Make captive/cultivated not automatically "no ID needed"

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.


Why not intruduced “Casual Verified” when a “casual” is agreed by a second or more person? I am a programmer too, this seems such an easy task/change.
By default Cultivated = Organism is wild, thus “casual”

“Casual Verified” would motivate users that are collector (ex: potted succulents) to ID other people casual collections

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I’m betting it would require a ton of observations to reindex, which would use a lot of server power and may require site downtime. It would still be worth it in my opinion.

iNaturalist is understaffed and all their programmers are busy, but I also wonder if they are resisting adding identification/search utility for not-wild observations as a way of intentionally suppressing that type of observation. Perhaps they fear not-wild observations would increase in number if the site became more accommodating of them.


I agree with the request. As someone logging observations of wild animals held captive (wildlife trade), I find 3 issues that are connected and mixed together in all these threads. Definitely repeating what others have expressed before.

  1. The captive/wild binary: lots of wild animals are held captive (wildlife trade) but they are different from an animals that have been bred in captivity. Captive (non free) individuals can be ‘wild’ or ‘captive bred’, these are the terms that are used in the pet trade for instance. Same way you have captive bred individuals that are roaming free (escapees). Having 2 status to mark instead of just 1, e.g. captive/free and domestic/wild, would allow a finer degree of control and satisfy a wider pool of users, both beginners and researchers, while leading to better data.

  2. The identifying process - what this request is about. Captive individuals (a fortiori wild ones) needs to be ID as much as free ranging wild ones, as in this feature request. ‘Needs ID’ sounds like a mark of something in progress, and should remain until the ID is confirmed. It doesn’t make sense to mark these obs automatically Casual.

  3. The status of the data. Many observations of captive individuals are useful for research, so there should be a similar ‘Research grade’ status for them that doesn’t imply they are low grade data. ‘Casual’ gives the impression these observations are either unimportant or poorly ID. Back to the wildlife trade, if you observed an Endangered species held captive, you want that ID to reach a research grade status to confirm what you saw (and you want that obs to appear on the radar of the people who are able to ID). It would also help with filtering observations of captive individuals from low-grade ID, high quality ID and the rest.

In fine, I think these 3-4 status would work better if they were not interconnected like they are now.

Take observations of locally-caught wild birds in captivity. I personally would like them to appear along observations of ‘free’ wild birds - simply because it’s the same people who can ID them in a matter of seconds. A wildlife trade specialist will not have the skills to ID all captive wild individuals in a wide variety of taxon (in the songbird trade for instance, the differences can be very subtle between an endangered species and a common one, with both found in pet shops). And as far I can see around me, people who ID birds don’t mind whether they are captive or free ranging, they are actually happy to help.


This has been a big hurdle for many changes on iNat that should be relatively simple (like species nomenclature tweaks!) I hope the staff are thinking aggressively about how to rethink and reprogram their underlying code framework so it’s no longer an issue. Because otherwise if changes are so disruptive the whole site will become unusable in about 5 years with the current growth rate!


I do not think it is alot of work.
New ID of “Casual Id Needed”. Once Confirmed by a second person, it becomes “Casual”.
So new Observation that are NOT WILD would come with this ID of “Casual Id Needed”
Run a batch a program to check and update database on against NOT WILD observations records with TWO confirmed to “Casual” and those with one to “Casual Id Needed”.
Lastly change/add area that use filters to handle “Casual Id Needed”

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But scroll back across the forums for posts from desparate iNatters.
iNat is down! What will or can we do while we wait?!
There are big updates, perhaps a few times a year … when everything is on hold, till that work is done for us.

There are 9.6 million captive/cultivated observations on iNat. It may not be a lot of work from the programming side, but reindexing this many observations requires a lot of computer power.

To be clear: I don’t think this should be the determining criterion when deciding whether to change how non-wild observations are handled. I think a “verified” status for casual observations that is equivalent to “research grade” for wild ones is urgently needed. But the effect on iNat infrastructure is something that staff need to take into account before making such changes.


As has been discussed in several threads, iNaturalist is mainly intended for wild organisms. In those discussions, suggested platforms for nonwild organisms have been mentioned. There are online platforms for almost every interest nowadays, and I see no reason why a platform meant for one interest should go to a lot of trouble to accommodade a different interest. I’m not going to post questions about palms to my Araceae listserv, for example.


But iNat doesn’t start with - no captive animals or cultivated plants. It starts from - engage with nature. And swathes of new iNatters have a learning curve, before they get to Wild or Not Wild? who knows, who can know. And it comes up, again and again, on the Forum. What about this plant / animal - is it iNat Wild or NOT?? I even trip over - Location - Outside!

A whole different community, if you can start from - we are knowledgeable about and interested in Araceae.


Briefly skimmed through the discussion, not sure how much this has been subsequently discussed… Yeah, to me what seems like a big issue here is that [non-wild] and [no evidence] and [missing metadata] are all lumped together in the Casual “bad observations” bin. Not just that some of them don’t show up as Needs ID. Only the [missing metadata] ones are really “bad observations”. The others are less preferred, but still potentially valuable and there’s nothing wrong with them.


I’m not so concerned about wild vs captive but rather about the only options for observations that can’t be ID’d to sub-family status are Needs ID (when no further IDs are feasible) or Casual (which lumps it with missing meta-data observations).

