A big thank you to the 545 members who contributed to the feedback survey last summer. The responses gave a pretty good indication of the diversity of the Old Weather community: in total 35 different countries were represented, although the majority of respondents as we'd expected came from either the UK or the USA. Almost a quarter of those who took part were retired, but nearly half also have a full time job across a really wide range of occupations. What connects meteorologists with doctors and nurses, musicians, and armed services personnel, university lecturers with nuns, doctors, airline pilots, teachers, computer software engineers, chefs? Old Weather!
You may remember that the survey focused particularly on what spurred you to sign up to Old Weather in the first place and what keeps you motivated to keep on transcribing the logs (or conversely, what put you off). My initial analysis has concentrated on identifying broad underlying groups of motivational factors. For example, some people really like to compete with other participants to become Captain of a ship, whereas others are more engaged by the social history of life on board the ship as reflected through the log book entries. Other people again might actually be motivated by both aspects at once. The next phase of the statistical analysis will look at whether we can use these broad factors to predict participants' contribution behaviour, and if so, what design recommendations could be made to improve your experience of taking part in Old Weather and to encourage you to contribute more to the project, or more often.
You also added some really useful comments and suggestions to the survey, and myself and colleagues on the http://citizencyberlab.com
research project at UCL would like to add to this detailed picture of participants' experiences of Old Weather. We'd also like to speak to some people who haven't actually contributed very many classifications, as well as those who are really keen. It's just as important to understand what doesn't work as an encouragement for people to take part in online citizen science, as it is to know what works well.
So, if you were kind enough to volunteer your Old Weather username on the survey, you may be receiving a direct message from me through the forum in the next day or two asking if you'd be willing to take part in a short, half hour interview by telephone or Skype. Unfortunately we can't interview all 315 of you who gave us a username, so we will be selective in the people we contact based on the answers you gave to certain questions in the survey. And of course, if you are contacted, you are under no obligation whatsoever to take part in an interview - although it would be helpful if you could let us know that you'd rather not be interviewed, so that we can contact someone else in your place.
The survey also asked if you were interested in the research outputs of the Old Weather project, and the response was an overwhelming 'yes'! And I know some people have already posted on the forum that they would be interested in the results of the survey analysis too. In fact, I'm hoping you may be able to help out here. I'd be really interested to hear from you if you have any suggestions of places where we could spread the word about this motivation research and what it is that you love about taking part in Old Weather. You can contact me direct through the forum - my username is 80GB.