Lessons from fraxinus, a crowd-sourced citizen science game in genomics

Ghanasyam Rallapalli, Fraxinus Players, Diane Go Saunders, Kentaro Yoshida, Anne Edwards, Carlos A. Lugo, Steve Collin, Bernardo Clavijo, Manuel Corpas, David Swarbreck, Matthew Clark, J. Allan Downie, Sophien Kamoun, Team Cooper, Dan MacLean

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21 Citations (Scopus)


In 2013, in response to an epidemic of ash dieback disease in England the previous year, we launched a Facebook-based game called Fraxinus to enable non-scientists to contribute to genomics studies of the pathogen that causes the disease and the ash trees that are devastated by it. Over a period of 51 weeks players were able to match computational alignments of genetic sequences in 78% of cases, and to improve them in 15% of cases. We also found that most players were only transiently interested in the game, and that the majority of the work done was performed by a small group of dedicated players. Based on our experiences we have built a linear model for the length of time that contributors are likely to donate to a crowd-sourced citizen science project. This model could serve a guide for the design and implementation of future crowd-sourced citizen science initiatives.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere07460
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2015

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