Sometimes, I wish to report a rare species without revealing its precise location. The existing method of obscuring the observation area draw a small rectangle, making it possible to deduce the general vicinity, such as a specific forest or mountain range. An alternative is to mark the observation as private, but this prevents it from appearing in filtered searches, even at the state level. Is there a way to obscure the location more effectively, perhaps to the extent of a larger area, state, or country?
Welcome to the forum!
If you want to obscure the location even more you can change the size of this red circle to “obscure” the observation in a way. At least, that’s the way I’ve been doing it.
Yes I know but this approach can be somewhat misleading. People might assume that the center of the circle indicates a rough estimate of the location, based on your best guess, even though you’re uncertain about the exact precision.
Welcome to the forum! The obscured rectangle is roughly 500 square kilometers, which for the vast majority of purposes is large enough to not reveal the precise location of an organism. As far as I know, @lj_lamera 's method is the only other way to do this. I understand it may seem misleading but that would be based on an incorrect interpretation of the accuracy circle. You could set the location to private, although that will not reveal any location information whatsoever for the species.
If none of these options feel secure or useful enough to you, it may be best not to submit the species to iNat. Many states have heritage or natural resources programs where you can submit observations of rare species or species of conservation concern.
I think all the main options have been covered here:
- iNat’s obscuration
- “Manual” obscuration by altering the accuracy circle, but making sure the true location is somewhere within it
- Private observation
The only other related courses of action I know of if you are concerned about collecting/poaching are:
- Waiting to upload until some relevant amount of time has passed (large animal has moved out of the area, nesting season is over, etc.)
- Not posting at all - if something is really sensitive/important, maybe it shouldn’t be posted.
It won’t help with geographical searches, but if the precise location is recorded as private, a rough location still useful to identifiers might be able to be described in the notes.