Clarifying geoprivacy & reasons for obscured coordinates; user-to-user trust

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#1

There are two ways in which observation coordinates are hidden from public view:

  • Geoprivacy set by the user (e.g. I choose to obscure observations made in my yard)
  • “Taxon geoprivacy” that is automatically applied by the system if an observation has an identification of a species with a conservation status

Now if you expand the details below the map on an observation detail page, you can see more about why the true coordinates of an observation are hidden, who can see them, and why.

In the past, it has not been clear why certain observations are hidden from view, so identifying the two different types of geoprivacy will help. Taxon_geoprivacy is now a field in csv exports as well.

An example of messaging when your own observation is obscured by your own geoprivacy selection: 24%20AM

And when your own observation is obscured by taxon geoprivacy:
47%20AM

Another new and related feature allows you to “trust” other users with the hidden coordinates of your observations. It’s in account settings under a section called “Your Relationships”. 26%20PM
This allows you to share hidden coordinates with others, in addition to optionally sharing in the context of traditional projects.

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Access to data for sensitive and obscured observations
#2

Hi! Thanks! It’s a great improvement! Even having the “Taxon_geoprivacy” field in CSV exports is really useful!
The feature that allows me to “trust” other users with the hidden coordinates of my observations sounds very interesting and ameliorative… but at the moment I can’t see the section “Your Relationships” in my account settings. Still not available?
Best,
D.

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#3

Someone pointed out to me last night that they can’t see user-to-user trust either, so we must have released it to staff only. Stay tuned and sorry about that!

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#4

@carrieseltzer ‘real’ locations of obscured observations still won’t display for trusted individuals (including ones self) on the taxa/range maps, right?

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#5

I believe that is correct. Even if you have been trusted with hidden coordinates, you won’t see those points in their true locations on your view of the range maps.

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#6

It’s the range maps I’m all about. :)

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#7

Update: everyone should now be able to see “Your Relationships” in Account Settings.

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#8

Yes, I can see that setting now! One thing I did notice is that it does appear that you have to already have a “following” relationship with the account you’d like to trust (it didn’t work with an account not on my following list.)

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#9

Thank you! Now I can see the feature. Sounds great!
I have a question about this new interesting feature: if I create a new “collection” project and then I export the observations from the project page, are the private coordinates of the users who consider me “trusted” also exported to the CSV?
Thanks a lot!
D.

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#10

If they have trusted you, true coordinates should be included in an export. If this isn’t working as expected, please email help@inat.

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#11

Two potential useful changes:

The first is less niche:

  • Make trust not apply to private observations, or have this as an optional setting. If I’m making something private, I likely have a very good reason. I know some people use “private” for observations at their house. I may trust someone with the coordinates of random threatened species, but not trust them with my personal locations. This seems like it would be a simple way to let people retain some control over what they’re sharing.

Similar, but probably very niche:

  • Allow the option to only share the locations for auto-obscured observations, but not manually obscured ones (or some other way to provide more control here). If something is auto-obscured, there are lots of people who I would trust with that location. If I manually obscure something, it’s probably because it’s on private property or some other case where I can’t really share it with anybody.

This second idea is likely niche enough that it isn’t worth implementing, but thought I may as well express it.

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#12

I think separating the two is valuable but i might go either way with it. For a conservation organization, i might want to share my threatened species with them but not the location of my property or observations on other people’s land which i don’t have permission to share. Alternatively there may be community groups who i’d be happy to share the precise location of bees and weeds on my land, but if i don’t really know them i may not want to share threatened speceis locations with them.

Perhaps it’s all very niche but I think it might get broader use.

personally i haven’t used private observations much at all, so i don’t have any preference for those

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#13

Would you mind make a Feature Request for each of these, @reuvenm? I wouldn’t want them to be lost here.

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#14

I can give a use-case for why at least retaining the option to access user-set private coordinates would be helpful. Our staff work with private landowners and our agreements with them regarding data privacy may require that, while we can use the data internally for research and conservation purposes, it is not to be made publicly available. In many cases, we’re dealing with land areas where obscuring an observation won’t disguise the location or could lead to accusations of trespass from sensitive neighbors, so private is really the best option. Conversely, we may have landowners who would like to share a trust relationship with their local biologist but still want to keep locations private.

I’d like to see an option for manually selecting which private/obscured observations I can share with my trusted users; the all-or-nothing makes it challenging.

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#15

Thanks. A handy feature.

I suspected that this might have happened while I was on leave, but I missed the addition when checking my account, because the option is so obscure.
Might it be possible to have “manage your relationships” also within a grey box, rather than just as a blue footnote to “your relationships” - so that it is more obvious?

Also, am I correct?

  1. You can view and set relationships with others, but you cannot add them from this location. To add a relationship, you have to do it via a traditional project. Or alternatively, you can follow a user, and then come here and give them permission to use your coordinates.
  2. If you give a person permission, does it apply to all their projects, or just the one for which you gave them permission? So if I create a project on Aloes and you give me permission to see your coordinates, will it apply to a project I later create on Rhinos as well?
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#16

OK - for item 2 - partially.
The private_ fields will only be included when using the user filter and you are the user, or when using the project filter and you curate the project.
This confirms that I will need a project to see the trusted coordinates - the “private coordinates” do not download for straight filters. But what about 2 projects?

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