That’s a good point about a sort of hard “out-of-office” signal :)
I’m not sure myself the particular anti-harassment use cases for this feature and am more passing it along from the concerns of others. To clarify, there is already the ability to block another user in one’s account settings, accessible from the iNat website.
Blocking someone prevents them from messaging you, commenting on your observations, identifying your observations, and otherwise interacting with you on iNaturalist.org. It also removes their observations from your search results and removes your observations from their search results. However, it does not make you invisible to them. They can still find your observations and view your profile, they just can’t interact with you.
Blocking is for situations where you just can’t get along with someone and they won’t leave you alone, despite your best efforts to settle disputes in a civilized manner. It is not a way to hide from people, to prevent identifications from people whose opinions you don’t trust, or to opt out of the community ID (there’s another setting for that). Thus, blocking works both ways: if you block someone, they can’t interact with you, but you also can’t interact with them. If you misuse it to prevent someone from identifying your observations, you also prevent yourself from identifying their observations.
You can only block three people. We think this is a reasonable number that accommodates the people who need blocking while preventing abuse of blocking. If you feel you need to block more people, please contact us.
If someone is harassing or stalking you on iNaturalist.org, please let us know. If this represents a violation of our Terms of Service or represents other behavior we deem inappropriate for our site, we will investigate.