Option to hide time (show just the date)

The exact time someone has observed or is observing organisms at a particular location is a pretty detailed piece of personal information to share publicly.

Yes, iNaturalist isn’t a place to store completely private data. But, like the option to obscure or hide locations, some may feel more comfortable participating if there were an option to automatically hide the exact time observations occurred. Timestamps can already be removed manually from individual observations. It is, however, moderately more burdensome to remove timestamps from photo metadata, which is shared with other iNat users.

I foresee this being an opt-in account setting.

Although time of observation can be useful data for some research, I don’t foresee there being the same level of demand for a trust system to allow particular users to view your time observed, like the existing feature for sharing private locations. Requesting that data on a case-by-case basis is probably sufficient.

It’s not quite as important to hide “Time Added”, except for the case of people who are observing with the app and have not turned off auto-upload.

This would be a good option. It would help to make it more difficult for someone to figure out where an obscured observation is by tracking the times of the observations and recreating the route the observer took that day.


if you’re going to obscure observation date (including photo metadata), you should obscure creation date and update date as well. you’d have to obscure comment and identification dates and such, and the obscuration would have to apply at an observation level, a user level, or a taxon level. that would mean big changes.

i’m not against this, but I think it would be incomplete without some sort of functionality to obscure (alias + randomize) observation IDs (plus all other related IDs) as well.

I think this is a good idea.

I have before asked admin if they can hide the time of day automatically for obs where the location is obscured, and the response was that it is something they are looking into. It makes sense to me.
I’m not sure why one would want to hide the ToD separately from obscuring the location, if that is what is being requested. I would hate ppl to do so routinely as I find it very useful and frequently look at the ToD of an observation, esp for animals to look at their habits, but also for IDing some plants and, when the gps location is iffy, i can glean info from an observer’s nearby (in time) observations, info such as finding out what the habitat is.


For that reason, I’d like time obscuration to be opt-in if implemented (or, conversely, to opt out of the time obscuration). I’d rather not have to type in the time of day in every obs just to set the context.

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I agree and did mean opt-in, so I clarified that in the first post.


This feature request is for an account-wide user preference. One can already obscure an individual observation time in a few ways: create the observation at a date later than you observed it or duplicate the observation later and delete the original, (and manually remove the timestamp in both cases). What do you mean by taxon level?

i mean that it would make sense to provide ability to obscure time + id# as part of auto-obscure at the taxon. it’s a bigger scope than what you asked for initially, but i think if you’re going to go down this path, you need to go all the way down this path.

Thanks, yeah, that’s not part of this proposal.

I don’t have strong feelings about this either way, but I’ll point it out that opting in to this would make using collection projects for something like a biolitz that has ToD start and end points pretty much impossible.

When I make bioblitz projects I just ignore the time anyway since I assume some proportion of people remove timestamps, may bulk upload without timestamps, or have cameras with the time set incorrectly. Hopefully other bioblitz project admin are aware of those various issues.


In connection with https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/why-is-inat-male-dominated/6533/71 I support this proposed feature. As a male runner I am keenly aware of the difference in the safety risk I face on an evening run and the safety risk women face. I get to head out the door without much thought as to personal safety. The running environment I face is very different from that a lone female runner faces. The running community has been working on coming to grips with this issue. Many running apps are starting to integrate features to provide a safer experience for females. iNaturalist data also provides time and place data, data that can be used to track observer habits. The more ways in which iNaturalist can provide safety features for women observers, the better. Opt-in options at the account level could include stripping time of day data, providing a draft mode and/or scheduled posting at a later date, flexible geofence capabilities.


Cassi, is there ever a situation where you want to hide the time but not the coordinates? Or do you always want to hide / obscure both?

Yeah, definitely. If I could just mass hide the time on all of my observations I would, but I only occasionally obscure the location.


I also would like to obscure just the time. it’s no surprise to anyone that I’m observing on my campus, and I want to leave that data unobscured, but I don’t like that someone sufficiently dedicated could outline my exact schedule by using the absence/presence of observations.


I’m bad about forgetting to reset the clock on my camera for daylight savings switches or when I’m traveling to another time zone. So on a lot of my photos, if not the majority, the time is not accurate anyway so there is no point in displaying it. I usually delete it manually from the observation when I upload but it would be nice to have an option to just show the date without the time.


I’ll just add that the time on nearly all of my observations is incorrect/inaccurate data and I’d use this feature in a heartbeat.


As a female, reading this made me feel appreciative that a male could recognize these issues in such a respectful manner. Thank you for creating awareness.

When I was going off track today I found a dumped tent and all this stuff… I was kinda scared I had stumbled across a dead body :S sometimes I am really scared to see a dead body with where I walk. IS THIS JUST ME?? :dizzy_face:

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I do field work and am often worried i’ll find a dead body. Used to work in the mountains around LA where people would dump bodies, so i am lucky i never did. I know others who did :(

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