Recent News and Latest Information
Map and Access Revisions
July 04, 2018
After evaluating the usage of the Google Maps widgets used throughout the website over the last month and a half, it became apparent that it won't be possible to continue using custom maps everywhere they were previously used. The interactive maps used for browsing State data will remain unchanged (again, for now), but the maps on the Waterfall pages have been reverted to the standard Google Maps embedded window instead - there won't be markers showing exactly where the waterfalls are, but they will at least be interactive again. Coordinates are still provided for easy searching. This is just a band-aid solution to a longer term problem, and eventually the maps will (hopefully) be fully interactive and show the markers again. When that will happen, I can't say.
In addition to the changes to the maps, it's also become apparent that some changes to the content on this website are necessary. Long story short, too many waterfalls are being loved to death. The impact of Social Media and its associated behaviors on some of these waterfalls is getting harder and harder to ignore or brush aside. There are countless instances waterfalls where rocks are being marked with graffiti, moss and plants being trampled into muddy pulp around the base of waterfalls thanks to surges of visitors, inconsiderate visitors leaving piles of trash or feces, bonfires being started illegally (and in some cases even whole trees being burned down), and camping where not allowed, and so forth. This is not isolated to any particular country or region either, it's been happening at an increased pace all around the globe, but much more frequently in places which are currently popular for Social Media visitation (Iceland, for example). Many waterfalls which are more off-the-beaten-path are essentially having paths beaten to them, largely due to the viral nature of pictures on Facebook, Instagram, and whatever other digital flavor of the month is currently the rage, and much more often than should be, the behavior of those who visit these places is unacceptable.
So, while encouraging visitors to be good stewards of the land, practicing leave no trace ethics, and sharing information responsibly is the obvious thing to ask, it's become clear that it's necessary to go one step further where possible. Therefore effective immediately, the World Waterfall Database will no longer provide explicit directions to any waterfalls which are not accessible via an established and maintained trail, and in some cases even if there is an unofficial trail, if the waterfall is located within a more delicate environment where increased visitation may pose a risk to the long term sustainability of the surroundings, directions may be selectively omitted as well. In contrast however, for off-trail waterfalls which are located in areas where there is little risk of the surroundings being trampled by heavy visitation, explicit directions may be selectively provided - this will be determined on a case-by-case basis and will have to be audited manually. For the time being all off-trail waterfalls have had their directions removed.
Changes to how the Maps work
May 04, 2018
Google is rolling out a new Maps platform in June, which is requiring some significant changes to how we're implementing the Google Maps windows on each waterfall's page. Previously the map window was interactive everywhere, but because the map load quota is being cut dramatically for the free tier of the Google Maps platform, we're no longer going to be able to use the interactive maps everywhere. Until a new solution to the map system is identified and implemented - a complete overhaul of the map tools is planned - we're switching out the maps on each waterfall's page with a static non-interactive map, with just a single marker showing the location of the one waterfall in question. No longer will you be able to see any nearby waterfalls on this map.
The maps used in the Map Browser will so far not be impacted by these changes, and will continue to function as usual. However, depending on how much traffic these maps continue to receive, we may have to implement further temporary restrictions to ensure we don't start to incur significant charges for using Google's maps (their billing rates have increased approximately 1400% due to the changes, and we simply will not be able to afford to use their maps at that rate). We're looking into alternatives to implement in the future, and hopefully for now this bandaid will suffice and make sure there are relatively few changes. However it is possible we may have to revert to a more generic map window on each waterfall's page that simply doesn't show markers at all. We'll know more by the end of June what else will have to change, if anything.
