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Today, it seems like Sightings and Nearby can coexist at one time (I hadn't seen this before today, even in the same place, since it's in my office).

enter image description here

You can't tell from the picture, but there was actually another Pokéstop directly between my position and the Pokéstop the Venonat, Rattata, and Pidgey were at. Based on where the Rattata and Spearow spawned, I would've thought they'd appear as Nearby that Pokéstop, but they didn't.

Thus, what distance determines whether Pokémon are shown as Nearby versus Sighted? Is it distance to the player or to the Pokéstop?

  • My best bet would be that some spawners are assigned to a stop. These ones will show up as Nearby. Otherwise they fall down in the sighted category. – Karlyr Dec 13 '16 at 12:45
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My observation is that it works in a following way.

Nearby list shows the Pokémon at the Pokéstops which might be up to ~1 km far away from you.

If there are four or more Pokémon in the Nearby list, you will see only the Nearby list.

If there are less than four Pokémon in the Nearby list, then the Sightings list (aka the "old tracker") is shown too displaying Pokémon that are 200m from you or closer (not necessarily at the Pokéstop).

It looks like a first step towards the rural players who don't have tons of Pokéstops around them, so this way they at least see three Pokémon that are close.

Added:

Thus, what distance determines whether Pokémon are shown as Nearby versus Sighted? Is it distance to the player or to the Pokéstop?

It is the distance of the Pokémon from the Pokéstop plus some internal hidden flag (not all Pokémon at a Pokéstop are counted as Pokéstop ones and would be shown in the Nearby list). It is however safe to say, that all Pokémon shown in the Nearby list, will be up to 10-15 meters from the Pokéstop (up to 1 km from you). And Pokémon in the Sightings will be up to 200 meters from you (no matter whether at a Pokéstop or not).

Example:

Imagine being in a situation shown below. Note, that the "Pokéstop Pokémon" is displayed as linked with the Pokéstop, while the Pokémon that is not related to the Pokéstop, it just happens to be at the same location, is displayed as not linked with the Pokéstop (e.g. Charmander).

At the beginning you will see only the Nearby list with the Caterpie, Rattata, Ekans and Spearow. You won't see Bulbusaur, as it's too far (let me say that I don't know what exactly the limit is, but it looks something around 1km +/- 200m). And you won't see Pikachu or Charmander, as they are not the Pokéstop Pokémons. Then you'll catch Caterpie. Since there are only three Pokémon in your Nearby list now, the Sightings list will appear showing Pikachu. You still won't see Blastoise or Charmander as they are too far for the Sightings.

demo

  • The nearby tracker works the other way around. If you are close to more than three stops it'll show you the nearby list. Otherwise you won't see it. Source : polygon.com/2016/12/9/13902610/… – Karlyr Dec 13 '16 at 12:38
  • Also you don't really answer the question which is why close to stops pokemon doesn't always show up in the Nearby tracker. – Karlyr Dec 13 '16 at 12:47
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    @Karlyr - but you are right, that OP explicitly asked about what factor determines mon being in Nearby or Sightings. I'll add an explicit answer there. Thanks. – Eulali Cumir Dec 13 '16 at 13:02
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    The graphic is a nice touch. If you removed the stop near the Caterpie, that would basically look like how my map looks from my office. In my picture in the question, all of the Nearby Pokemon were for the Pokestop that Bulbasaur is near, but all of the Sightings were closer to the middle Pokestop than me, which was what was baffling. – Vemonus Dec 13 '16 at 13:46
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    @EulaliCumir much better. Sorry if it came out rude at first, it's just that I thought the answer could be better suited to the problem. – Karlyr Dec 13 '16 at 14:19
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To answer the first part of your question, the Pokestop that is closer to you might not have any Pokemon located at it.

Answer to second part:

Nearby Pokemon are those that are located at a Pokestop or really close to one. Thus, if you are in the range of a certain Pokestop, you will be able to catch that Pokemon, provided you are not moving too quickly (i.e. in a car) and no one else has just caught it.

Sightings are Pokemon which aren't quite located nearby a Pokestop, and are Pokemon located ANYWHERE else.

If both Nearby and Sightings are available, then they will show you a maximum of 3 Pokemon for each category. Otherwise, you will see all 9 spots filled with either Nearby or Sightings.

The Pokemon that show up in your Nearby are the 3 Pokemon that are closest to you and are at a Pokestop. The Pokemon that show up in your Sightings are the 3 Pokemon that are closest to you and aren't at a Pokestop.

(I'm sorry if my answer was poorly organized)

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    The pokemons are the same for everyone. Someone else catching a pokemon won't affect your personnal game. – Karlyr Dec 13 '16 at 12:31
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    Also you don't really answer the question which is why close to stops pokemon doesn't always show up in the Nearby tracker. – Karlyr Dec 13 '16 at 12:47

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