Year In Review 2019

Another year, another Year In Review! 2019 was another record-breaking year for iNaturalist, as you can see in the site-wide growth stats, with continued exponential growth in observations and users:

Once again, we have City Nature Challenge to thank for a lot of that growth, which was a real doozie this year, bringing in 920k+ observations by almost 40k people of 32k+ species! No doubt it will top a million next year. CNC organizers, give yourself a pat on the back (there are hundreds of you at the city level, but @kestrel, @rebeccafay, and @lhiggins paved the way and lead the international coordination). We're also continuing to see strong growth from countries in the iNaturalist Network, particularly Mexico and Canada, but also members who joined this year like Argentina, Ecuador, and Australia. However, I'm always most intrigued by growth in areas where we have no direct collaborators, and I think Russia takes the prize in that category this year, where we had a huge surge in participants and observations. We suspect this is at least partly due to the recruitment efforts of the Flora of Russia project and its organizers at Moscow University Herbarium (mostly @apseregin), but I feel like we also need to thank @katya for translating an extraordinary proportion of the site, the apps, and Seek into Russian.

That's a good segue into translation! We added a table of translators to the Year In Review this year, largely because I dedicated a lot of time this Fall to making the site more translatable and replying to questions and comments from translators. Of which there are quite a few! Special shoutout to @wouterkoch for pretty much single-handedly translating the entire site into Norwegian Bokmål (and for answering some questions I had about what languages people speak in Norway). What you can't see in that table is how fast some folks are at translating! Usually when we post new text, it gets translated into Russian (@katya), Italian (@danieleseglie), Turkish (@sakatur & menver), Danish (NCAA & Lekkim), and more, usually within 24 hours. Almost all of these folks are volunteers, so our heartfelt thanks to all of you for making iNat better for people all around the world.

Another addition to the Year In Review this year is streaks! Some of you may remember I wrote a blog post about this WAY back. Well, surprise surprise, @jmaughn is still having an incredible run, but @sambiology is right behind him:

I was going to add this chart to the individual stats pages, but honestly it wasn't that interesting because most people don't go on streaks of more than a few days (@atlnature made this neat thing if you're curious about your own streaks). Jim and Sam have both added an observation a day for more than 1,700 days. That's over four and a half years. Might I also add that they are both exceedingly knowledgable naturalists and a pleasure to hang out with in the field?

Also, can we hear it for Seek? We hired @abhasm and @albullington last year to completely redesign and rebuild Seek from the ground up, and @alexshepard, @budowski, @pleary, and @gvanhorn did a ton of work to shrink our computer vision model down so it could fit on a phone and work offline. Seek currently has 514k installations on iOS and 379k on Android, and we hear great stories about it almost daily, often from people who have never heard of iNat or would never use it, so we really think we're helping a different demographic get outside. I just want to point out how proud I am of Amanda and Abhas, both of whom are working on app development for the first time since transitioning out of other careers, and yet did a phenomenal job on this app with practically zero oversight. Amazing work.

Other updates from the team: @carrieseltzer scaled the walls of accounting and marketing to bring you the iNat Store so we can all finally have the iNat t-shirts we so richly deserve, and the Monthly Supporters program, which is a small but growing part of the income that pays our bills. @tiwane ran herd on the Forum, mediated many disputes, and bounced around the world spreading the love of iNat far and wide. @alexshepard juggled computer vision training with iPhone app development with aplomb, and @budowski tolerated my incessant issue-filing on Android. @pleary (in addition to computer vision stuff) superheroically kept our servers running despite all that exponential growth, insane events like CNC, and a nearly constant onslaught of bots and scrapers downloading iNat photos en masse (downloads that we have to pay for, even though there's not too much we can do to prevent it). Since Patrick hasn't been free to do much user-facing feature development this year, here's a good chart depicting what he has been doing:

Conclusion: we should all be greateful Ken-ichi isn't running the servers. @loarie hustled hard to secure the rest of our funding while tackling taxonomic monsters for "fun," and I... complained a lot. And broke some stuff. And maybe fixed some stuff.

Finally, a huge and hearty THANK YOU to you and everyone in the iNat community from everyone on staff. As I try to emphasize in every talk I give and every conversation I have about iNat, none of it works with people getting outside and recording observations, and folks inside (or on the train, or waiting in line, or when they're supposed to be working) adding identifications. iNat is and has always been a group of people who love nature and helping each other learn about it, and everything else, the data, the maps, the charts, the machine learning models, the scientific papers, and the enormous privilege we on staff have to work on this stuff full-time, derives from that communal effort and that fundamental sense of wonder about all the other creatures with whom we share this world. So again, thank you. Here's to another year of exploration in 2020, and yea, another decade of the same.

P.S. Protip: you can play with the data behind any of these Year In Review pages by appending .json to the URL, e.g.

Posted by kueda kueda, December 20, 2019 23:43


I'd actually like to see the "streaks" information on my individual stats page. Although it is hard for some folks to do (getting a streak of more than a few days), getting a "streak" going is something that I've had as a goal, and it would be interesting to see how I've done. I aim to improve on that stat next year (this was my first year using iNaturalist).

