This is an open letter to Nodders that contains important information.
As both a Forum Moderator and a Nodder, I have seen many positive changes in Tomnod's crowdsourcing project. Our community has grown, both in experience and in numbers.
Overall, we have one of the best online communities I’ve seen, with many skilled, knowledgeable, and eager to learn contributors. As each of us gain experience, we pass our knowledges on to others. Forum members quickly reach out to help newer members learn from our tips. Even members who have only done a few Tomnod campaigns tell their important insights and raise interesting points.
Many Tomnod members never visit our Forum, but may be receiving forum updates by E-mail. We welcome you to visit the forum and introduce yourselves. Join us in sharing the joys and frustrations of tagging data on satellite maps!
I want to speak for a moment about campaigns, information, and expectations.
Typically, Tomnod gives Nodders information on the campaign's main screen. If appropriate and IF their contracts allow, Tomnod shares whatever details they can. Some information cannot be shared. Point blank: Tomnod is not required to give us any details about any campaign. If you follow these conversations, though, you know we have many excellent Nodder sleuths who often make educated guesses about locations. But, this information is not necessary for us to do the tasks we're asked to do and Tomnod is not required to confirm or deny our sleuth-guessing. It helps a lot to understand this fine line and respect the company’s responsibilities to their clients.
Human curiosity often drives many Nodder questions. That's to be expected (we're ALL very bright and talented people). Human curiosity can lead to feeling frustrated, though, when we don't have all the answers our minds desire. Frustration can then be a cue to mentally step back and realize "some questions cannot be answered", and "it is what it is".
Our expectations should rely on the information and directions given on the campaign's main screen. Don't over-guess (or overly stress) about these. Take the directions as Black & White. If it says "in / inside" the poly, don't vote 'yes' if the item is outside the poly. For tagging campaigns, base your decisions on the tag titles given and your best decision from what you see. True, we all at times want extra tag-types; however, often, we must pick from the choices we have.
Wonderfully, Tomnod believes in Nodders' abilities to judge. Even our first 'guessing' is often the most correct. Of course, we want and aim to be accurate. But don't let accuracy-fears drive you into frustration. *We have to stop worrying so much about 'rightness' and focus more on the 'doingness'. Tomnod means it when they give us a campaign and trust us to make the best decisions we can using our eyes, perceptions, and choices given. By the way, every one of us has made mistakes; every one of us has learned from doing more campaigns-- this learning should be recognized and celebrated. WE ROCK!
If we didn't succeed as much as we do, no company would continue providing crowdsourcing platforms. The abilities of ‘Citizen Scientists’ is recognized more and more across the field. WE can bring about changes and make a difference at the local level, at a faster rate than solitary experts working for years on a project. No matter where the satellite turns to focus its lens on the Earth, WE can transform pictures into pieces of data! Think about that for a minute... It's an amazing process we participate in that helps people across the world with a variety of problems.
If you're still concerned about making errors, rest assured! Every piece of 'data' we each generate is put through algorithms that let experts focus on points of interest. Is it horrible if you make mistakes? No! Will you gain experience through EACH campaign? YES! Will your accuracy improve? Most definitely!
I would like to address frustration more specifically, especially on the Forum.
Despite that we might not get all our questions answered, despite the curious questions our minds raise, and despite the range of campaigns we do, we cannot let frustrations override Forum rules and sensibilities. The Forum has had 3 Moderators to assist you. Do Mods always know all the answers to very specific questions? No--but we are all learning.. The Nodder community cannot expect Tomnod Staff to answer every question we have or they would not get any other work done. When you are unsure, reread the instructions and try your hardest to apply those 'as given'.
When Mods try to answer questions and to lower frustrations, remember the Moderators are Nodders, too. We have gone through similar feelings as Nodders, and we know "where you're coming from". We deserve your respect and courtesies, just as we give to each of you. Mods don't WANT to send a private message (PM) to any member about Forum conduct. We try to be approachable and helpful with everyone.
Remember, Nodders are not required to do every campaign. Each of us picks what interests us the most. If you do one campaign --great! If you do every one--terrific! If you do only parts of a campaign, that's okay! If you cover every single tile--well, you're doing far better than what I accomplish!
There are some givens in this work--
- A new campaign will always follow. You'll likely find many you like to do.
- We'll have questions for nearly any campaign, but we need to trust ourselves more.
- Nodders experience a range of emotions while tagging. If you've felt a certain way, chances are someone else has gone through similar feelings.
- The Forum is a place to share, vent, decompress, and renew one's spirit to tag some more, but not a place to attack other members, the Moderators, or the company.
- Respect on the Forum for all Nodders and Mods is expected.
Forum Moderators have been very lenient this summer because we hear your frustrations. But some posts have crossed the ‘lines’. It only takes a few negative or discouraging posts to affect the entire community. Discouragement and disappointment spreads like a viral flu. Reading ‘snarky’ comments makes the ‘flu’ feel 100x worse. These are unhelpful to the vibrancy of our community.
Please reread Tomnod's TOS guidelines. We are all expected to follow them.
Before making a post, ask yourself if your message will benefit or uplift a community with many thousands of members. If not, please don’t post it. If you choose to post it anyway, expect your post to be edited or removed, and a PM from one of the Moderators. This rule includes posting negative comments or negative speculations / innuendos about Tomnod / DigitalGlobe, who very generously provide us their crowdsourcing platform and access to this Forum, and permit all of us to be involved in Seeing a better world™
Thank you for your cooperation.