What makes a sighting casual and other related questions?

I think there are valid issues there I just think it’s hard to address the questions in the initial thread when this keeps drifting to that topic. I believe there’s already a feature request for that.


I made a feature request for this most recent topic in this thread. It was closed with the (between-the-lines) explanation that the renaming of “Research Grade” should come first, and would perhaps solve the problem of non-wild observations mostly languishing in obscurity. I still think that “captive” should be turned on in a default ID session.


As big as iNat is, it can’t be all things to all people. There are a lot of fascinating and useful inquiries which iNat probably can’t help answer, but we try to keep things simple to engage anyone curious about nature, regardless of expertise, and this has generated a ton of data, a lot of which has been used, sometimes in creative ways. So I think there are a lot of uses for iNat data which we can’t even envision yet, which I think is pretty exciting. But none of that data can be used if it’s not reported in the first place, and I think it’s important to make the observation flow as easy as possible to facilitate that. Certainly it can be improved (hopefully something we’ll tackle after notifications) but it’s working pretty well now.

As @bouteloua said, Observation Fields are there for those who want to use them, and they can be beneficial but you will have to do some real outreach because (in my experience) the majority of people don’t want to fill out a ton of fields. Groups like the southern African CREW project are organized, provide trainings, and do fill out some intense observation fields. Perhaps your restoration group(s) can use the site in this way.


Ummmm… What’s “DQA”? Thanks

Data Quality Assessment

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Ah! Thank you so much.

Wait, but… Who fills this out? How can you vote on an accurate location if you are not the observer?

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There can be many cases, when it is a stolen photo downloaded from the web, the location is mapped in water when it is a terrestrial sighting etc.


picture of something in the ocean with a location of mid-America: Not accurate location.

Picture of a tree growing in a field with a location of being in the ocean: Not accurate.


picture of a deer on a snowy field in Pennsylvania in July: date not accurate

picture of a giraffe in the Bronx: not wild


@schoenitz, @clay_s, @cmcheatle OK, I understand about the location. But who is supposed to fill those checkmarks in? Whoever is looking at the observation or just site administrators? Or someone else?

Anyone interested in improving data quality.



Sometimes I get the impression that observations of cultivated plants or captive animals are simply ignored by identifiers, so they stuck in “needs ID” or stay as “unknown”, etc. These observation then don’t get “research grade”. So what is better, mark them properly as cultivated/capitive
or being ignored by the community ?

To my mind, although I understand the issues involved (I personally have a few cultivated plants whose identity I would love to know, but recognize the chances of that happening are effectively zero once marked as cultivated), they should be marked as cultivated/captive. That way people who are willing to invest time in identifying this stuff can still locate them, while people who do not wish to have to interact with them will not encounter them.


If we are honest when answering - is it wild - the obs goes from Needs ID to Casual.
Honesty gets its disappointing reward.


Captive/cultivated obs never recieve the research grade designation, regardless how many users agree on their ID. This probably at least one reason why the identifier community ignores them.

It is a hard question. In my real-life experience, people who mention iNat to me in casual conversation believe it is an app for identifying garden plants. I’m a public garden horticulturist, there’s obviously a bias there, but it surprised me the first few times it happened. It also surprises me the iNat app/website is not worded in a manner to discourage that misbelief. I think it would be much better if iNat just came out and said “wild plants only” rather than new users who post garden plants experiencing either the silent treatment or a rebuke from more frequent users.


It’s worth adding I personally would rather see the site go the other way: welcome cultivated plants on equal terms. But since the developers don’t agree, as expressed both in their current design of the site and in comments from their personal accounts, then I believe they should hardline “wild plants only.”


But what about these 1500 captive plants observed by the iNat staff? :)

As has been discussed extensively, there are a lot of valid personal and research use cases for captive and cultivated plants and animals.

Since birdwhisperer’s original questions about what makes a sighting casual and which of their examples to mark as captive/cultivated have been answered, I’m going to close this topic. Please take a look at the topic summary and other topics on these subjects before starting a new one. Thanks!