Half a million observations on iSpot

Martin Harvey's picture

On 13 May iSpot passed the half-million mark! Over 500,000 wildlife observations have now been added to iSpot, an amazing celebration of the diversity of life and of the enthusiasm of iSpotters all round the world in finding species and helping each other identify them.

Exactly which observation forms no. 500,000 does depend a little on how you count them, but our best estimate is that the half-millionth observation was of a Cape Primrose (Streptocarpus primulifolius), added by iSpotter "Mavourneen" from the coast of South Africa. Honourable mentions also to nos. 499,999 (a combination of two Scottish plants) and 500,001 (Azure Damselfly from Woodwalton Fen, England)!

Thanks to all iSpotters for taking part and helping identify so much wildlife! With over 50,000 registered users and almost a million photographs associated with those half-million observations you continue to make iSpot a showcase for biodiversity around the globe.

Cape Primrose (Streptocarpus primulifolius), added by iSpotter "Mavourneen":



Mavourneen's picture

Who posted the first

Who posted the first Observation, I wonder, and what was it?

ChrisMcA's picture

The 1st

(that's still there (in the community list) is http://www.ispotnature.org/node/18 an oak sapling by Dougclow

Tony Rebelo's picture

The 1st southern African

& the 1st southern African is Hoodia gordonii by: _Jonathan posted on 26th February 2011


Tony Rebelo's picture

Which species has the most?

Any idea which species has the most observations?

for southern Africa it is probably the Western Leopard Toad, with 2677 observations. See them here: http://www.ispotnature.org/projects/wlt-monitoring/observations/map

But might there be species in the UK with more?

Tony Rebelo's picture

Which observation has the most views?

Any ideas?

The best I know is Christmas Beetles (IDd as Flying peanuts, Christmas beetles, leaf chafers, May beetles (Melolonthinae))
http://www.ispotnature.org/node/470975 with 1925 views.

I am sure others exist?

Karoopixie's picture


And here I thought http://www.ispotnature.org/node/511404 was doing pretty well with 1802 ;-)

And very well done everyone on the milestones!

Tritonia Gallery

miked's picture

The highest number of views

The highest number of views for one of my observations is http://www.ispotnature.org/node/2551 with 1653

but this one http://www.ispotnature.org/node/7407 might take the prize with 7824 views

Tony Rebelo's picture


This one made national UK press.

I presume this is also mentioned in our statistics, although it is 8 of October? (was the press release 13 October?)

Average number of registrations per day on iSpot since opening to the public: 21.89
Average number of registrations per day on iSpot since the launch on 29th June 2009: 23.64
Average number of registrations per day on iSpot since the moth sighting on 13th Oct 2009: 24.43
Average number of registrations per day on iSpot in the last 30 days: 20.83
Average number of registrations per day on iSpot in the last week: 18.71

miked's picture

Yep that is the one. But

Yep that is the one. But there might be others with more views.
On my photolibrary web page/youtube channel images/videos with the most hits are not necessarily the ones you might think but they are sometimes the ones that have been used in teaching or similar by someone somewhere and they have got the students to look at them each year. One of the videos on the youtube channel that has the most hits is of a particular old dance popular with those doing costume dramas especially Americans, it appears various groups use it to learn the dance. Some of the popular images are those showing multiple species from a habitat, possibly used for teaching or test.
Actually if the ispot quiz takes off more then some observations might get a boost of more views this way. The quiz does still need some work but might start to be used more in teaching.

Tony Rebelo's picture

The quiz does need lots of work

The quiz does need lots of work - with over 200 000 observations it still tells southern Africans that perhaps there is not enough data. it does not work at all on the SANBI dictionary!!! How on earth can that happen: are the programmers totally out of touch with how iSpot really works that they make useless tools?

The species surfer (browser) is an amazing teaching tool. I just wish that in the smaller groups it did not stop so early. So we have in the Afrotheria (http://www.ispotnature.org/communities/southern-africa/species-browser/A...):
2 Elephant
20 Elephant Shrews
20 Golden Moles
1 Aardvark
2 Dugongs
5 Hyraxes

But it stops before you can discover the groupings within the Order, because it reaches its quota of species to stop subdivision. How much of a learning tool could it be if it "went all the way" - at least to genus. Why stop it if there is more taxonomy just because of some species threshold??

