Coop’s Citizen Sci Scoop: Try it, you might like it

Response by Caren Cooper at PLOS: “Margaret Mead, the world-famous anthropologist said, “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
The sentiment rings true for citizen science.
Yet, recent news in the citizen science world has been headlined “Most participants in citizen science projects give up almost immediately.” This was based on a study of participation in seven different projects within the crowdsourcing hub called Zooniverse. Most participants tried a project once, very briefly, and never returned.
What’s unusual about Zooniverse projects is not the high turnover of quitters. Rather, it’s unusual that even early quitters do some important work. That’s a cleverly designed project. An ethical principle of Zooniverse is to not waste people’s time. The crowdsourcing tasks are pivotal to advancing research. They cannot be accomplished by computer algorithms or machines. They require crowds of people, each chipping in a tiny bit. What is remarkable is that the quitters matter at all….
An Internet rule of thumb in that only 1% (or less) of users add new content to sites like Wikipedia. Citizen science appears to operate on this dynamic, except instead of a core group adding existing knowledge for the crowd to use, a core group is involved in making new knowledge for the crowd to use….
In citizen science, a crowd can be four or a crowd can be hundreds of thousands. A citizen scientist is not a person who will participate in any project. They are individuals – gamers, birders, stargazers, gardeners, weather bugs, hikers, naturalists, and more – with particular interests and motivations.
As my grandfather said, “Try it, you might like it.” It’s fabulous that millions are trying it. Sooner or later, when participants and projects find one another, a good match translates into a job well done….(More)”.