Year In Review 2018

It's that time of year again, when everyone everywhere feels the need to summarize the past 12 months with a bunch of excruciating charts and graphs. What? You don't do this? Huh. Well we do. And if you're not the chart-making type yourself, we can make some for you too.

So, what can we say about this tangle of lines and rectangles? For one thing, we had kind of a big year. We passed 15 million verifiable observations in December, after hitting 14 million in October. It took us 6.5 years just to reach our first million observations, and we just did the same in a little over a month. We're growing quickly. What amazes me in particular is the growth in new species documented. There is a finite number of different kinds of organisms on our planet, and an even smaller number of them have names, but we don't seem to be approaching the limit of either. I mean, we're still seeing new birds, for crying out loud!

So what's driving all this growth? The most obvious factor from these charts is some mysterious event that happened at the end of April. What could that possibly be? It's almost as if there was some global, coordinated effort to use iNat for a few days... yes, of course, it was City Nature Challenge 2018, far and away the most successful event ever organized in terms of observations recorded on iNat and people recruited! And we at iNat had almost nothing to do with it: the whole effort was organized by folks at natural history museums and associated organizations around the world, but the founders and chief coordinators are our friends and colleagues here at the California Academy of Sciences and the Natural History Museum of LA: Rebecca, Alison, and Lila. Hats off to you folks. You helped make 2018 an amazing year for iNaturalist.

On top of that, we've seen a ton of growth in the southern hemisphere from countries like South Africa and Australia, but also in places like Hong Kong, Taiwan, the UK, Italy, Portugal, and Brazil. For this I think we owe a lot of thanks to enthusiastic iNaturalist Network partners and other volunteer iNat promoters in these areas, so many thanks to all of you. You can check out the Year in Review for the iNaturalist Network partners in Mexico, Canada, New Zealand, Colombia, and Portugal. Also, while I'm probably biased by the fact that I manage a lot of the translation integration for the website and the Android app, I suspect at least some of this growth outside of the US is due to the translation efforts of volunteers at Crowdin (mobile) and Translatewiki (web). Translatewiki doesn't seem to provide these stats, but here are some of the top translators on crowdin for this year (ignore staffers like Alex and me, since we were mostly fixing formatting issues):

Aside from growth, I'm grateful that iNat remains a fun and useful place to share information. How fun and how useful can be difficult to quantify, but the publications section we added to the site-wide stats helps demonstrate at least one aspect of that utility: a lot of scientific studies used iNat data this year! We have our friends at GBIF to thank for enabling this kind of citation. Unfortunately it's not yet possible to say what individual observations were used in research, which would enable us to tell you what research you helped support, but export-level citations are still very interesting. Scientists, don't forget to cite your GBIF exports!

Many thanks are, of course, due to the institutions that support us: the California Academy of Sciences for employing us on staff, the National Geographic Society for financial and promotional support, the Moore Foundation for financial support, Microsoft for donating servers and other infrastructure, and many other companies for providing free services to our cause, including Google, Slack, New Relic, and others. Running a global platform like iNaturalist is not free, even if we don't charge people to use it, so we are very grateful for the largesse of these companies and institutions. If you would also like to chip in to financially support iNaturalist, that’s possible now too.

As always, huge thanks from all of us on the iNat team to all of our fellow members in the iNat community. iNaturalist would not be possible without all of your contributions. I hope 2018 brought you many strange and wonderful creatures, and that in 2019 you'll see even more alongside your fellow naturalists.

-Ken-ichi and the iNat staff

Posted by kueda kueda, December 19, 2018 01:41

Comments

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Here's to the next million and million–million: Clink clink pop fizz

Posted by leptonia 7 months ago (Flag)
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What does the fifth column votes means in the crowdin-translation-table?

Posted by optilete 7 months ago (Flag)
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@optilete on Crowdin, translators can vote particular translations up or down. A proofreader might use that information to choose between multiple different proposed translations.

Posted by kueda 7 months ago (Flag)
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Long live inat!

Posted by honeymushroom 7 months ago (Flag)
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Fabulous. One question, how I can know which bird species (with taxa in inat) have no observations yet?

Posted by langlands 7 months ago (Flag)
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Love the iNat "Year in Review" and all the cool charts and graphs. Keep up the great work iNaturalist staff and to all the observers and identifiers....thank you!

Posted by kkeivit 7 months ago (Flag)
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Thanks for a wonderful year of observations and identifications, I look forward to 2019.

Posted by predomalpha 7 months ago (Flag)
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@langlands 'wanted' under the 'trends' tab will list up to 12 species. Try it for all birds https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/3-Aves or individual clades like ducks and geese https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/6888-Anseriformes

Posted by loarie 7 months ago (Flag)
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Thank you @loarie. Amazing functionality, is this only for Chordata? Also thank you for making up that very neat charts page for our own stats.

