Is it possible to make location a whole city in general?


so far, all of my posts have been from around my house. i am not keen on this information being public so i make the location the closest city to me.

i can do this fine, but specific location marks are added anyway and are from all around the city. is there a way to mark location as just a city in general?

i’ve seen the geoprivacy thing but i don’t want my location to be entirely obscured. i would like helping people find animals in the same area as me and it can help with sp. identification.


It’s certainly more useful to save data on where you actually saw the thing and obscure it than upload it as a whole city, which is not useful at all for other observers as it doesn’t narrow it down, plus you in 15 years won’t remember at all where you saw this regular plant or animal. So please, don’t do that.

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Hi, webworm, welcome to the forum!

I have the same issue, in that almost all of my observations are from my garden. What I do is list the sector of my city in which I reside (I live outside the US). That places a pin in the center of my sector. In this way, all my pins are in the same place every time, though none are in my actual location. They are, however, geographically in a smaller circle than they would be if I used obscuring. I say in my profile that all are in my garden unless otherwise indicated. For me it feels important that the location is accurate and that the pins are all in the same place so that the “nearby observations” are correct.

For US addresses in a large city, you might try using neighborhood, and in smaller areas, you may be better served by zip code. (Try a few different ways to see what works best.)

You need to do what feels comfortable for you but there are probably better options than the closest city, especially as researchers might incorrectly use your data as representative of species in that city. :)

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One short addition to comments above; If you choose to designate the observations as being from a nearby location (like a city), you need to set the accuracy circle so that it encompasses the true location. You can do this with @ItsMeLucy 's method above and set the accuracy to the same value each time that you know includes the true location.

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I would recommend marking the exact location, obscuring it, and providing as much details as you like in the description. I’ve seen people do this, say with freshwater species where the drainage is indicated. The exact location is obscured (but available for you or researchers you give it to), but enough info is provided for an ID.


My recommendation is akin to what @ItsMeLucy suggests: I created a location which encompasses several neighborhood streets around me and I’ve termed it “Salton Drive and vicinity”. You can create and upload a polygon of just about any size and shape (shy of a whole city) within which you would be comfortable placing your observations. I always recommend using such a larger location (which encompasses the exact location) rather than obscuring observations unless there is some overriding privacy or social issue you have concern over–and that would be fine in the latter instances.
[Sidebar topic: @thomaseverest Obscuring of observations on iNaturalist constitutes a frustrating loss of data for those of us who are active end-users of iNat data, but I certainly understand its application in some circumstances. Of course, I’m not in a position to judge each individual circumstance in which observers chose to obscure their observations–for which there are many–but IMHO it is becoming a bit overused on iNat.]


thank you lucy!

by sector of your city, is that the american equivalent of suburbs? here, suburbs are like mini-towns surrounding a major city that mainly consist of houses and stores. that’s the best way i can describe it, but you may find more luck and examples on google.

for neighborhood, what do you mean by that? and thanks to other people who have commented as well!

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For my garden I use my suburb. I have only once been asked to make the location more accurate - then explained - private garden.

And see @bouteloua 's garden project to see how others choose to do it.

PS I see lots of obs with an actual street address as the location. I would not make that visible on iNat for my home.


When I’m trying to put in a location with a city for my observation, sometimes it doesn’t know that city, but it knows a bigger one. I don’t know if there’s a way to change that.

could you clarify what you mean here? As in when you search for certain places, there are no results? (using which search bar?)

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(or perhaps needing a link to adding a place to iNat - I defer to those who can / have)

If you search for “Madrid” for example, you will have a beautiful polygon showing it. But for “Sigüenza” (just some km away), iNat shows a rectangle. Can’t iNat rely upon Openstreetmap, which is great?

Not quite. Mine that I enter is “Centro, Mérida, Yucatán” which is sort of like saying “Downtown, Mérida, Yucatán” because I live in the downtown sector of our city, which is a large city. You can see the circle that generates on this observation from today.

Depending on where you actually live, how your location is organized, and your comfort level, you might use neighborhood, subdivision, suburb name, city quadrant or sector, county name, township, postal code.

Of those I could enter neighborhood, city quadrant or sector, or postal code. City sector worked best for me.

You just need to figure out what generates a location circle that feels comfortably “hidey” enough for you that covers your actual location, then use it consistently.

Since you already have observations, the easiest thing is to go back and play with the location of an existing observation until you like the location circle, then change your remaining observations, which will give you good muscle memory practice!

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that’s because different types of place are involved here. The reason that Sigüenza appears as the rectangle for you is that you’re searching for that name via the Google Maps search, and that’s how it retrieves/defines that place. For Madrid, however, an exact polygon exists on iNat, thus why you see those accurate borders. This is because that place is a standard place, the shapefile for which was imported from GADM.

if you would like Sigüenza to appear as an exact polygon, you can create a community curated place for it

see for a discussion of Openstreetmap


Also the text for the location on each obs is for you to write as you wish. You can make that as narrow, or broad, as you wish.

That text is not in any way tied to the actual location on the map. (So I trip over obs mistakenly or deliberately? located in Africa, when the text and pictures and their other obs on that day are clearly elsewhere)

I agree, but depending on the use case, obscuring the location may be the only feasible solution. There are at least two different use cases: those who use GPS and those that don’t. If you don’t use GPS, you have to set the location manually anyway, in which case you’re led to the workarounds described in this thread. If you do use GPS, manual location entry is a contradiction. In that case, obscuring the location (with all its warts) is your only practical option. What is needed is a feature that lets you obscure the location within a place. That might encourage more people to use GPS in some manner.

I also would not set my exact location when observing in my home.
When I did observe a lot in my backyard I chose a nearby neighbourhood and a wide enough accuracy circle. When I moved, I actually corrected many of those observations.

I like the idea of @ItsMeLucy to put those pins all in the exact same place (could maybe be a parking lot or a warehouse or something unpersonal)… would have made it much easier for me later to correct and regulars would start to acknowledge what an observation in this location actually means.

At the moment I do not have this issue anymore as I rarely observe in my own home… but when that changes, I will keep that suggestion in mind.


When you place a pin via the method I detailed, it generates GPS coordinates. “GPS coordinates alone” is nifty for out in the field, but for residential areas, the method I detailed is a good workaround, and for people with safety concerns, it is an exceptionally good workaround.

I literally had to type in “Centro, Mérida, Yucatán” one time. After that, each time I began to type, after Centro, when I hit the Mer, it autofilled and I could select it. It shows me the GPS coordinates and asks me to confirm, which I do, and boop. Pin. Pinnety-pin-pin-pin, all in the same place. Just not at my actual house.

And no researcher need contact me to get coordinates unobscured, which if someone has privacy concerns may not go the way the researchers hope.

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You can also just pin a certain location on your map when uploading something there for the first time. It will be safed for your locations and you can just get them from the dropdown afterwards without typing at all :-)

Ha, I would have to drop my pin exactly on the Centro, Mérida, Yucatán pin, and as a lifelong graceless wonder, that seems improbable, so it is probably the typing life for me, alas!

Question, though, if one does that, is it generating an exact location? Or a “circle area”? If so, how large?

I ask because if it is a circle area, I wonder if webworm could not do something like that?