Further restrict changes to taxon geoprivacy

The ability of a single curator to edit default obscuring is problematic.

I would propose changes to default geoprivacy either

  • be restricted to site staff
  • move to a 2 vote model so that 1 curator proposes the change and a 2nd has to approve it in order to activate it

My preference is the 2nd, recognizing that there are significant constraints on staff time.

For some background for others, here is the current policy:

"iNaturalist obscures the locations of all taxa with an IUCN equivalent status of Near Threatened or ‘worse’. However, if in rare situations these species are thought to be in VERY LITTLE DANGER from exploitation due to the public’s knowledge of the location of these species, curators are advised to change the geoprivacy value associated with the conservation status from ‘obscured’ to ‘open’ on the taxon edit page.

Examples might be coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) which is listed as Vulnerable by IUCN because it is endangered by climate change but in very little danger of being collected or otherwise exploited by the public knowing the exact location of redwood observations. Likewise, polar bears are endangered from climate change but perhaps not from poaching.

Obviously, this is a gray area so if you feel compelled to un-obscure a threatened species be prepared to support why you are doing this. Why is the species not likely to be exploited by the public?, why is it of value to have the exact location accessible to the public?, etc."

And I believe there are some specific cases, like iNaturalist Network member requests to change certain geoprivacy settings. I think an example of this is spotted turtles being marked completely private in Ontario?, but I could be wrong here. From @carrieseltzer:

“We want to strike the balance of appropriately protecting taxa at risk, making information available for taxa at risk from climatic changes or invasive pests, respecting local authorities (especially when we have formal relationships with them), and minimizing bottlenecks for changes to facilitate timely updates.”

At this time, what network members may want and what specific curators decide to change is not logged/discussed in any standardized manner.


We also need to beware that some issues around obscuring sensitive taxa may be tied into community contracts with certain countries. How exactly this is panned out may not be certain yet.
Does iNat have a category of “Community Curators” or even perhaps “Community managers”?


A new topic relevant to this feature request:

And the update to the policy in the Curator Guide:

In Canada, where iNaturalist has a member of the iNaturalist Network that oversees iNaturalist.ca, NatureServe Canada’s Conservations Data Centers (CDCs), establish and maintain the conservation statuses for each province and territory (except Quebec) that control the automatically applied “taxon geoprivacy”.

If any curator would like to make changes to the taxon geoprivacy for any national, provincial, or territorial unit of Canada, please contact Allison Siemens-Worsley (aworsley@natureserve.ca) NatureServe Canada’s National Data Support Biologist with the proposed change(s) and rationale. Allison will forward your request to the appropriate provincial/territorial CDC for review/response. Discussions between CDCs and curators should lead to an agreement that is favourable to both parties and biodiversity conservation. Curators must ultimately follow the recommendation from the CDC and are invited to discuss any concerns with the iNaturalist community in order to promote a broader discussion and identify alternative solutions that are agreeable to all parties.

If no response is provided to the curator by the CDC within 10 business days, the curator may proceed with the change to taxon geoprivacy and will confirm the details of their update(s) by email to Allison Siemens-Worsley.


I suspect that we may be adding a southern African version to this quite soon.


Likewise, I suspect US CDC equivalents and NatureServe US would strongly support that kind of relationship and process, or something similar. (Full disclosure, I work for one of those US state CDCs – but am only speaking for myself here.)

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2 posts were split to a new topic: Obscuring on map vs lists