Many citizen science projects ask people to create an account before they participate – some require it. What effect does the registration process have on the number and quality of contributions? We present a controlled study comparing the effects of mandatory registration with an interface that enables people to participate without registering, but allows them to sign up to ‘claim’ contributions. We demonstrate that removing the requirement to register increases the number of visitors to the site contributing to the project by 62%, without reducing data quality. We also discover that contribution rates are the same for people who choose to register, and those who remain anonymous, indicating that the interface should cater for differences in participant motivation. The study provides evidence that to maximize contribution rates, projects should offer the option to create an account, but the process should not be a barrier to immediate contribution, nor should it be required.

Source: To Sign Up, or not to Sign Up?

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