Planet Hunters and Seafloor Explorers: Legitimate Peripheral Participation Through Practice Proxies in Online Citizen Science

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Publication Type:

Conference Proceedings


17th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW 2014) (2014)


Making the traces of user participation in primary activities visible in online crowdsourced initiatives has been shown to help new users understand the norms of participation but participants do not always have access to others’ work. Through a combination of virtual and trace ethnography we explore how new users in two online citizen science projects engage other traces of activity as a way of compensating. Merging the theory of legitimate peripheral participation with Erickson and Kellogg’s theory of social translucence we introduce the concept of practice proxies; traces of user activities in online environment that act as resources to orient newcomers towards the norms of practice. Our findings suggest that newcomers seek out practice proxies in the social features of the projects that highlight contextualized and specific characteristics of primary work practice.