Questions regarding reverse geocoding (Kiawah Island Club geographic area)

There is a location description that is being applied to an area that is not accurate. In iNat, “Kiawah Island Club,”, references an area that encompasses Kiawah Island and parts of Johns Island and Wadmalaw Island. The Kiawah Island Club is a resort facility on Kiawah Island,, but does not encompass the area being ascribed it. It would seem more appropriate for the area to be referenced as the geographic feature it is, Kiawah Island, SC,,_South_Carolina. Is there a way to get that changed?

I see that not all of the observations in that area reference Kiawah Island Club. On the ones that do, I suspect the name came directly from Google Maps by default. The observer can edit this location description to say anything they want, and apparently have on a few of them. But if they don’t, I believe the field gets filled in by default with the nearest populated place name from Google Maps. It’s not something iNat has control over, unless they decide to turn off auto-population of that field altogether.

Separately, one could create a community-curated place within iNaturalist for the boundaries to which that name should apply. But that would not change how that field auto-populates.

I don’t know, Google Maps seems to accurately identify the different islands

and Kiawah Island Club is identified as a single building.

That’s why I think it’s odd because when I see an observation for the Kiawah Island Club, Kiawah Island, SC, I think it’s referring to this particular building.

Not a big deal, just wondered if there was something that could be handled in iNat, but maybe it’s just an odd mapping thing.

To be clear you’re referring to the “locality notes” right?


I had a similar weird case pointed out to me recently, with the name of this local nature area being misspelled by whatever reverse geocoding process is going on.


In this case, it should be LaBagh Woods Forest Preserve, not “la Baugh Woods (Cook County Forest Preserve)”.

These are being automatically assigned, not manually entered by the users, and I would like to know how to fix it so that it never suggests the incorrect name (for anyone). @kueda?

I’m not sure if it’s locality notes, it’s listed as the “place”.

And when you look at the locations of the observations, they’re not very close to the Kiawah Island Club.

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yep, same thing

The description you see under the map on the observation detail pages can get set by a variety of means, i.e. it is not meant to be consistent or under the system’s control. In fact, the observer can edit it to be whatever they want. We generally refer to this text as the “Locality Notes” or the place_guess (that’s it’s name in the database). Here are the ways it gets set automatically based on the software we have written:

  1. On the website, using the Uploader, searching for a place by name or clicking the map will populate the Locality Notes using Google Places Autocomplete API (search) or the Google Geocoding API (click) (the user can also change them manually at this point)
  2. If you submit an observation and the Locality Notes are blank, we will attempt to fill them out using the coordinates, precision, and iNat places that contain those coordinates.
  3. The Android app works similarly to the website and uses basically the same Google-based methods of turning coordinates and searches into place names
  4. The iPhone app does something similar except it uses the Apple equivalent of Google’s geocoding APIs.
  5. Seek works similarly to the other mobile apps, depending on what operating system it’s running on

That’s a very long way of saying that if you don’t like the Locality Notes you’re seeing, it’s probably because Google or Apple didn’t do a great job of turning coordinates into a place name. We have tried to work around those errors by ignoring address-level information from Google and Apple. There’s also a chance that people are manually editing the Locality Notes, or that we have some places in the iNat database with inaccurate boundaries, but given that there are a bunch of different observations with “Kiawah Island Club” in the Locality Notes and there is not iNat place with that name, I’m pretty sure you can blame Google or Apple for this one, so I suggest you let them know about this inaccuracy in their geocoding services.


Thanks, this explains why I was unable to return the misspelled “la baugh” when trying to diagnose the issue via Google’s geocoding service. Checking those observations, the users are using iPhones. Anyone know where to report/fix these issues with Apple?

kueda, thanks for the very thorough explanation. Really a LOT going on behind the scenes (as I guess is usual for connected, online databases, but always taken for granted). In Apple Maps, I verified that, when entered as a search, Kiawah Island Club shows up as an area rather than an address (in Google Maps it shows up as an address, Kiawah Island Club, 10 River Course Ln, Johns Island, SC 29455, which is inaccurate but a physical address). I submitted an issue in Apple Maps, so we’ll see if they do anything to address it (no pun intended).

Thanks again for the insights into the inner workings!

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If you have an Apple device, search for the address that is at issue and select it. Scroll down to the bottom and there is a selectable “Report an issue” that you can fill out.

If no Apple device or Apple ID (for online Apple Maps), I think you’d just have to beseech someone with one to address it for you. Want me to do “la Baugh Woods (Cook County Forest Preserve)”?

I don’t have an Apple device. (Just trying to help troubleshoot for another user who messaged me about this issue.)

Ope, you’re too quick, I was in the process of editing my post. Want me to do “la Baugh Woods (Cook County Forest Preserve)”, I’ve got it pulled up in Apple Maps?

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would be super :)

The issue has been reported.

And FYI, I used this website as a source,, so I corrected the spelling but left it as “LaBagh Woods (Cook County Forest Preserve)” as that seemed most consistent with the website.

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That was fast!

awesome, I’ll pass the message along and hopefully that fixed it!

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