Disappointing consistent failure: users not marking observations as cultivated

I am the most sorry, for several years i am iNat community member, having named and issued the weakest point of this great forum repeatedly. Right now my point of decision is reached. I do stop to care about right designation of observations as “wild” or “not wild” right now, as this weakest side of iNaturalist was not tried to be cured in any way. Several 100.000s of users are flooding this website with poor quality reports without caring the least about correct assignation, turning it into a vast wasteplace. As all my former pleading to manage this in appropriate ways were ignored, i do stop now to care about iNat’s quality. Administration seems to prefer quantity to quality, repelling serious naturalist by that.
Sure, iNat will get further loads of lowest quality reports, still for what use in case it loses credibility, yet it’s use??
Hard words?, sure, perhaps way too late reported as needed!
Honest regards


@erwin_pteridophilos the Forum Feedback category is for the forum itself, not iNaturalist, so I’m moving this to General. And the forum is a place for discussion, not a place to air a complaint. If you have thoughts on how this issue might be improved, please share them.


I think that Erwin’s complaints must be taken into account since his could be the complaints of many other users.


I am going to add up to this complaint. I think that iNat must search for a solution for this problem. I started to think about a solution and even make a Feature Request about it myself. Any kind of thoughtful feature would be helpful for this situation in my opinion, so I hope that this starts a dialogue about how to handle this problem.


The header on the iNat page today stated: “Today we’re going to pass 30 million verifiable observations on iNaturalist. Almost exactly one year ago, we passed 15 million.”

Whether or not all these 30 million are truly verifiable is questionable. And I don’t necessarily see the doubling of submitted records in one year as a good thing if many of those new records are problematic. The platform may become a victim of its own success.

The concern raised here is valid. My fear is that iNat will be eventually swamped by so many records (maybe 60 million next year?) that the ability to get timely reviews of good records will be badly impacted. I hope I’m wrong about this, that the staff at iNat do not see this as an issue and the platform has the capacity (both people and storage) to accommodate the ever-growing number of records, good and bad.

Has a probationary period for new iNat members been considered? Perhaps limiting the number of submissions a new person can make until they become familiar with what’s required (or at least desirable) in a submitted record?


Forgive me; Given the replies, I seem to be the only one not understanding what Erwin’s complaint actually is.

Is it:

  1. That there are too many observations of non-wild organisms being submitted (pets, houseplants, etc)?
  2. That users don’t select non-wild appropriately on initial upload?
  3. That what is wild vs captive/cultivated is not defined well enough?
  4. That the site and app default to wild on observation creation?
  5. That the site does not punish users who upload captive/cultivated organism as wild?
  6. That the DQA is largely handled by site users rather than iNat staff?
  7. Something else?

I have spent many hours doing nothing but scrolling through marking garden plants as cultivated. I do like the feature that automatically marks an observation as casual if most of the other observations of that species in the area are marked cultivated, but that requires that 1) the other ones are in fact properly marked, and 2) that the correct ID is made in the first place.

I do think it’s important that people get involved in inaturalist, and I understand that new or younger members may be confused about what is cultivated or wild… but it is definitely impacting my enjoyment of the site to have so many cultivars drowning out the interesting stuff. If I see another damned Dietes bicolor pop up I’m going to puke.


It’s the second time today that I am reading this phrase. Why shouldn’t it be a place for complaints? What’s wrong with complainting about something? In a place like this it leads to a discussion and that’s a healthy thing. We don’t need a “safe” space, we need to talk about the rights and wrongs of one of the best things that exists in the internet… iNat.


I think that’s tiwane’s point: Complaining to seek solutions or invite discussion is one thing.

Complaining just to kvetch* is something else.

*Not that I’m saying that’s what Erwin is doing, but I can see where other people could read his initial post as just “Hey this sucks, and I’m out” (which is why I asked for clarification).


Here’s a snippet from the forum Guidelines which helps frame Tony’s comment:

Improve the Discussion

Help us make this a great place for discussion by always working to improve the discussion in some way, however small. If you are not sure your post adds to the conversation, think over what you want to say and try again later.

The topics discussed here matter to us, and we want you to act as if they matter to you, too. Be respectful of the topics and the people discussing them, even if you disagree with some of what is being said.

One way to improve the discussion is by discovering ones that are already happening. Spend time browsing the topics here before replying or starting your own, and you’ll have a better chance of meeting others who share your interests.

