What incentive is there for users to mark their observations as captive / cultivated?

Correct, and there is no INCENTIVE to do so if the cultivated observations are hidden from gbif.

The setting with the most impact is probably to not give notifications for agreements - this cuts down a lot. You can also unfollow (though I prefer the above first if you haven’t done it yet as unfollowing can lead to missing some potentially important notifications).

The can also use this tool from @pisum:

or check out some of the ideas in this current thread:

Edit: sorry I see others have suggested this, only saw one response to this initial post with the question, not the subsequent ones.


I don’t think it’s correct to say that they are “hidden” from GBIF - GBIF doesn’t want them - it’s a pretty significant difference. The alternative is incorrectly categorizing these observations as wild and sending them to GBIF - erroneous data which is worse than no data at all. And of course the observations are available via iNat direct export for anyone who is interested.

I also don’t think that the incentive of having data included on GBIF matters much to many users - certainly it matters to some folks who are scientists who know what GBIF is, but many users likely have no idea about this IMHO.


I was being generous, but you are correct. They are refusing this data. I’m pleased that iNat is inclusive of it. Especially as it relates to cultivated native plants with local genotypes.

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The world will always be a place full of wild organisms. And it is not necessary to go in a jungle or to climb a mountain.
I am not writing about you, but if certain people insist on not seeing wild organisms, it will mean that they will miss a large part of the biota.

I am not writing this about you, but if certain people insist on not seeing cultivated organisms, it will mean that they will miss a large part of the biota.

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OK that is a good point that I hadn’t thought of. I will ask 2 questions and reevaluate how I do this.

  1. Does the data go into GBIF as soon as it gets to Research Grade? Or is there a margin of time before then?

  2. If a cultivated observation gets to Research Grade and thus gets to GBIF, then is fixing that as simple as flagging it as cultivated? Like, does downgrading it to casual take it out of GBIF if it has already been sent to it? Or does it stay in GBIF and cause a problem?

Thank you for pointing this out. I will also pop over to the other thread and see if this is addressed there.

Also, thank you to the people who said that this kind of thing bothers them @spiphany @dianastuder (is tagging you ok? Not sure of the etiquette, I’m not on this forum much) – I know I can be a bit prickly and I’m sorry about that, I do appreciate being told when something I’m doing is bothering people, I don’t like bothering people – in this specific case, I feel like the thing is important enough that it is probably worth mildly annoying some people.

  • Cultivated plants are very much a part of the ecosystems they’re in. Plants don’t stop being habitat for insects, bacteria, fungi, lichens, bryophytes, birds, etc. just because Homo sapiens put the plant there instead of some other form of dispersal. If you are looking at the bigger picture of how species interact with each other, then it doesn’t seem to make sense to exclude cultivated plants from that.

  • Cultivated plants are the starting point for many species becoming invasive. Understanding how and why species become invasive and how they spread when they do is important. We can advise people to be particularly careful with specific garden plants if they are prone to escaping and becoming invasive in that climate, for example.

  • Cultivated plants allow invasive insects to spread – spotted lanternfly and BMSB wouldn’t be such a huge issue in the US if there weren’t so many trees of heaven, for example, and a lot of those are planted/cultivated. Knowing what plants are cultivated where seems like it could provide good data on where to expect invasive insects to become a problem.

Also, I think there is this assumption that if the plant is cultivated, you can just ask the person who planted it what it is, and that asking people on iNat to ID it is just making extra work for identifiers for no reason. This is true sometimes. But a lot of the time, the person who planted the thing has died or moved away, doesn’t remember what the plant is, or otherwise isn’t able to ID the plant – in which case, it might be more difficult to ID than a wild plant, if it’s out of range, looks different from the wild version, etc.

If more people identified correctly flagged cultivated plants, then I would have absolutely no problem flagging everything as cultivated as soon as I upload it. I do understand the frustration, when you have a workflow that would be perfect if only other people would (x, y, z). I used to get really frustrated when people would submit things as Unknown instead of “bothering to” label them as Plants or Insects or whatever. And when I add IDs to people’s Unknowns, sometimes they get frustrated at me, because “I already know it’s a plant, tell me something helpful.” I find that people on this site are constantly stepping on each other’s toes, and while specific issues are definitely worth talking about, you also can’t get too hung up on it (either on “people are using the website wrong” or “people are annoyed with me”)

This is kind of long and rambly, I appreciate you for reading it. TL;DR IDs for cultivated plants are really valuable in a lot of ways that I feel are important; this information is not something that the observer is necessarily able to add themselves; I feel that this is important enough to be worth annoying people, even though I don’t like to annoy people, and if there were a reliable way to get cultivated plants ID’d with a less annoying method, then I would do that


Observations generally go to GBIF every two weeks or so, but this doesn’t always happen exactly on schedule. So in practice and observation could go to GBIF anywhere from more or less immediately to 2-3 weeks later.

