Change the 'editability' of observation fields on individual observations

Platform(s), such as mobile, website, API, other: Website

URLs (aka web addresses) of any pages, if relevant:

Description of need:
Change functionality such that after an observation field has been added to an observation, only the ‘adder’ or the observer can edit the value.

Feature request details:
Let’s say I go to one of my observations, and add an observation field to it. Under current functionality, any other user can visit that observation and edit the value of that field. Now this does generate a notification for me, but very confusingly it looks like this:

not only does it incorrectly say I edited the field, even though it was someone else, it does not say who edited it and it’s also somewhat misleading (imo) in that whilst yes a value was technically ‘added’, it would be more accurate to characterise it as being ‘edited’. But this is a known issue that has been raised on the forum before, and not the crux of the problem

Let’s say instead I go to someone else’s observation, and add an observation field to it. Not only can anyone else edit the value for this field, just like before, but now I don’t even get a notification at all; theoretically someone could be editing all of the observation fields I ever add to other users’ observations, and I would never know unless I stumbled upon one and noticed the value had changed.

It seems like the easiest solution to this is for observation fields to mirror annotations, ie, once someone adds one to an observation, only they - or the observer if the two aren’t the same user - can edit the field. I personally cannot see the value in simultaneously allowing anyone to edit any field, and also generating either a misleading notification or simply no notification at all when an edit does occur.

Given the notifications update is still being worked on, I assume the easier fix here would be ‘locking’ fields when added instead of amending the notification problem

I appreciate being able to edit observation fields for observations added to traditional projects. Sometimes people don’t know exactly what they’re looking at, and it’s helpful to be able to correct them. So that could entail enabling editing by observation field creators (or project managers of projects using those observation fields), or adding an agree/disagree function like with annotations.


I do agree for sure, but the total lack of notifications for this is what’s putting me off. The reason I made this request in the first place was due to a few experts who reached out to me, reporting that other (presumably well-meaning) users had been editing their observation field values incorrectly, and they hadn’t even realised until someone else told them.

And presuming the notifications upgrade is still a long way off, this seemed like perhaps the best interim solution


I like this idea and agree that it seems a reasonable stop gap solution to the larger notification problem.

I would also agree with @thomaseverest that I would add the ability for the observation field creator to edit the field. They will often be the user for their projects anyways. They will also “know best” what they intended for the values to be and are probably the user most invested in the observation field.


I edit observation fields all the time, especially the feather placement field. For the Found Feathers project, the field gets added automatically if the project is added using the app. Not being able to edit the fields would be a huge disadvantage to me (and the others who also edit the field) and make a great feature of the Found Feathers project not as useful. I also add observation fields to my own observations (like host plants) and other people’s observations (like interaction preyed on) that I appreciate other people being able to edit (since I’m not that great with plants and most of the time I don’t know what the prey is). I don’t think limiting editing the fields to just 2-3 people would be a good idea, as it would put a lot of burden on them and reduce the helpfulness of other people.
Would this be a better solution: While it doesn’t fix the notification bug, it would let users be able to see if their field has been edited, and by whom.


I think your request is a good one, and it would be great to have that info as well (although I would also like to see the original value in the history), but I don’t think it’s a better solution. The entire reason I made my request, and what I see as the crux of the problem, is that

so having an edit history doesn’t address this particular problem

I would like that too, but I’m not sure how feasible it would be for every field to have their own history page (in terms of server space and load).
I think the crux of the problem:

is a notification problem, and it will hopefully be fixed with the notification update (and if not, another feature request could be created for a notification to be sent to both the observer and the field adder whenever it’s edited). In the mean time, I was thinking that my idea of a ‘last edited’ section would be able to let users check their fields to see if it has been edited and by whom (that way if it’s been incorrectly edited they could tag the user and explain why). I know it’s not ideal (and it doesn’t solve the notification problem), but I don’t think locking field editing is a good solution either for the reasons I listed above.