Sensitive species revealing in comments

I’ve noticed quite a few people adding comments as to the location of sensitive species. I know they probably do not mean any harm but stating exactly where they were could encourage poachers to these locations. I’ve left comments on the ones I have found but it seems the users have since stopped using iNat. I’d suggest that users cannot add comments to such sightings or at the least these comments are hidden from the public.


The problem is how do you filter the location stuff from acceptable, valuable content such as discussion on field marks, or even simple congrats on a finding.


Yeah I think in this case educating the user is better


This seems a very touchy subject, on one hand I don’t want to restrict the records but on the other hand iNat has become a powerful tool for mapping flora and fauna and in many cases given direct locations. I believe it is our moral duty to keep sensitive species locations as secure as possible. I know that iNat already obscures that data but when you get a user stating exactly where they find an organism, it becomes basically useless. and in the time it takes to reach out to them one person sees the location writes it down and basically they have a road map to a protected species. I just feel there is more we can do before it’s to late.


well, removing comments for all auto-obscuring organisms basically breaks the site. I think another option or middle ground would be a flagging option ‘reveals sensitive species location’ and then only admin or a subset of curators could see that and decide whether to reach out to the user or hide the comment. The flag could temporarily hide the comment.

But to be honest i’ve rarely if ever seen this happen for an observation where there appeared to be an actual risk so… to me it doesn’t seem high priority.

As a botanist, you probably aren’t looking at the most at-risk species very often. Here’s an example I stumbled upon this week, before reading this thread:

The species (Spotted Turtle) is set to private in Ontario, for good reasons. The observation is by a new user who joined, posted three duplicates of this photo, each describing the location where it was found, and hasn’t logged on again since August 1st. For this species, I think it makes sense to make it as difficult as possible to find general locations to search for it, e.g. specific provincial parks, so flagging these observations for curator attention might be a good idea.


yeah, this is true, and i’m not saying it never happens, just that I haven’t seen it. Agree that the spotted turtle comment shouldn’t be there, i just don’t think banning all comments or text from all auto obscured species is a good solution either.

note that in this case, it’s not just in the observation description. there’s stuff in the tags and in the observation fields. it doesn’t happen in this case, but theoretically, information about location could be revealed in other ways – the photo, a sound recording, a project. etc.

i would think the best way to address these kinds of situations is to allow certain observations like this to be flagged and hidden.


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