Crowd Science

Wisdom of the crowd, waning

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Science  20 Feb 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6224, pp. 837
DOI: 10.1126/science.347.6224.837-d

Many researchers, agencies, and companies are turning to “the crowd” for help with data collection and analysis, but we lack systematic understanding of who those volunteers are and how they perform. Such insights might help expand and improve crowd sourcing for research. Sauermann and Franzoni draw on over 12 million daily observations of more than 100,000 users across seven projects on the Zooniverse platform. They estimate that the average project received volunteer labor worth roughly $220,000 during the first 180 days. But 79% of the effort, on average, was provided by the most productive 10% of users. Roughly 75% of users failed to participate in a project after their first session, and even those who returned multiple times did so with increasingly long breaks between visits. Significant effort is expended by new users who join over time, but this does not offset the loss of effort from original users.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1408907112 (2014).

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