Pokémon Go's already inscrutable system of tracking nearby Pokémon is now even harder for many players to read, due to a glitch that renders every Pokémon the same distance away. Players have complained that the system claims that every Pokémon is listed as three footprints away, making it tough to discern which characters are closer and which are farther away.
The nearby Pokémon meter, found at the lower right-hand corner of the screen, lists Pokémon in the vicinity for players to catch. If the Pokémon is in silhouette, it's one that's not yet in a trainer's Pokédex. Typically, a shadowed Pokémon showing up on the meter is cause for excitement. Due to this glitch, however, players can't tell if the Pokémon is actually in the area at all.
Measuring distance by footprints — one if the Pokémon is especially close, three if it's farther away — is already confusing for many players. As Pokémon Go requires players to trek outdoors in order to fill out their Pokédex, knowing how far they have to walk to find a Dratini, Victreebell or Ditto is crucial. Since the game doesn't use an actual quantifiable measure, the glitch just adds more stress to a frustrating process.
For now, it's best to ignore the nearby meter until Niantic issues a patch for the problem. We've reached out to the developer for more and will update accordingly.