Posted by langlands 7 months ago (Flag)
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Great!

Posted by alexis_orion 7 months ago (Flag)
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I like a lot the Most Comments and Faves section. Are the 2018 review graphics generated also for specific taxa?

Posted by langlands 7 months ago (Flag)
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@langlands no, theses are only generated for users and inaturalist.org network member sites.

Posted by tiwane 7 months ago (Flag)
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That's amazing! I am very happy with the possibility of being part of this fantastic network. Congratulations!
Is there a way to build a chart for a place? I would love to see the growth of Argentina, since we saw many new members joining this year. It would be good to track the growth since is still a lot to do here.

Posted by roget 7 months ago (Flag)
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Congratulations! I hope that many observations are gathered, but also that we think about the evolution of the fields by species. This would give us the opportunity to use some module to do some "census" or "sampling" at selected sites and include, for example, the diameter of the trees or other variables for populations. That would be very beneficial for more types of studies.
Long life to inaturalist!

Posted by elizatorres 7 months ago (Flag)
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This was a great year for growth on iNaturalist!

Posted by kemper 7 months ago (Flag)
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Love the stats! Thank you iNaturalist! Congratulations on the success.

Posted by mikef451 7 months ago (Flag)
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Ah, what a great year! Happy happy, Joy joy.

Posted by susanhewitt 7 months ago (Flag)
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i love how seasonal the Canada portal is compared to the others (same in Vermont if we were able to make a vermont year in review).

Posted by charlie 7 months ago (Flag)
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What's that huge bump at the end of April?

Posted by culi 7 months ago (Flag)
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city nature challenge - its mentioned in the post

Posted by loarie 7 months ago (Flag)
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@culi, That's from the City Nature Challenge, when a bunch of cities around the wold contributed to make as many observations and see as many species . within 5 days( i think)

Posted by kemper 7 months ago (Flag)
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Fantastic news, looking forward to seeing how much BIGGER iNat gets next year!!!!

Posted by nanofishology 7 months ago (Flag)
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For me, iNat is just not just getting bigger, it’s getting ‘deeper!’ I’ve developed some really good friendships with many fellow iNatters — to me, that’s just as relevant as the data we’re collecting.

Great graphs and charts to display the growth! Woo hoo! I’m already excited for next year. :)

Posted by sambiology 7 months ago (Flag)
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I rarely go a day without checking into iNat.....here's to another year and another million (or more)!

Posted by arnel 7 months ago (Flag)
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Thank you, iNaturalist, for immeasurably enriching my life!

Posted by gbentall 7 months ago (Flag)
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I love those stats and graphs! What a great Christmas present to the volunteers! Thanks a lot!

Posted by redhat 7 months ago (Flag)
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What a way to bring the world together!

Posted by mfeaver 7 months ago (Flag)
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I add my humble thanks to the iNaturalist creators, staff and to the institutions that support iNaturalist. You have added value to my passion for recording our natural heritage.

Posted by edwardrooks 7 months ago (Flag)
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My world has expanded - it's still only about 1km diameter, but it holds so much more than I realized:) Thank you for iNat.

Posted by kaipatiki_naturew... 7 months ago (Flag)
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@charlie 'i love how seasonal the Canada portal is compared to the others (same in Vermont if we were able to make a vermont year in review)' - we're stuck in our igloos for 6 months of the year.

Posted by cmcheatle 7 months ago (Flag)
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Amazing year of growth!

Posted by damontighe 7 months ago (Flag)
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I've noticed a bug in the 'most comments and favs' section. It seems that the stats page is considering 'ID cannot be improved' and 'ID can still be improved' checkbox usages as favourite points. This observation (https://inaturalist.ca/observations/16915292) shows as the 7th most favourite'd observation here: https://inaturalist.ca/stats/2018, despite having no favourite points.

Posted by mws 7 months ago (Flag)
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Is is possible to generate a Year in Review report of a project? If possible, how would I do this? Thanks!

Posted by philkahler 7 months ago (Flag)
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Nope, we haven't built these for projects, places, taxa, or any of the other possible filters on the data. Just sites and users.

@mws, I'm working on the bug you found.

Posted by kueda 7 months ago (Flag)
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@charlie This year has been odd in Canada, especially on the prairies. Spring and Fall were basically AWOL. 'Canada's senior climatologist, David Phillips' says that for us, fall "lasted 10 days". We went from cold to hot, then back to cold again. I've been taking pictures of 'the usual suspects' for a couple of months now.

