Protocol on tagging specimens as obscured?

I am conducting a research project/contract. Many of the plants that are on iNat in question are not threatened, of special concern, or endangered. Yet, they have been obscured. I request to know the protocol for such a situation. The person who obscured the observations has been contacted via message in iNat but no response from that person so far. Thank you for a response.

1 Like

Any user is free to manually obscure any observation of any species that they wish. There are myriad reasons for obscuring observations for species that are not threatened, but one of the more common ones is to mask home addresses/work places.


You’ve done about all you can do - send a polite message asking if they are willing/able to share the location/s with you. Obscured data can be frustrating at times, but it’s ultimately up to the observer as to whether they want to show the unobscured location for any given observation. Good luck!

1 Like

I’ll obscure things if they’re too close to my house (don’t want a nice little cluster of dots showing exactly where I live), if it’s something potentially useful/edible I don’t want competition for, if it’s an animal I’m worried will interest people who might disturb it, or if I’m observing somewhere that’s not open to the general public and I don’t want to encourage people to go there.

A polite explanation of what your work is and a request for location information would probably suffice for most people, assuming they’re still active users who can see your message that is.


Besides the reasons others have mentioned, I’ve tagged observations as obscured due to a significant local poaching problem, even if the specific species isn’t particularly rare.

1 Like

Something also to keep in mind: many users are only using the mobile apps, and the iPhone version at least does not have any way to access the private messages function. So users who only know about iNat as a magic app on their phone may never even see your message. If you write your request as a comment on the observation then they can see that (assuming they check back in sometime).


A good reason (and important reason where you are) is to obscure records of species that might be threatened by illegal collection (i.e. orchids), hunted/captured for traffic (can’t think in any particular example, but there are many for sure), poaching (nests), disturbed by visitors -usually getting to close for taking pictures or just enjoy the species (again, nests).

Actually, it would be a good idea to have some taxa as “obscured” by default (i.e. orchids) or records marked as “nests”, but probably that’s something that could be implemented at national level via the national iNaturalist portals.

1 Like

iNat already obscures tons of species automatically.

1 Like

As an extension of this comment (& some of the others), some ‘collectors’ use iNat info to help locate species, even studying all of the individual’s posts on a specific day since some folks will only obscure the ‘rare’ species. The common species they post can still provide the location information the collectors want.


Not anymore, obscuration hides date now, so it’s maybe also better to post it on a different day too, so order of observations won’t give a clue.

1 Like

As @Marina_Gorbunova said, many, many taxa are automatically obscured due to being sensitive to disturbance, poaching, etc. If I do choose to post something that’s quite threatened by location disclosure, I’ll often obscure everything else I observe that day.

You can see all conservation statuses and taxon geoprivacy on a taxon’s page, (eg by clicking on “Status”. Also, on an individual observation’s page you can see why the observation is obscured by clicking on “Details” under the map (eg

1 Like

Thanks a lot Tony and marina. I was thinking in obscuring some groups by default (i.e. orchids) but now that I see the details the current approach seems very reasonable.

Obscuring records of the same day when something else is sensitive is very reasonable. Actually, I realized of that issue a few months ago and used it to make sure a threatened plant was inside one of Jocotoco’s reserves and I then I contacted the user to get the exact coordinates so the park-rangers can monitor it.

I’ll incorporate this as a “good practice” in my trainings with park-rangers.


1 Like

I’ve obscured observations in my friends yards. Sometimes they don’t mind and then I don’t obscure it, just leave it to street name only. If they choose to use iNat and publish their location, that is their choice, not mine to make for them.

I haven’t obscured my own yard, but I have noticed another iNatter posted my address on his observation. I don’t know the person and it’s bound to happen with the number of birders that come to my area.

I’ve also obscured certain species that I know get poached in certain areas.

This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.