Nodder Introductions


New to the Tomnod forum? Welcome! Make an introduction and get to know other active Nodders in the Tomnod community.

Here are some questions to help break the ice:

  1. How and when did you discover Tomnod? What was your first campaign?
  2. What is your favorite campaign to-date?
  3. Do you have any special insight, skills or experience that could help other Nodders?
  4. What is your favorite food?


I’m on the operations team at Tomnod :globe_with_meridians:

How and when did you discover Tomnod? What was your first campaign?
I discovered Tomnod while watching PBS Newshour in March of 2014. They showed a segment about Tomnod using DigitalGlobe satellite images and crowdsourcing to help find missing flight MH370. That was also my first campaign.

What is your favorite campaign to-date?
My favorite campaign so far was the anti-poaching campaign in Garamba. It’s horrific to think that my children could grow up in a world where elephants only exist in history books. Ivory trade not only slaughters innocent elephants, it also funds terrorist organizations. Nodders helped deliver valuable information about potential poaching camps to African park officials -we should all feel really good about that.

Do you have any special insight, skills or experience that could help other Nodders?
Besides my willingness to help search imagery, I’m not sure I have particular skills or expertise to offer. But everyday I’m acquiring new insight from the amazing Image Analysts here at DigitalGlobe. I look forward to sharing some of that insight with you in this forum and also learning from you.

What is your favorite food?


Dear Tomnod Staff,

Please introduce yourselves too! Here are some questions to get you started :smile:

  1. What’s your name (first) and degree(s)?
  2. Why did you become interested in this field?
  3. How long have you worked for Tomnod?
  4. What is your primary task in compiling images and nodderdata?
  5. What do you prefer to do when not working?


  1. What’s your “birth name”?
  2. What’s your nickname?
  3. Who programs you for the most part?
  4. How would you answer a philosopher asking, What is the purpose of your life, and do you think you are fulfilling your life’s purpose?
  5. What was and how would you describe the best view of our Earth you’ve ever seen from your positioning?
  6. What is something you wish nodders knew about you, your philosophy, and your continuing journey?

Asked tongue in cheek, but I hope Tomnod and ‘Sat’ joins in to answer!


I can’t remember when I learned of Tomnod… eeek! Perhaps it was with the first downed airliner?

I terribly dislike the polygon missions. They are too restrictive and too random. They don’t make sense. I’d prefer marking a whole page covered with separate polygons, rather than marking one per image.

I much prefer moving to a corner (when I find it–finally), and systematically covering an area.

I think Nepal has been ironically the most rewarding to mark. Much different than endless waves with Malasyia airliner when nothing we did produced much results. I can’t be on the ground to help Nepal citizens, but I can bear witness to their isolated homes, poverty, and desperation for rescue and assistance.

No special skills, except insatiable curiosity. I wish we were given basic info, like angle of images taken; whether “top” images are relatively “north”; and why Tomnod maddenly slices images into awkward shapes (it’d be easier just to have all squares).

I often wonder what Tomnod says about its community… “Hey John, they marked the 50- thousandth whitecap!” “Yeah Mike, it’d be wonderful if we were counting earth’s rocks and boulders–think we got 90% of them accurately tagged so far!” hehe :wink:

I enjoy helping. Just wish I understood more about exactly how we are helping.


I discovered Tomnod through the “Valley of the Khans Project” on the National Geographic website back in 2012. My brother had learned of it at a conference in France that year and thought I might be interested. Not knowing if this campaign was still even running, I contacted Dr Albert Lin to find out. Needless to say it was still running and turned out to be a fascinating, educational and exciting campaign. They used satalite images to search and locate clues and artifacts to aid in a noninvasive search for the tomb of Genghis Khan and do believe they found it. This search was concluded in 2013 with airing of a documentary “the Forbidden Tomb of Genghis Khan”. And I do believe that is the Tomnod evolved from.

