More ispot data on NBN

There should be another upload of iSpot data to NBN, live sometime next week. We are being a bit cautious and uploading data in chunks so that we can iron out bugs along the line.

The upload next week should be the largest so far at about 140,000 UK observations from the early years of iSpot.

During this process we rediscovered a bug from those early years where some observations were wrongly marked as sensitive and obfuscated. This mainly affected observations in 2009, 2010 and part of 2011 but it did affect a lot of observations.

If you have any observations from that period could you go back and check whether the box ‘hide precise location’ was ticked and untick the box if you did not intend for the location to be obfuscated. Of course you may still intend some of your observations to be marked with ‘hide precise location’ e.g. if they were made in your garden and you are concerned about privicy.

One reason this is important is that these observations have been excluded from the upload as NBN does not currently have an automatic way to obfuscate and note this fact. The only way it can hide the full accuracy of the location is if it is one of the few UK ‘sensitive species’, it does this automatically based on the identification.

If you have a lot of observations you want to check for ‘hide precise location’ then I may be able to send you a listing of them, contact me via inbox, I am currently checking my own again but think I corrected most when the bug was discovered in 2011. Actually in going over my own observations from that time I am unticking the ‘hide precise location’ on some that needed the protection at that time but no longer do e.g. where the sites have been damaged or developed. I am also finding some observations from after that period that have the flag ticked when they don’t need it. One possibility is the flag was picked up from a site then applied to all other observations from there or to all other observations entered from that iSpot session on the computer if the cookies were not working correctly.

Relieved to see that iSpot is still very much alive - NBN didn’t mention it last time I looked at their site!

there are a few (increasingly) occurrences where the box seems to be ticked unnecessarily.
I suspect that iSpot might remember from a previous setting.
Not all ticks are related to sensitive organisms or locations but might just be to avoid showing precisely where we or our friends live.

The data shows that the hide precise location bug was serious in 2009-2011(part) but after that it may be more down to what people decide to choose to tick. As far as fixing the observations i.e. removing the hide precise location flag so the data can go direct to NBN that is more tricky as some people have 1000 observations with the flag to deal with, Chris may be able to do it automatically for them if they can say which should and which should not have that flag.

I suppose you might have to assume that Hide is the User’s preference and therefor ought not reveal an accurate location.
I have recently asked a few users IF the tick (Hide) was deliberate and two responded, suggesting they had no knowledge that the facility existed.

I worry about that too and if it is being set by mistake. Clearly there was a problem in a couple of the early years some of which we may be able to fix or get users to check their own observations from that period (I have a listing of how many of each persons observations were set to hide precise location) otherwise it is a matter of waiting until NBN are able to deal with this type of observation adequately.

I don’t know if it is possible for ChrisV to make sure that box is always unticked i.e. make sure no cookies or other things can automatically tick the box by ‘accident’. Then just let people tick it if they really want to.

I have always thought and evidence suggests, that is it unticked by default.
BUT it seem more often ticked nowadays.
I have (but rarely) used it. I accurately expose my house, garden and email address to possible mischief here - I am currently not regretting that.

Could you do a screen shot if you find it ticked when you have not explicitly done it. I had found this kind of thing a few times but not noticed it recently.