I just spent a couple of hours cleaning up “ponderosa pine” observations in places hundreds to thousands of miles from any native or naturalized ponderosa pines. The large majority of these observations were on the grounds of public middle or high schools, frequently they were clustered, and many of them had been elevated to “research grade” on the same day by other persons represented in the cluster. I think it’s pretty clear what’s going on here. A classroom group goes out and identifies a tree based on the iNaturalist app’s recommendation, and then the students raise each others’ observations to “research grade.” I might add that nearly all of these were cultivated trees, thus not “wild”, and none of them were marked as such. So… I think it’s great that teachers are using iNat as a teaching tool, but please, when you teach it, ensure that students understand (1) that cultivated plants need to be marked as such, and (2) that you don’t do ID on plants where you’re trusting iNaturalist to do the hard work of making the ID. And afterwards, it would be nice if you would check the observations made at your school so you can clean up the inevitable errors. Pretty please, OK?
I’m sure I’m not the first person to raise this idea, but I suspect it bears repeating each school year.