Obscuring on map vs lists

That is a known weakness of the current obscuration setup. It’s also easy to circumvent by uploading separately and just manually changing the date and time. Keeping it within a few days can reasonably avoid skewing phenology data.

As Charlie mentioned the automatic “obscure by day” concept would be catastrophic for many of us, with a majority of our observations suddenly obscured just because nearly every time we go out we run into a taxon or two that’s obscured.


I would appreciate the ability to submit records by time periods bigger than a day, such as a week, month, or season. Some of my photos I don’t think have the correct date, or photo-less observations I remember and can determine the location and general time but not the exact date. And then this would also be useful for obscuring as you could just set it for the whole month.


I’d support that idea, although I’d probably stop at the week/month point rather than season.

Also, if the image is a digital one often the meta-data will have the date (and time) it was taken. That does sometimes get stripped when moving files though (Google Drive seems especially prone to destroying important meta-data).

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I stumbled into this thread while trying to figure out why certain species weren’t showing up in my project.

As others have said, poaching in animals (I can’t speak for plants) really is an insignificant threat for almost every species in comparison to habitat loss. Poaching only matters when something is already struggling in habitat, except in cases where poaching pressure is local, heavy, and consistent…and for places where poaching pressure is already local, heavy, and consistent then iNaturalist is not going to be the spot people go to in order to get that data.

Also, the vast majority of “listed” species don’t need to be protected from poachers, and the species that do need to be protected probably aren’t even listed much of the time.

I’ve found various animals before using information I found online. There are better places than iNaturalist to do that. But if I were to improve on iNaturalist to make it less likely to happen here, I would advocate obscuring absolutely every species but on a smaller scale (perhaps 1-2km, we could discuss it), as giving exact locations for most species is much more problematic than the obscured locations for a few species.

So far as gaming user-created places and then creating multiple projects in order to narrow down localities…it’s tough for me to imagine a poacher going to that much work for that particular information. But if you want to avoid that, just make a rule that a project must be at least X months old and have X committed contributors before sensitive species are added to the list, and degree that any sensitive species can only be included on the list if approved by the data uploader. Anyone creating fake overlapping projects or inexplicably strange boundaries in order to narrow down the location of a sensitive species would be exposed long before their months-long trial period ended.

Unless you remove the ability to edit the parameters of a project after it is created, then limiting when a project can see records is an inefficient barrier. Just create the project, wait the 10 days or whatever, and then edit it.

The question and discussion of what should be obscured has a long and colourful history on the forums, but if something is obscured, then all effort should be made to ensure there are no loopholes to get around it.

aren’t obscured observations omitted from small places or places they are on the edge of now?

Also, as a reminder, please don’t post descriptions of how to ‘game’ the system on the public forum.

They are, but the request that spawned this thread is to leave that in place for maps, but turn it off for any list, so that all species covered by a list will show on the list.

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Also curious what you felt was inappropriate to reveal? My comment was a hypothetical in response to a change request, not existing functionality

I was referring to Jon’s post about making small places. But it’s more just a general reminder.

I’m confused? I didn’t post any descriptions of how to game the system. I only responded to what earthknight already wrote and pointed out how to prevent it.

In terms of the edit function, the prevention would be the same. No protected species could be included until X months after an editing of the project parameters.

did i accidentally post that as a reply to you? Sorry, it was just a general comment.

It doesn’t seem all that hard to solve to me.

“Obscured species do not show up on a project list unless the project is at least six months old and ten users have joined it.”

That would prevent anyone from setting up multiple projects in an elimination game - the workload is already tough enough but forcing them to wait six months every time would make it impossible.

I’d love to solve this issue as I’m reluctant to add more species to the obscured list until there’s a fix, for fear of breaking everyone’s projects.

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I’m not sure it would solve it at all. Plenty of the impacted species, especially plants don’t move. Set the project up in winter, harvest the location data in the summer.

Setting up a project by itself wouldn’t do much good because all that would tell you six months later was that the species was within the boundaries of your project. And if you already knew enough to draw a project with the right boundaries then you probably haven’t learned much at all.

The proposal in question was the idea that someone could keep shifting their project boundaries by 100 meters over and over until they had narrowed down exactly where the species is. That already seems like more work than the vast majority of poachers would do, and if you are forced to wait six months each time to get your data, then such an idea is clearly impossible.

Also, the poacher in question would also have to pretend to be a real iNaturalist contributor running a real project for those entire six months in order to convince people to join and release their observations. And they’re creating an electronic trail that such people prefer not to leave behind - most poachers (not all, but most) tend to stay in the shadows as much as possible. I really don’t see anyone going to that much effort with that much public exposure just to get the vague information that an animal is within a certain project boundary that they had to have some idea of already.

I do think something along these lines this a potentially workable solution, although a rather complex change that is probably not a priority for what seems to be a relatively minor issue.

I’d be interested to know how big of an issue it is. For myself, I only have two projects each with a very manageable number of contributors (10-20) and contributions (200-300) and can work out via personal communication everything I need to know about obscured records and sensitive species.

But there are many many thousands of projects in iNaturalist (tens of thousands? or more?) and every single one deals with this issue. A great number probably deal with it to a much greater degree than I do with more serious consequences. I don’t know that for sure though - I’d have to hear from them.

For me, with two easy projects, the seriousness of the issue is “a pain that creates a bit more work for myself, and makes the project display much less aesthetic, but is manageable for the most part and probably does not lead to any long-term loss of important data.”

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