“If you see an animal, please mark it,” the instructions say, “Even if you’re not sure, or have no idea what it is.” Apparently, any errors will be filtered out.
Flipping through picture after picture of an African landscape, trying to identify any animals caught in the frame, feels more like a session of Chat Roulette than meaningful work.
“We figured out how to turn all of that volunteer effort into expert-quality scientific data.” As a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, Swanson also used motion-triggered cameras to study animals in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park.
WildCam Gorongosa’s classification page features a photograph captured by one of Bouley’s field cameras next to a list of 50 large animals, plus “Fire” and “Nothing here.” If it’s obvious what the animal in the photo is-a warthog, say-you click warthog.
If it’s hard to tell which animal you’re looking at, you can choose the best-fitting animal silhouette, the best of four fur patterns, six colors, four horns, and five tails.
WildCam isn’t a game, exactly-there’s no reward if I correctly identify an animal, and no punishment if I screw it up.