Crowdsourcing is when a large group of people contribute services, ideas, or content towards one task or project. This is often done by an online community. By combining the efforts of many, both volunteers and employees, the goal can be reached and often at a greater result than originally intended.

Galaxy Zoo is an online astronomy project that invites people to assist in the morphological classification of large numbers of galaxies. This crowdsourcing project went live in February 2009 and the third iteration of the project launched in April 2010.

The crowdsourcing approach helps to avoid the “data deluge” often created in a research project. It can be overwhelming to say the least.

According to Kevin Schawinski, an astrophysicist at Oxford University and co-founder of Galaxy Zoo, “I classified 50,000 galaxies myself in a week, it was mind-numbing.” Citizen science (crowdsourcing) is a powerful way of solving this problem.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Access Innovations, the world leader in thesaurus, ontology, and taxonomy creation and metadata application.