I’m wondering: What’s the best way to mark location for observations when (1) I don’t want people to know exactly where I am because of poaching, which is common in Guatemala, and (2) I don’t want people to know exactly where I am because of security reasons, which are a concern in Guatemala. I’ve been doing things like including much broader geographical areas, such as “Greater Guatemala City Area” or even entire departments (our equivalent of states) because I feel that marking them with “Obscured” geoprivacy, in certain parts of Guatemala, still makes it pretty easy to figure out where they may be. Is there a way to increase the radius even further when making the geoprivacy obscured? Or would you recommend a different approach? Is there value in using “Private” with many of my observations? Thank you!
There is no way to alter the size of the obscuration box (not technically a radius just FYI).
You can set observations to private, though there’s a definite trade off with this for the usability of the observations to others, whether it is for IDing or use for research.
You can also consider not posting for an extended period of time (ie, after you are no longer in an area) to protect personal safety.
If you are concerned about geoprivacy you should also be sure you are comfortable with the EXIF data on any photos you upload.
You can manually place a pin at another location and make an accuracy circle that encompasses the true location, similar to what you are doing by adding an ID of a state.
For serious cases, you can consider whether it is better to just not post at all.
I feel that marking them with “Obscured” geoprivacy, in certain parts of Guatemala, still makes it pretty easy to figure out where they may be.
I’m very curious about this statement, since my opinion is the opposite: that the obscured geoprivacy areas are too big. (See previous discussion here.) For example, a lot of observations that I post in Belize end up being located in Guatemala because the geoprivacy area is so large. I’m also a bit confused by your statement that you use "much broader geographical areas, such as Greater Guatemala City Area” since the size of a geoprivacy square is about the same as the size of the Guatemala City metropolitan area (I’m not sure what the Greater Guatemala City Area encompasses though). Of course, since the placement within that square is random, it’s entirely possible that iNaturalist could randomly choose a location that is close to the actual location, but that shouldn’t happen very often. Anyway, I’m just curious what sort of situations you’ve run into where the geoprivacy seems inadequate, as maybe this will affect my own opinion on it.
 The size of a geoprivacy square is about 500 sq. km. The size of the Guatemala City metropolitan area is 478 sq. km. according to Wikipedia.
i think what you’re doing is fine, as long as your the metadata in the photos don’t include the true coordinates in them. you could keep doing what you’re doing, and then obscure on top of that. the extra obscure will hide the photo metadata and also obscure dates to the month level from the main user interfaces.
if things are super sensitive, sometimes the best thing is to not post observations at all.
This is another reason i wish there were a ‘draft’ option for observations, to store them on the site but not let them post until you’ve had time to review them, and in this case, until you are out of the area. When I’m on a trip i usually don’t have a lot of time to mess with my observations, and in some cases people might not want it known they are out traveling. I’d love to be able to collect and upload data but have a chance to review it on the website before it posts.
Also i feel like others said, if the security risk is so great the existing obscuring dosen’t work, you probably shouldn’t be posting on iNat (or waiting a month or whatever). There are a few exceptions though.
Hi, and thanks for replying! As an example, there is a very large reserve with one main access road that everybody takes. If an obscured square box shows up in that area, it’s pretty easy to figure out that the plants are located along that road, as there are literally no other roads going up to the “nucleus” of the reserve in that region. There are several cases like this one that I can think of. And when it comes to the Greater Guatemala City Area, I actually created my own location called “Guatemala City Metropolitan Area” that includes the entire area in a broad circle, and that’s what I’ve been using. You can see it here: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/176686724 It’s not the default area that shows up when you search for a location. I hope this answers your questions!
Thank you very much! I hadn’t even thought of the location information in the photo’s metadata. I will try to do the broad “department” and then obscure and see how that works.