Feral observations keep getting marked as “casual”

As I was looking through my observations, I have noticed that several observations of feral animals keep getting marked as captive

For example: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/96664109
And https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/95829443
These cats and carp are feral and completely not captive, yet there is more than one person has marked my observations as “casual”.

I don’t think there’s a way to deal with this problem, but it’s frustrating seeing observations of non-captive animals getting “casual” grade simply because they’re domesticated species

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This park location seems suspicious, I would too think that those fish are put there by humans, is it connected to other bodies of water?
Cats yeah, people don’t even care about what help page says, so you can tag people to help you with voting.

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Somebody will explain this better than I, I’m sure, but a distinction is usually made between feral and wild. Feral refers to domesticated animals who, at one point, escaped domestication, even if it was several generations ago. As an example, the cats in your observation are exactly that–domesticated cats that have been feral for an unknown amount of time because they escaped. Those cats usually live close/in human settlements, a testament to their past as domesticated animals bred by humans (as contrasted to the very rare wild cats of Europe for instance, who live in forests and hunt for food–please anyone correct me if I’m wrong). I believe the vast majority of non-domesticated cats fall in the feral category. So do horses and a whole slew of other feral species that are not considered wild per se.
Once your observation has been considered ‘not wild’ (because feral and not wild), it gets tagged as ‘casual’.

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Homeless cats on iNat are considered wild, every animal that is not controlled in its movements by humans is wild, and @tiwane commented on one of previous topics, such cats are wild.

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The carp location is a lake that was made 18 years ago, I’ve seen them breeding and I’ve seen young so they’re basically introduced. The cats are fully feral and there are many feral cats there as well as throughout the country

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I ask that because of this topic where people didn’t have a single opinion on them: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/fish-in-ponds-captive-or-wild/4860

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I agree that in both your examples these should qualify as wild animals, but I also understand how identifiers who are often overloaded by observations of captive animals that should be marked as captive might tick these as “not wild” while moving through. This is also a fine distinction that not all users have experience making, so educating other users can help them.

If you’re posting similar things regularly, I would make some boilerplate text that you can copy/paste into the descriptions of observations like these letting people know that they are wild. For observations that have already been downvoted in the DQA, you could try writing a comment explaining why they should be considered wild and tagging the downvoters in it to ask them to retract their thumbsdowns (I think that’s the proper plural? :melting_face:)

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I agree on the boilerplate - something to the effect that, according to iNat policies, feral cats etc. are considered wild, and provide a link to this thread, or to @tiwane 's comment (if someone can find it.)

From the flip side, I have boilerplate when I mark a plant as cultivated that includes asking people to let me know if they disagree. I have gotten responses where I have withdrawn my tag - which makes me happier as well as the observer, as I want to be accurate.

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I do not believe there is a bright line between a barn cat and a feral cat. If cats are encouraged and sometime provisioned by humans, but are largely left to their own devices, I don’t think it’s clear whether they’re feral or domesticated. Moreover, if I see an uncollared cat outdoors, outside the deep wilderness, I have no obvious way of knowing whether it spends rainy days inside or out.

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All cats are domesticated, it’s up to user to vote on their own observations whether they’re wild or not, but if cat is roaming outside with no guidance it’s certainly qualifies as wild at that moment. Anyway, if observer doesn’t indicate cat/dog is captive it’s much better to ask than silently mark them as captive.

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I automatically mark dogs and healthy-looking cats as captive/cultivated. Sometimes I’m wrong to do that. If you write a comment explaining why the animal should be marked wild, all the identifiers should see it. In some cases I’ve changed my votes to wild once I know more.

I should request clarification, as @caththalictroides suggests, but often I don’t. Maybe I’ll improve.

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There’s definitely a problem with semantics. The average person might interpret the word “wild” differently than a biologist or naturalist. That’s why we have what are commonly called “wild horses” in western North America as opposed to “feral domestic horses” which more accurately describes their status and history. But iNat uses wild to indicate “not captive/cultivated” which is a status that can apply equally to an animal that might once have been captive (or is descended from captives) and to another animal that has never been domesticated or captive, including its ancestors.

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The problem you describe is even more nuanced. Common names for plants that include the word “wild” cause many problems for casual users of iNat. “Wild”, in a common name, is apt in the area where that species is a native species that inhabits natural areas but casual users of iNat tend to misinterpret it. For example, the common name for Narcissus pseuonarcissus is “wild daffodil” (and within its range in western Europe, that’s certainly fitting… and every natural species is “wild” somewhere) but casual users in North America tend to label every Narcissus hybrid cultivar that’s escaped cultivation as Narcissus pseudonarcissus… since the plant is in “the wild”.

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In the case of cats, it can definitely be hard to classify them as either captive or feral. There are feral cats living in alleyways in my city that are regularly fed by cat lovers but are not owned by anyone. I saw this in Hawaii where there were cats living out in the bush, but even while I was observing them a local person was setting out food bowls for them. They are feral, in a sense, but not really living wild in any sense.

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This is common with feral dogs observations throughout SE Asia and Africa too, people just don’t like them being labeled wild, even iNat staff have told me I’m wrong for making feral dogs they observed wild (apparently they disagreed so much they deleted the observation, it’s no longer there).

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In iNat, every feral observation is considered as wild, since feral populations aren’t controlled by humans.
BTW I know this wasn’t the case, but sometimes the algorithm itself marks feral observations as ‘‘captive/cultivated’’ because the majority of the observations of that species aren’t wild. I’ve seen that happening with dogs and cultivated plants.

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It’s very frustrating to me when wild organisms are marked as the opposite and when captive or cultivated organisms are marked as ‘‘wild’’. That’s why I always analyze a suspicious observation vey carefully. There are many, many, MANY factors that help a lot to get an answer (when the observer doesn’t answer the question I need to figure it out by my own).

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Oops, I think I clicked the wrong replay button.

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I didn’t know that INat considered populations not controlled by humans as wild, thank you all for clarifying. In my region, pigs and cows wander, breed and create offspring that continue on the same path, uncontrolled by humans. I’ve had pigs tagged as casual before, even though they’re fully feral and some have even bred with wild boars, so I just assumed I’d been wrong to take the time to explain why I considered them wild in the comment section. One such observation: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/101547216

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Except that there is a clear difference between the meanings of wild and feral and it matters.

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