Opting Out of Automatic Obscured Locations

I would be interested in opting out of automatically obscured locations (due to conservation status) for many of my submissions. I don’t see a way to do this, but let me know if I have overlooked it.

It’s not possible to opt out of taxon geoprivacy (i.e. iNat’s auto obscuration of some taxa). If you think a taxon shouldn’t be automatically obscured, though - maybe it’s only threatened by climate change and not poaching or disturbance, for example - you can flag it and explain why.


I realise location obscuring can be a pain but I’m not sure adding opt-outs would be sensible. Giving exact positions of rhinos, for instance, leaves them at risk of being shot by poachers who can figure out which places they frequent when. It shouldn’t be the right of somebody who doesn’t care about that to circumvent the obscuration and put the animals in danger.

Rhinos are perhaps an obvious example and most people on iNat would be aware of poaching. But the risks for many species are much less widely known. There was a thread on the forums some months back about somebody who had logged several rare orchids in a remote location, only to discover a short while later they had all been dug up and stolen. The person was devastated that they might have been inadvertently responsible.


I’m not talking about rhinos or rare orchids. What I deal with primarily are Odonata, and automated taxon geoprivacy makes little sense aside from just a few examples that I can think of. Knowing where the species are does not place them at risk, and I would be interested in opting out of taxon geoprivacy when I feel it’s appropriate for my submissions.

Another example: I found a dead seabird washed up on a beach recently, and because of the species’ conservation status the location is obscured. Obviously, knowing where a dead bird washed up on a beach does not pose a threat to the species, so I feel that I should be able to opt out of taxon geoprivacy in that case.

That would be a good case for flagging the taxon to suggest that it be unobscured. There are lots of taxa which are obscured on iNat which practically shouldn’t be and if you flag it the issue can be solved for everybody all at once rather than just you. I’ve been working on some of these myself.


I agree that there are too many species auto-obscured on iNat due to a general conservation status that is unrelated to poaching/collecting threats. I fully support flagging, reviewing, and changing auto-obscuring for species that don’t need it.

That said, however, I don’t think an opt-out option is a good one. For one, most users aren’t experts in most (or any) taxa and aren’t qualified to make this decision. While this is frustrating to that smaller subset of users that can make that call, the potential harm of uniformed/mistaken opt-outs is (in my mind) too high to justify having this option.

Also, it’s really hard to know how some location data might be used with bad intentions. For instance, a dead seabird in an area might give away the location of a nesting colony, etc. We can’t foresee all ends that data might be put to so this seems to me to be a situation where the precautionary principle is a good approach.