And so this is where I caught the bug…bad. I just found it so addictive. In saying that, oddly enough, I don’t remember my actual first campaign Tomnod :blush: It took a while to find my feet and settle in to it on here; it was a little more complex compared to the Khan campaign so I was dipping in and out of it for while, feeling a little more in the dark as to what I was seeing and tagging. There was no forum, that I was aware of, to ask questions and was reluctant to bombard Tomnod with emails questioning everything I had doubts about. With hindsight, I know I tagged an awful lot of rocks, trees, waves and clouds whilst attempting to hone my skills over the years . . . don’t know how much I’ve improved since then, but quite a bit I would hope.

Now we have Tomnod’s facebook to look to for info and TomNod Search Group too. They are very helpful, educational and contain a mine of information within the members there. I even joined and learned how to use facebook because of it. It’s now an automatic thing to long into Facebook when logging in to Tomnod.

Favourite campaigns would be the anti-poaching, illegal fishing one as there is no sense of urgency to them so can take more time looking around. The ones I get the greatest satifaction and sense of achievement from are the likes of the Nepal earthquake, the Vanuatu cyclone or the tornado strikes Illinois, then I suppose the more frustrating ones would be the air or sea campaigns when nothing is found. But all are equally heartbreaking!

Insight, skills or experience would be having worked for and what I learnt at a ship classification authority, scuba diving/bit of boating and the many, many life skills and knowledge obtained over my lifetime…no telling how long.

Favourite food - sticky toffee pudding…but I’m not allowed any more :disappointed: so fish…must have been a shark in a previous life :smile:


I am a a relative newbie to Tomnod however I also do general GIS work and volunteer as a mapper for Red Cross (Australia). I am keen on Open Source software an like the idea of crowd sourced GIS for humanitarian emergencies.


How and when; first campaign: I discovered Tomnod via PBS news coverage of MH370 and immediately joined that campaign.

Favorite campaign: My favorite campaign is usually whatever I am currently working on, but the recent Nepal campaign changed my perspective. While it is often difficult to view this level of damage without being affected by the human toll and suffering, Nodders can take a break from it - and they cannot. As a child, I was taught to do whatever I can to make a difference for others…and being a Nodder provides an opportunity to do just that. The campaigns I talk about the most are Nepal, Garamba poaching camps, Persian Gulf fishing weirs, and tornadoes/cyclones.

Insights, skills & experience: I am a ‘capacity builder’, which means that I help US charitable organizations achieve their mission as efficiently and effectively as possible. This often extends beyond activities typically viewed as organizational development (i.e. strategic planning, board development, ED coaching), as I have a knack for spotting opportunities for process improvements. If I can help improve the Nodder experience, do let me know.

Favorite food: Thai & Indian curries, Norwegian gravlak, and my daughter’s awesome blueberry scones.


I discovered Tomnod from a news report about MH370. I was curious about the whole concept of crowdsourcing, so I joined in for the experience of it. Tomnod lets me experience the world from a perspective I would never have discovered on my own. I have no experience in satellite imagery, but I learn something new with every session and get the satisfying feeling of being able to contribute in a global way. For that, I say thank you, Tomnod.


I discovered tomnod when we were looking for the missing plane. I didn’t participate in anything else for a long time though. I’d say I became a tomnodder when the cyclones hit Australia.

I really enjoy the campaigns where we are marking destruction. I feel like I am actually helping even though I am thousands of miles away. I do the SAR campaigns, because I really want tomnod to find what we are looking for.

I love exploring the world with google maps/earth and bing maps. I also love hiking and geocaching (google it), but I have no professional expertise to offer.

spaghetti and chocolate, but not combined.



I can’t remember what my first campaign was, perhaps one of the downed planes? I got here via a post on another forum about it. I have always been fascinated by satellite imagery. It gives anyone, regardless of financial or physical ability, a chance to travel without leaving home. We can learn a lot not only about the beautiful, but also the ugly parts of the world. It gives us a glimpse into other cultures, climates, industries, war, and nature. Tomnod gives me the ability to do all that and possibly help someone too. It’s brilliant! I’m excited about the forum and look forward to the social aspect and feedback opportunity. Funny but I’m one of the few who loves the ocean campaigns. It’s the vast openness that makes them particularly challenging.

