Flag a place for curation

Right now looks like the forum and maybe the iNat help email are the ways for users to get help with fixing place boundaries. There isn’t a way to flag a place for curation on the iNaturalist website. The most common issues that come up with existing places are fixing incorrect boundaries and deleting/merging duplicates. Maybe there are some inappropriate or spam places, but I haven’t come across them myself.

Many of the issues that arise are standard places which can’t be edited by curators. But some of these issues can be resolved without staff needing to get involved. These issues should be managed the same way other content-based issues are on iNat, through flag space rather than the forum.

Here is the current guidance for Curators on this issue:


Here are some things to keep in mind when curating places:

  • Don’t merge or delete places just because they look like duplicates. Try to figure out who added and is using a place before deciding it should go. Sometimes someone may have created a place that is similar to another but has a slightly different boundary because their project has different requirements.

  • New places don’t have checklists by default, because keeping checklists up to date is actually one of the most computationally intensive things we do, so we want to minimize the number of checklists. If you only want to add a place so you can search for observations within it, please don’t enable the checklist.

  • Places imported from Yahoo have no boundary defined, so even if they have a checklist, it won’t be automatically updated by research grade observations. You can add a boundary by editing the place and using the map tools, or by uploading a KML file. However, if you upload KML, please don’t upload really, really complicated polygons. If your places has several thousand nodes, consider simplifying the geometry before uploading.

  • Our map editing interface is fairly primitive. Using ArcGIS or QGIS will be a lot easier. Note that all our place boundary data are stored in unprojected lat/lon coordinates using the WGS84 datum.

Other related improvements to places that could be requested (and discussed elsewhere) include:

  • ability for curators to edit the URL slug
  • ability for curators to edit which Wikipedia article is linked (or, cassi’s preference - just remove the links to Wikipedia)
  • Implemented add collection projects to the “Projects” tab
  • a tool to find single-point places
  • search for/show all the descendants of a place

I don’t deal a ton with places, so I’ve actually just gone ahead and made this first post a wiki.
(and pinging @cmcheatle @star3 for their previous interest in this topic)

Yes please!
There are also issues with non-editable non-standard places – I think maybe something to do with merging an editable place to a non-editable place, but it’s never been particularly clear to me. Should I add that to the related improvements list?


3 posts were split to a new topic: Searching for observations in Harbor Islands area

Apparently I’m out of votes, but yes, please!


What is the preferred method of reporting problems with places? I noticed a duplicate of a county which has no boundary and also a place called “point”. I think both could be deleted.

As far as I’m aware there isn’t currently a preferred place to report such errors.

1 Like

I removed the 2 places that were just a point.


A post was merged into an existing topic: Australia - iNaturalist World Tour

Made an issue for this: https://github.com/inaturalist/inaturalist/issues/2472


A post was split to a new topic: Duplicate places for Colorado State Parks

2 posts were split to a new topic: Comment on a place encompassing two states

Looks like this has been implemented.

It’s also been added to the flag search.