Why Citizen Science?

Citizen Sort is made up of many parts. Firstly, a research project at Syracuse University studying human-computer interaction and the motivation for citizen science. It was also designed to help researchers and scientists classify the specimen in their photo databases. We work with a diverse amount of scientists whose databases range from plants, to sharks, to squirrels to moths. We have collaborated with the researchers to design a useful and informative classification tool for both the user and the scientist.

How it Works

A scientist or researcher usually has thousands of photographs they have taken themselves in the field. The photos cover a diverse field and were taken over a long period of time. The photographs are a major part of their research. Some are studying the affects of climate change on certain species or the population of predators. There is a lot of information in one photo but first the question is “what am I looking at?” A pretty big and important question. From the citizen scientist, or amateur perspective, it’s quite hard to correctly answer that question. From the scientist perspective it’s also not that easy. The preview version Citizen Sort released of Happy Match! is called Happy Moth! Through four rounds, you will classify a set of ten photographs. Sure, it’s not the quickest game but it has a purpose. Each round is one question, some ask about color, shape or pattern. The questions are straight forward but vital characteristics to classify the photograph. In Happy Moth! as well as the other versions of the video game, the scientist wrote the questions themselves. They are necessary to determine the species of moth and by playing through the rounds you will make significant contributions to their research. At the end of each game, your classifications will be recorded and sent back to the scientist for them to classify. The researcher will receive a list of the overall classifications and with these detailed and vital descriptions the researcher can quickly determine the species. The next step of their research differs but they all begin with the same with your classifications.

Why Bother?

Why should you get involved in citizen science projects? Well, why not! They’re endless opportunities and chances for you to dive into the world of citizen science. There are projects that range from taking and uploading photos to measuring the amount of pollution in a river. No matter your interest you will find a project to join! Try visiting citizen science websites like SciStarter for a list of citizen science projects. Your contributions may seem small, one photograph here or answering some questions there. However, together these tasks play a significant role in the research project. Whether you work on your own or as a team, the potential in citizen science is endless. You don’t have to be an expert at animals or nature to participate in a citizen science project. In fact, amateur and volunteers come into projects with a fresh eye, a new perspective that is not usually seen. This twist on the norm can lead to the next big scientific discovery. Why else? Because citizen science is like a free trip. You can search through images from around the world. Or travel back in time and examine old documents from abandoned ships. No matter which you choose, it will be fun, significant and a game for good.

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