And off we go!

Lesezeit: 3 Min.

This blog provides information on the latest news from ETH-Bibliothek Zurich’s crowdsourcing initiatives. At present, crowdsourcing is primarily used to the describe images from the Image Archive.

The contents of the blog are geared towards:

  • The many volunteers whose efforts made the crowdsourcing initiatives such a success in the first place.
  • Those involved from libraries, archives and museums who are interested in any information and experiences related to conducting crowdsourcing projects.

The “Do you know more?” section contains appeals from the Image Archive to get involved and help describe images. Blog entries like “You knew more!” document the results of the feedback received. Both sections are also available at ETH E-Pics Bildarchiv Online. Moreover, they include experiences and background and general information on crowdsourcing.

 A Brief history

Under the banner of “Do you know more?” we activated the comment function on our image database ETH E-Pics Bildarchiv Online online on 9 December 2015, without any particular advertising. We inserted the comment function right at the bottom, which looks as follows:

Feedback function (eng)

Comment function on ETH E-Pics Bildarchiv Online (Screenshot)

Two days later, we already started receiving our first feedback in our inbox and by the end of the first month we had already received 100 emails. On 18 January 2016, the NZZ featured an article on the Image Archive and the crowdsourcing project entitled Wer kennt die Berge, Orte und Fabriken? The author, Adi Kälin, had stumbled across our appeal on the homepage while searching for images and thought it sounded interesting. The article was published with ten unidentified aerial photographs by Walter Mittelholzer. The article triggered great interest among the readers and a huge media response. Within days, nine of the ten images had been identified! Meanwhile, more than 500 volunteers are helping us to identify or improve our image titles, descriptions and dates.

Crowdsourcing: what is it all about?

Crowdsourcing is when traditionally internal sub-tasks are outsourced to a group of volunteer users, e.g. via the internet. The principle behind it is the “wisdom of the crowd”. Experts remain divided on what to call these volunteer helpers. “Digital volunteers” seems a very apt description. We have decided to refer to them as volunteers.

 “Do you know more?” category

We use the slogan “Do you know more?” in various places on our image database to guide users to through the comment function as intuitively as possible. Like on ETH E-Pics Bildarchiv Online, new images are regularly referred to here on the blog in the identical category “Do you know more?” Many images only contain rudimentary title information, which needs to be completed. A post is to be published in this category at the beginning of every week, i.e. usually on a Monday.

 “You knew more!” category

Again, like the identical category on ETH E-Pics Bildarchiv Online, the week’s “harvest” is to be presented here on Fridays: a selection of nice images that have been identified and enhanced with interesting information.

“Projects” category

And experts from libraries, archives and museums shouldn’t miss out either. In the Projects category, we will be reporting on other projects in the field of crowdsourcing in archives, libraries and museums at irregular intervals. The posts in this category are usually translated into English.

“Participate” page

The “Get involved” section contains FAQs on crowdsourcing. What is crowdsourcing? What kind of information are we looking for? How and where can you find images? And so on. This page is also available in English.

“Statistics” page

And last but not least, we mustn’t forget the statistics, of course. After all, we are all interested in how many images have been processed. How many volunteers are involved? What proportion of them are women? On which days are the most images identified? This page is also available in English.

Complete image information

Comet Photo AG: Young people in cellar, approx. 1965, slide, 6 x 6 cm. Report with 6 images (selection digitised) (Com_C15-035-002,

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