Waterfalls of Switzerland
April 15, 2018
Preceding what we hope will be an absolutely gargantuan dump of data later this year, we've managed to finish vetting and editing our dataset for Switzerland, and have just added another 409 entries to the database for that country, which our current total to 415 Waterfalls recorded in Switzerland. Switzerland is home to many of Europe's most impressive and noteworthy waterfalls, thanks to the extreme topography and glaciation provided by the Alps. Thus far we have recorded and confirmed at least 25 waterfalls with a height of over 300 meters - which includes 840 meter tall Mattenbachfälle, which is currently cracking the world's ten tallest list (time will tell if it remains there or gets knocked down a few spots). It is a near certainty that this addition of data to the site is not all-inclusive of the actual number of waterfalls to be found in Switzerland, but it's the extend of what we had thus far compiled and should serve as a pretty good start.
March 10, 2018
Recently we've been working to refine and overhaul our Ratings systems to make it a more useful metric across all areas of the database. Previously we had only been able to display the Global Rating for any given waterfall on any list page, and for those waterfalls which didn't quite meet the cut off point to allow them to qualify to be rated globally, there simply wouldn't be any Ratings data shown on the various list pages. This has been changed so that the Ratings column shown on all list pages is now localized to the Country or Region that the list applies to specifically. So when viewing the list of Waterfalls in the United States, all of the Ratings presented (where available) will be based on the scale for the United States only. Likewise for individual States or Provinces or other such first-level geopolitical subdivisions.
In addition to this change, we've been able to work towards unifying all of the various disconnected calculations used to determine the Ratings numbers displayed on the various parts of the site so that it should be a more automated process now. The bugs should mostly be worked out, but there may be some cases where the numbers won't quite look right (negative numbers may show up once in a while). If you see such a case, we would appreciate being notified so we can add it to the list of issues to address. In following, because of situations where these negative numbers may appear, we plan on conducting a full audit of all our Ratings data in the next year to ensure that the data is actually accurate - we've already noticed some aberrations that need to be corrected, but the exact method for correcting them will probably require some internal discussions. There is a good chance that we may end up overhauling the entire Ratings calculation in the future as a result.
Our New Home and Look
March 19, 2017
Though we had planned on doing an extensive overhaul of the World Waterfall Database in the not-too-distant future, our time table was moved up somewhat unexpectedly due to the sooner-than-expected expiration of our account at our previous server. So, obviously things look a bit different around here, and chances are there are going to be some glitches and bugs to work out of the system following the move and spitshine that we gave the website.
Now that we've moved over to our new digital home, our database is once again unified and we will continue to work toward our immediate goals of getting the administration system back online and functioning - this is all step 1 in our long term plans of opening up the World Waterfall Database to crowdsourced contribution. If it hasn't been painfully obvious to our readers, we have a pretty hard time getting new data added to the database in a timely fashion, so we will be building out infrastructure to allow YOU to help get us the data we need. These changes are still a ways out, but our goal is to have it partially operating this year.
In the mean time, almost everything from the old website is still here and functions the same as it did before - there are a few smaller features which we haven't yet re-enabled, and we're still working on importing our old Blog posts, but that should all be taken care of in the next several weeks or so. Additionally, we've added a few new minor features - browsing by Country is now easier (see the Database menu at the top of the page), the Map browser has been updated to be more responsive and friendly to Mobile devices. We are in the process of ensuring the site has good Mobile support as well, but that is one of the big "to be completed" tasks we have left, so for the time being things will look a bit odd on your Phone and possibly Tablet.
New Zealand is bursting with Waterfalls
October 22, 2016
We've been rather inactive here over the last six or so months, for any of several reasons (most of them good) that I won't get into. But now that the weather is turning for the season in our neck(s) of the woods, we've got more time to sit down and work on fleshing out the database a bit more again. To get things moving again, we've got a pretty substantial update for you: our full data set for the entire country of New Zealand. Turns out, New Zealand has a lot of waterfalls: we've recorded 2,217 so far, and still counting! We've already spotted at least two dozen more that our initial data set didn't pick up from our mapping efforts, so we'll be adding more in the future, but for now this should keep curious eyes quite busy.
Up next, we're returning to our effort to finish out the data for the United States.