Fav food… Nutella! Mmmmm


Blessings! My name is Ruth, some folks know me as Pastor Ruth but I retired after a stroke in 2011. Not one to throw in the towel I started looking for ways to help with my limitations. I saw something on TV about DigitialGlobe on the Hawaii challenge and was looking into it when they did the next group on fires. I was hooked! No reeling in needed I just jumped into the boat and have been hanging on ever since.

My favorite campaign to date? No favorites, each unto it’s own is a viable heartbeat to solving a problem that impacts earth in a totality. Some are more pressing than others by the very nature that lives are in imminent threat. Others, while maybe not a dire situation immediately, will/do impact globally and demand equal attention. While some don’t view indigenous plants vs. alien plants important, if they (the alien plants) are removing food resources for domestic animals or even humans that ticks it up a notch as well. I understand that in the process of all of us “nodders” collectively gathering to solve a problem it also is to train computers to think within certain parameters I feel uncertain as to the overall purpose. Computers will never (at least IMHO) have the human factor needed to solve certain problems. It might see a red square roof but can it discern that the light brown speckles around it say that the building is damaged as opposed to it being a perfectly good building? Also if that square is in the middle of a field can it determine that there are paths, or vehicles or something that indicates the traits of humanity that make it a place of shelter and changes it from a square of Georgia red clay that has been cleared? It will be interesting to see where all of that leads.

No special qualifications, I recently moved to Georgia USA from Florida. I spent my first 55 years down there in hurricane land. As a victim and survivor of hurricanes I learned at a young age to have a sense of community and how it takes devastation and makes it palatable for at least a small amount of time. If you can help in any way to allow the victim to gather their thoughts and regroup then they become stronger faster. I joined CAP (Civil Air Patrol) in my youth, went on to be a paramedic and had access to a lot of resources that made me realize the value of Tomnod and DigitalGlobal. I gave up Facebook after the stroke as it was too much to digest while I worked to recover something “normal”. Instead of returning to it, I found other folks like me who were willing to create a new “community” in the spirit of the times through technology. Finally I will be able to communicate with all of you instead of driving the folks at home base nuts with my emails LOL.

I am female so regarding favorite food I have to say if it is eaten while doing a search on Tomnod that means it is calorie free right?! Well that is my story and justification for the occasional scoop of ice cream that I indulge in!’’

So delighted to say “howdy” and blessed to be a part of an amazing collection of humanity!


Hi all, my name’s Justin and I’m addicted to… oh wait, not that sort of meeting!!

Discovered Tomnod during the search for MH370. I absolutely love the idea and concept of Tomnod - that we can make a difference by taking a few moments of our day to look through some images and potentially make a difference! I also really like that people from all around the world participate, in some weird way, it restores my faith in humanity that there are so many of us out there willing to give our most valuable and priceless resource, TIME, to a cause that in all likely-hood does not directly effect us - it’s really amazing when you think of it like that!

It’s also clear that we are being exposed to the lives and experiences that others are going through (in some small weird way I agree) as is clear from Cageycat’s post above.

I think we all have special insight, skills and experience that we bring to the table, whether we know it or not - that’s the benefit of the internet, each one of us brings a different perspective to the table and by doing so, we identify and approach things in our own manner which very likely means that while I may not have seen something because it’s foreign to me, someone who has seen it before will pick it up straight away. In that way, we are covering each other’s weaknesses and playing up our strengths!

So from a guy that probably lives thousands of miles away from you, I want to say thank you for giving of your time and effort to help people you most likely will never even know they exist let alone meet - there is a concept that we are drawing on, called “The Power of One”, because if you believe you can make a difference, and you friends believe it too, and your friends friends… well… you see where this is going, suddenly we have thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions… all because each one of them decided that they wanted to make a difference, no matter how small it may be in the big scheme, it makes a difference!

