Automatically deal with obs whose coordinates are 0, 0

If the GPS coordinates of an observation are exactly 0, 0, it’s certain that the observation is placed at the incorrect location on the map. At this time, the observation must be manually marked as inaccurate by volunteers, which takes a lot of time. Instead, the system should automatically:

  • strip coordinates from existing observation if their coordinates are exactly 0, 0, and
  • prevent these observations from being saved/uploaded in the first place (appears to be an app issue)

Notes on prevalence and how these get created in the first place:

  • As of July 2019, there are over 18,400 observations mapped at 0, 0
  • Around 100–300 new observations at 0, 0 are added each week. Many of these reach Research Grade.
  • As long as there is the option to “Edit location” that starts the map off at 0,0 there will always be some users that save from there without making changes.
  • @ryanroter: “not sure what happened there! The photo itself on my phone did not record location data so it seems like it was just a glitch.”
  • @cherryl1: “the gps expects the subject and you to be at the same place. Many times, take a vast array of photos, then get home to edit and post”
  • @joecain: “the iNaturalist app strips the location data sometimes.”
  • @aishagk: “I was in an area without great connection”
  • @danefroymson: “the location has poor reception while using the android phone app. I don’t recall a message asking if I’m sure I want to save location with no coordinates, I usually see that in such cases.”
  • @supabetty: " I was in a no cell reception area when I tried to use this application."
  • @cinnamon3: “I’m certain the lack of coordinates had to do with my phone’s location being turned off…I was saving battery while or of signal!”

i don’t disagree with what’s being suggested here, but i wonder why this is being thought of as a feature request rather than just a bug fix? seems like that Android app simply shouldn’t allow people to save stuff at 0,0, unless they do something specific to indicate that’s what they really wanted to do (which should be never). once the fix is in, then you could simply fix the data by replacing 0,0 with null, and i’m thinking that should basically make the observation casual grade for lack of location. if necessary, you could add a comment by that says that the location was removed because it appears to be invalid, and then if people really wanted to put it back at 0,0, they could.

i flipped the location=bad flag on a few of the observations, and it seems the people who communicated back to me about it may either not understand how to use the system technically, or else they may be purposely setting locations to 0,0 as a (bad) way to obscure their observations.

we should go have an aquatic bioblitz at 0,0 just to be annoying :)

Even still it would never line up as that. it’s probably nearly impossible to get a record to show up there on a phone aside from this error.


The suggested features require what I imagine to be somewhat significant / new coding effort rather than slight edits to broken existing features, which is why I put it in feature requests rather than as a bug report. That said I’m certainly not planning on using up a vote on it.

In several hundred conversations with users who had coordinates at 0,0 no one has said they did so intentionally.

i’m not a software developer, but it seems the addition of a small validation in the app + a small data cleanup should be relatively low effort. (but i could be wrong.)

Maybe for these the location data should just be deleted and they would show up as ‘no location’?

I agree that the fact that obs are coming in with locations of 0,0 should be considered a bug. Has anyone been able to find a pattern of how these obs are being generated? Are they across the board or just from web or iOS or Android etc.?

It is almost entirely an Android app issue. It is hard to find one not from there. It’s because it is far too easy to accidentally initiate the manual mapping process, which starts with the map at 0,0, and not even notice you’ve done it.

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see the 2nd suggestion above

Most are from Android. Here’s one that wasn’t:


if any come from established iNat users who might be willing/able to help explain what they did that would be useful

I almost always use the Uploader on a Mac Desktop.
I have had a number of obs in the “Null” project - I think that’s the O-O location you are talking about?
All accidental, due to photo either not having a GPS recorded (my camera intermittently loses connection with internet) or location being accidentally deleted whe I tried to modify it either during upload or later. I don’t know what I did wrong when modifying locations to arrive at this.

I joined the Null Project, so now when one of my obs falls into the void, at least I will see the Null Project “Stamp” (is that the word?) ie link, in the obs, if I look at it again; and from time to time I check the Null Project to see if any of my obs are there.

Apologies if this is not the issue in question. So much technology, so many context-specific meanings of words…sigh.


Hi, I accidently get my location to appear 0,0 all the time, i believe i know why too. I post several observations in quick succession on mobile a lot of the time. I use the “get current location” option most of the time. However, sometimes I’m moving too quickly and submit the post before it even is finished determining my location, and thus defaults to zero.


Is there a reason you use “Get current location”? When you make the observation the location should already part of the observation.

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Can you throw an error message and prevent observations from being saved if the coordinates are 0,0?

As long as there is the option to “Edit location” that starts the map off at 0,0 there will always be some users that save from there without making changes.

But also, multiple people have commented saying they had poor cell service when they were making observations. Could the location possibly be being stripped to 0,0 when auto-uploading obs in poor connectivity areas? :woman_shrugging:

When I selected a picture in the gallery if my Samsung galaxy s7 and shared with inaturalist, the coordinates translated over. I got a new galaxy s10, with all location permissions allowed, and now it puts in 0,0 as the coordinates.

Heh, this is turning more into a bug report, but it’d be good to root out any technical causes for this.

@brantport14 can you please email that photo to so we can take a look at it? And the next time this happens, please send us a log file as soon as possible. To send a log file, go to the Settings tab in the app and tap three times on the version number. You will then have the option to email the log file to us.

Also, aside from any bugs, it seems like people would be OK with the app not letting someone upload an observation with coordinates 0,0?


Yes. If someone ever makes an observation at exactly 0,0, they can file a bug report. :wink:


The gauntlet has been thrown.


Github issue here:

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