Remember that discussions here should be constructive , so please refrain from merely airing complaints. If something about iNaturalist is bothering you, either start a constructive conversation about it by asking a question, or propose a solution.


I undestand all this. But prevent people from speaking is a dangerous path… and it’s the second time today. Why was the other thread closed? Nobody was being disrespectful and some interesting discussions were born of that. Just like in this one. Erwins “complaint” is a valid one. Shouldn’t a staff member adress the matter rather than criticize? Wouldn’t be more constructive to know what staff members think about this question?

It’s just a thought, I don’t want to dwell on this. Let’s complanint, let’s discuss and let’s all help iNat to grow sustainably.

1 Like

I have a thought about a minor interface change that might help with the problem: if along with all the other standard fields you fill in when making an observation, there was also a two-choice field where it requires you to select wild vs. captive/cultivated, and if you hit “save” without picking one it prompts you to complete the field (like it does if you submit without a date), maybe that would help cut down on this issue? I’m sure the vast majority of this is not done out of negligence, just lacking awareness of the distinction. Defaulting to “wild” may be the only thing that needs a change in order to cut into the problem.

I can see this being annoying for someone like myself who uploads dozens at a time through the web interface, but maybe it can also be a “select all” operation there (were it implemented).


@bouteloua and @star3 said it well, but just to be clear about what I mean: bringing up a problem you have with iNaturalist is perfectly fine, I think we all have things that bother us or that we think can be improved. But if you do so, please start a conversation that is constructive or enlightening, that leads to a solution or to at least a better understanding of the issue. Something like “[This issue] is really bothering me about iNaturalist because of [reasons]. I think one way to prevent it is by doing [proposed solution]. What do you think?” @pdfuenteb did that well with the Feature Request they made.


There were some constructive posts (sedgequeen’s list of what to photograph, the suggestion about mirrors from photographing the underside of mushrooms without uprooting them, etc), but there were just as many or more that were just complaints.

Heck, I know my own post was just “ugh, I hate it when people 1. only ID on the first pic or 2. don’t respect the observer’s intent and 3. try to force quality standards that iNat doesn’t require”, without me offering a solution.

But also, that thread is completely separate.
Back to this topic: I’m not saying that Erwin’s intent was solely to complain. I’m also completely willing to discuss solutions…once I know the focus of the topic (https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/disappointing-consistent-failure-users-not-marking-observations-as-cultivated/8791/6?u=star3), so I don’t go off on a tangent, as I’m clearly wont to. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


I think er1kksens idea would be the ideal solution to this issue.


I still think as as been noted before the fact that users are effectively disincentivized to flag it on their own because it virtually guarantees they will never get an ID needs to be addressed.


I also would love it if participants read the iNat guidelines about “captive/cultivated” observations and marked them accordingly. I usually post a message to observers to please do so, as they evidently are not aware of the iNat request to indicate said observations. Is this because they’ve chosen to bypass any relevant info about using the site before posting, or is it because they can’t access the iNat Help page to read the guidelines? It is obvious that some observations fall into this category (e.g. intentionally cultivated plants in pots, zoo animals) but the value to doing so is to clearly mark observations where it is not necessarily obvious.

I normally use a desktop Apple computer, as I am doing right now, with which I believe I have full access to the iNat features, but on my iPad when using the app, I can’t see any facility that would guide me to the iNat Help page. Also, on my iPad, I can’t see observations already marked as “Captive/Cultivated” and was told the other day that this functionality doesn’t exist for iOS in the app. I’d imagine that expanding site functionality to this common operating system, if or however possible, may provide at least a partial solution towards mitigating the stated shortcoming?


(btw, happy to discuss the Forum-related stuff at Forum Feedback if you want)

As I mentioned in the feature request, I’d be OK with a pop-up like this for new users (“new” to be defined by some metric), but at some point it should not have to be there.

I’m sure this might be part of it, but my guess is that most people aren’t aware that iNat is supposed to be used to observe wild organisms, and perhaps aren’t aware there’s really a difference between a garden plant or a wild plant.


Have we ever tried writing that on the home page and app description? Don’t assume people think “nature” means wild, because in my experience most people believe it means “outdoors.”


Several people have suggested that (including me!) and it is usually met with enormous push back. Many well-established users cringe at the idea of observation creation taking a second longer.