Announcing of geoprivacy changes to Taxon?

I have noticed that a taxon that was previously being marked as “Obscured”, has been changed to having “Open” geoprivacy.

Is there any announcement made regarding this kind of change being made?
Or a way for observers to be notified or to chose to follow a taxon in case there are changes made?

It was just luck that I noticed the change and I have now updated mine to “Obscured”. It would be useful to be told of the change so that observers were aware and able to make that decision before, or shortly after, the change was implemented.

Edit to add: the taxon in question is “Endangered” and there has been no change to this status, just the geoprivacy setting.

From Bronwyn

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I don’t think that there are any notifications generated for changing obscuration status of taxa for users that have observations of that taxon.

There is often (though not always) some discussion of obscuration decisions on flags on specific taxa, so you can check there.

It’s important to remember that just because a taxon is endangered (or any other status), that doesn’t mean it should necessarily be obscured. In many cases, scientists/govt agencies review obscuration and “open up” taxa where obscuration isn’t needed/beneficial (ie, cases where the taxa aren’t actually threatened by poaching/collection/trampling).

If there are situations in which users want observations obscured for personal reasons (protect travel history, home location, whatever), it’s best practice to obscure them at the user level as well - that way if taxon geoprivacy changes, they will continue to be obscured.


Could you please tell me where I would go to find the Flags within iNaturalist?
I can only seem to find the option to make a new Flag, but not existing flags / flags made by others.

Thanks for the extra information.
The situation is that I (and maybe others) had been under the impression the observations were, and would remain, obscured. I had not realised that there would be no notification about a change from “Obscured” to “Open”.

(My edit for the “Endangered” not changing was to explain that it was not a publicly announced change in general that people may hear about in passing.)

Hi @thistlemouse, I assume the change you’re referring to is one of the ones that I have recently made

First though, will take you to all currently unresolved flags, you can filter from there.

You can also see unresolved and resolved flags on taxon pages. Unresolved ones will appear like this:

whilst both unresolved and resolved flags are viewable under the curation button:

When I plan to obscure or de-obscure a species on an individual basis, I will create a flag and tag a handful of the top identifiers/observers for that taxon to canvas their thoughts first. However, my recent project has involved unobscuring hundreds of species, so it is simply not feasible to manually create individual flags for all of these. This is especially the case given, as @cthawley noted, anything I am unobscuring is because the threats facing these taxa do not warrant obscuration, and Australia’s various state departments have not included them on their sensitive species lists.

If you would like to read more about this, I wrote a few journal posts. Here is one I wrote for Tasmanian species, whereby the Department of Natural Resources and Environment requested that all Tasmania taxa being obscured have their locations opened except for four species. And here is a post I wrote for the IUCN-based statuses I’ve been unobscuring across Australia.

If you notice a species is suddenly unobscured and you’re unsure why, and you cannot find a flag, you can also check the history page for an explanation:

Feel free to name the species involved and I can tell you the exact reason why I unobscured it.


First, please know that I understand that it is going from a “obscure everything” situation, and that it’s a lot of work to do flags and notify people.
Thank you for the screenshot of where to find the information about history and flags!

There are two that I am concerned about being opened up, as I know that others had relied on iNat to obscure the observations for these:

I am still checking my observations in case of others. And amending all that I would not want opened up if it were to be changed in the future.

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Sauroconcha corneovirens is listed as Endangered in NSW, but it is not on the NSW sensitive species list. None of the threats faced by the snail warrant obscuration. It is threatened by “High frequency fire resulting in the disruption of life cycle processes in plants and animals and loss of vegetation structure and composition…Other processes generally recognised as threats include habitat clearance and modification particularly weed invasion, removal and reduction of ground cover.” Obscuring this species is in fact probably detrimental to it given it makes it more difficult to access true locations.

Ranoidea aurea is also not on the NSW sensitive species list, although it is for the ACT (for which I applied obscuration). The most serious threats facing this species are habitat loss/degradation/fragmentation through the modification or loss of wetlands. They’re also threatened by reductions in water quality, the chytrid fungus, and predation. Introduction or intensification of public access to Green and Golden Bell Frog habitats is also listed as an additional threat, although most of the known locations for this species are already published and freely available online, one of the methods to combat this threat is to already close off some of these sites to the public (eg Sydney Olympic Park Brickpit site). I will confirm with a frog expert I know on this one, but as I said, it is not on the NSW sensitive list that I have been given, and there are other frog species which are obscured for NSW, so they have indeed been assessed. Saving Our Species indicates that:

Occupancy modelling has shown that the extent of wetlands in the landscape, lack of eastern gambusia at wetlands, and connectivity of wetlands are the most important factors driving occupancy and persistence of the species. Crucial habitat for the green and golden bell frog consists of networks of interconnected wetlands, including both permanent and ephemeral wetlands, that are free from eastern gambusia. Wetland loss and fragmentation, including disconnection from surrounding non-breeding terrestrial habitat, will potentially result in the local extinction of populations.

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as a general rule, if you see an Australian species on iNat being obscured purely through an IUCN-derived status, assume it will be opened up by me in the near future, and obscure your own individual records if you need to. Australia’s sensitive species lists are not dictated in anyway by IUCN statuses, so I’m changing that on iNat to reflect this

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It is not the reason why that is of concern, it is the lack of warning and communication about the changes.

Regarding the frog, I will advise the group of these changes and share how to bulk update their observations (if they chose to do so).

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This is only the case if you are a curator. For regular users, flags are not displayed at the top of taxon pages. The only way to find them is to go to the “view flags” option on the curation tab.


fair point, I couldn’t remember if those were visible or not to non-curators

As I noted above, it is not reasonable for me to make close to 1000 individual flags, which generally are not even seen by most people anyway unless specifically tagged, and when a species has been observed by hundreds of people, it is also not reasonable to tag all of them. So the next best thing is to write a journal post which is publicly viewable, as I did.

How would you suggest these changes be communicated? I am certainly open to suggestions.

If a notification for changes like this were to be made as a feature request I’d vote for it.


Seem to have come across a gap in this part of iNaturalist process that could be improved in future.
There is notification of the change to any taxon classifications to your observations, there should be notification of changes to the geo location setting of your observations. Particularly when the observations are being changed from a obscured to open setting.
When observers have been adding observations under the impression that information being given is being automatically obscured (and then you are not likely to also mark as obscured yourself), it’s important to that observers are made aware that the change is possible, proposed and has been implemented.

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