How to insist on camera meta data ? or exclude observations that don't share camera meta data in a project?


So was wondering if there was a way of insisting on observers posting their camera meta data. Could this be a parameter of a project ?

The reasons I was exploring this I Have seen photos which are stripped of all camera meta data - making it a bit unsure as to the accuracy of the time and date of observation

I understand that some apps and tools strip the meta data off of pictures for privacy (or other reasons)

But on the other hand I suspect “some users” have been stripping all data from their images - which in some cases looked suspiciously like they wanted to boost their numbers within a project period so were using images from other time periods.


I don’t have an answer to your question but I am sure there are lots and lots of common reasons for metadata inadvertently getting stripped off. For instance, the tool I use for batch cropping and adding watermarks to images also strips off the metadata (I have to remember to use a different less user-friendly cropping option for images I want to post on iNat).

It is also worth noting that retained metadata often isn’t accurate. Generally all pics I post on iNat are taken with my phone or DSLR, so they have the correct time and date embedded. But a while ago, I was posting a pic from a little pocket camera I have (which I don’t usually use for wildlife) and noticed that the embedded date was something like 10yrs ago! It had never ever occurred to me to set the date on that camera. Any camera that doesn’t have GPS and can’t connect to WiFi will need its date setting manually and I’d be willing to bet a very large proportion of people just don’t bother.


iNaturalist automatically strips all metadata from uploaded photos, saving that information separately. This is for privacy reasons.


Am a bit confused

Inat does show a tonne of meta data (or have i got the terminology wrong). When one clicks on the i icon on a picture is shows pretty much everything - date, time, location, camera models , and a lot more. Or is this that not part of the meta data.

Then what exactly is stripped away ?


Thanks, yes –

Some tools when I export to .png it strips away everything . In some tools there are options to retain or remove meta data or even add new fields.

What you say about not connected devices is true too.

I think what @trh_blue meant was that iNat removes the metadata from being literally embedded in the image, ie if you save an image from the iNat website it won’t have the metadata in it anymore. Indeed you are right that iNat displays the extracted metadata alongside the image when you click the info logo.


oh ok i understand, thanks -

means when we download the image(or the related observation) the data is gone. That I think is a good point.

But am still not closer to any answer on it is possible to ignore observations that don’t have meta data.

The short answer to your question: no it is not possible. When you create a project you can choose from an handful of basic parameters, and that’s not one of them.



Will have to find a solution someway

I suppose the essence is that I was looking for a technical solution for a human issue - people will always find a way to try and beat the system.

yes and if they were really committed, they could easily falsify the metadata!


My camera provides a date (accurate I think) but no location data with the pictures. So I guess you’ll have to exclude all my observations from your project. (Though the locations are accurate.)

That is what I am facing in a project :-(

Actually no - its the date that is being falsified

many cameras don’t have location data – mine doesn’t

what I was asking is that “any orginal” data from the camera be uploaded to provide info that it is not a manipulated file,


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Does it? I know GPS coordinates are stripped, but I think camera settings are preserved by default (though for some cameras I’ve noticed it’s screwed up to the point of being unreadable)

I don’t know details. This isn’t my area of expertise

iNat strips basically all metadata from photos (there might be basic stuff like size, etc) when they’re uploaded to iNat. We display metadata on the photos page (eg but the metadata are not in the photo file on iNat.

If the photo is used for an observation that has obscured or private geoprivacy, we hide location, date, etc from public view (the observer can still see those metadata). eg I can see GPS and date/time info on this page, but no one else should be able to)

Correct, it’s not possible.

Yeah. Does the project provide incentives - prizes, notoriety, etc?

I’ll also note quite a few photographers strip metadata from photos because they don’t want anyone to copy their techniques and settings. And it’s possible some members of the project might be removing metadata in order to remove location, not knowing iNat does that already.


Agreed. It is really easy to edit metadata. I have been doing it frequently because my trail cam has this weird thing where any photo it takes is the correct time I set, but any video it takes is marked as 6 hours earlier. I noticed the problem when I had it set to take one photo then take a video if there was still movement.

As others said, metadata isn’t always partly or entirely present nor always accurate to begin with when an observer uploads, so it’s sometimes different from what observers should (accurately) add as date/time/location (“input data”). For more examples, I sometimes take mobile photos and crop them on a computer before upload, or upload computer digital microscope specimen photo. Shouldn’t using some digital cameras result in lost/inaccurate metadata too?

Only a % of obs. that look to have metadata removed were done so manually. Of those, only a % (if any) were intentionally inaccurate (which would be hard to prove anyway). I assume many obs. w/ manually removed metadata were done for privacy intention.

A general valid question raised is how verifiable/reliable obs. are and if they should be more, which could be something like a feature request. Related, we could also wonder what % obs. have accidentally incorrect or missing input data. If a request were made/approved, it could maybe work in something like the following ways:

Privately submit metadata to staff, curators, or project organizers to review/check to the extent it’s possible to.

Or privately submit metadata through an automated system process that would return a flag-like notification to observers/staff/curators/projects in cases where further verification is needed (e.g. missing metadata, or when input data differs vs. metadata). Like a form saying “Are you sure location, date, and time are accurate?” with Yes and No options. This could also detect and notify of missing input data.

Re: the separate issue of user privacy, I’d prefer iNat not show metadata alongside photos, and instead store it privately or share only with staff, curators, or “trusted” users or projects (or to make a settings-option to not publicly share it). Note metadata typically has no relevance for ID; for anything project/research-related there are already ways to request more info. (e.g. obscured/private coordinates); and identifiers can already ask observers about input data or question it’s accuracy using Data Quality.

Whatever is done or if nothing changes, there will remain at least a small % of obs. with unknown or potentially estimated input data inaccuracy. Nonetheless, it seems the overall RG-side of iNat obs. (ID accuracy included) remain mostly accurate for research or project purposes, after noting limitations at least. If you have reason to think input data is being faked in specific instances you could inform iNat. Theoretically, some largest concerns would be falsely documenting a new record of a species previously thought extinct, or in a location where it wasn’t previously known to occur.

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A related question: when people add computer screenshots of iNat to forum posts, is any computer file info/details retained along with it? (on iNat or viewable if the image were downloaded by another user to their computer).