DQA for specimens removed from the wild

Right, but on some (though not all) of the closed ones you can get an idea of the prevailing thoughts, which is what you asked for.

But a new topic is always welcome, since the older ones (especially the closed, older ones) are not always easy to find, as you noted.

Yes, not easy to find, plus often so long it takes hours to read through them in search for specific info. I just don’t have the patience to hunt through every thread to find the proverbial needle in the haystack. I’ve sometimes had better luck using regular internet search engines than searching the iNat forum to find specific info but not in this case. And the change in community guidelines on DQA has been fairly recent so answers on the older threads did not take that into consideration.


Those or other topics definitely discussed how you decide on what is captive and what is not. We can’tt answer your questions, because it’s all is circumstantial and depends on factors like what time and date is added by user.

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I struggle with the insistence that a pinned beetle is ‘alive’ because - it was when I caught it. What I see is very dead, and pinned. But the usual response to your query is DQA inaccurate.

I specified that above: “location is marked as inside a building/lab with the date when the picture was taken, not when the collection was made.”

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Then most likely it wasn’t even collected by a user, and just a part of school/university ollection, that they had as a test to id, but post to iNat, sometimes it’s a valid observation and you just need to tell the user to change the data, but with school kids, go straight to DQA.

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They are collected by the students. Here’s an example: Let’s say the mycology class goes on a field trip taking a van out to a field site in a neighboring county. The students collect a bunch of mushrooms, come back to the lab and stick them in the drying oven. One week later, they key out their dried 'shrooms in lab and some of them take pictures and post them, now with the date and location from the lab, not the field site they were at the week before to collect. Once I find these, which DQA is the most appropriate? Are these now “captive” mushrooms? Or “inaccurate date/location”?

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Both fit, I know @tiwane said that captive is the right way, I personally go with the wrong date and time.


I would say inaccurate date/location, since they’re not really pets or garden pets in the sense of being “captive” that way.


Here’s my breakdown of it:

  • Organism momentarily “captive” in hand or jar, but appears to be near where it was likely found – mark wild.
  • Organism photographed in school lab, and time/place indicates the lab - captive
  • Organism photographed in lab, but time/place indicating a collection site, not the photo site - wild
  • Microscope shots of algae and the location is marked as the campus pond? wild. Marked as inside the science building? Captive, unless there’s additional comments adding context like “I scraped this off the window pane where it was growing”.

Most of your examples above could be either “wild” or “captive” depending on the context of the observations, but practically speaking, pretty much everything posted by students in a lab will end up being captive.


It seems like there isn’t a standard rule for these. I think the following approach minimizes confusion for the (probably new) user:

  1. For things that were at least plausibly sampled from “the wild”, mark the date and location inaccurate in the DQA and include this boilerplate text:

"Thank you for uploading this observation to iNaturalist!

Dates and locations on iNaturalist are meant to indicate where the organism was collected or sampled, but it looks like this photo was taken in a classroom. If you happen to know when and where the sample was collected, please edit the date and location of this observation accordingly. When you’re done, leave a comment here so I can mark those things “accurate”. Thanks!"

  1. Additionally, for classroom-style observations that are clearly of a cultivated plant or long-captive animal: mark “captive/cultivated” in the DQA.

Just a note that moderators can open old threads if there’s a good reason to do so. You can DM moderators and give a short reason. This does help to keep all relevant questions about a topic together over time. So if you find a thread in the future you have a question about or want to build on, don’t worry about asking…it’s pretty quick and easy to open!

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To be far, the definition tiwane gave for Dead included dying within an hour or two. So unless that pinned beetle was kept alive for quite some time between capture and pinning, it should probably still be marked dead.

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It’s pretty clear what tiwane meant, an injured animal on the road, not sampled insects.

Except I specifically said I was asking him about a sick animal I saw that later died, so he knew that wasn’t the only circumstance when he answered me.

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M, sick animal that died an hour later is exactly the same situation. It’s pretty clear intentional killing by observer doesn’t count.

I wasn’t asking about one that died an hour later. I was asking about one that dies an unkown amount of time later.

I observed it (sick & listless) on a Tuesday evening.
Weeks later, I learned it was found dead that Wednesday morning.

And if intentional user killing doesn’t count, then should I go back and denote the rats killed in snap traps at my relatives’ place as alive? They were alive when they triggered the trap.

[btw, tone is hard to convey in text; when I reread the above it sounds really aggressive & sarcastic, which is not my attention]

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I would say a day is close enough, though I wouldn’t care and just posted it as alive with note it died later. Traps are not specific, so unless it’s killed manually, it’s different.

I think intentional killing after an observation is made (and I specifically mean the observation, the actual encounter, here not the photo of the organism) is different because it describes something inherently different from an organism that was mortally wounded prior to the observer seeing it and is near death.

If an observer observed an organism that was alive and well prior to it being mortally wounded, though only got a photo after it was wounded, it would be very reasonable to mark it as “alive”.

In the case of intentional killing, the organism generally wouldn’t be showing signs of imminent death (though there could be cases of euthanasia that involve mortally wounded organisms subsequently being killed because of theirs wounds).

I’m not a huge fan of the wording of the annotation mouseover text here anyways, because it inherently refers to a photo, while the observation is fundamentally for the encounter. I think it would better be phrased as “Organism was alive with no evidence of imminent death”. That would also be more inclusive of sound observations.


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