Notify user when new observation matches time stamp of pre-existing observation

I would love to receive a message that warned me that I’m about to upload a duplicate photograph. Something like “This photograph has a timestamp identical to one already submitted … is that your intent?” Having this alert might reduce the number of duplicates we have to deal with. It would be just an alert, not a block — it’s totally fine to resubmit pics when you want to focus on a different organism in each.

How would you see this working for cases where users intentionally (as I and others do) remove the time from all their observations ?

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It should use the photo metadata, not the observation date/time.


Why do you remove the time?

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It is not required to obtain research grade status.
It is no one’s business exactly when I was somewhere, nor how long I stayed.
There are additional data / species security reasons which I will not document in a public forum.

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yeah, there are several reasons one might remove the time… and for plants it doesn’t serve much purpose either. I actually kinda wish the time observed and uploaded didn’t display at all. Not a big deal but…

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I use a moth trap, and the time I photograph the moths is not neccesarily the time they were caught. Otherwise , I do like to have time, as it can be beneficial for determining when some animals are most active. Can often tell from the photo anyway, as it is still an exif tag on the photo

There are specific cases where the time data in the exif is stripped from the photo (or at least hidden from,all users except the submitter)

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If there is a genuine security problem here, perhaps inat should provide a way to explicitly hide the data (like it does with the location), since many users may be unaware of the issues. Has anybody ever requested such a feature? If it’s a serious problem, surely it would be given high priority?

Just to be clear, here’s what happens when an image is uploaded to iNat:

  • If it is larger than 2048 x 2048 pixels, it is resized so that its longest edge will be no longer than 2048 pixels. On mobile devices this is done before an image is uploaded (to save on data use) and on the web, this is done after the image is uploaded.

  • Metadata is recorded by iNaturalist and then the image itself is stripped of all metadata. The metadata is displayed on the photo’s page, including date, time, and GPS coordinates (eg unless

  • …the photo is linked to an observation which has obscured or private coordinates. Then date, time, and GPS info can only be seen by the observer when they are logged in (eg I can see that info here, but you shouldn’t be able to)

Rather than time, perhaps file name can be used?

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Is the date and time shown in the observation (as opposed to the photo metadata) obscured/randomised in a similar fashion to the location? The guidance here and here doesn’t mention the date or time at all. I haven’t uploaded any sensitive records (and probably never will), so I’ve not tested any of this yet. But I’d assumed that everything would be obscured/hidden, not just the location.

PS: my previous comments were made on the assumption that some people had separate reasons for wanting to remove the time (i.e. independant of the ones associated with geo-privacy).

Seems like this is a better way to do it:

Shall I retract/delete my feature request so that it does clutter forum or divide vote?

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Hi Colin. Yes, you could use the file’s checksum to identify whether it is a duplicate or not. It does not require any metadata to function. Every time a change is made to the file the checksum will be different.

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I can close it, @colinpurrington, just let me know.

Yes, please close, @tiwane. Thanks.