I’d like an additional Data Quality category called Complete or some such thing. This would be for observations that meet all the DQAs except for can be identified at the species or sub-family/genus levels if everyone agrees. A new Data Quality category would allow observations to be cleared off the Needs ID list but doesn’t consign them to Casual, which might remove them from projects which permit or even seek higher taxonomic level IDs. As with IDs above species level, this would only happen if the community agreed.

To be clear, this Data Quality would still require meeting the Wild DQA so in that sense this request differs from the original request.


I’ve been thinking about all this and here’s an idea for how to address the various issues that have come up:

The problem I see with dividing up Casual grade is that currently it performs two overlapping functions (which have already been discussed above):

  1. to designate lower quality observations
  2. to take the observation out of the Identify pool (a function shared with Research Grade).

If you split up Casual then you’d need to address both of those functions.

Based on both recent and older discussions related to the nuances of the different grade labels that apply to observations and how they affect the visibility, perception, and identifications of affected observations, I think these grade labels would help:

  • “Casual” (observations without media but with metadata)
  • “Not Wild” (captive animals, cultivated plants etc.)
  • “Missing Metadata” (observations without essential metadata)

Based on discussion above it also seems like it would be helpful to have the “Needs ID” and “Community Consensus/Reviewed/Identified (AKA Research Grade)”* system work more independently from the wild/not wild system.

*(I’m going to just call this “Community Consensus” from here)

So “Not Wild” aren’t in the ID pool by default, but you can choose to filter for them. Once you filter for them, they act as Needs ID in that they leave the filtered pool once a ~community consensus (>2/3 agreement) is reached.

  • Both wild and “Not Wild” observations can get the “Community Consensus” status, so the new equivalent to “Research Grade” becomes observations that have that status and are also not “Casual”/“Not Wild”/“Missing Metadata”.
    That sounds complicated as described, but it would be easy to tell by looking at observations because they would just have the one green “Community Consensus” label and not have any of the other labels.

“Casual” (no media) and “No Metadata” observation would continue to function as current Casual observations do with regards to the ID pool.

There are 2 edge cases I see which don’t fit well into these categories:

  • One is observations of fossils etc. (fails “recent evidence of an organism” in the Data Quality Assessment).
  • The other is organisms that have a community consensus, but are too high level to qualify for Research Grade (family or higher).

We want a way to remove those from the ID pool, but they don’t fit well into the previous categories. We could add 2 more grades, something like “Ancient” and “Unidentifiable”, or we could force them into the new “Casual” category.

When you’re choosing what to include in a Collection project, you would by default want to have normal “Community Consensus” and “Needs ID” included, but ones marked “Not Wild” excluded. You’d then have the option of including the other 2-4 categories but would rarely want to.

Downsides to having more of these categories? They add complexity to the filters, but the filters are already pretty complex already. They also add complexity to graphs and statistics, but those seem overly-simplistic at the moment. The current system mostly works as is for most users, but for people who focus on the edge cases it’s frustrating.

I’m sure there are other potential ways of addressing all of these questions; this is just my synthesis to put it out there.


Still thinking out loud:

What if there were a way to filter according to DQA? This would not require a new category but rather the ability to filter and add observations to a project irrespective of whether it’s casual, needs ID or research grade.

In the filter, you could indicate you would accept casual observations, but you would also want observations that had:
|Date specified|||
|Location specified|||
Has Photos or Sounds|||
|Has ID supported by two or more|||
|Date is accurate|||
|Location is accurate|||
|Organism is wild|||
|Evidence of organism|||
|Recent evidence of an organism|||

But not
|Community Taxon at species level or lower|||

This could also solve the issue of Organism is wild. I think you could accept Casual and remove the Organism is wild DQA and require everything else.


I think captive/cultivated should not get flagged as “Casual”… Casual should only show incomplete observations which are unreliable, and not verified observations even if they are not about wild life.
Not long ago I added a couple of plant observations. By iNat’s own definition “garden plant that is reproducing on its own and spreading outside of the intended gardening area” is wild so I did not mark those as cultivated. Later someone ID’ed them and marked them as cultivated (probably because most plants in urban areas will be considered cultivated, even when spreading on their own?). Anyway, because of that the observations were thrown in the “causal” bin even if they had 2 matching ID’s, and they were complete and accurate in every other way.
So I ended up deleting them because I saw no added value leaving them in limbo where they would be of no use to anyone…
But my point is, something is definitely missing here, such observations should not be mixed with incomplete ones, but they should have a status of their own. I understand they cannot be made “research grade” if not wild, but still after 2 identifications they should still be made visible somehow.

Just my own 2 cents… :slightly_smiling_face:

in a situation like this, all you have to do is add your own upvote on the observation for ‘organism is wild’, and it will counteract the downvote

it then also helps if you leave a comment explaining to the user why the observation is not cultivated


Yes, I could do that, but then anytime someone else can downvote me again and I would not even get a notification. I think it’s best to avoid such debatable observations as long as captive/cultivated subjects are not that welcome around here anyways… If they wouldn’t get marked as “casual” I really wouldn’t mind in case of such “grey areas”, but leaving them in the casual bin has no added value for this site.

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Well, of course it has added value. Perhaps not to you though.