Should I post old observations where I vaguely know the location?

I’ve been going through my phone and posting old photos I took that could be useful observations. I have some that show interesting things but where I really don’t know the location. I know the 20 km radius that I would have been in at the time, but I don’t know where I took the photo.

Are these worth posting, with the location essentially being “King County”? Or am I just creating clutter and confusion?

This thread discussed a similar issue but a lot of the discussion centered on 10 meter or 1 km accuracies for plant observations whereas here I’m asking if its worth posting insect/animal observations where the best I can do is a 20 km radius


Sure, post them! There’re observations with circle around whole USA, so 20 km is not that big, of course it would be more helpful if you will then remember it more precisely, but if not it’s not a problem! Usually what discussed is accuracy that can be better, but as you don’t remember it, this case is different.


If you post them, I would recommend you watch out to keep the level of uncertainty matching with your memory of the location, that way people who are looking for accurate GPS coordinates can sort through it as well. Happy iNating~


Definitely post them :) While smaller accuracy ranges are something that is preferred on iNat and similar places, if researchers specifically need them, they can filter out ones with larger accuracy ranges. Many researchers will not mind 20km. If your observation ends up being on a boundary and may qualify for a species range extension, you might get a few questions, but I’ve never seen something like this happen personally.

It’s my outlook that as long as the observation is verifiable (i.e. the organism is recognizable in the picture/sound) and the information is entered truthfully, it’s always worth posting it. Researchers later can decide whether they think my observation is good, but every researcher is looking for something different and someone will definitely put it to good use :) And on top of that, the main goal (at least originally) of iNat is to help other people learn more about nature. So even if you think something is cool but think it might not be helpful for research purposes, post it anyway! I know some of the times I’ve learned the most are from some of the more “mundane” observations anyway.


Absolutely. That sort of information is really important for species range.

Having done a lot of biodiversity survey and conservation work and been using GPS units of varying precision since the early 90s for all sorts of purposes my experience is that most people massively overestimate the both the accuracy and precision of their GPS units. They often try to get down to some arbitrary and completely unnecessary level of precision that’s actually beyond the capacity of their devices.

Unless you’re looking for the exact same plant (something I spent a lot of time working on for the USDA NPS a while back) or feature anything less than 20-50 meters is overkill by a large amount, and in most cases 100m to a few km is more than adequate for “precise” measurement when it comes to biodiversity issues.

For general information that doesn’t need to be precise, such as presence absence or species range type information, the 5-25 km range is plenty good. In fact a lot of data, especially presence/absence, is collected at the county/district to state/province level, which is generally a far looser accuracy range that 20 km or so.

Get as close as you can and that’s more than good enough to be of benefit.


Yes! Just make sure to accurately set the accuracy radius. If you’re making sure to set it accurately and conservatively, then it’s great!

I have made use of observations like this frequently.

With low accuracy, you can’t typically discern habitat but you can use it for asking questions about a species presence in a broader region, and for rare or uncommon species, or any species close to the edge of their range or in a broader region where they are locally uncommon, these observations can be quite useful.

One caveat, I would recommend against doing this in any circumstance where the photos are blurry or low-quality, and habitat is key in identification. I see this a lot with plants, some species look superficially similar but are almost completely non-overlapping in habitat, so without a fine-tuned location it cannot be identified, especially if the photos aren’t great. If you are confident in the ability to ID based on the photos alone, including the cases where the photos themselves show the habitat, then there are no worries!


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