The Elise Andrew Effect – What a post on IFLS does to your numbers


Recenty the Andromeda Project was the feature of one of the posts on the ‘I fucking Love Science’ Facebook page. The page, which was started by Elise Andrew in March 2012, currently has 8 million likes, so some form of noticeable impact was to be expected! Here are some of the interesting numbers the post is responsible for:

I’ll start with the Facebook post itself. As of writing (16 hours after original posting), it has been shard 1,842 times, liked by 6,494 people and has 218 comments. These numbers are actually relatively low for an IFLS post, some of which can reach over 70,000 shares!

The ‘IFLS spike’ in the Andromeda Project classifications and active users

Let’s now have a look at what it did for the Andromeda Project. The project, which was launched two days previous and was already pretty popular, had settled down to around 100 active users per hour. This number shot up to almost 600 immediately following the post. In the space of 5 minutes the number of visitors on the site went from 13 to 1,300! After a few hours it settled down again, but now the steady rate looks to be about 25% higher than before. The number of classifications per hour follows the same pattern. The amazing figure here is that almost 100,000 classifications were made in the 4 hours following the post. This number corresponds to around 1/6th of the total needed to complete the project!

The number of visitors per day to the Planet Hunters site over the last two weeks. Visits increased by a factor of ten on the day of the IFLS post, and three days later the numbers are still greater than before.

Two days after her post about the Andromeda Project, Elise put up a post about the discovery of a seventh planet around the dwarf star KIC 11442793, which was found by citizen scientist on the Planet Hunters project. This post proved even more popular than the previous one with more than 3,000 shares, and led to a similar spike of the same magnitude in the number of visitors to the site (as can be seen in the plot above).

Finally, what did it do for the Zooniverse as a whole? Well there have been over 4,000 new Zooniverse accounts registered within the last four days and the Facebook page, which was linked in the AP article, got a healthy boost of around 1,000 new likes. So all things considered, it seems that an IFLS post can be very useful for promoting your project indeed!

Thanks Elise, the Andromeda Project, Planet Hunters and  Zooniverse teams love you!

Chicago-based Zoolovers – The Zooniverse needs you!

Are you a Zooniverse volunteer over the age of 21 and living in the Chicago area? If so, the Zooniverse needs your help. Next month’s Adler After Dark (the over 21’s night at the Adler Planetarium each month) is going to be about DIY science. There will be a panel session about people who have become involved in science through non-traditional academic routes. We want there to be a Zooniverse volunteer on the panel talking about how they got involved in the Zooniverse.

Venue : Adler Planetarium

Date : Thursday, November 21

Time : 6PM

This is a good experience and a great chance to meet some of the people behind the Zooniverse, along with other like-minded people who love citizen science! If you fit the bill and would like to help us out, please email

When Can I Become a Scientist?

Today’s post comes from Virginia Jones, a Zooniverse Teacher Ambassador Workshop participant.  Virginia has taught science at Bonneville High School for 28 years.  She lives in Idaho Falls, ID with her hiking partner, Cleo, a Labrador puppy. She enjoys sharing the excitement of scientific discovery with people of all ages.

Like most 6 year olds, my granddaughter is eager to learn about everything. She is especially drawn to nature and animals. In fact, she wants to be a scientist or a veterinarian when she grows up. One day she said to me, “Grandma, can you teach me science?” I told her that I could do better than that. “You can be a real scientist today, “ I said.

We logged into Zooniverse and chose Snapshot Serengeti. Some of the pictures were beautiful. Many of the pictures featured the rear end of animals, a source of endless laughter for the 6 year old citizen scientist. While I had to maneuver around the site in the beginning, she became familiar with the steps very quickly. She is a very good reader, so in no time at all she was helping with the classification and learning about the animals of the Serengeti.

Her young eyes were able to spot animals that I might have missed. We went through a series of pictures that looked like grass dancing in the wind. On the last picture, I was ready to push the nothing here button when she yelled;”there’s a bird!” I would have missed the guinea fowl in the deep grass but Anne Marie saw it immediately.

We spent a pleasant half hour identifying animals, discussing what it must be like to live in the Serengeti and arguing about which animal’s rear end we were looking at. When we finished, Anne Marie couldn’t believe how easy and fun it was to help the scientists. Maybe next time we will look at galaxy pictures and be astronomers for an afternoon with Galaxy Zoo. Perhaps the ocean will call us and we can explore the ocean floor with Seafloor Explorer. She may even be ready to look for dips in light curves to discover extra solar planets in Planet Hunters.

I am lucky that Anne Marie still needs to have some adult guidance to work in the Zooniverse. I can still spend some quality time with her and she still looks to me as an authority on all things science. It won’t be long before she is leaving her grandmother behind and making discoveries of her own.

You are never too young (with a little help) or too old to enjoy making discoveries in the Zooniverse. Everyone can have the satisfaction of advancing science as a citizen scientist.

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish!

It seems like only a couple of weeks ago I announced that I’d be heading off soon to pastures new and yet somehow that time has already come – today is my last day working with the Zooniverse.

It’s pretty much impossible for me to describe how much fun I’ve had over the past five years. Playing a part in shaping the Zooniverse from the early days of Galaxy Zoo (2) when we were a tiny team in Oxford through to where we are today has been a blast. In a coincidence of timing my son Caio has been around for almost exactly the same amount of time as I’ve been involved with the Zooniverse, and to be honest I’m not really sure I remember life before either. I checked the commit logs of the Galaxy Zoo 2 codebase and the first code was saved on 25th October 2008 – just over a month before Caio came into the world. Significantly this was more than two months before Chris began paying me but that’s just a testament to what a remarkably persuasive individual he is 🙂

These last few years have been filled with so many significant moments it’s hard to pick out highlights but if I had to then the launch of Galaxy Zoo 2 and furiously coding as people around me were sipping champagne is pretty memorable. Taking what felt like a massive leap into the unknown with Planet Hunters and then going to find exoplanets is definitely up there too. And announcing Old Weather (still my favourite Zooniverse project) to the world and seeing how people responded to the Zooniverse doing something ‘other’ than astro was very special.

I’m not going to try and thank every individual I’ve been working with because I’m bound to forget important people. Suffices to say, I love you all dearly and I’m going to miss working with you day to day immensely.

So farewell and stay in touch!