Why is this Observation Casual/Needs ID/Research Grade? - "Official" Thread

Ah OK so that explains why those can become Research Grade. But what’s the pattern with checking No at a level below genus or at/above family? In some instances nothing changes and the observation stays at Needs ID. In others it reverts to Casual.

These that you gave as examples https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/2396067 and https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/44400934 have a “yes” in the DQA, so that would cancel your “no” vote.

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Hm I suppose I didn’t notice that. But voting No on this one makes it Casual:

The community taxon of that one is only at rank superfamily.

Ohhhh. OK that makes sense. So let me get this straight.

If the Community Taxon (not the observation taxon) is lower than family and the user hasn’t opted out of the Community Taxon, voting “No, it’s as good as can be” will make the observation Research Grade. If the Community Taxon is family level or higher, it will become Casual. The only difference with users who have opted out of the Community Taxon is that voting “No…” will only make the observation Research Grade if the Community Taxon is at genus level. At all other levels voting “No…” will make the observation Casual. Note that nothing happens when “Yes” or “No…” is checked if no other user has provided an identification on an observation by a user who has opted out of the Community Taxon because there is no Community Taxon.

Should that go in the Wiki? I didn’t try checking “Yes” in all those different cases but I assumed they would make it casual unless the user had opted out?

So I guess my ultimate question is what’s the justification for any relevant observation becoming Casual? Or is that a bug?

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You might be interested in voting for this feature request :)

Not quite. If the observer has opted out of community ID, and the observer’s ID is maverick to what the community has decided, the observation will never be research grade.


And sorry, I’m not following your last few sentences - which part of all that do you think should go in the wiki? Which cases are you referencing when you say “checking ‘yes’…would make it casual”, and what you mean by relevant observation? :)

Some of these explanations are “in” the wiki by way of linking to the FAQ, but maybe it’d be helpful to transfer some of that over here. Kind of a lot of places to keep updated though. https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/help#quality

The data quality info is also on each observation page:


OK thanks. I just wondered if any of that should go at the top of this page. So far this is the first thing I haven’t been able to figure out by myself so I thought it might be helpful to put where others might find it easier. But I suppose it’s rather complicated and obscure enough that it doesn’t need to.


I think it’s so obscure and complicated that it needs to be presented succinctly in each observation, under “The Below Items are Needed to Obtain Research Grade.” Just a list, so a person wondering about a particular observation can just go down the list and easily see which ones haven’t been met. Along with a prominent statement in that section of what the Community ID currently is.


Seems like pretty rare case:

Platform** (Website)

Browser, if a website issue (Chrome) :



Seems to be automatically declaring casual.
I don’t think it was captive/cultivated.

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It’s marked as captive by… iNat?!



From 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.”

In this case there was a group recording captive mussels at the Haley Institute of Animal Science and Aquaculture, so there are already a bunch of captive observations in this county – and not very many wild.


Thanks! And sorry, I didn’t realize we had a single thread for these inquiries now.

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I think it’s more of a wiki/troubleshooting guide (“check these first”) than a thread to add new reports to.
I’m basing that on the end of the first post:


This is happening more often I’m noticing. I took a photo of a cinquefoil growing in the cracks at the carwash and it’s coming up as casual too. How do I fix it when it defaults to captive?

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As far as I know, they won’t hard-code in any permanent fixes for particular taxa/places. You need to get more than 20% of the observations in that area to be (correctly) marked wild. So in the case of the mussels, there are 16 captive observations. Assuming no more captive observations are added, iNat will stop voting not wild once there are at least 5 wild mussel observations in the county. That is, if you add 4 more wild mussel observations, you’ll fix the problem.

The cinquefoil is a different issue because it wasn’t marked captive by the system, it was marked by another user. If you click on the number next to the down vote, you can see who and @mention them to ask why. The last time that happened to me, the user say it was an accidental click and they took away the down vote.

The only other potential fix I can suggest is to up-vote wild on your own observations when you post them in cases where you think they might be marked captive. So if you know a plant is usually cultivated in your area and most of the observations are captive, go ahead and vote wild when you upload it. With one wild vote from you and one captive vote from the system, your wild vote will win.


I seem to have been able to fix it this time! Thanks!


I’m beginning to feel this update wasn’t as helpful as I thought when it was originally explained to me. The 80% thing seemed like it would rarely become an issue, and the one time it happened was a fluke. Now, with the 4th observation in a week I’m being told that june bugs are casual observations too. Whoever is keeping all this weird crap captive in my province can stop lol. And this time it wasn’t a misclick like the weed at the car wash.

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Scratch that last post. Seems I’ve found 3-4 different ways to have your observation accidentally marked as casual this week. The 80% thing, someone misclicking, AND forgetting to post the location. Usually it reminds me that I’m posting something without a location, so posting my first mobile observation I didn’t realize that I could post without reminders of empty blanks. Now I know.