Tomnod TIPS: How to use and troubleshoot Tomnod


This thread is dedicated to the tips, troubleshooting, and tricks that our nodders discover as they work. Post here to help each other learn the quirks of Tomnod.



Suggestions for Tagging Hurricane and Other Natural Disaster Campaigns

  • Adapted from a post by @Anne, October 2017

Satellite images are sometimes take at an angle, or "off-nadir"
Images are not always looking directly down and the distortion of this angle can make identifying damage difficult. The example images are helpful. This angle might distort the front of a house and make it look damaged but it isn’t!

Use the “before” images!
REALLY check the before photos. What may look “damaged” or like debris may not be. If you check the before picture, the debris is just stuff already in the yard.

Another suggestion is to show the roof examples (I learned this from a recent post I read). Since that post, I’ve been paying more attention to roofs, and have found some damaged buildings I wouldn’t have picked out before. (Great to have read that post.)

Look for the river or a landslide
These are indicators of where damage might be found. I found that I overlooked a landslide across a road that had destroyed property! AND I found that a bridge that looked pretty good, but then compared to the “before”, I could see the bridge was flooded! It looked good until I checked the before. So now I have been following rivers close to roads and checking the bridges.


Blue Roof - Tarps

those are blue roof tarps! Actually we should expect to see quite a few of them. They are tarps from FEMA’s operation blue roof: 2


Put parenthesis around a URL to avoid annoying "link previews"

Mel_NodRegularMar 7
If you add a regular old URL to a forum post, Discourse will add a link preview of your link. The problem is that often these previews are not very helpful or don’t point correctly!

In order to not get a preview:

Put parenthesis areound the link (
Embed the link in the middle of some text like this
Put a space in front of the link if it’s at the start of a line
use a tick on either end
the tick is this symbol:
Use carrots on either end


Tomnod Profile Page is broken and some front-page stats

The tomnod profile page is not pulling metrics correctly, or loading campaigns. This is a long-term bug that we have not had the resources to fix yet since it is not critical to good data. We hope to fix it someday!

Similarly, the front page stats on campaign completion are not always correct, especially for tagging campaigns, It only shows your counter inside the campaign.

The vote counter inside each campaign is correct.


Missing “Regular” beside my name

If you have earned the “regular” badge, you can have it beside your name in the forum!

  • Go to your user profile in the upper right hand corner, click on your username, then preferences.
  • Under title, select the regular badge.


Introduction new nodders

In case you have not done this, search for this topic and category and introduce yourself under this topic:

Nodder Introductions
Water Cooler


Forum Badges

You can get badges for doing things on the forum! See your badges in your profile (upper right hand corner, click your user name, then click badges)

Adapted from cageycatLeaderAug '17
After @EmeraldEyes got that cool badge for loving everyone :heart_eyes_cat: …do you know about the badges and how they are earned?

There are 4 “categories” of badges. Look through the list and see what each requires.

Let us know if you need help getting your badges!


Who/What is a Nodder / Nodding

A Nodder is you and I and all our fellow volunteers who’ve signed up to Tomnod and the forum (it was derived from Tomnod name) :wink:

And Nodding is when you are searching/tagging in campaigns basically :grin:


New users to the Tomnod Forum

Adapted from a post by EmeraldEyes Dec '17

Discobot and forum use tutorials
Discobot is Discourse’s version of recorded phone help messages :grin: You can read about discobot here: You can get two badges by completing the new user and the advanced user tutorials. To try them, create a message (click your profile picture > click on the envelope > New Message. Add Discobot as the user you’re messaging. Put whatever you want to in the subject and make the message either:
@discobot start new user or @discobot start advanced user.

When you complete the tutorials you get a Certified badge (new user tutorial) & Licensed badge (advanced user tutorial)

The new user and advanced user will teach all you need to know to get around here, post, reply, categorise, quote, etc, etc, etc. and what it doesn’t include we can all help with. @Cageycat and @AKE235 are the forum Leaders and @Mel_Nod, who works for Tomnod, is the forum Administrator.

More info:
If you wanted to respond to a specific person in a post then click on the Reply button of that persons post:

If you just want to respond in general to that topic then click on the Reply button at the very bottom of the thread.

