Obscuring real names

Has the option of obscuring real names been discussed before?

There is debate on Facebook with regard to data import to iRecord. UK recording schemes want real names included and some of us wondered why obscuring this aspect of the data doesn’t appear to already be an option.

Would it be something to feature request or has it been discussed before?

iNaturalist doesn’t require users to share their real names, unlike Facebook, so I’m not sure what you’re referring to here.


The UK recording schemes are talking about wanting users to include real names on their data.
It’s to do with resolving duplicates in the data on another recording platform.

I realise nobody is required to share a real name here.
But if some of us wanted to conform to UK recording scheme specs, then we might want to add a real name on our profiles with the option to obscure except to trusted users.

Perhaps this just hasn’t been an issue in other countries before… maybe it relates to historical precedents in biological recording within UK more than in other places.

Perhaps iRecord needs to work on their own solution.

People who have chosen a 'nym for good reasons need to rely on what they have chosen to use.



If this is only ever an issue for UK data-users, then understand not likely to be a priority for iNaturalist to implement. Good to know if so … then we can just feed that back to UK community who are querying it.

I have an alias and don’t display my real name. I would happily add my real name if it was possible to obscure it and share with select trusted users / databases though - as with obscured location data.


@giselle_s - might be topic of interest for you and iNaturalistUK user group - this stems from comments and debate with Roger Morris on Facebook groups.

I guess we could place a feature request for the option in any case if important.

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I would like the option of having my real name in the system, but obscured to any users or projects I haven’t given specific permission to. I prefer to use a pseudonym on iNaturalist, but have let some project admins know my name via private messages (for example so my data can be credited to me in a butterfly atlas).


(PS that is my own opinion - I can’t and don’t speak for iNat policy)

Surely there are better ways to de-duplicate data than the user’s name?


Yes - I would have thought a range of checks could be performed to flag up potential duplicates.

Perhaps more broadly there are a range of issues to contend with and this will just be one of them which can add to the problems. You could have duplicate data entries with name variation, as well as location variation (if they are translating GPS to UK national grid reference), as well as variation in taxonomic nomenclature…perhaps other things too which don’t match up well in the data transfer.

I guess there will also be cases where two individual observers record the same species at the same site and date but it is not possible to discern without checking the original photos. It might not be possible to view the original photos on the iRecord side to check now - and in any case doing so would add more workload to the verifier than just a quick namecheck.

I think longer term, duplicate data will be a limited problem. But from what they were saying, it sounded as if the scheme leaders would prefer real names attached to the records regardless.

First off, @jjenne , welcome to the Forum! I agree with @dianastuder - this is not a problem for iNat, but for iRecords. My name is on my main page, but I have no problem working with, or trusting, people who do not. Perhaps iRecords could ask for user names on other platforms so they can check it out. A person using both platforms would probably understand the rationale.


Thanks @jjenne - good to know this issue isn’t just limited to UK users and recording schemes.

In the UK some recording schemes are very strongly in favour of having real names attached to records. This is partly to do with recognising duplication, but also more generally it has long been considered good practice in biological recording for recorder names to be part of the biological record, so that it is clear who has taken responsibility for recording and identifying the record, and also so that credit can be given to the recorder.

Alongside this, some people have good reasons not to want their real name to be shared online, and such decisions must be respected.

On iNaturalist users are required to give a username and can optionally also provide a “Display Name”.

If possible, it would be great if users give their real names in the "Display Name”, but only if they are comfortable with doing so. If they are not then they can of course continue to use an alias on iNaturalist, but this may mean that some UK recording schemes may not be willing to accept their records.

Through the iNaturalistUK user group and the work the BRC (who manage iRecord) are doing with the recording schemes we are looking at all options available to find solutions that work for the iNaturalistUK user and the data users.

How to check / update username and display name:

Within the App this is the accessed by clicking ‘Edit Profile’. The user name is that next to the head and shoulders icon. The display name is that next to the face.

On the website go to Account Settings > Profile. Under Display name it states “This is the name that will be displayed on your profile as well as for copyright attribution”

So my user name is giselle_s . My display name is Giselle Sterry.

In respect of a feature to obscure the real name this would be for iNaturalist developers to consider and likely will need consensus from across the global community. Adding a post on the Feature Request section may be the best place to find the level of support.


The biggest problem with not providing your real name on iNaturalist is that your data will be sourced out to GBIF and researchers with your display name and username. So, if you want formal credit for your data and photos, it is beneficial to have your real name attached to your account.


I don’t mind providing my real name. But you can just use a nickname

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