Steps to clean up a place created by another user

Another user created a place for my town using the old iNat polygon tool which has significant inaccuracies. I am in contact with the user but haven’t ascertained whether they themselves are interested in fixing it. I believe I will be able to get a KML file for the town with accurate boundaries. Assuming the original user doesn’t want to get involved, would I 1) create a new place from that KML with a new temporary name (e.g., Town Name-Temp), 2) get anyone administering a project that used the old place (a handful) to replace with the new one and 3) Delete the old place and 4) rename the new place using the old name


I would name the new place with the best available name regardless of the name of the old place. As far as I know, there is no advantage (to anyone) by taking the old place name into consideration.

The old (display) name is the name I would use if it were available (Lexington, MA, USA). I also see there is another name (Lexington MA 4_21) which maybe is the real name? I don’t care about the latter but it would be hard to come up with a better replacement for Lexington, MA, USA.

Ideally you would just have the old place updated. A curator can do this if the original user can’t figure out how. You can flag the place to start a discussion. Creating a new place is a possibility, but then having duplicates gets complicated if any have associated projects as the shouldn’t be deleted or merged.


Agreed. As long as the original place creator consents to the change, then this is probably the best way. If creator doesn’t consent and they are still using the place for some purpose, then creating a new location with a different name is probably the best course of action.


Okay thanks for your input. I am going to get an accurate KML and try working with the user to update the existing place and if that doesn’t work will ask for help from a curator.

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I’m having a similar issue. A couple of us are trying to get a kml with the park district boundaries uploaded, but for some reason it won’t let me. If anyone has advice on that I’d appreciate it.

But, one of the parks was already uploaded twice, one with inaccurate borders. So for that one, we should approach the user about merging those two places with the wider place we want to make?

It’s unclear to me what the best solution is here, and I’m not sure what is meant by “merging”. In general, I would say that it is not optimal to have multiple versions of the same location if it’s avoidable. If one is clearly incorrect, it would be best for it to be deleted.

However, there are cases where a user may have made a version of a place that they use for a project and do not want to change, while another user wants a different version with different boundaries. In these cases, the only solution might be to have two different places names.

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This happens to me quite often. Sometimes I’m able to fix it by editing the polygon(s). The iNaturalist algorithm is very fussy about overlapping boundaries.

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Keep in mind that if the newly defined place is smaller than the old place, some observations might drop out of existing projects. This is ok if those observations were outside the actual place… but sometimes it’s due to the imprecision of the default circle of accuracy. If I’m hiking a trail at a nature preserve that is near the property line, my observations won’t appear in projects for that place unless I’m precise enough with the circle of accuracy. I only say this because it might make it easier for you when reaching out to project owners and working with them when swapping to the more accurately defined place. If you tell them why observations might fall out of their projects when switching to the new “place”, it might make it easier for you. They’d need to reach out to project members whose observations fall out and ask that they be more precise when observing organisms near the property boundary. Precision of place without precision of observation can sometimes be misleading… in my trail hiking example, I’m sure I’m in the nature preserve I think I’m in but it’s still sometimes hard to shrink the circle of accuracy… in this example I don’t know exactly where I am within the place but I know I’m within the boundaries of that place.


I haven’t looked at how places are defined in iNaturalist. I did this for response territories for a US nationwide NGO I volunteer for. I found that official polygons for towns and counties were so detailed that it was impractical to display large numbers of them in ESRI for the web. I had to run software to simplify the polygons, and had to do all the polygons together so there would be no gaps or overlaps.

I don’t know how these concepts would apply to iNaturalist.

It’s very picky about KML “quality”. You can try searching the forum for the error message.

Only curators can merge places, but the “input” place will be removed from any associated projects. Either the place creator or a curator can update KMLs or delete places.

Thanks, so the only utility to merging (over just deleting one of the two) seems to be that it combines checklists as well as “any geographic data” (though I am not sure what that is exactly…)? Or am I missing something?

I there is a

does that mean a place that would include multiple polygons/locations? Or just a place with slightly larger boundaries?

Here’s an update. I have now created a KML for the town. I used this FCC website as a first step (, but the output needed some fixing to be accepted by iNaturalist (it defined the boundaries but not a polygon). I tested my modified KML by creating a new place (I later deleted the test place). Per recommendations here, I flagged the original place. I’ve been in communication with the user who originally created it and they would rather approach with a curator’s help (as opposed to our working on it together) and I don’t believe I can be given edited/admin privileges to someone else’s place.

The user (@goldbug) has agreed to my working with a curator to get their place modified.

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Yes. We are hoping to upload a kml that would have all our parks and then make a collection project for it.

I get this error message on attempting to upload though:

I’d try some of the ideas here:

Or post a new thread with your file.

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In this situation, I would think it’s probably best to upload separate parks as individual places and then collect them together using a project with multiple places. Some users might want to have individual parks for projects as it would appear in this case one user just wanted that place for an individual park.

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