Which Way Did They Go? Newcomer Movement through the Zooniverse

PDF icon CSCW2016-Roles.pdf1.38 MB

Publication Type:

Conference Proceedings


19th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW) (2016)


Research on newcomer roles in peer production sites (e.g., Wikipedia) is characterized by a broad and relatively well-articulated set of functionally and culturally recognizable roles. But not all communities come with well-defined roles that newcomers can aspire to occupy. The present study explores activity clusters newcomers create when faced with few recognizable roles to fill and limited access to other participants’ work that serves as an exemplar. Drawing on a mixed method research design, we present findings from an analysis of 1,687 newcomers’ sessions in a citizen science project. Combining session- and individual-level analysis produced three findings (1) newcomers activities manifest a diverse range of session types; (2) Newcomers toggle between light work sessions and more involved types of production or community engagement; (3) an interesting relationship between high-level contributors who do a lot of work but little talk and a small group that does a lot of talk but less work. The former group draws heavily on posts contributed by the latter group. Identifying shifts and regularities in contribution facilitate improved mechanisms for engaging participants and the design of online citizen science communities.