (although is just down there in the same page). One of the problems that I see with the “Data Quality Assessment” box is that is a bit hidden down there, so any kind of link to encourage to its use I think would be usefull.


That might be a really good idea. Also the pop-up that I am proposing should not be one that unables the rest of the activity until you click it, I think more like a pop-up that you can easely ignore if you already know about it; but for first time users maybe I would suggest the first kind.


If I am fairly sure something is cultivated I’ll flag and comment (then remove the flag if the user confirms it is wild). If I’m 100% sure I’ll flag and may or may not comment, if I’m not sure then I’ll just comment.


I agree, as part of the new onboarding perhaps, or at least work consistant with how that is eventually implemented.

I agree with earthknight in the sense of a need to differentiate once-captive-now-wild species that are becoming exotic. There are so many species that have been introduced to ecosystems directly or indirectly that a tool like this should help us to gather data about the spreading speed or distance, or the interactions that is having with other organisms.

As some people have pointed out, sometimes it is hard to differentiate a wild specimen versus one that is being cultivated/captive, especially if the observation occurs in a semi-natural area like parks and empty plots of land and we are tracking young specimens that might or might not been growth on purpose.

Welcome to the forum, @amusedberry!

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I agree. This would be especially useful for plants. There should be something like the DQA where users can vote on whether a certain species is native (remnant plants, for example) as opposed to introduced in a particular location, even if that species may be native to the wider region of the observation. This would also help differentiate between habitat restorations and remnants, for example. This would only be applicable to wild descendants of cultivated organisms, and could be used in conjunction with a non-obtrusive (ignorable) popup asking whether the organism cultivated.