New Zealand's elusive Turner Falls
February 20, 2016
One of our faithful visitors recently shared a some pretty spectacular footage with us of New Zealand's very rarely seen, yet quite obviously spectacular Turner Falls. According to topographic maps, this waterfall is noted as dropping 265 meters / 870 feet, however the contours of the maps actually contradict this measurement, and suggest that it's actually more like 380 meters / 1,260 feet tall. These are the first images we've seen of Turner excluding the aerial imagery visible on Google Earth, and it reveals this beast to be even more impressive than we suspected - leading us to suspect that it is indeed much closer to 380 meters tall, and that it may just rank as the 2nd best waterfall in New Zealand, only behind arguably the best waterfall in the southern hemisphere, Sutherland Falls.
See for yourselves:
December Update Number Two
December 29, 2015
Following up to our post from before Christmas, we just posted part two of our December 2015 data publish, adding an additional 543 waterfalls to the database; 278 more entries in the Canadian province of British Columbia, and in the United States, additions in the following states: Washington (203), Oregon (37), California (12), Montana (8), and Colorado (6). Through this process we identified a problem with our data import system that was resulting in duplicate entries in certain circumstances. While we're fairly certain we cleaned out all of the duplicates from the recent imports, there may be some still floating around out there that we haven't caught yet. If you do see any entries which appear to be duplicates (mapped twice, for example), please let us know - this shouldn't be an issue going forward.
With this recent data publish, our database currently sits at over 17,000 waterfalls and counting. Keep in mind that our primary focus thus far has been to get all of our data for the United States online first, so given that this only accounts for a small fraction of the globe, that's a pretty astounding number. When we finally get around to adding heavyweight countries like Norway, France, Australia, Switzerland, New Zealand, Japan, let alone finishing up the rest of Canada (Ontario and Quebec alone should add at LEAST another 1,500 entries), we'll be looking at a staggering number of waterfalls inventoried! Hopefully in 2016 we're able to grow the data much further and faster than we were able to this year.
December Update Number One
December 21, 2015
In a completely unexpected turn of events, we're really bad at getting new data up on the website. Shocking, I know. Well, better late than never I suppose? Having become abundantly obvious to us a few weeks ago that it had been nearly a year since we'd posted any new data to the database, we decided it was time to re-evaluate our strategy and see if maybe we can do things in a slightly more efficient way. So, rather than waiting until we have fully proofed our internal data sets and ensured they are as complete as possible, we are going to try to post whatever we have ready to go as soon as it's possible (within our not terribly flexible schedules at least).
That said, we've just posted data for several regions of North America: in the United States we've added nearly the complete data sets for Maine (238 entries) and Georgia (152 entries so far - more to be added later), as well as a smattering of additional falls in Minnesota, New Mexico, North and South Carolina, and Ohio. In Canada, we've added the very limited data sets we had for Yukon, Nunavut, and the Northwest Territories, as well as the full data set for Saskatchewan (yes, there are in fact waterfalls in Saskatchewan), as well as a solitary entry in New Brunswick which shares the border with Maine.
We will probably try to get one more publish done before the end of the year, with possibly the rest of the Georgia and Maine data, as well as additions to Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, and more of the mountainous western states, and hopefully at least one full set for one of the remaining US States which hasn't been published yet.
Introducing the new Map tool
January 12, 2015
Probably the most glaring issue with our website has been the ability to easily browse the contents of the database to find any given waterfall. For years we had been meaning to address the issue but simply never got a chance to for whatever reason (and many of them not very good at that). Well we've finally been able to do something about it, and today marks the launch of our new Mapping tool.
With this new system you will be able to browse the entire contents of our database in a Google Maps window. To start, this is limited only to browsing by any given country - and in certain cases States or Provinces within that country (currently this only applies to the United States, Canada, and Australia, but will expand in the future). In the future we plan on adding the ability to display search results and Top 100 lists on the map, and expand on the flexibility of the system further.
Check it out for yourself - click here (or the image above) to launch the Map.