The third annual WeDigBio (Worldwide Engagement for Digitizing Biocollections) Event took place October 19-22, 2017. WeDigBio is a citizen science event that involves the public in working towards two main goals – to mobilize biodiversity specimen information from collections around the world, and to grow, strengthen and educate our biodiversity community. Specimen information is mobilized via online platforms to which anyone in the world may contribute at any time: CitSciScribe, DigiVol, DIY History, Les Herbonautes, Notes from Nature, Smithsonian Institution Transcription Center, and Symbiota. During the four-day WeDigBio Event, we support onsite “blitzes” where hosts welcome citizen scientists into their universities, museums, and public spaces to collaboratively digitize specimen information. This year, onsite events took place in five countries and 14 US states! Online citizen scientists make up a significant portion of our contributors and we had transcriptions from individuals in 20 countries and 33 US states! In total, over 16,000 transcriptions were completed across all platforms.
During the event, hosts and participants share their experiences via social media, with Twitter being the most popular platform. Tweets and photos allowed the online public to follow along on behind-the-scenes tours of collections, see images of beautiful specimens, participate in challenges to find spooky words (“cemetery” was found in dozens of Florida plant specimen labels!), share unusual label text (e.g., a collection locality described as “A drinking community with a golfing problem”), and announce achievements such as projects getting completed (which we’re happy to report happened numerous times!).
Several improvements added to the success of this year’s event. We partnered with SciStarter, a site to find citizen science projects around the world. Through SciStarter, hosts were able to post details about their event, share the event page to advertise to their communities, and point participants to important information like registration. Our homepage dashboard is complete with all six publically available transcription platforms. And, for the second year, we used the Sococo virtual meeting space to host live-streaming events and inter-event communications.
Highlights of each day of the event can be found on our blog and Twitter. If you’d like to host a WeDigBio event at your institution, or just be kept in the loop with WeDigBio email updates, sign up here. If you have questions, feel free to email us at email@example.com.