Location obscured help

Hi All, I am new here and really looking forward to participating in this important community!

I see that some locations are obscured. For example, they may say “California,” and yet, I can still see the red dot within the shaded area, indicating the location, I think. Are we trying to just give a hint, so people would know the general area, and it can be used for generalized documentation? What does the shaded square represent?

Thanks for any help!



The dot in the shaded area is a randomized location within the obscured area. I don’t know why they actually still put a dot, as it seems to confuse a lot of people.


When your observation is obscured, either by your choice, or automatically, its actual location is randomized within 0.2 degrees of latitude and longitude of the actual location. That works out to an area of roughly 22*22 kilometers depending on how close to the poles you are.

That is what the box is.

The text associated with the location is also ‘cleaned’ to show something standard like a county or province/state etc.

Please note if looking at you own observation, and depending on exactly which screen, you may see the real info as there is no point in hiding it from you.


The square represents a 20km^2 area where the observation was done. It’s done so people don’t know the exact location for the observer’s privacy (manually toggled), or because the species is vulnerable or endangered (auto-obscured).

The dot is a random point inside the square, sometimes for some errors it’s not randomized, though. This dot helps data extraction. for example, I’m gathering data on carnivores observed in Tambopata, Perú. I’ve created a project and exported the data, but as most or all species are vulnerable/endangered, they are all obscured. The output still shows random coordinates inside the square (the point).


Not quite, it’s ~20km x 20km (closer to 22 x 22 as Chris said above), which = 400km^2


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