  1. Discovered Tomnod when it was referred to regarding overdue yacht in the Indian Ocean.
  2. No special favourite. But I gained some insight into correlating the images with reality while looking for solar panels, swimming pools, and parking lots.
  3. I would request that there is a specific tag for “this is very cloudy, please provide another image of this tile from another pass of the satellite”
  4. I used to play hidden object games to unwind. Now I find looking for satellite disclosed objects much more meaningful.


Hi, Justin,
'Just wanted to say this was a lovely post. I can’t imagine anyone expressing better the true value behind participating in the Tomnod searches. It helps those in need, and it helps us to become better persons by responding to those in need. Plus, it’s just plain cool to think that I am seaching images taken from high above the earth right on my computer in my livingroom. Astounding. Simply astounding. 'Keep nodding!


Greetings, Nodders!

It’s nice to have a forum to connect with other folks working on Tomnod campaigns, so THANK YOU Tomnod.

'Just a brief introduction–
My first experience with Tomnod was before they joined with Digital Globe. The search for Ben Horne in 2012 was very personal for me as Ben was my son’s good friend and when he went missing in the Andes it was devastating. Some of the WONDERFUL guys at Tomnod were hiking buddies with Ben and offered the use of Tomnod to help find Ben. I, and other family members, searched the satellite images and somehow I felt like I was doing something to help Ben and his family. I wanted so desperately to help but felt so helpless thousands of miles away from the Andes mountains. Searching the satellite images was something I COULD do. That campaign DID help find Ben and his hiking buddy, Gil. I (along with others) saw their tracks in the snow and was able to tag them. I have been a nodder every since.

Tomnod is a wonderful way for the human community to join together and help each other. There were a few hundred folks searching images for Ben. Now there are millions of people searching for missing planes and boats, earthquake damage, and the impact of catastrophes that happen on this planet. I am blessed to be a part of the Tomnod community. Thank you to Tomnod and to all of you nodders!


WOW Barbara while I am so delighted to learn about a fellow Nodder but my heart breaks that you started out for such a hard reason. I truly believe that one of the hardest things we tackle as humans is the “need” to fix something that is broken. Especially when we have no tools and no clue how to begin. To find some small way to shine a light into the darkness and be able to bring change, regardless of what that change might be. I am so sorry that Ben (I remember this story line) was found but not with the ideal outcome. I do know that bringing him home was the light in the darkness that his family and friends needed. See you in the forums!


Thank you for your kind reply. You get it. Bringing Ben and Gil home to rest was the best we could do, and it was a comfort to their families. I continue to search in the Tomnod campaigns, hoping for a happy outcome every time. Perhaps if people in need employed Tomnod in the search early on, we would see more happy outcomes. It seems like sometimes weeks have gone by before we can start searching. I hope the word gets out around the globe about what nodders can do to help in seach and rescue. Thank you for your efforts! Keep nodding!


I don’t remember when I first learned about Tomnod, but several factors combined to send me searching for the site. In 2010, I fell ill with an auto-immune illness that impacted by mobility and stamina. Like Pastor Ruth, I still want to contribute to the world, however, and value this opportunity. Even if my participation does nothing more than teach Tomnod how searchers can go wrong, I’m still contributing, I figure! The ability to contribute from my home computer, no matter how I feel on a particular day; help other people and the Earth they live on; and keep my physics and math-loving brain engaged at the same time made this a perfect project for me.

My least favorite search was the first extensive search in which I participated: the search for MH 370. Because of my unfamiliarity with the process, I found those endless whitecaps difficult to differentiate from bits of flotsam. I felt the pressure to be correct in my markings and also to search quickly. If I marked something about which I was uncertain, was I slowing the search? If I didn’t mark it, was I missing the single clue that could help save someone? Conversely, I love the campaigns that others seem to dislike, those such as the Citizen Science: Ground Truth’s rectangles! I like thinking that my input is helping to set up algorithms that might shorten other campaigns, although I don’t think computers are going to supplant the human eye and judgment.

What I hadn’t expected was the wonder and appreciation of the globe and the people who live on it that I was blessed to experience. I can no longer travel except in this manner. I will always choose first to participate in campaigns that help people who are suffering, no matter whether a particular campaign might be difficult or tedious.

