Number of CNC unknowns

Watching the number of unknowns rise during the CNC was quite the sight, I kept identifying unknowns throughout the weekend and watched the number keep rising. I decided to record the data and the peak was 200k unknowns. Below is the number of kingdom level unknowns in hours since the start of the CNC. As of the posting of this, there are still 150k unknowns.

I got the numbers from this link and recommend that anybody who has time uses it.

Out of curiosity, I also checked and there are still 3000 unknowns from last year’s CNC.


You can use the URL parameter “&identified=false” to see observations with no ID whatsoever, which excludes bacteria/virus observations.

Also, Illinois currently has no Unknowns in that date range. Go Illinois, and thanks to everyone who’s helping out with our unknowns!


964 comments - we have been busy clearing the backlog ahead of CNC23, and will remain busy ploughing thru the fresh delivery!

For the backlog addicts @jeanphilippeb created the Pre-Maverick project for us.
Choose your taxon or location or preferred combo

Screening down to the subfamily rank completed.
It took a bit more than a month.

See also his yellow label projects

iNat needs to give identifiers better tools, meanwhile, we craft our own workarounds.


About 20% of them are in La Paz!

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When I first looked at La Paz Unknowns from this CNC, there were 40,000. Last night it was down to 29,000. So people are working on them.

Of course there are many just IDed as “plants” and many incorrectly identified ones which don’t show up in that figure, but are really still Unknown.


I’ve been working through them too. I generally flick through and only add an ID if I can do family or better for plants, and phylum/ order for animals that are less common. Depends on my mood though. One thing I found really satisfying was watching the number of pages decrease as I IDed them. They were going down a lot faster than my humble input, so I could imagine a bunch of people all over the world busily working away :)


And the joy of persevering with clearing those CNC23 URLs. Because. They will. Actually go down to zero. No longer IDing as fast as I can, and still ending up with even MORE to do!

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In reference to comments about La Paz, it currently ranks 1st for number of observations in the 2023 CNC …so although I haven’t done any calculations, the percentage of unknowns might possibly be in line, statistically, with other cities.

And thanks all IDers!

They are less than 7% of all observations, so it is about 3x the overall rate of unknowns. La Paz obviously has an amazing level of buy-in to the challenge which is great, so they already wipe the floor with everyone! If they were to attempt to mirror the IDing operation of say Cape Town then I can hardly imagine what they would achieve… It is early days for them I guess - they came out of nowhere last year - but I hope that they are able to better equip their observers in the coming years to give IDs but not wild or overspecific IDs. They seem to have the network to do that, I just hope they have the intention. As it stands, their success in generating participation is hard for everyone to manage practically.

I believe that La Paz will generate some fabulous naturalists as a result of this participation - but some will perhaps be missed because their observations are so buried…


There is also not a single journal post published in the La Paz project.
Maybe they used another platform for guidance, but in the project description, they mention their success from last year and that the national and internation communitiy will help with identification.
No link to any guidance, no mention of how to provide good photos for ID, no follow-up after the event.

And all that with more than 1200 members in the project.
I see this as a huge missed opportunity by the organizers.


There are no journal posts in the umbrella CNC project, either. In my local CNC, we tried to use journal posts as a way to engage with project members (all 44 of them), but I don’t think that was particularly successful.

That’s a really good point. If the umbrella project were used to provide a bit of guidance it would take the onus off the local groups a bit - hopefully result in a bit less variability.

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True, but that assumes that everyone joins the umbrella project and that they read all the journal posts on the umbrella project. At least for my local project, not every observer joined the local project (I’m sure some observers had no idea the CNC was going on) and even the local project members didn’t read our journal posts. I can’t say I read the journal posts for every project I’m in or person I follow.

I joined, Cape Town, Southern Africa and the umbrella project.
@tonyrebelo has fed us useful journal posts, with updated stats, for the first two.

Many more will read the posts, that you can see from the number of comments. We also come back to the post to reread or check the moving stats.

Aiming to hammer the Cape Town Unknowns down to the last thousand, but, still 300 to go. Then 4K for the Western Cape. We will never reach bedrock!!!

@rynxs Thank you for this link! I enjoy knocking off Unknowns in my area when I can and this will make it a lot easier.