If observations change grades (RG to casual or casual to RG) or change in other ways like via obscuration that does eventually get to GBIF, but it can take up to 2-3 weeks as above. Observations that switch to Casual grade will no longer be made available to GBIF but will potentially be there for a little while. Obscured/de-obscured observations will show updated location data, etc.


I think @clockwood has an important perspective and that some simple site design changes could significantly improve the situation.

The issue is that a significant number of identifiers don’t include Casual in their queries. But why don’t they? How many of them chose that option because that’s what they prefer, and how many of them just didn’t bother to change the filter?

Defaults matter! If anything in software is a hassle, people will do it measurably less often.

Recently used settings matter! iNats identification query interface remembers one thing and one thing only, that is the sticky place. Even if I ALWAYS want to view Casual in my normal ID query, I have to set it EVERY TIME. That means this setting is generally going to be used only by people who are very dedicated and passionate about the Casual setting.

Also, to make it even more painful to choose Casual as a regular thing, you also have to set the data quality settings to get rid of observations that don’t have photographs. Now you’re making it so painful, it’s almost as if the iNat designers wanted to make it as difficult as possible to view Casual observations.

It should not be hard for iNat to just remember the settings from a previous session and adjust the default filters accordingly. Then more people who enjoy cultivated plants or other casual observations would get that every time without extra effort. If I set it once, it should be set forever until I change it.

You could go beyond that, with multiple remembered queries, but since I know development time is tight, etc., could we at least have a sticky setting for the basics?


I do ID cultivated plants or captive/cultivated unknowns sometimes, and here’s a sort list of frustrations:

*you have to click through ALL cultivated plant observations, because you can’t remove those that have already been sufficiently identified. Casual observations aren’t eligible for “needs ID” and “research grade,” so the category shows you the full mix from barely identified to 2+ agreeing species-level IDs.
*especially with captive/cultivated unknowns, previous identifiers have often used the X hot get to “trash bin” observations which aren’t actually captive/cultivated: landscapes, photos of people or man-made objects, photos lacking any evidence of organism, etc. It’s tedious to counter vote the erroneous “not wild” vote and replace it with the more correct “no evidence of organism” (for truly empty photos, photos of rocks or the sky); or ID of Plantae + “ID cannot be improved” (covers most landscapes); or ID of Homo sapiens (used for both humans and their objects…and yes calling humans “not wild” is considered incorrect by iNat rules. The ID of Homo sapiens is the only one that pushes an observation to casual by virtue of the ID itself rather than the DQA)

As to why other people don’t ID casual or not wild observations, I can imagine many reasons
*the interface doesn’t show them by default so some people probably don’t know how to change that
*most identifiers agree there are too many observations to keep up with without also adding the casual or not wild
*value judgement: belief casual observations are useless and looking at them a waste of time
*as mentioned, there’s no way to display only casual observations that need ID while excluding those already identified
*at least with plants, most people have the knowledge base to ID wild plants or cultivated plants, but not both
*domesticated organisms, plants especially, are taxonomically confusing, often being hybrids and/or unknown in wild ancestry
*and many more


I don’t mind being tagged as long as people don’t do so excessively. But I’m unlikely to be much help for monocots or woody plants or anything outside central Europe.

A good way to determine who are good people to tag is to pay attention to who IDs your observations, to check the local – not global – leaderboard for IDers of the taxon (it helps if you can get a general idea of what the plant is first – many IDers do specialize in certain plant groups, so the leaderboard for “plants” or “dicots” may represent the generalists who provide broad sorting rather than the people who can narrow down the ID). Finally, check the profile of the person you are thinking of tagging to see whether they indicate anything about their interests and how/whether they want to be contacted.

