Can you subscribe to an obscured taxon?

Trying to help someone who asked me for guidance.

They’ve created a subscription to a taxon, but are getting no alerts. They have other subscriptions so know how to do it.

In this case the taxon is obscured in the geography they subscribed to. The location itself is huge, way larger than any obscuring buffer (province of Ontario).

Will this work, or can I end the investigation there?

I think if it’s obscured then it probably won’t show up in the dashboard.

I feel like it still should show up. There’s plenty of legit reasons people might want to subscribe to an obscured taxon, and allowing subs but having them not work properly for obscured taxa doesn’t seem like a great design choice.

If this is the way it currently works, it might be worth a feature request/bug report to change.


I can understand why it wouldn’t work or be permitted (you think you know where something is, create 2 alerts one for your guess and one broader and if it only shows in the 1, your guess is validated).

I’d just like it confirmed it wont work, as there is nothing in the help guide about subscriptions.

A better question would be if it won’t work, why can you save it in the first place? Why not tell the user it is not permitted and block the creation?


I completely agree that if it’s an intentional choice it should be documented, but if it isn’t an intentional choice then I think it’s worth considering whether it should be allowed/working.

In terms of why it wouldn’t be allowed, couldn’t you just do the same type of guessing “manually” with location filters? The subscription might make it easier/quicker to do the guessing around a specific area, but not allowing subscriptions doesn’t eliminate the ability to do that (assuming I’m understanding correctly). I considered that this might be a reason, but just not allowing subscriptions doesn’t seem like it would stop a bad actor determined to get the most info they can about an obscured species via other avenues. And the subscription would serve a legit purpose for experts trying to stay on top of a specific taxon (and I’m sure other uses), so at face value it doesn’t seem like a great trade-off to intentionally not allow this.

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I’m pretty sure subscriptions are supposed to work for any observation that is publicly indexed in that place regardless of geoprivacy, so all these obscured observations would show up for a subscription to Ontario.
However, the fact that you say the taxon this person subscribed to is obscured suggests to me that it’s probably at the species level and Carrie recently pointed out a bug with taxon/place subscriptions that may be relevant here:


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