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

I’m quoting this because this seems to be the general tenor of the arguments in defense of captive organisms. (not to call anyone out or anything)

But I think there’s a much more significant point missing in these sorts of conversations: many people spend the majority of their time in cities. To them the notion that there are wild and not wild organisms is nonsensical. The “wild” house sparrow is just as much part of their sense of what nature is as the “planted” plane tree.

If you want to reach people who for whatever reason(*) are just not exposed to what many here would consider “real nature” then you simply have to meet them where they are.

For users and curators: telling them they’re doing it wrong won’t help.

For iNaturalist as a platform: excluding them from the default ID workflow (and labeling their observations with the sad, gray mark of shame) certainly won’t help.

So for such outsiders, many of which will be compelled to use iNaturalist for classwork, there is no incentive to mark their observations. And I’m arguing that there can’t and never will be any. iNaturalist - the platform and the community - just needs to develop better ways of dealing with this.

(*) We can talk about such reasons, but that also kind of doesn’t matter.


Don’t forget the DQA thumbs.


(This is my first forum comment – hope I’m doing it right!)

An entirely UI-related aspect that I haven’t seen mentioned yet is that people may also think they’re marking their observations as captive/cultivated when the site isn’t actually doing so.

On the Upload page, I’ve noticed that if I’ve marked a batch of images as cultivated, then select another batch, the “cultivated” checkmark is already checked.

However, leaving it checked doesn’t mark that second batch as also-cultivated. I have to uncheck the box and then check it again for it to take effect on the second batch.


Welcome to the forum!

Yes, you’re doing it right…:) Honestly, what you’re reporting here sounds confusing to me, so it might be worth making a bug report. I would expect the check mark to become unmarked if an uncultivated/wild observation was selected (though not sure what it should do if a mix of captive/wild observations are selected…grey checkmark?)

This actually ties into what @gordonh was saying about search filters. You have to uncheck Verifiable to see Captive observations. That’s counterintuitive (wouldn’t captive observations be more verifiable since you can just go back and look at them?) and leads to not seeing Captive observations even when you are trying to – I frequently forget to uncheck it until I’m looking at the map and not seeing observations that are definitely there.


You seem to be arguing that certain cultivated taxa should not be uploaded because they are not useful. I write this post based on that understanding. If my understanding is wrong, please correct me.

Re: Scope of data collection - Yes, people who are studying one thing may not be interested in other things. That doesn’t mean that no one is interested in those other things.

Re: Precise selection - do you know everything that everyone everywhere is studying and what data they need for it? Even if you did, and no one needed certain data now, turning down data just because it isn’t practically useful now or no one’s studying it now does not seem like good practice. Imagine if humans had said “let’s not track the motion of the little dots in the sky, that has no practical use”? There goes our understanding of gravity.

I feel like we have a fundamental difference in philosophy here about “unimportant data” and I’m not sure how to address it besides point out that we can each use the website in our own ways.

Edit: I also want to add that “improving understanding of the world around you” does not have to be done by professors in labs. Some random person searching on iNat because they want to know the tree in their yard is, is also a human being trying to expand their understanding of the world. Things do not have to be the object of Professional Scientific Study for information about them to be valuable. Posting a tree on iNat because you want to know what it is, is a way of directly expanding your understanding. Is that suddenly a bad thing to do just because the tree is cultivated? (Basically what @schoenitz said)


Sorry I should have said “otherwise verifiable” in my previous post (edited it now).
Verifiable has a specific meaning when referring to iNat observations:


107 votes on this. Goes back to February 2019.
iNat needs a better workflow for us.



Never wrote something like this, nor that observations should be “useful” for something or someone. The observation is created when the user feels the necessity, for some reason, to upload that/those photo(s).

Here in iNat we can see photos of the rarest and/or most incredible living beings together with others depicting, for example, a potted plant, a dog in a garden, a person, some trees in line along a city road and so on. Of course, not every user has the possibility to find and photograph amazing species or to get to the most isolated and less explored places on Earth. Anyway, I think that a good suggestion that can be given to users is to consider the possibility to shift their attention to wild living beings which are pretty common and often easy to be found also in cities. A good suggestion, not the best because it is possible that many of these users are absolutely not interested in what is wild, and it is not necessarily bad.
Moreover, as always said, also the observations of very common species can turn out to be interesting from many points of view.

If one wanted to find the usefulness of non-wild observations, I think that a project with non-wild organisms well-photographed could be extremely useful, especially in consideration that it can happen that in websites devoted to ornamentals species and cultivars are wrongly identified or poorly depicted. But, unfortunately, the same happens for many casual observations here. You can verify this by yourself.

