A modern concept derived from the digital age of the Internet. Crowdsourcing is often a source of free or cheap labour, in which data is made available to the wider public online to work on and help complete. In particular historic crowdsourcing projects like Old Weather and Transcribe Bentham have taken particular styles in the way they hope to appeal to the community. Old Weather documents ship logs from a number of vessels from the 19th century, and official record of where the ships had gone. Historians who were interested in climate change realised this data would let them determine the weather in the 19th century. Thus created the website to try to tempt the online community into participating by making it seem more like a game. Whereas Transcribe Bentham took a more straightforward approach, the website simply required the public to transcribe Bentham’s writing into modern English.

Old Weather has a game like effect, in which the more ship logs you complete your score increases, than your rank increase. The aim is that it draws on our competitive spirit to compete for the highest score. Which encourages you to try to become captain, maybe this content is not going to appeal to people in its own right, which is why they created it like a game. On the other Transcribe Bentham being much simpler in its process, ‘It was therefore important to design a user-friendly interface which facilitated communication in order to keep users coming back to the site, and to develop a sense of community cohesion’.[1] Links between the two projects are that they want to achieve a sense of a growing virtual community amongst their contributors. However, Transcribe Bentham did not succeed with the social aspect of the site ‘having integrated social media facilities into the Transcription Desk, there is minimal evidence of interaction between Transcribe Bentham users.’[2]

Transcribe Bentham used Team Building features like Old Weather, ‘Volunteers received points for every edit made; as an incentive we devised a multi-tiered ranking system, a progress ladder stretching from “probationer” to “prodigy” for transcribers to climb.’[3] So for volunteers there are extra incentives for them to not just contribute once, but continue to contribute earning points and gain ranks, which was aimed at keeping volunteers. This method also did not effectively attract the wider public into participating but however, they found that most volunteers were those who had an interest in history and were history academies or had interests in Bentham’s notes themselves. This shows the aims of attracting the wider community was not a success. That said, some improvements, which could better the citizens historians experience, is perhaps for Old Weather, ‘tool designers must not forget the importance of a simple and clear user interface.’[4] I found that it was quite difficult to understand the interface and took some time to get used to, improving this making it more simpler and would benefit the volunteer making it quicker for them to engage with the activity.

[1] (Accessed, 20/03/2015) paragraph, 23


(Accessed, 20/03/2015) paragraph, 66


(Accessed, 20/03/2015) paragraph, 24


(Accessed, 20/03/2015) paragraph, 34