I’ve noticed that observations with the “Location” set to “Private” often come from new users. And for obvious reasons, a lot of them don’t get follow-up IDs. As an identifier, I’ve been trying to be more consistent about pasting the “Frequently Used Response” encouraging users to consider the “obscured” setting, and I often get feedback along the lines of “thanks for explaining the difference.”
Currently, when you’re submitting observations through either the website or the app, you have a choice of “Open,” “Obscured,” or “Private” but there is no readily available explanation of what those terms mean. It makes intuitive sense to me that new users are frequently observing plants or animals at or near their home, and they reasonably want to avoid displaying their home address on the site. I doubt that the “Private” option would be used nearly as much if users realized that it is basically equivalent to saying “somewhere on planet earth” and that the “Obscured” setting is just as good if you’re merely trying to avoid putting your precise address out there for the whole world to see.
Assuming that it’s not an option to get rid of the “Private” setting altogether (although I honestly don’t understand what purpose it serves in its current form where the community can’t even see which continent is involved), it seems to me that it would be helpful to change the display of the options to nudge users concerned about privacy toward the “Obscured” option. A few thoughts I had on how this could be done:
- Rename the settings so “Obscured” becomes “Private” and “Private” becomes “No Location Info” (or something along those lines).
- Add a pop-up warning before submitting an observation with the “Private” setting (similar to the “Missing Location” pop-up when you don’t include the location at all).
- Add an “info” or “help” button next to the list of options that the user can click on to get a more complete explanation of what the different settings mean.