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!
One of the most rewarding aspects of working on Wolfram|Alpha is the support from everybody who wants to participate in our mission to make all systematic knowledge computable by everyone. Some help by submitting ideas for data sets or usability, or by reporting bugs; others are helping us achieve this goal as Wolfram|Alpha volunteer data curators. We’d like to take this opportunity to recognize a few of our volunteers and share highlights of the program.
Data curators are charged with identifying and collecting data for a specific subject area or region, and preparing the data to be incorporated into Wolfram|Alpha. There are many advantages to being a volunteer for Wolfram|Alpha compared to other online databases. First, because Wolfram|Alpha is in the early stages of its growth, there are plenty of opportunities to contribute to areas of most interest to you. Second, the data that volunteers curate is reviewed and verified with a member of the Wolfram|Alpha development team, so you don’t have to worry about your contribution being erased or altered by another user on the web. In addition, all volunteers receive a complimentary Mathematica license for the duration of their involvement.
Today we have a global network of over 240 volunteer data curators from over 50 countries, including Mexico, Colombia, Australia, France, Greece, United Arab Emirates, China, Malaysia, India, Egypt, and the United States. We’d like to introduce a few volunteers and share why they became involved in the project and what they hope to achieve.
Seth, a United States native residing in Austin, Texas, recently retired after 30 years of work in mathematics, physics, computer science, and statistics. Throughout his career he has contributed to an impressive number of projects in fields ranging from epidemiology to meteorology, social network analysis, and many more.
He became a Wolfram|Alpha Volunteer Data Curator shortly after the site’s launch in May 2009. Seth claims he got involved because of “ulterior motives,” stating, “The old saying says, ‘You learn something new every day.’ Through my work on the project, I wanted to see if I can learn two new things.”
This international traveler and avid reader says the amount of time he allocates to the project varies from week to week depending on what life brings. Thus far Seth has contributed to the project by gathering country data for New Zealand, and publication and distribution data for books. We asked Seth about the challenges he has encountered as a curator and he said, “One challenge that anyone working with ‘real world’ data has to deal with is the quality, currency, and availability of data. In this type of work, when I find a reliable, up-to-date, comprehensive source of information, I feel like a miner, after digging through tons of granite, finally encountering a vein of pure gold. I pick out every bit of useful information I can, then continue on through the granite. By the time I go from raw data, organize it into understandable information to submit for inclusion into the knowledge base, it has to be correct. If there is a choice between including data that could well be incorrect and leaving that data out, it should be left out until better data can be found.”
Saleh Penhos runs a knit clothing factory that produces graphic T-shirts in Mexico City, Mexico. He is also a self-professed fan of computers. Saleh says his computer skills are mostly self-taught but that he did study computer systems engineering in college.
Saleh became a volunteer after learning about Wolfram|Alpha’s mission. He says that he immediately fell in love with the project and saw volunteering as an opportunity to contribute to the data community. Thus far, Saleh has experienced no challenges. In fact, he says he enjoys searching for reliable information, and as a bonus he is exposed to new fields of knowledge. He currently spends about seven hours a week curating Mexico’s country and geographic data in addition to translating some information to the Spanish language.
Rohan Sehgal is a native of India, currently studying in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Rohan’s goal of becoming a computer engineer led him to Wolfram|Alpha when he began using the site for help with differential and integral calculus. He said the benefits he received from Wolfram|Alpha led him to want to contribute to its growth.
We recently checked up with Rohan to find out what he was working on, and he said, “Currently I’m participating in a project for finding information on fictional characters in movies, serials, and books. But I have curated data involving languages, units of measurement, and facts and figures on countries as well. Being a curator takes anywhere between fifteen minutes to an hour’s work a week. Wolfram|Alpha is extremely supportive and has not only provided me with assistance at nearly all points of time, but also with the software to work on the same platform as them. All in all it has been a wonderful experience.” More »
If you’re as excited about Wolfram|Alpha as we are, and want to help out, consider becoming a volunteer curator. Our volunteer curators are passionate, enthusiastic people who are committed to gathering and checking data. We realize there is a lot of diverse knowledge across the world, and we want to give you the opportunity to be a part of this exciting project.
Currently we are working with volunteer curators from all over the world on geographical data, but we are open to volunteers with different interests or areas of expertise as well. If you’ve got knowledge or insight into a specific area, we want to hear from you.
Our ongoing volunteer curators receive a complimentary, temporary Mathematica license, with the potential to extend the license for long-term curation. You don’t need to know Mathematica to become a volunteer curator, but you will have the opportunity to familiarize yourself with the program if you so choose. Volunteers check data, add data, and help us find new ways in which someone might search for data on Wolfram|Alpha.
There is a wide range of time available for volunteers per week, so whether you’d like to help a little or a lot, we would love to have you as a volunteer contributing to the advancement of Wolfram|Alpha.
If you are interested in become a volunteer curator, fill out our form here. If you have questions about the process, email firstname.lastname@example.org. We will respond to you as soon as possible and work with you to determine your area(s) of expertise and where you might fit in.
Wolfram|Alpha is a fascinating and exciting project. What’s made it possible is the terrific team we’ve built around it. And what will make Wolfram|Alpha even stronger is adding more world-class talent to our team.
We believe our mission to make all of the world’s knowledge computable is an important one. While we’ve come a long way, there’s still plenty of work to do—more knowledge needs to be added and updated and new capabilities need to be introduced. We’re ready now to begin bringing more people on board to help us pursue our goals.
A project like Wolfram|Alpha requires a remarkable spectrum of talents—technologists, content experts in almost every conceivable subject area, business experts… and the list goes on.
We are happy to be adding to our outstanding team as we take Wolfram|Alpha into the future. We hope you’ll consider joining us on our journey.
It is said that ambition is contagious, and it’s clear that our ambitions for Wolfram|Alpha, one of the most complex intelligence projects ever undertaken, is spreading around the globe. In the two weeks since Wolfram|Alpha first went live, an impressive number of users have asked how they can contribute to the development of this long-term project. We are flattered by your enthusiasm, and want you to join the Wolfram|Alpha Project.
Just take a look at the number of people, just like you, who have found a way to contribute their interests to this project.
2849 registered users have contributed to the Wolfram|Alpha Community. The ideas and feedback generated through conversations on the Community are invaluable tools for Wolfram|Alpha developers.
70,000 feedback submissions have been sent (via the feedback field that can be found on every page of the site), providing the Wolfram|Alpha team with critical input on specific content. More »