If the non-wild plant in question is something rarely found in your region outside of cultivated contexts, you will generally get better CV suggestions if you click the option at the bottom of the suggestion list to include “looks similar” rather than just those “seen nearby”.


No, I absolutely value the habitat value of cultivated plants. I do ID ‘Casual’ plants.

This is about the way iNat is set up.

There is an open request to separate Not Wild from dumped in the Casual bin with the problems - missing date, or location, or picture. Duplicate to be deleted (yesterday the same picture as 4 separate obs which irritates the taxon specialists!) Multiple species need to be split. Multiple obs need to be combined as one. None of those ‘Needs ID’

But Not Wild should be either CID or still Needs ID. Should be, but isn’t!

Wild and ID are two separate things. We have to find a way to work with what iNat gives us. That GBIF only accepts Wild not Cultivated is their deliberate choice.

If the obs is my own, I mark it Not Wild up front.
When a second ID is added, pushing an obs to RG, then I push it back to Not Wild.

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Most people achieve this functionality by bookmarking their preferred Identify links. This functionally allows multiple saved Identify workflows and is quite efficient.

I think that making all features in Identify as “sticky” would bring it’s own problems - it means that I would have to “reset” Identify manually every time I changed a setting by unticking boxes, etc. instead of just closing out the page and getting back to my base option the next time I go to Identify. Having to uncheck things each time sort of effectively doubles the number of clicks for using Identify. I also think it would lead to confusion in some cases where users wouldn’t get the results they anticipated because they added some deep filter the previous time they used it that they forgot about and then they’d have to go hunting to find and uncheck/change/remove it.

So I would not want this option myself and prefer the current system.

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This reply is pretty pleonastic, neither completely correct.
Check the meaning of biome (=biota).

It depends of the scope of the data collection. If someone is aiming at mapping wild flora, they are completely useless and, if included in the data set, can contribute to make it flawed.

Yes, this is a case in which data of non-wild invasive species could be useful, especially, for example, if observations come from localities that are close to a protected are or to particularly fragile environments . But this dooes not mean that all observations of non-wild organisms are useful. It’s obvious that a precise selection should be done.

Users simply identify what they want independently if it is wild or not.

Previously, I suggested including an interface in iNat that has saved queries, but that might be too much work to expect anytime soon.

Regarding the suggested workaround (bookmarks). In software, we don’t usually accept workarounds such as requiring people to do things outside the application, such as creating browser bookmarks. Creating a custom query by manually constructing an URL is something a very small minority of advanced and committed users would do. That small number of people is not going to solve the problem we’re discussing here, which is changing the average person’s usage of the site in ways that lead to more casual/captive identifiers. (The hypothesis is that there are site design issues that make this more difficult to select, leading to less usage.)

We already have one sticky setting (location/place), which defines the “base query”. I like your phrase “base query” but you must realize that the base query doesn’t work for everyone, in fact it only works for people who prefer to view wild observations and don’t have a special taxon. Actually, just having a custom “base query” to return to would help a lot. The base query should allow people to choose their taxon of interest as well. For many people, this would save them the trouble of setting the taxon to include in their query. If someone always looks at mammals, they would not have to manually select that. When I was doing plants only, I would set this every time I came to the site (I eventually gave up and just go with the default query).

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I wonder how many of us have multiple “base queries”? Right now, I have 3-4 that I check most days. When that backlog clears in the fall, I will start working through some of the others that I previously saved. So for this to be useful, we would need the ability to save multiple query settings under different names. That is pretty much the same as saving a bookmark.

I actually took off the location preference for explore because I was spending so much time turning it off and being confused by it. I would rather start with a clean query or know that it is one of my saved settings.


This is the fundamental problem here. It’s especially an issue if you’re trying to use photos on iNat to get an ID on a wild plant. Often it’s cultivated plants (in a botanical garden) that are the best identified, because they’re usually labelled with a name tage and are able to be photographed in a way that characters are easy to see. Yet those get marked as casual and hidden regardless of how solid the ID is, while observations where someone guessed based on an inaccurate CV recommendation and then one other rando mindlessly agreed are marked “research grade”.


I think photos from casual observations can still be quite useful on iNat. Specifically I’m pretty sure that:

Photos from Casual grade observations that are otherwise Verifiable are used in CV model training.

And photos from Casual grade observations can be used as taxon photos to help others ID/see key features to help with IDing.

Though someone please correct me if I’m wrong on those.