The Hows and Whys of Hashtagging
The sad part for us camera trap researchers working on projects such as “Eyes on the Wild” is that we rarely get to see the camera trap images themselves! We pop our pictures online and, thanks to your monumental efforts, are handed back the spreadsheets of numbers that we need to run our analyses. Almost all of the actual image handling is done by volunteers - which means that all of the rare behaviors, interesting interactions, and exciting new discoveries that are lurking in these images are going to be made by citizen scientists like you! We can’t always anticipate what novel behaviors or rare species might have been captured by the camera traps, which means that we can’t ask you about it in the questions we’ve written up on the website. I mean, who would have thought to add a click box for “one-antlered unicorn deer”? One way that you can alert us to these novel findings is to comment with a #hashtag when you’re making your classification. Researchers can then search through all of these interesting, unusual, and noteworthy observations you have made – some of which could lead to some cool new science that you can be a part of! Zooniverse has a history of volunteers who alerted scientists to oddities discovered while classifying data becoming authors on their own real scientific research.
It is important, however, to be selective and choose to hashtag only unusual images or those with some scientific relevance. Think about what might be useful to the scientists or other citizen scientist classifiers before hashtagging! It is not necessary to hashtag every image for discussion, and shifting through hundreds of hashtags can be hard for our research team. Here, we just wanted to give you a quick guide to what would be helpful to hashtag in order for both volunteers and researchers to learn the most about these images:
- Hashtag with a species identification if you know the specific species for a classification that might contain multiple species (e.g., “#baldeagle” if the classification is “birds of prey”, or “frog” is the classification is “reptiles and amphibians”)
- Hashtag with a species identification if you find a species that isn’t listed as an option on our website (who knows - there might be some #bobcats or #opossums hiding out in Cedar Creek!)
- You don’t need to hashtag an image with data we already get out of your classification (e.g., “#deer” or “#antlers”) – no new information comes from the extra work you put in!
- Hashtag unusual or inexplicable behaviors with a self-explanatory hashtag so that we can easily find unexpected animal activities (#grooming, #swimming, or #fighting would be examples of behaviors we would be interested to learn more about)
- If you see something that is confusing to you and you want a researcher or expert opinion, hashtag with #askareseacher, and we’ll see if we can figure out what’s going on in your picture
- If you added a hashtag that turned out to be incorrect, please click on the edit button below the comment to delete the # symbol
- We also love the beautiful pictures you find and the funny hashtags you come up with for these pics – keep up the good work, guys! These types of images are used by our scientists and teachers in research and in promotional or educational material.
The main message here is to think before you hashtag: Why am I tagging this image? Does it really warrant it? This way, we can easily connect with the truly amazing finds you come across in our data! Happy classifying!