Posting URLS
To post a link from a campaign just copy and paste the url address into your reply. Put parenthesis around the URL to avoid annoying “link previews”
For example:


How to post screenshots
As to how you take pictures/screenshots of what you’re looking at on tomnod:

  • Windows: use the “Snipping Tool” to crop and past images from the campaigns into posts

  • Mac: press command + shift + 4 and draw a box around the picture you want. It will save to your desktop.

When you post a photo, it’s great to post the full url or the map number (the number at the end of the url) so we can all visit too!

Trust levels
As you use the forum more, you will gain new trust levels. This is explained somewhat in here

Don’t forget to explore up on the main toolbar.

And there’s always the image magnifying glass to “search” for what you are wanting to know about because there are lots of tips included in some of the posts over the years :wink:


Problems Loading the Campaign - things to try

Adapted from a post by EmeraldEyes Oct '17

Tagging campaigns get notoriously slow and bogged down when they have been running for a while. This is why we prefer to run polygon-vote campaigns - they are faster, cleaner, easier to understand the quality of the data! But sometimes a tagging campaign is what we need, so:

Use Chrome Incognito
By running the tagging campaign in chrome incognito, we see fewer problems loading, scrolling or zooming. When you start up Google Chrome, press Ctrl + Shift + n. This will open up Chrome Incognito as a separate browser so you can then shut down the Chrome standard version. Incognito disables your browsing history and the web cache which would otherwise store information for each and every tile you open with all the tag info attached to it. That can swiftly mount up and slows you down when you consider the number of tiles you open and tags you drop on them in such campaigns :grimacing:

What I tend to do is just run TN and the forum using Incognito and for everything else I open up Chrome in standard mode.

Create a second account
User kate (who is up to kate11 as of this writing) swears by creating a new account to tag from when a campaign gets slow.

If you still cannot load, start a topic in the forum with that message to Mel and she may be able to tweak something on her end. ie: “Cannot load Seals Campaign” technical issue.


User Profile Page - How to get to and use

Once you are in the forum, click on your profile button…in my case the pink T in the right hand corner of the screen. At the top on the left hand side of the drop down, you will see your User Name. Click on that. The Summary shows your activity such as days visited, number of likes given, received, topics created, bookmarks, etc. The Activity shows your postings. Notifications shows likes, replies etc. Messages you can send an private email to anyone in the group. Badges are those you have earned. Preferences this is where you see your account name, your user name, profile picture, email not shown in public, and you can make changes to your account, as well as add to your profile information.50%20AM


Three Lines to the Left of your Profile Button

This is what you see when you click on the three lines:


Take some time and click on each one to find out the information. An Example: Under “Badges” if will show you all the Badges you can earn, and clicking on the badge will tell you how to earn it. FAQ tells you the “rules” of the forum and the Terms of Service, Privacy, etc.


Cannot access Tomnod login

ways to contact techs without being logged in to Tomnod/forum…

You can log into from any browser and put a message on the forum about your log in issues. Make sure to include @Mel_Nod in your message.


Who to contact when you have technical issues

Tomnod has its fair share of bugs! :butterfly:

The quickest way to get help is to, in order:

  1. See if there is a new post in the forum already addressing the issue:
  2. Search the archives and this thread for the same issue;
  3. Create a new post with the issue. Be sure to include lots of details including when you first noticed it, what you were doing when you noticed it, what the issue is in detail, and screenshots are very, very helpful. Tag me, @Mel_Nod, on the post.


Definition of a “Visit” and how this affects earning certain Badges


Marker disappears

Have your tags disappeared from a tagging campaign? Tags usually disappear if if the tile isn’t centered enough. A simple dragging of the tile will center it and tags will remain.

Additional: I know this is a well known issue when tagging anything so near to or on the yellow grid boundaries of tiles and regulars on here are familiar with how to work around this by moving the tile round the scren to get the tag to stay in place. But it’s also a TIP to newbies and those who haven’t come across it yet. And this having to zoom in to +1, +2 or +3 as well, in order to get the tag to stay in place, is certainly new to me :wink:


8 posts were split to a new topic: Tagging campaigns: centering your tags and zoom levels


Stuck on a tile

try the following …@Mel_Nod