And, I have to say, the personal year in review stats was very, very interesting and welcome. I really enjoyed looking through all of that!

Posted by charlescrussell about 2 years ago (Flag)

For the record, I've never done anything with aplomb.

More than ever, I'm grateful to have been a part of this team and this community in 2019.
I'm really proud of what we were able to accomplish this year together, and I can't wait to see what we do in 2020.

Posted by alexshepard about 2 years ago (Flag)

Awesome!!!! I love the new streaks section, and I was surprised to see that I'm on it too ;) Thanks to everyone here for making iNat such an awesome global community, and for encouraging and helping me out this whole time.

Posted by alexis_orion about 2 years ago (Flag)

I love all the stats as well - could we have the "map" section on our personal maps as well?

Posted by alexis_orion about 2 years ago (Flag)

@pleary for president!

Posted by optilete about 2 years ago (Flag)

thank you all 🌸

Posted by bouteloua about 2 years ago (Flag)

@kueda If you ever do want to block bots and scrapers, here's some code that we use:
in .lighttpd.conf:

deny access for Google, Baidu, Yahoo, yandex, tweetmemebot, etc.

$HTTP["useragent"] =~ "(uCrawler|Baiduspider|CCBot||kinshoobot|YisouSpider|Sogou web spider||twitterbot|TweetmemeBot|SeznamBot||Googlebot|Yahoo! Slurp|Python-urllib|BehloolBot|MJ12bot)" {
url.access-deny = ( "" )
It doesn't cover everything, but it gets most of the traffic.

Posted by zygy about 2 years ago (Flag)

Thanks all, glad you enjoyed the charts. Have to admit, I love making them, but I am also really slow at making them. Maybe I'll still add one or two.

@charlescrussell, glad you're into streaks! As I mentioned above, @atlnature made this cool tool for looking up your own streaks:

@zygy, I wish it was as simple as filtering by User-Agent, but alas, it is not. I did want to chat with you and folks on your side of the web about this, though. I'll probably be in touch after the holidays.

Posted by kueda about 2 years ago (Flag)

Holy moly, this is so great. :) Well done to everyone on the iNat team... iNat is a tool that enriches my experience with nature. Many thanks.

I've got to go out and make my daily observations now. ;)

Posted by sambiology about 2 years ago (Flag)

Pretty cool! Thank you and CONGRATS! The marine realm seems to be way underrepresented and suffering from the 'out of sight - out of mind' syndrome. Aside from the obvious reasons - fish can't handle heavy cameras and it is a huge & cumbersome area for us to cover - the marine community could do better, including myself. Yet, a shout out to the projects out there dedicated to fish, sea slugs, flatworms, crabs, marine mammals, etc.!! Let's keep it up!

Posted by dama about 2 years ago (Flag)

Thanks for the kind words @kueda! :) Working on Seek and being part of this team has been an absolute blast. It's wild to have gotten to experience this much growth in just one year.

Posted by abhasm about 2 years ago (Flag)

Thsnks for showing us this. I have a goal of trying to get a streak going soon. Can’t wsit to see what 2020 brings to both Inat and the biology community as a whole.

Posted by chrisleearm about 2 years ago (Flag)

I LOVE the collective and personal Year in Review! How cool! And spreading and growing around the planet - Big Wow! Thanks to everyone for making iNat so awesome!!

Posted by grnleaf about 2 years ago (Flag)

Would like to generate year-in-review for our project, too.

Posted by apcorboy about 2 years ago (Flag)

I knew I had a little bit of a streak going this spring (turns out its 94 days) but one day I thought I wouldn't bother - who would ever notice anyway! :) Oh well, my current "streak" started Dec 3 and I'll now try to keep it going. As others have mentioned, it would be nice to see on the profile page but obviously only for regular users.

There's still lots of growth potential out there for iNat - I just hope they can keep acquiring enough arable land on which to grow their server farm. :) Is there anywhere a post about the hardware used?

Posted by reiner about 2 years ago (Flag)

Servers are all virtual and donated and hosted by Microsoft. Ours are in a data center near Redmond, WA. Images are hosted by Amazon. The only actual hardware we manage is a tower at CalAcademy with some graphics cards donated by Nvidia that we use for computer vision training. So... not too much to say about hardware, frankly.

Posted by kueda about 2 years ago (Flag)

awesome! Thanks so much for all you do! And to everyone involved, which is a lot of great people doing great stuff! I'm glad to have been part of it (as a user/curator/etc) since 2011, it's been amazing and really has changed how i interact with the world even though i've always been a botanist and ecologist...

Posted by charlie about 2 years ago (Flag)

What's that big drop in July from when you stopped running the servers @kueda?

Posted by n8agrin about 2 years ago (Flag)

Wow! Seeing iNat referenced in publications makes me so happy!

Posted by n8agrin about 2 years ago (Flag)

@n8agrin, the drop in response time was due to a number of performance improvements @pleary added when we hired him. I think a lot of it was improved preloading of rows from the database, and I think there was an issue with hashes not getting properly duplicated in memory when passed as params, leading to some leakage and GC issues.

Posted by kueda about 2 years ago (Flag)

Thank you for all your hard work, iNat team!

Posted by jessm-c about 2 years ago (Flag)

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