is Dartmouth College‘s mashup of metadata crowdsourcing and gaming. Institutions can partner with Metadata Games to expose their own collections through online games, gaining both valuable crowdsourced metadata tags and improved visibility for the institution and their collections. Online players see and learn and describe and have fun. Software is open-source, with no licensing fees. All games can be played online via your browser, and for some games apps are available for Apple and Android devices. Current partners include the British Library, Boston Public Library, Yale University, Dartmouth College, UCLA Chicano/a Studies, and more.
There are at least nine games currently available. Some are very general. You never know what Stupid Robot will show you, but you will have to teach the robot about each image you see, and it will keep asking for longer and longer words from you. How long can you keep this going? Ship’s Tag will set you to tagging naval images. In Guess What? you and an unknown partner will help each other guess the subjects of images. Some games are competitive, some are not. Some are collaborative. Some are single-player.
In addition to the games themselves, there is a search function allowing viewers to search tags by keyword with limiters for institution, collection, and media format. When I looked at the search page it was still a bit rough around the edges, and had a “beta” attached to the title. I suspect this is still in testing and development, but it gives a nice glimpse into future functionality.
Crowdsourced metadata is a newish, developing field. The Metadata Games FAQ has some excellent information, including a helpful bibliography on the use of folksonomies to enhance controlled vocabularies. Ultimately institutions will need to edit and refine crowdsourced tags, bringing extra work on themselves. The trade-off is that crowdsourcing will enable discovery of otherwise lost information: the name of a person in a portrait or photograph, the intended use of a mystery object, the location where a picture was taken, and so on. Choosing the collection to expose for crowdsourcing requires careful consideration to maximize potential benefits. Collections used should be compelling for the public, encouraging them to “play” and identify. They must also be collections for which the institution desires information it cannot supply itself. The exact formula for success will vary.
Metadata Games receives funding from National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the ACLS.