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.

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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.