It would also work much better if it just opened the collection for a species, instead of asking you for the stupid observation. Who cares when using the browser about observations: one is looking at species: open the species page. And if one selects a tribe or genus name, one does not want the childs: just the taxon of that rank concerned. Some really weird decisions made here!

dejayM's picture


But then there's this http://www.ispotnature.org/node/1 with 22393 reads
Surely Node/1 MUST be the first post.
Searching for Node 0 I found this, rather doomful, one (Tony)
"There will be difficulties and not a little anguish..."

Tony Rebelo's picture

Did you check the other group nodes?

But they do not count as they are not observations, but collections of observations.

My prediction: birds tops, plants second, inverts 3 - others wont feature:

Node 1 Other organisms 22 401 reads (296)
Node 2 Birds 116 780 reads (366)
Node 3 Invertebrates 149 117 reads (469)
Node 4 Fish 23 934 reads (319)
Node 5 Amphibians and Reptiles 34 554 reads (398)
Node 6 Mammals 34 632 reads (330)
Node 7 Plants 80 702 reads (541)
Node 8 Fungi and Lichens 64 428 reads (339)
Node 9 (Does not exist)

Curiously these are the UK pages:
The South African pages are relatively hidden and hard to find and have the following format:
Their number of reads is shown in brackets above

I suspect that the southern African numbers (in parenthesis) are nonsense, and that the UK numbers are the joint ZA and UK numbers, as on the ZA site the pages had those same numbers. The sAfr numbers are thus only for and since the joined site (as the pages did not exist prior to that).

Also on the sites prior to amalgamation the Groups were a prominent feature on the menu bar, and lead to the Group Forums.
On the new site the Group pages are hidden and separate from the fora. They are probably now effectively "lost" on the site, which is a pity.

So anyway: invertebrates wins!!!
(ah well, I got the top three correct, but wrong order - did better for order in the poist-join s Afr).

Tony Rebelo's picture

I presume that it is too premature to try and score the projects

I presume that it is too premature to try and score the projects?

Still. Why not?

What is the most read project?

Any surprizes there?

dejayM's picture

half million

'Dialling' post half-millionth gets this http://www.ispotnature.org/node/500000. Well deserved Tony!
The half-millionth observation by Kathy Immelman is six-hundred and sixty-nine thousand, eight hundred and thirty two http://www.ispotnature.org/node/669832. But well done her.

Tony Rebelo's picture

nodes and observations

That is number 500 000. But not all numbers are observations: stories, news articles and forum topics are also "node" items.
Also items get deleted, so that there are currently many empty nodes..

So the 500 000th observation on iSpot as per the Administration Usage Statistics is Mavourneen's Strep.

ChrisMcA's picture

Odd nodes

Some nodes are quite odd, like the single word http://www.ispotnature.org/node/2829

Tony Rebelo's picture


I suspect these were test observations made during programming. I would have thought that they should be deleted. Only an administrator could have created them.
What is curious is that it has no "author": on all input I have made the author field is mandatory.

I have flagged node/2829 as inappropriate: let us see what happens ...

This one has far more reads: http://www.ispotnature.org/node/10 - and can be found from Google, which offers a Spanish translation!

Tony Rebelo's picture


Where did you get this? Lots of us have been asking for this.

Karoopixie's picture


User only registered today and no comments have been added to this thread for months...

Tritonia Gallery

dejayM's picture


Tony, do you mean specifically for Comments? I suppose you do.
I get flagged for any comment made to any post that I have contributed to (except those with with my agreement only).
Getting several flags for one contribution must be rare but if 10 comments are added to the same post then one will get 10 flags - yes?
PS Karoopixie's comment is worth noting - Feuerthalen is in Swizterland (nice).

Tony Rebelo's picture

No: only one flag if more

No: only one flag if more than on contribution made to an observation.

No: he clearly says emails: I do not get emails when stuff gets updated.

dejayM's picture


OK but 'he' is spurious DON'T click on his Blogsite. It's fairly clever Spam. - I have marked it as inaP.

Tony Rebelo's picture


dejayM's picture

nice places

I cannot access ChrisMc's link but if they are locations - and there are a lot of them in earlier poster's history, they I have asked a few of the 'owners' what they were about. None knew but, somewhere, Martin gave an explanation, which I cannot find just now. Tony is right they were some sort of early tracking observations. They will always be mysterious to anyone who finds them but they represent an early period in history so ought not be deleted - perhaps explained in the individual posts.
These are typical

Tony Rebelo's picture

cannot link

You cannot link it as it has been flagged as inappropriate and we await what the curator will do with it.

