Announcing Wolfram|Alpha Volunteer Central
Have you ever wanted to contribute to Wolfram|Alpha? Do you have an area of expertise you would like to share with the world? By becoming a volunteer data curator for Wolfram|Alpha, you can help us expand our data and be a part of our initiative to make the world’s knowledge computable.
We’ve now made it easier than ever to contribute with the opening of Volunteer Central, the new landing pad for Wolfram|Alpha volunteers.
Volunteer Central is a place for contributors to get updates, check out new projects, and track their progress. Projects are categorized into challenge areas, which are searchable in the dashboard. After applying for an account on the network and creating a login, you can easily find projects to work on, upload them, and see your completed and in-progress projects all in one place.
Uploading a new project earns you “data points”, which add up in your dashboard. Different levels of data points will earn you badges that you can display proudly on your Facebook page and Twitter, as well as other websites.
We currently have projects in challenge areas ranging from currency data to video game data, and we will be adding new projects on a consistent basis. If you want to contribute, but don’t see a challenge area that interests you, you can suggest it by emailing us.
Volunteer Central is a fun and easy way to contribute to Wolfram|Alpha and connect with other Wolfram|Alpha enthusiasts. Use your passion for data for good and sign up to be a volunteer today!
So in exchange for having users populate your site with more data, data from which Wolfram will then attempt to make money, you believe little “badges” are an appropriate reward?
I have no problem with Wolfram – or any company – seeking to make a profit. But it’s more than a little disappointing when you patronise your users by expecting them to be happy with virtual (and virtually useless) “data points” in return for helping you to generate that profit.
Find a way of turning these “data points” into, say, licenses for Mathematica and this scheme might begin to look attractive.
Thank you for your comments, vonjd and physicsfromahedgerow. We have been working with volunteers in different ways for just over a year now and we’ve been happy to offer incentives in the past in exchange for volunteers passionately contributing data in their areas of expertise. It was this passion that inspired us to expand the program and launch the new Volunteer Central. With our new system, we have been working on ways for volunteers to redeem data points for various things. We are appreciative of your suggestions to provide Mathematica licenses or other upgrades. We will certainly take them into consideration as we continue to roll out new features of Volunteer Central.
And who vets these volunteer data curators to ensure that Wolfram|Alpha doesn’t turn into another wikipedia? We don’t need another nest of well-connected but ill-informed amateurs censoring and blocking information from real researchers.
Our own curators vet the data from volunteers and check the sources. Each project has required fields for source information, so we are checking the sources as well as the actual data.
Volunteer Central Team
I agree with physicsfromahedgerow: These points should be somewhat useful – e.g. for getting an upgrade to the upcoming premium version of WA. You won’t lose much but provide a great motivation for doing your work.
What ‘upcoming premium version of WA?
I would also be happy to contribute. However, even though virtual points are not the primary motive for joining, there need to be some tangible benefits. I take the point though the the term “volunteer” itself implies that the work would essentially be voluntary but a little real appreciation would help.