People often give several reasons for volunteering their time/computer resources:
- Contributing to research for humanitarian and developmental goals as well as fundamental science and humanities programmes. The results of many citizen cyberscience projects have been published in journals such as Nature and Science.
- Feeling part of an online community with shared interests. Community support forums allow people to share information and opinions about the science behind the projects they are supporting.
- For some people, there is also a strong element of competition among computing volunteers. Volunteers can compete individually or in teams to rack up the most processing time for a given project.
- Projects can help volunteers to develop skills and gain technical knowledge. Some rely on volunteers for pretty much everything, including programming, testing, support (via Skype and web forums), documentation and even software development.
- Fame! Sometimes discoveries made through contributing to a volunteer computing project can be big news, as Dutch school teacher Hanny van Arkel found out when she spotted what is now called ‘Hanny’s Voorwerp’ as a volunteer for GalaxyZoo.
Do you still need convincing? Check out the Citizen Cyberscience Centre website for further ideas and inspiration.