Recycling features from around the Zooniverse

Cecile Faure and Brian Carstensen

At the Zurich workshop we looked at some of the already existing or in development zooniverse projects, to see what features we could borrow, copy or adapt in the lens zoo. There’s some useful bits and pieces we can recycle – see what you think!

  • Visible progress on the starting page: We  thought it might be nice to have a “skywalker” on the starting page, showing the total area of sky being investigated. In our first case, this would be the CFHT-LS survey.  This feature will be in use in some of the new projects (e.g. Sea-floor explorer) – it’s a nice way for us to see how far we have got. We also would like a progress report on this page such as in the Milky Way Project.

  • Pop-up tutorials: The majority of the people who met in Zurich thought that the initial classification process should be guided by little pop-up help boxes, like it is in Moon Zoo
  • Online scientific discussion: To enable this, we think we’d like to use a Talk-like forum, as is done in PlanetHunters – although there are some aspects of it we’d like to change as well. In addition to the ability to discuss candidates, we would like you to be able to vote on them, to make the most of the expert volunteers’ experience. This would be a new feature – none of the Zoos have this yet!

  • Annotating images: In order to have a good discussion about a lens candidate, we need to know which features we are talking about! We could do this by enabling you to put markers – like thumbtacks – on the images, during the classification stage. We think this would help a lot in the discussion, as each volunteer could indicate exactly what he/she is talking about. We could also then collect the coordinates of the objects in a database to make further analysis easier. A similar feature  is already in use in Ancient lives.

  • Links to social networks: It was not much discussed, but it feels like this is necessary: new users might well find it fun to show off their new discoveries on facebook, etc, and this might then encourage more people to get involved. We’d like to find as many new LensHunters as we can!

  • Volunteer achievements: At the moment, Galaxy Zoo users are labelled as newbies, heros and so on, according to their activity level on the forum. This is great – new users can see who has been there longest and is most active in helping others get started. Is there more feedback we could give users, that would improve their experience? Would you like to see your achievements logged in terms of the number of images you have inspected? Or the number of good lens candidates successfully detected? Or something else?
  • Zoonibot:  Wikipedia has various “robots” that wander around its system, automatically making small corrections and suggestions. The Zoonibot is a first attempt at one of these robots for the Zooniverse Talk system. There are many things the Zoonibot could help with – such as pointing new users towards some of the reference and tutorial material on the site, if they seem sto be getting stuck. While we don’t want it to replace human interactions in the forum, it seems like the Zoonibot could be helpful in some situations. What do you think?

One more consensus came out of the workshop: it’s great if a zoo website *looks good.*  There are some very talented designers working at the Zooniverse, who can help turn your ideas into reality. Keep them coming in the comments!




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