I have persistence and a driving desire to contribute. Other than that, I don’t think my options-trading, writing of items for high-school mathematics test prep programs and thriller novel-writing background give me any expertise at all. I think it’s a cosmic joke that I love this so much when I can’t even find my way around my small town without getting lost! I hope to become more experienced at searching.

Favorite food? Since I was a young girl, chocolate has always been my obsession. The darker, the better, and it’s always dark chocolate now, since I’ve become vegan. Pasta al pomodoro rates a close second, however.


I love it! Here goes:

  1. My first name is Caitlyn but you can find me as HappyMapper around here :smile:
  2. I was actually working for a global hotel analytics company compiling and analyzing lots of data when I randomly met Luke Barrington (one of Tomnod’s founders). Instantly I fell in love with the mission to help change the world, one pixel at a time and BAM… a few months later I was on DigitalGlobe’s payroll!
  3. I’ve been with Tomnod for about 10 months now
  4. Tomnod is a small team, so we all wear several hats. My main tasks are creating & deploying campaigns, making sure we’ve reached convergence on imagery before ending them, reviewing results & creating better channels for communication between Tomnod and our AMAZING community. For the past 10 months I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with many of you 1:1, but it’s important that we can all connect with each other (hence the launching of this forum).
  5. Ooooh, I love to camp, cook, hike & listen to live music (big bluegrass & jazz fan). I also love history about the American West & have spent much time in Yellowstone National Park


  1. Although we can use imagery from many sources & agencies (aerial & satellite), most of our satellite images come from our parent company, DigitalGlobe. They actually have 5 active satellites (one just retired).
  2. Aww, we fondly call them by their birth names, but sometimes we shorten them when writing (i.e. WorldView-3 = WV3).
  3. We have an entire department of special engineers who control the satellites by maintaining their tasking priorities across our customers. Since most Tomnod campaigns reflect global causes, we usually don’t have many competing orders.
  4. All of DigitalGlobe’s satellites were conceived with one main purpose: to help see a better world :eyeglasses: :heart: :earth_americas: and over the years have a long track record at making the world a better place to live.
  5. I will extend this to our Analysis Center, because they have much more experience with the satellite than I do, but my personal favorite is of Grand Prismatic Hot Spring in Yellowstone National Park (I’m partial to that area of the world though :wink:
  6. Probably that being a satellite is never a dull moment, and that collecting images of the Earth isn’t as easy as it sounds… you can learn more about DigitalGlobe’s satellites & their philosophy in this video.


Dear WorldView-3 “WV3”,

First, I extend my sympathy on the departure of your sibling, WV6. I hope your remaining sibs and you stay close… well, as close as Satellites get… and send encouraging signals to each other. WV6 will not be forgotten among those who knew him.

Continuing on a lighter note:

  1. What is it like to be one of the “middle children”? Do you think that’s been beneficial or detrimental to your life journey? Do your siblings ever get jealous or fight over who will take the next task?

  2. Since I’ve never ‘met’ a Satellite before, how would you describe the primary language you speak? My friend did an imaginary voice, pretending to be you, but in the typical monotone machine voice, saying “It_is_cold_up_here” in answering one of the questions I asked before. (Don’t worry, I threw a pillow at her! Such a superficial answer, huh?)

  3. How would you describe a “better world” from your perspective? We’re just a speck in the universe, huh?

  4. Do nodders hurt your feelings when we gripe that the images you provided are too dark or too light? Even a Satellite hopes to please, right?

  5. Does your daily life ever feel like a dizzying whirlwind, being tasked here, then tasked to go over there…? I suppose it helps that you fly “First Class”?

Good to meet you and your human friends! Maybe one day your humans will give you a ‘Voice’ so you can greet Nodders as they begin searching your images. By the way, you take spectacular photos most of the time! Amazing work you do from so far up.

Task on, live long, and prosper!

Getting to know DigitalGlobe's satellites
Reminiscing and replies