Make captive/cultivated not automatically "no ID needed"

That is really nice of you…I hope more Inat IDers choose this option. Some of us are deep into habitat improvement/reconstruction, and are not always sold what has been advertised. When I go to look at how Inaturalist “sells” itself, it is first billed as a way to learn, and SECOND as a citizen science research spot. So really I-naturalist needs to decide if it is for everyone or just researchers. I vote for everyone, and fixing the platform to allow for better options…I started out as a gardener, and learning about the plants I was growing led me to the natural world.

We DES-PER-ATE-LY need people who know their plants AND can grow native species for the challenges we are already deep into. This site is a great way to bring more people into an awareness of more than a “pretty wall of green”, but not if they are not made to feel welcome.

Given that most people seek out such learning opportunities for primarily their own benefit (we are a rather selfish species), having IDs automatically marked as casual and going into a virtual garbage can of obscurity is pretty annoying (often they are not casual…if you have some that are, people start “assuming” that everything you post is).

For example, I am trying to learn about ocean species. I take a bunch of photos of interesting species at an aquarium to get them IDed so I have them as a reference for later “in the field” observations. I certainly am happy to ID any cultivated/casual observations, and I am sure there are others out there also willing to take the time.

I don’t want to “fool” the system into research grade observations, and try to watch closely and mark “captive” an observation as soon as it gets IDed. I also write a note. I am a photographer with 40 years of photos of nature (about 50,000 images) and it is a real benefit to get an id on a plant (sedges, and mosses, lol) so I can be accurate with the ID when sharing with others.

I-naturalist is a two way bargain, I thought. Not just a way to save researchers some field time. I get a huge amount out of it, and I give a huge amount back, so it would be nice to resolve this in a way that works for everyone.


101 votes make it ‘pretty clear’ that most iNatters would prefer ‘not wild’ plants to remain visible for ID.

That iNat conflates - is it wild? - with - does it still need an ID? - is the sore point that has irritated me since I landed here. The 2 things need to run separately. Meanwhile it is skewing the reliability of the data, as CV bravely tries to find a (wrong!) Wild seen nearby to offer.

With identifiers given the option to filter out Not Wild, if that is what an individual prefers. I will give every Unknown its moment in the spotlight, whether it is obviously wild, or just as obviously cultivated. The bigger question is - what is it?


It can be hard to get out of the scientist mindset. When I am going through unknowns, and have just IDed the umpteenth mushroom as “fungi,” the experienced naturalist in me starts to get exasperated: “You can’t even tell that this is a fungus???” Well, maybe some people can’t.

I can tell you, though, with decades of experience learning about nature, including at the postsecondary level, my uploading activity here leans more strongly toward using iNaturalist as a way to learn. I am more likely to upload the shelf fungi growing on the coconut palm (because I don’t know what species they are) than the coconut palm itself (because I know perfectly well what species it is). My very first observation ever here was a freshwater mussel, because that is a group I know very little about.


Yes, it’s called the Curse of Knowledge and something I have to constantly remind myself of when trying to teach something that I am very familiar with to folks who are beginners. Once you know how to ID something you presume it to be obvious to everyone. It can be hard to remember what it felt like before you knew how to ID that thing.


I remember when fungi were, not animals! so they were plants.

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Most unknowns (excluding top users) are from people not realizing they need an id, so most likely observer of the fungi knows what it is at this level. There’re even scientists who couldn’t get the need of an id or how to add it.

@tiwane February 2019.

Any hope of progress? It remains a hot topic.

Not Wild should be either CID or still Needs ID

Imagine a farmer who is on iNat making observations of each individual cornstalk in their 1,000 acre field. I completely agree with this feature request. I’d also add a checkbox to user profiles… something like “show redundant id requests”. It would default to unchecked… obviously. This would allow the farmer (who might be an Agriscience professor working on some crazy project to still add all their cornstalks). Something like that.

At the same time, if it isn’t a professor but it’s just some farmer. And the farmer happens to have the first bright purple cornstalks, that might be interesting to scientists. I imagine casual observations of bright purple cornstalks might get more engagement than casual observations of ordinary green cornstalks. This engagement might be a sign that the observation is worthy of “research” grade status allowing for further engagement and study by non-farmers (scientists).

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I forgot one scenario…

If it isn’t a professor and it isn’t a farmer with purple cornstalks. If it’s just an ordinary farmer with ordinary green cornstalks, but that farmer likes to dream about being a scientist. Then the “show redundant id requests” checkbox will prevent the farmer who dreams of being a scientist from overwhelming the scientists with requests to id ordinary green cornstalks.