Some are without authors and cannot be commented on (e.g. "stories).

I disagree that mistakes and "leftovers" should be retained. If they contribute to the site, then I agree. But if they are just junk and noise, then the curator should remove them.

It is my theory that this is why we die. If we lived too long we would have so much junk we would be squeezed out of our houses by "history, sentimentalities and possibly usefuls that we do not want to throw away." By dying all the useless accoutrements and bric-a-brak get discarded at each generation. And life can go on ...

If we were ruthless curators of our lives we could possibly live much longer (evolutionary-speaking). However, mammals which stop breeding at menopause dont have this option. Birds with their superfast lifestyles dont live long enough. So it is reptiles that really benefit most from genes that keep the cells clear of junk into old age.

(the same can be said of governments: when states become so encumbered with archives and records, then it is time for a revolution and a purging of artifacts.)

dejayM's picture

Please don't yet

Tony PLEASE don't flag them as inappropriate. They may be useless in your eyes but they may also be a useful record of History. By flagging them they are removed immediately and no-one will ever get a chance to question them or find a need to explain their significance..
Let there be a discussion in the ranks and by Admin - please?
PS I already see you are blundering ahead though..Please note that some, very few, have comments made by me. Please do not report those,

Tony Rebelo's picture

OK wont

I dont flag those with discussion. They do have historical significance.

But those without discussion or significance I will continue to purge out on finding them - as I have always done as curator. It is after all one of my "jobs" on iSpot.

I am only flagging them internally. It will be Martin's job to permanently delete them, retain them permanently as hidden, or restore them.

dejayM's picture


OK. I have dropped pleas on Jonathan, Mike and Martin to consider retaining them IF they are of historical value (I believe they might be).
Even by flagging them internally you are hiding them from us.

Tony Rebelo's picture

Of course!

I dont want you responding to garbage - that would make it of historical significance and thus I wont be able to legitimately get rid of them (assuming that the note was of significance and not equally garbage).

dejayM's picture


Excitable over-duplication - please forgive me!

ChrisMcA's picture

It's clear now, i.m.o. that

It's clear now, i.m.o. that they were an early way to store location notes, & so should not be deleted, eg "Mount farm by path" in http://www.ispotnature.org/node/57

Tony Rebelo's picture


http://www.ispotnature.org/node/57 is a perfectly normal observation. Please explain. I think you might have forgotten to reply and posted an unconnected thread.

ChrisMcA's picture

It is perfectly normal, but

It is perfectly normal, but its location note, "Mount farm by path" (found underneath the map), is also found at http://www.ispotnature.org/node/56 (though it's possible these notes have since been stored elsewhere)

dejayM's picture

Historical context

Viewed in isolation, these posts may look spurious (even inappropriate) but when viewed in context, they may be seen to be potentially quite valuable -
see http://www.ispotnature.org/user/6/track?page=229
and http://www.ispotnature.org/user/4/track?page=125
and http://www.ispotnature.org/user/5/track?page=99
and http://www.ispotnature.org/user/1586/track?page=162
even - http://www.ispotnature.org/user/75/track

Tony Rebelo's picture

Historical context?

Looks like there was an early bug on iSpot that resulted in lots of garbage that has never been cleaned up.

I am pleased to say you won't find such rubbish on the southern African site. Except now that we have joined there is nothing I can do to clean up the crud that resulted from the bugs during and after the merger.
But I am hoping that this will be rectified and I shall be able to curate the site properly.

This is not history, it is a mess! No respectable database or database curation would tolerate these.
If this is the philosophy behind iSpot then we have serious issues on the site.

miked's picture

Suspect the only person who

Suspect the only person who could comment fully on these nodes is the programmer who was working on the site from the start and built most of it but he is not working on it at the moment as there are a pool of programmers who work on the project. In the early days there were one or two major changes including having to rebuild after an issue with the images and these may have resulted in these extra nodes.

I am not clear why people are worried about these nodes - is it because you are worried about google or whoever indexing them as junk or because they may somehow affect the running of the site?
I don't know but suspect these nodes would not be found by the casual user. If they do affect the running of the site then marking them as inappropriate won't help. Again I don't know but suspect that they do not have any more than a very slight adverse effect on the site and deleting them completely may have a large negative effect, depending on how the database is structured. Possibly the only significant benefit would come from finding a node that is doing something bad e.g. using loads of resources and getting rid of that one.