What attracts users to the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL)? - A pilot study


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What attracts users to the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL)? - A pilot study

  1. 1. Method: Semi-structured interviews. Participants: 10 potential users (undergraduate students in University of Maryland) Procedure: Step 1: We introduced four citizen science biodiversity sites (iNaturalist, iSpot, EOL, and Floracaching) to potential users. Step 2: We asked potential users whether they like or dislike each of these four websites and why? What attracts users to the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) ? – A pilot study Objectives: For an online community, success means it can attract enough new users and retain existing users. In this pilot study, we aimed to investigate whether a citizen science biodiversity website (eol.org) is a successful online community. We also tried to understand potential users and existing users’ motivation for participating in EOL. Introduction: Q1: Is EOL attractive enough for potential users? Q2: Can EOL retain existing users? Citizen science websites allow amateur and nonprofessional scientists to collaborate with scientists. EOL (encyclopedia of life) is a citizen science biodiversity site, which provides global access to knowledge about life on Earth. Method: EOL traffic data recorded by Google Analytics. (2010.1 ~2011.12) Results: 0 50000 100000 150000 200000 250000 300000 350000 400000 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Month Chart 1: traffic data of EOL visits visitors 2010 2011 Results: * Score of attractiveness = Number of “like” – Number of “dislike” Three most attractive features: 1. beautiful user interface design; 2. smart phone access; 3. interactive maps. “It is an encyclopedia that lives on the Internet and is contributed to by scientists and amateurs, it has an indefinitely expandable page for each species, available to anyone.” “Imagine an electronic page for each species of organism on Earth.” – Edward O. Wilson Sites Compare iNaturalist iSpot EOL Floracaching Layout Device Personal computer, Smart phone Personal computer Personal computer Smart phone Create account Yes Yes Yes Yes Add observation directly Yes Yes No Yes Add/correct identification of observation Yes Yes Yes No Provide comments to observation Yes Yes No No Special features Explore, Learn Forum, Reputation system Search engine, Different user privileges Reputation system Table 1: Feature analysis for four citizen science biodiversity websites Sites Number of “like” Number of “Dislike” *Score of attractiveness iNaturalist 25 2 23 EOL 8 3 5 Floracaching 6 4 2 iSpot 7 6 1 Table 2: Attractiveness for four citizen science biodiversity websites 1. Overall the number of visits and visitors increased from 2010 to 2011. 2. There is a pattern: the number of visits and visitors during spring, and autumn was larger than in winter and summer as indicated by the red and black circles on the above graph. The number of visits and visitors might be influenced by seasons, school terms and vacations. Conclusion: 1. There is potential for EOL to be more attractive for potential users. 2. Although participation in EOL varies., EOL is quite successful in retaining existing users. There may be potential to encourage more participation. Acknowledgements: We thank the NSF SoCS program for its support through grant # 0968546 Future research questions: 1. What other motivational factors could influence potential users to start to use EOL and existing users to participate more often? 2. What will motivate potential users to use EOL. (e.g. increase attractiveness of EOL)? 3. What will motivate existing users to use EOL more through out the year? Yurong He, Jennifer Preece, Jae-wook Ahn, Anne Bowser, David Jacobs, Jennifer Hammock, Derek Hansen, Cynthia Parr, Dana Rotman Spring Autumn