Add banner to indicate that observations are obscured and purposedly mislocated on a map

Mapping data are modified for endangered species but the relevant explanations are not readily accessible.

Endangered = obscured locations = designed mislocalizations.

After some zooming in, mapping locations appear as obscured circles in iNaturalist maps, and in addition, they are mislocated relative to the true locations.

The observer looking at her/his own observation will see two locations - the wrong location as an obscured circle and the true location as an eyedrop.

And at low magnification, the observations appear as squares just like for non-endangered species, which may add to the confusion when one tries to figure out what is happening by modifying the zoom and other parameters.

Unwanted consequences

In these situations, the observer will likely think of a bug and will waste quite some time for himself and for the moderators (this happened twice for me and the several poor moderators involved).

The viewer of other people’s observations will simply be misled. Now the purpose is to provide little usable data, but not to mislead people on their standard expectations. The former may be a reasonable choice, but it needs to be made clear for quality purposes, notably because mislocalization is not a normal feature of any kind of map (in a context like ours).

Underlying issue

The required information is not readily available : to know that the “obscured” icons are not a bug, one needs to click the “Details” button and look at the bottom of the window. This is not easy to realize because the “Details” window does not contain any information of this sort (for non-endangered species). Furthermore, in order to know that “obscured” means “purposedly mislocated”, and that double locations are not a bug, one needs to go to the iNaturalist help page, as nothing is mentioned in the Details tab.

Hence the proposed feature request, which may take the form of a banner :

  • which would be displayed near a map whenever a page with a map is opened for an endangered species,
  • at any magnification, just upon opening the web page, and
  • which would be closed by clicking on an “x” symbol as usual.

The text could sound like this : “Endangered : locations are modified ; see Details”

The “Details” tab should mention somewhere that the Help page will contain further explanations.

Here is a possible mock-up :

Some observations are obscured automatically to protect sensitive species, but many people choose to manually set their observations’ geoprivacy to “obscured”, so there is more than one cause for an observation being obscured.

Where are you seeing this? If you’re looking at your own obscured observation on its own page, you’ll see the real location as a pin. Other marks on the map are locations of the same taxon:

I agree a link to an explanation about geoprivacy would be good here, but at the moment it wouldn’t be language sensitive.

I would not want to see a banner on every map. And when looking at an obscured observation by another user, you should see “obscured” below the map:


Sorry indeed I forgot that point. The text could be simplified in the banner, by just removing “endangered”.

I just meant that when you look at your own observation for an endangered taxon (and presumably the same occurs if you opted for geoprivacy) you will see the pin for the true location plus an additional mark (circle) corresponding to the mislocalized site for that same observation. Only the latter will be shown to other viewers and in other people’s observations of the same taxon, but for the observer seeing two locations (even with different marks) for the same observations is very puzzling.

I think that there is another topic on this specific point ( )

I understand. It would just be a short sentence in simple english, and perhaps it is so short that it can be translated and implemented easily. I do not know.

I did not see it, sorry. You are right but please notice how almost invisible that word is ! It is written in light grey on a white background, in brackets as if quite irrelevant, and placed next to the usual “Show” text link which instead is flashy in full color even though it only means that the sentence is truncated.

This may explain why I did not see it, while also raising the question why “obscured” is used twice yet it is hidden twice, without any explanation of what it means, and notably why mislocalization is never mentioned there and one needs to refer to the Help page without being informed of that.

Please also note that the “(obscured)” word is displayed to viewers of other people’s observations, but not to your own observations.This makes sense if the observers choose geoprivacy, as they are aware of what they do, but not for observations of endangered species, as they become obscured automatically.

But perhaps one solution could be to write the appropriate text in thick characters and in color, including not just “obscured”, but also “locations marks are modified see Details” or something similar that would be as reasonably visible and informative.

The text should be displayed with one’s own observations as well and the Details tab should include the reference to the Help page ;

Perhaps this would be enough and probably simpler to implement than a banner, and certainly simpler for users as it would not require a click to close the banner.



I received a message today from someone because an obscured observations of mine appeared to be made at their home, and they thought I had been trespassing and found it frightening. In fact, multiple of my obscured observations appear to have been made at the home of this individual or friends of theirs.

So, for quite a different reason, I am also in favour of the suggestion that observation pages for obscured observation explicitly say somewhere that the location visible on the map is not necessarily the true location. The observation page does say that an observation is “Obscured”, but newcomers to iNaturalist don’t know what that means.