If this is addressed to me, I am not a supporter of a “principle of authority” exerted by default by academics. Anyway, there are people here, academics or not, that can share their knowledge with those that for many reasons know less. It has always worked so, I mean that a transfert of knowledge obviously starts from those who are more expert in a given field. And it is obvious that newbies can only benefit from this, it they want.

NB: the original post was focused on the possible incentives to encourage users to mark their observations of non-wild organisms, not to post or not to post such observations.

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If they are submitted by a small group of people, just add a &not_user_id=username1,username2 to the URL.
It works, though for not so computer savvy people, it may be too complicated. And every couply of weeeks you have to add another username. Note that “muting” a user will not remove his observations from the list - it is about “notifications” only.

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This is a first for me. Today I uploaded a wild observation from my backyard of Common Hibiscus, and as a note I included that it was an escaped (wild) plant. Someone voted it captive so I voted it back to wild, and in the description in capital letters this time reiterated that it was an escape, along with a more clear explanation. Called Rose of Sharon in North America, they’re a common landscape bush which in many places have escaped cultivation and are considered invasive. In my state they haven’t designated them as such (yet) but in my own experience they absolutely are. Tenacious plants too, as I’ve cut them several times already and they keep re-sprouting. The next step is digging them up completely, and burning the roots in the fire pit. Ugh. Anyway, I’m trying to be as honest as possible in my ID’s and not haphazardly upload faulty information. I guess someone thought (and I can’t fault them) that it must’ve been a captive plant.


In this case it was iNaturalist that voted:


See https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/help#quality

The system will vote that the observation is not wild/naturalized if there are at least 10 other observations of a genus or lower in the smallest county-, state-, or country-equivalent place that contains this observation and 80% or more of those observations have been marked as not wild/naturalized.


Learning more every day. Thank you.


Oh yes, they seed themselves around prolifically. I had a big one that came with the house and needed to be taken out for some construction work. It looked pretty so I saved six of its numerous saplings from destruction and planted them along my driveway. I was curious and went out there to count. There are 24 of them now, 18 more than what I had planted some years ago. I still consider them cultivated because I prune them into a hedge and keep them contained to just that area along the driveway but it’s clear they can spread quickly on their own.


But there is loads of real wildlife in every city. And if it teaches someone that a lawn can be more than a sterile short grass mowed automatically every day, that the weed in the cracks of their sidewalk can be very interesting and that rare organism can survive in extreme locations like in front of the pub where the drunkards go the piss, then it did a good thing.

There is no lack of wild plants in the cities I know. Actually, it is a real impenetrable urban jungle in some parts.


iNaturalist doesn’t want captive/cultivated observations. But people post them. iNaturalist doesn’t remove them, it just treats them badly, in a way that reduces what usefulness they might have. Please, go vote for the feature request @dianastuder mentioned above, to separate the cultivated from the needs ID vs. Research Grade distinction. (I think we’re all fine with disqualifying captive/cultivated plants from RG, but most of us, including the observers who posted them, would like to see them labeled correctly.)


According to iNaturalist my observation of Columbian Tetra in a library aquarium that I labeled as casual means it is not listed as an observation. Is that why, when I click on Columbian Tetra info page it states no observations? The problem is that there is now an observation of the species, casual or not on iNaturalist.


It is definitely still an observation - it just doesn’t show up in the default filters. If you look for casual observations of the species, you will find it:
along with 25 others.

It will also show up in your own observation list.


Got it. Thanks!

You’re very welcome to add your host-plant observations on iNaturalist, whether they are native or introduced and whether they are wild or cultivated. You can use your own knowledge and the computer vision to propose an ID, and other users can add ID suggestions as they see fit. I would suggest that you try to accurately check the “captive/cultivated” box, as you’re likely to have the most accurate knowledge about this.

It’s true that some identifiers may choose to focus mostly on wild observations, but many others look at all observations within their field of interest (e.g. a particular country and family or order). If you find that some of your cultivated plant observations don’t attract many IDs, you can engage more directly with iNat users who seem to ID a lot of similar plants.

I agree with you that there’s a lot of value to reporting plant/insect interactions, even when the hosts are ornamental plants. You might consider using some standard text that you can paste into the observation notes, such as “Observation added to track H. halys host plants, which may be cultivated or wild.” But it’s not required. There are quite a lot of plant/pollinator and similar interaction projects on iNat, and you may want to take a look at those (or search the forum) to see how people track these interactions.