I’m opposed to including this established/non-established flag in the data quality section. I think it’s way too confusing to be used consistently or helpfully. A huge portion of users won’t have much idea of what “established” means, and the users who do will all have a different opinion. (Disclaimer: I’m a botanist.)
I really appreciate that iNat observations are mainly neutral regarding whether a population is established, because they focus on single organisms. As others have noted, “established” is a property of populations, not really of organisms. I think that observation of a wild individual is very important from a natural history perspective, even if it didn’t come from an established population.
This may be true for “establishment,” (I don’t know) but it’s usually pretty easy to say if a plant is “wild.” When I come across a plant I can mostly tell if it’s there because of direct human intervention. @raymie used the example of a potted plant producing seed that then grew in a wild place. I would call the new plant wild because there’s a vector in the environment able to move the seeds, and the seed can germinate and grow without human intervention. I don’t need to make a determination whether that single plant is “established.” It would be the combination of multiple similar iNat observations that could lead someone using the data to conclude that the population was established (maybe with the addition of some observations of the “wild” plants flowering and fruiting).
(There are, of course, cases where it’s hard to tell if a plant is wild, such as here, but they’re fairly limited.)
I think prominent and clear guidance from iNat about what the “wild” flag means would be helpful, but it should be applicable to the whole tree of life. Right now the guidance for what isn’t wild is “e.g. captive or cultivated by humans or intelligent space aliens.” This fails to include the implied “escaped from captivity,” which may confuse some people, but from reading the responses in this thread I wonder if the phrase “escaped from captivity” is being used inconsistently. I would use it to mean that that exact individual was raised or transported in captivity. Is, for example, @raymie’s project meant to only include individuals that themselves were once captives?
I think each question in the Data Quality Assessment area should have its own information bubble that describes what the or options mean. (This would be instead of or in addition to the information bubble for the whole Data Quality Assessment box, which currently talks about the research grade/casual distinction.)