How to keep an automatic home/garden project without giving away my location

Hey fellow people on iNat,

I’m trying to do a little project for my own garden/house. I’ve found this thread really useful. However, in my case it is a bit more complicated because I didn’t actually gave away my address in my observations. I live in a district called ‘Donnerschwee’ in Oldenburg, Germany. So for at least medium anonymity I’ve started placing all of my garden observations by searching for ‘Donnerschwee’ in the app and using this rough location for my observations. That means that the circle around these observations is huge. Unfortunately, I’ve placed my previous garden observations just randomly somewhere around Donnerschwee for increased anonymity. And on top of all that chaos, I’ve of course also made valid observations in my district as well. Although these (usually) have a very high accuracy because I didn’t have to change the location.

I’d love to just select the place where the ‘Donnerschwee’ label aims to, but in the project page no such place is available (only down to city level in my region). And I don’t have a google account to make a custom .kml file either.

Is there any hope to combine only the observations from my home/garden in a single collection project? Or should I go with what I’ve tried so far, i.e. a traditional project I have to add observations by hand?

Thanks for your time :)

P.S. this is my traditional project so far: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/leti-s-donnerschwee-garden-project

A few options:

  1. Make a Google account to make a KML file, or use some other website (just type in “free kml file maker”
  2. Not automatic, but you can use tags / words in the notes section to filter out your observations. This is personally what I do, I add the word “home” to my observations. That way all my IDs are here. This IMO is slightly quicker than adding to a project
  3. If you only obscure your observations at your house, you can also filter for just obscured observations, like this.
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This is generally not recommended. Can you obscure your observations instead?

You could make a project and manually add your observations to it. But that’s not automatic.

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The user already has a traditional project for their garden; they want to be able to create a collection project that would allow observations to be added automatically.

Looking at their project, I think what they mean by “placing the observations randomly” is that the center point is chosen randomly but the uncertainty circle is still large enough to include the true location.

I agree that obscuring would likely be a better solution – not because the current practice is wrong, but because as enough observations accumulate, randomly selected center points may tend to converge around the true location. Obscuring is more secure in this respect.

Unfortunately, I don’t think any of the filters for collection projects allow for the desired observations to be automatically added for a specific (manually or automatically) obscured location when there are other observations by the same user in the same larger area.

@letiziaw Is there a reason that adding observations manually isn’t working for you? Maybe we could help find a different solution if we know why you want an automatic process.

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It looks like you use the mobile app to make your observations. One option would be to obscure the observations when you make them, and then every day or every few days use the Batch Edit page on the website to manually add them to your project, rather than adding them one by one in the app.

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This won’t solve the problem of automatically adding observations to a project, but it will make assigning a location to your observations easier:

You can “pin” locations that you want to be able to quickly access again. You create and access pinned locations by clicking on the row of three dots at the top of the screen when you are editing the location of an observation using the android app.

(For observations made at my home, I use a pinned location with a wide accuracy radius that is not centered on my address. Obscuring would probably be more secure, but I prefer to have the observations all on the map at one place. I have a project that I add observations to manually. I mostly use the web uploader, which I think is somewhat more convenient than the app when adding additional information like projects or observation fields.)

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I use a unique tag for all my garden/home observations that allows me to search for them by tag. However, I don’t think it’s possible to use tags as a basis for populating a collection project. There is an existing feature request and some discussion here: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/add-tags-observation-fields-threatened-status-description-choice-s-to-populate-collection-projects/8639

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Thanks to you all for giving me so helpful advice :)

First of all I have to clarify, I indeed meant that I haphazardly choose a location with a big circle that still encompasses my true location. I was somehow erroneously thinking that obscuring locations is only meant for special cases and that one shouldn’t use the obscure function for cases like mine. Maybe it has been this way a few years ago or I misunderstood. Anyways, good to know that this would be the best way to go.

Maybe I’ll just obscure the location from now on. Nice idea by @spiphany though to use a custom location. I’m kind of doing that already by just searching for ‘donnerschwee’ each time. It’s even a bit faster for me than opening my custom locations (and they are pretty laggy for me, e.g. often they don’t get saved when I’ve tried to use them). (And yes, the web uploaded would be easier to use. But I’m not that frequently on my computer these days unfortunately.)

@annkatrinrose I’ve actually tried this, too. But as you say, you’d still have to manually add them anyways.

I think I’ll just go with the suggestion by @tiwane and batch edit new observations every few days.

Thanks again for your help :)

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