Location of observations shown on map

I am not sure if this is a bug or my lack of understanding of the site features but I noticed today that when I look in the map view on my own observations page https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=any&user_id=alanbrod&verifiable=any the locations seem to be scattered randomly and up to about 20km out in some cases. If I click on a location and open the observation from the pop-up, the location shows correctly in the observation itself.

The locations of all my observations are set to “obscured” but since the map only shows my own observations I thought I would be able to see them all in the correct place. Is this a bug or just a limitation of the system the looking at multiple observations?

This is a feature of the system I’d imagine. Also, when you open up the observation and you can see the actual location, but you can also find the obscured location too; both show up.

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Thanks for the information. I hadn’t realised that was the case. I’ve clicked on other locations with an observation and it has alway linked to someone else’s observation of the same organism. I’ve just checked for one of the less common species and found that the only other dot on the map is a duplication of my observation.

Unfortunately that makes the map view of a users own observations unusable.

Also, I hadn’t realised that obscured locations show up as a single point. I’ve seen some observations with a location denoted by a large circle and assumed that was what other people’s obscured locations look like.

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No, obscured location is one within rectangle, one within big circle just means the person set it so, it could be right in the middle of it.


There’s a feature request for this and I’m surprised it only has 8 votes: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/view-true-locations-on-maps-for-observations-with-trusted-hidden-coordinates/2568

If you go to the top right corner of the menu, hover over your profile image, and go to “Edit Observations” (the other version of “Your Observations”), you can see the true map points in pink (with the obscured location orange rectangles underlain): https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/alanbrod?geoprivacy=obscured it only works for your latest 200 observations though.


I’ve also got one walnut tree showing up as being in the bay of fundy until I click on it. For me, I don’t think it has anything to do with obscured settings, if it does, I didn’t mean to click that lol.

In my opinion, that’s the price you pay if you choose to obscure your observations and degrade the research and conservation potential as a result.

It’s one thing when species are obscured due to their conservation status, but if you choose to obscure your other observations I think it’s only fair that in the general view you also see them the way others do.

You can still get the exact locations of your observations via other means, so nothing is really lost and no real functionality is missing for a user who obscures their observations.

seems like a weird penalty. for me, I’m just trying to iNat in my neighborhood without pinpointing the exact building where I live. these aren’t T&E species growing on the sidewalk :)


Remember that people who aren’t you can see your observations page. Even people who aren’t logged in to iNaturalist can see it. So if you want those locations obscured, they have to be obscured on your observations page.


Thank you. That is exactly what I wanted. I’d seen the view before as it appears after adding a new observation but it was always set at the default 10 observations and I didn’t know how to get to the page manually. I’m relatively new to iNaturalist so still have less than 200 observations.

I’ve only realised in the last few days that I need to make a list of the URLs of useful views as some of them (unlike this) don’t have convenient links.

I disagree.
Firstly, as you said yourself, the information is not lost so it is not degrading the research. I would be happy to make the locations available to anyone who needs that information and doesn’t already have the rights to see it.
Secondly, the information on iNaturalist says you can see the exact locations of your own observations. It does not mention any limitations. I now know this is a limitation at the moment.
Finally and most importantly, as other people have mentioned, anyone can access this information, they don’t even need to be signed into iNaturalist. I take privacy seriously and at the moment with only slightly over 100 observations it would be a matter of minutes (maybe seconds) for someone to figure out where I live. I’ll happily give my address to people I know but certainly not effectively publish it on the internet.

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My workaround to avoid ‘showing’ my home address is to make a pinned location for my suburb. Centred on the Civic Centre, with an accuracy circle wide enough to include my home. I don’t place my obs in my garden.
That is more useful information than the … tree which is drifting in the Atlantic Ocean option, for Cape Town.

Yes, this does get around the privacy problem but it also loses the location data. It may look tidier when actual locations cannot be seen but also means you can no longer give accurate information to people you trust.

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I think we have to consider context. I often use a large circle that includes the whole small park or other area that I photographed in. For somebody wanting to go to the park and see the plant, that might be frustrating. But compared to all the places in the world that plant might grow, knowing that it’s within a mile of that point is actually useful. For some uses of iNaturalist data, e.g. watching changing ranges or phenology with climate change, knowing where it is within a mile or two is fine.


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