If there are scientists who sometimes dream of being farmers, they can occasionally check the unchecked checkbox.

i honestly think this whole issue of unwanted observations (30 observations of a potted marigold outside a classroom) has more to do with duress and ‘educational’ use of iNat than it does with whether people observe cultivated plants or not. I am much less bothered by a careful inventory of all planted species around a home than i am by 30 photos of the same native oak tree by a class, which is not much better than the marigold. I think the problem would be better addressed by student accounts, functionality for sharing observations, better communication with teachers, etc than it is by the current system of removing research grade for captive/cultivated observations. Even photos at a zoo at least provide photo documentation of an animal and can be used for a variety of things some conservation related. Whereas 40 blurry photos of the same animal, be it a captive tiger or a free roaming pigeon, are not useful and can be frustrating for identifiers.


I think you have still not understood this feature request.

The proposals here are not to make cultivated observations eligible to become “research grade”. They are to 1) create an additional category for verified non-wild observations analogous to “research grade” (i.e., observations that would be research grade if they were wild) and 2) change search and display defaults to provide better visibility for non-wild observations, whether verified or not.

But since the idea of “engagement” seems important to you, here are some thoughts:

You are suggesting that “user engagement” should be considered a metric for whether an observation is of value or worthy of more attention? And consequently that certain non-wild observations should become eligible to for the “research grade” label (as an exception, not the rule) because they are inherently more interesting than others?

How are you defining user engagement? Favorites? IDs? Page views? How do you prevent this from being a self-reinforcing cycle – i.e., an observation that gets attention (“engagement”) is made more visible, and as a consequence it gets more attention?

Even if there were a way to objectively quantify the value/usefulness of any given observation, the problem is that such a model tends to select for social factors that may have nothing to do with the observation itself: it favors users who are well-networked and have lots of followers, who take particularly beautiful/striking photos, or who are posting observations from regions/taxa that many other users are interested in. You can see this easily if you go to the explore page and sort by “votes” instead of “date added” and see what observations turn up.

How are you defining what makes an ID request (or an observation) “redundant”? If I post 5 observations of different individuals of the same wild species from the same site on the same day, are these redundant? Is it decided by the system? By individual users? If I don’t have any personal interest in a particular species, can I decide that these ID requests are redundant?

(You are aware that the ID module has an option to mark certain observations or groups of observations as “reviewed” if you want to take them out of your ID queue? Is this similar or different from what you are suggesting?)


The brilliance of the redundancy logic is that it could then be used during display when users click “explore” for a species.

Imagine a woodland restoration where trillium flexipes has been planted in one place (a cultivated observation) but has subsequently been found by guests in other locations in the same preserve (wild observations). It would be interesting to see both the cultivated planting and the wild observations when clicking “explore” for trillium flexipes in that geographic area. The pins on the map could even be different colors.

The “farmer” in the previous example is now a farmer of trillium. I think it’s smart to have held off on this feature request, despite all the up votes. It’s worth considering data collection, filtration, and display of cultivated observations holistically. These different aspects will use the same redundancy filter logic and weighting logic for attainment of research grading for display.

For bonus points, the redundancy and research attainment logic could be taxon specific.

Imagine the wolves released into Yellowstone. Unlike the trillium in the example above, they were immediately considered “wild” by observers and Id’d as such. Any offspring were perceived as wild and didn’t have to prove that a new pack could be created before being considered wild and regenerative. Most observers probably think of sentient beings differently from plants and the logic behind redundancy and attainment of research grade would be different. Probably at the family level?

Anyway… just some thoughts. Trying to be helpful.

You are aware that iNat already has this functionality? If you click on the “levels” on the map (icon at top right), you can select from various criteria for the observations that you want displayed – including wild and not-wild. If you choose for it to display both wild and non-wild observations, they will be shown in different colors.


How would I see this for the trillium genus as opposed to an overlay after drilling down to each species?

There is a toggle (despite the fact that it’s checkboxes and not radio buttons) on the main “explore”.

On the taxon page, on the Map tab:

But that doesn’t have much to do with the feature request and perhaps should be in a separate thread.

Very thankful for your feature request. If discussions of scope are limited to the initial request, I’m happy to delete my posts. I do think it’s worth considering a broader view of how cultivated observations are id’d, displayed, and filtered… but if that must happen via another feature request (or multiple other feature requests)… I’m ok with that too.

you can identify captive observations here.

i don’t really think this feature is needed as there’s already a place to look for captive observations in need of IDs, but maybe i could have my opinion changed with the right argument made.

The pool you linked is all captive observations, whether they’re identified or not. Observations stay in that same pool forever even if they have 3 or 4 good IDs. So yes, there is a place to look for captive observations, but it is not only captive observations “in need of IDs.”


If you read back thru the comments

  1. Observers don’t mark their obs as ‘cultivated’ because that tips it straight out of Needs ID to binned with trash. Which irritates both taxon specialists (can’t filter it out) and the observer (it is not Wild, not trash!)
  2. If not Wild it never achieves ‘consensus’ despite the merely human identifiers agreeing.

But iNat is working as intended.