If location is obscured, is the observation still useful?

I do still add a general region to the notes section so researchers can have a general idea of where a species is from.

I haven’t been able to find this exact search, although surely it has already been asked.

Obscured is still largely useful. Private is pretty useless, and much harder to ID since the location can be a useful clue.

If you have something that you would like to obscure but do want to make available a to specific group, you can join projects, which would mean you can set observations to be visible to project curators. This is useful for things like county forest preserves https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/forest-preserves-of-winnebago-county-acea637b-3c58-4ad3-906b-fea09b7ee398 or larger state agencies https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/illinois-threatened-endangered-species-d4837b08-8d2c-4555-a3d3-cf3b3078028c


In the UK most national recording schemes will not use observations from iNat with obscured locations. If you’re not in the UK that’s irrelevant.

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I think obscured observations can still be useful for certain applications/questions, but their usefulness is reduced. So it’s a tradeoff. For many applications, users may filter out obscured locations directly, or have a filter for the accuracy field (ie, exclude all observations with an accuracy value >1000m or something) that excludes obscured observations. For broadscale projects, obscured observations may still be included.

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I think that one of the problems with obscured locations is that, as far as I understand, they don’t appear in searches when someone is identifying. So, for example, when I’m identifying bees from Europe (but not from other regions of the world) I won’t have chance to identify obscured observations because I will not see them in the first place.

That depends on how your filters are set, I think. If you were identifying everything from a country, obscured locations within should show up. If you were identifying just things from a city park, obscured observations made there might not have fallen into those map boundaries, and then you’d miss them.


“Obscured” is OK. Not as useful as “Open” but for many purposes it’s good enough. At least we know the organism is in the area. It does offer some protection to vulnerable organisms.

“Private” observations are useless, annoying, and often not even identifiable because we don’t know even what continent the organism is on.

When I’m identifying, “obscured” and “private” observations do turn up.


Ah sorry, I see that I confused obscured with private! Obscured locations are OK I think

Do you see private observations when you identify observations from a given area, too?

Thank you all for your help! Good to know.

Probably not. I’m not sure. (I use lots of different approaches, and haven’t asked myself this question before.)


I think I see private observations only when I am IDing world-wide, and I only do that when I’m IDing Unknowns (because I don’t know enough otherwise!).


Private observations show up for me when I limit by species but take out location so I’m identifying worldwide. There are only maybe three species where I’ve done that though since for most plants it’s important to know at least the general area they grow in. I’m not brave enough to attempt it for unknowns - those I always limited to a certain location.

For the original question: Obscured observations are useful and valuable, especially of they are automatically obscured due to being endangered species. Researchers can ask the observer for more details if needed. For private observations, I’m sure they are still useful for the observer, but these will end up hidden from most searches since you can’t find them based on general location. So they are not going to get much attention from either identifiers or researchers.


I’m “brave enough” to call a mushroom Fungi or a bird Aves anywhere, but I’m certainly not able to most Unknowns down to genus, much less species! I’m just trying to get them in front of knowledgeable local people.

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