How iNat Determines location name

Someone else did post about this but got no answer: I can save an observation one time from a specific location (my property, for example) and one time the location will be given the name of the township and other times, the name of the county (US). Why is this? Of course, I prefer the more accurate description. I don’t believe this is a field that I can edit. Appreciate your thoughts.

The name of the location is a box of text which you can edit to suit you. It is disconcertingly not really tied to where the pin is located on the map. IDed an obs the other day at Shop 71 … when it is in a wetland.

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The place description can be set in multiple ways. If you drop a pin or enter coordinates, iNat will ask Google for the name of the place. Small differences in coordinate location can sometimes get different results from Google. You can also type in the place description yourself.

If your observation has obscured geoprivacy, the place description is kept intentionally coarse (i.e. county-level) so as not to reveal the true location.

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It sounds like you’re referring to the “locality note”. Please see this FAQ: https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/help#localitynotes

And yes, the locality note can differ for seemingly no reason. Here are the locality notes for observations I made the other day, all pretty close to each other in the same park and all uploaded via the web (so using Google’s place names).

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You can edit it. In this screenshot, you can see locations that I edited to fit my conception of the place:


Avera, Taputapuapea, French Polynesia is what iNat chose for all of them; you can see that for a couple, I added “Three Waterfalls Trail,” and for a couple others “Piscine au Barrage,” which is not an actual named place, but just means “Pool at the Dam,” a descriptor. Chestnut-breasted Munia, however, is still at the default location.

You can go back after the fact and edit the location:


In the “Where were you?” form, you can see my cursor right before the word “Avera.” I typed in "Three Waterfalls Trail, " for this one, too. Then I scrolled down, clicked “Save Observation,” and in this final screenshot, you can see that it has changed:

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