@sambiology I agree with that. It's really great to meet people on this site, ask for advice, receive advice, and occasionally shoot the breeze. Wonderful place, wonderful people, and lots of room to grow.

Posted by mamestraconfigurata 7 months ago (Flag)
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A great thanks to all the supporters, donors of any kind, user and the staff. Fund raising takes tons of work, often very frustrating work and time. Scanning through the comments, all are very positive, not a single negative seen. Picking up on some comments: “enriching lives”, very true for many people and a great way of learning about life. “Expanding world”: it is incredible what you can find in a 1km radius. “Getting deeper”: yes, friendships and contacts with people similar interests a great bonus. This can lead to papers being published as a direct result of an observation made. It may be beneficial to keep a record of these as it may help in getting funders interested. On “getting deeper”, very often a single photograph is insufficient to get a species identification and multiple images are posted as a single observation. How many actual images are there on inaturalist? Is there a trend up or down? The standard of some photography is mind blowing! Looking forward to 2019, looking forward to the first World Heritage Website?

Posted by colin25 7 months ago (Flag)
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@colin25, there are currently 25,454,093 observation photos. Here's some poorly-formatted data on growth in photos by year uploaded:

 year |  count   
------+----------
 2018 | 14100482
 2017 |  6018553
 2016 |  2800127
 2015 |  1265916
 2014 |   684143
 2013 |   389967
 2012 |   137096
 2011 |    39732
 2010 |     5647
 2009 |     3133
 2008 |      730
Posted by kueda 7 months ago (Flag)
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Very cool to see iNat building like this...I thought 2017 was a good year, then 2018 came around!

Will the personal user stat generation still be in action by the end of December? I have a loooot of photos left to upload in the next few days.

Posted by silversea_starsong 7 months ago (Flag)
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i'm still pissed i didn't find inaturalist in 2008. Though i didn't have a smartphone then and wouldn't for years.

Posted by charlie 7 months ago (Flag)
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@kueda Thanks for the stats. Amazing....

Posted by colin25 7 months ago (Flag)
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The personal stats page was special. What a wonderful motivator and Christmas present. Thanks for spending the time to prepare all of this. The growth is impressive.

Posted by sekihiker 7 months ago (Flag)
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15 millions just for December is a huge number^ How could I missed Inat earlier?! I exploring World map of Rudraksha trees, looking for any information about Elaeocarpus growing. Inat is a wonder=gift for me, as simply creating a project I can observe world map of all the types of Elaeocarpus! Its amazing, thank you for your work! This is my super stream https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/rudraksha-planet

Posted by roosta 7 months ago (Flag)
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@roosta 15 million is the total count of observations on iNat, not just this December. that would be amazing though :) maybe in a few years!

Posted by alexis_orion 7 months ago (Flag)
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@alexis_orion thanks for correction. I'm super satisfied already: its a photos in real time here, so we can observe the cycle of flowering/fruiting in a worldwide mode. Future eventually has come^^^ Have a great NY time = after significant Winter Full-Moon Equinox^

Posted by roosta 7 months ago (Flag)
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@silversea_starsong, you can regenerate your stats at any time, even in June!

Posted by kueda 7 months ago (Flag)
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There are not only a new species for the INaturalist site added in 2018, but also there are quite a lot of species just described in 2018..which already have observations on INaturalist! I have at least 3 alike observations :)

*Probably, interesting to see stats/list on that? Is it possible to add year of description to filter page?

Posted by krokozavr 7 months ago (Flag)
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@krokozavr, I'm not aware of a great way to get data about species described in a particular year, and I don't think iNat is the best place to store data about species, but I think that would be an excellent project for https://www.wikidata.org. If you got that started there, we could use their data to make something like that for next year's Year In Review.

Posted by kueda 7 months ago (Flag)
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Is there any way to see all of the species that had first observations in a month, instead of just a selection?

Posted by kemper 7 months ago (Flag)
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@kemper, depends on the context. You can click on the title above the obs that load (e.g. "New Species Added In July 2018 (Showing 82 of 3540)" and it will take you somewhere like this, but we don't store information like "this record was a first for iNat" so we have to use a kluge like including all the relevant taxon IDs in the URL, and since URLs have a limited length, we can't include 3,540 taxon IDs in the URL. It works better on the individual user stats pages.

Posted by kueda 7 months ago (Flag)
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Amazing Growth
Now if I can figure out a way to clean up my back log of observations
Going back before me and INat found one another
It’s my New Years wish Lol...

Posted by ck2az 7 months ago (Flag)
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Proud to be a part of the wonder. Keep up the great job!

Posted by megasavo 7 months ago (Flag)

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