Trees that were planted, but growing "in wild", should be considered "wild", and additional "grade" for "grey zone" is required

there’s been lots of debate over which words are best to use. The iNat definition as relevant here doesn’t match the dictionary definition perfectly, but no one has really come up with a different word that people like better. I think it might work to just have it always say ‘did humans put it there’ but i’m sure others would disagree


The simplest solution would be to stay with the answer to the question - is it wild?

NOT wild

Cultivated or captive, slides off to a different aspect.

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One issue which folks seem to overlook is that the distinction of wild vs. not wild is a false dichotomy. It omits “cannot be determined”. The default is wild. You have to select not wild. Many observations are impossible to determine (with various degrees of confidence)–even by the original observer who might be a professional biologist. Walk up to any tree in the woods and prove to me that it wasn’t planted by a person. Same for a spotted dove observed in a tree in the U.S. So, we have two types of error: 1) having an organism which is actually wild marked as captive, or 2) having an organism which is actually captive marked as wild. Which of the two types of error are most common on iNat? The latter, I suspect. From the perspective of the value of the iNat data set for use in practical applications or research, there are lots of captive/cultivated observations incorrectly marked as wild that must be dealt with in ways that vary depending on how the data is to be used.

The most abundant users of iNat are individuals who don’t bother to check the “not wild” box and who don’t even know that there’s a difference between wild and not wild. So it’s up to the rest of us to fret over having to make that determination from the context of the photo. If it’s not possible to make that determination, we’re forced to decide between wild and not wild because “cannot be determined” isn’t an option. Because of this, from a practical data management standpoint, the designation of “wild” is in actuality “cannot be determined” since it’s the default value and the most common source of error. If a bird is in a cage, we know it’s captive. But if a bird is in a tree, it might be an escaped captive individual or wild (we cannot make that determination). Same goes for cultivated vs. non-cultivated. Is this Salvia gregii cultivated or wild?

I’ll note that when indicating sex, “cannot be determined” is an option in addition to “male” and “female”, and the default is undetermined.


Maybe there should be an option for “nonbinary.” :grin: