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Joined: 03/29/2018
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Hello everybody,

I am a student in Science Journalism and I am writing an article about Citizen Science.

I am interested in knowing what took you to start participating in Citizen Science projects? What is your experience with it? And why do you think Citizen Science is important.

I would really appreciate if any of you could answer to this questions.

Thanks in advance.



S0ckrates's picture
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Joined: 05/19/2017
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Personal Interest and Subject Familiarity

Hi there,

With me, Foldit got me onboard since it was a form of citizen science that melded a lot of familiar ground for me into something new. I like video games, was enthralled by the idea that this one is used for real science, and after taking several classes for my major (Pharmaceutical Chemistry), I started to appreciate this game more when I tried it again (the first time was in high school and I got bored and quit).

My take on why Citizen Science is important is that it tackles many things at once; it's educational, but also engaging. It challenges both normal citizens participating in it and scientists creating these endeavors, because they have to think about how to bridge the gap between complicated science and widespread involvement.

Joined: 09/24/2012
Groups: Go Science
Science starts as a hobby, a passion, from child

This starts far before engaging in Sciences (studies). Then in life, you have no opportunity to act in all "dreamed" sciences. You are paid for some science, but you continue your passion with other sciences. This begins with reading (science papers), continues with supporting (science projects) and to act as a volunteer in Citizen Sciences.

A good example for me is natural science. It starts from protecting nature (acting as activist to ask for natural reserves protection), nature photography and finally going to count birds, amphibians, ants, bees and anything the nature scientists ask us to contribute to.

Foldit is a convergence between a passion for molecular biology and a passion for programming. With Citizen Science, I can "be" a scientist without being paid for (without needing to find a job - a job is easier to find for other thinks where more money is available for). I can "be" a scientist in something where the life did not drive me. It's a way of realizing child dreams.

Aside of the passion, there is a "bonus" to have the feeling that these passions "can" (with luck) be useful for society.

I would hardly engage in Citizen Science as simple repetitive "sensor". There must be some pleasure in it, like having a good pretext to walk in the wild early in the morning, saying to my wife "sorry, I have to go to count the birds for the bird atlas...". Or for foldit: some nature aesthetics, a big challenge, some competition, and a chance, from time to time, to be "co-author" of scientific papers in famous journals.

Some recognition (from scientists or group members saying "thanks"), or self-recognition are part of it. But passion for nature, and dream, are the main drivers.

georg137's picture
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Foldit is actually a fairly

Foldit is actually a fairly rewarding activity in itself, and citizen science is perhaps an overly lofty motivation to credit for participation. Planning, concentration and attention are needed in order to achieve successful results, and the feedback from the application is usually immediate. There is a dynamic tension between required skills and the challenges presented in the form of "puzzles", and members have significant personal command over the circumstances of molecular creation and the outcome. It's a fun experience to learn Foldit as a beginner, and the nature of the rewards changes over time as one gains expertise in the application. Also, there is a Foldit community and a Foldit culture. Members compete, but also communicate and form groups.

So Foldit ticks a lot of boxes from the standpoints of motivation and social needs. I think that the founders have, wittingly or not, created a rather interesting psychological environment which benefits citizen science more as a by-product. But there are certainly notable core members motivated by more than the mere pleasure of "playing" Foldit.

As an aside, I suggest that the recent addition of corporate interests in Foldit solutions and the requirement for members to implicitly agree to new intellectual property restrictions risks changing Foldit culture for the worse. Participation in my group has declined, and there are members who are not contributing to the corporate efforts.

jeff101's picture
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Joined: 04/20/2012
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Corporate Involvement:

I can understand georg137's concerns about corporate involvement,
but another viewpoint is that corporate interest shows trust in
Foldit's results and effectiveness. If Foldit was predicting a bunch
of nonsense, these big collaborations wouldn't occur (for long).
I like these big collaborations and find them to boost my morale
within the game. They make me feel like I am contributing to
something real.


Developed by: UW Center for Game Science, UW Institute for Protein Design, Northeastern University, Vanderbilt University Meiler Lab, UC Davis
Supported by: DARPA, NSF, NIH, HHMI, Microsoft, Adobe, RosettaCommons