Field of Science

Citizen Science: Rinse & Repeat

One of the funny things about language is that everybody has their own. There is no "English" out there, existing independently of all its speakers. Instead, there are about one billion people out there, all of whom speak their own idiolect. Most likely, no two people share exactly the same vocabulary (I know some words you might not, possibly including idiolect, and you know some words I don't). Reasonable people can disagree about grammar rules, particularly if one is from Florida and the other from Northern Ireland.

This is one of the reasons we decided to ask people to create usernames in order to contribute to VerbCorner. Suppose two people answer the same question on VerbCorner but disagree. One possibility is that one of them made a mistake (which happens!). But another possibility is that they actually speak different dialects of English, and both are correct (for their dialect). It's hard to tell these possibilities apart by looking at just one question, but by looking at their answers to a set of questions, we can start to get a handle on whether this was a mistake or a real disagreement. The more answers we get from the same person -- particularly across different tasks -- the easier it is to do these analyses.

If we didn't have usernames, it would be hard to figure out which answers all belong to the same person. This is particularly true if the same person comes back to the website from time to time.

People are coming back. At last check, we have ten folks who have answered over 500 questions and four who have answered over 1000. (You can see this by clicking "more" on the leader-board on the main page).

Still, it would be great if we had even more folks who have answered large numbers of questions. Our goal is to have everyone in the top 20 to have answered at least 500 questions by the end of the month.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Really interesting Karina, thanks ​!
​Given your interest, I think that you (and the other readers here) would be really interested in some recent research that I have come across about crowds and citizen science. ​ ​

It’s called “The Theory of Crowd Capital” and you can download it here if you’re interested:

In my view it provides a powerful, yet simple model, getting to the heart of the matter. Enjoy!