Missouri Botanical Garden Open Conference Systems, TDWG 2014 ANNUAL CONFERENCE

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Crowdsourcing going open source, an opportunity for sister websites
Marie-Elise Lecoq

Last modified: 2014-09-25


The Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle of Paris (MNHN), via the project E-ReColNat (Réseau des Collection Naturaliste – French natural history collection network), completed a massive digitization program of the herbarium specimens with about 6 millions of images made available online between 2008 and 2012. The remaining problem regarding huge digitization projects is the data harvest process because the information is contained into the images as handwritten text. The MNHN has developed a citizen science website, http://lesherbonautes.mnhn.fr/, also named The Herbonauts, to allow the general public to help resolve this impediment and would like to make it openly available for the community. We know that different institutions showed a real interest in implementing this project in their own countries. The best way to answer this demand is to enable the creation of what we call “sister websites” (applications based on The Herbonauts system).

In order to make this possible, we improved language facilities (i.e. internationalization) and optimized functionalities  (e.g. random draw). All of the sites will be widely available through an open storage system and well documented in English.

Then, we began promoting our tool via the mentoring activity of the French GBIF node, both towards potential users such as Spain and Portugal as well as to IT developers to gather contributors. Our work is open to those who want to contribute to this project.

In the long term, we plan to connect different sister websites by creating combined missions (small subsets of the herbarium with a common theme that are presented to the public with a target number of contributions expected) or by using pictures from different countries in one mission. This will fix the language problem inherent to the photograph labels and lead to the set up of a whole Citizen Science Community.