Citizen Sort User Agreement, Privacy Policy & Informed Consent

Citizen Sort is a suite of citizen science projects operated by the Syracuse University School of Information Studies. The project supports scientific research by involving members of the public - you - in the processes of analyzing data. Projects involving the public are needed to enable researchers to cope with the otherwise unmanageable flood of data. The web provides a means of reaching a large audience willing to devote their free time to projects that can add to our knowledge of the world and of nature. Data from these projects is used to study online community design and theory, interface design, and other topics.

This document describes what will happen to your contributions if you choose to contribute, what data we collect, how we use it and how we protect it, and seeks your consent to participate in the study.

User Agreement

What you agree to if you participate in Citizen Sort

The major goal for this project is for the analyzed data to be available to the researchers to use, modify and redistribute in order to further scientific research. Therefore, if you contribute to Citizen Sort, you grant Syracuse University and its collaborators permission to use your contributions however we like to further this goal, trusting us to do the right thing with your data. However, you give us this permission non-exclusively, meaning that you yourself still own your contribution.

We ask you to grant us these broad permissions, because they allow us to change the legal details by which we keep the data available; this is important because the legal environment can change and we need to be able to respond without obtaining permission from every single contributor.

Finally, you must not contribute data to Citizen Sort that you do not own. For example, do not copy information from published journal articles. If people do this, it can cause major legal headaches for us.

What you may do with Citizen Sort data

You retain ownership of any contribution you make to Citizen Sort, and any recorded interaction with the dataset associated with Citizen Sort. You may use, distribute or modify your individual contribution in any way you like. However, you do not own the dataset itself.

This license does not apply to data about you, covered in the Privacy Policy.

The photographs displayed by Citizen Sort are owned by the researchers who provided them and may only be used in accordance with their licenses.

Legal details

By submitting your contribution to Citizen Sort, you agree to grant Syracuse University a perpetual, royalty-free, non-exclusive, sub-licensable license to: use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute and exercise all copyright and publicity rights with respect to your contribution worldwide and/or to incorporate your contribution in other works in any media now known or later developed for the full term of any rights that may exist in your contribution.

If you do not want to grant to Syracuse University the rights set out above, you cannot interact with Citizen Sort.

By interacting with Citizen Sort, you:

This license does not apply to data about you, covered in the Privacy Policy.

Privacy Policy

In addition to the contributions you make towards the scientific goals of Citizen Sort through your classifications, we collect additional data about you to support and improve the operation of the project. We also conduct experiments on the design of the website that we evaluate based on your reactions and behavior. This Privacy Policy describes what data we collect, how we use it and how we protect it.

We respect the privacy of every individual who participates in Citizen Sort. We operate in accordance with United States regulations regarding protection of human subjects in research.

Data we collect

Identifying information. If you register with Citizen Sort, we ask you to create a username and supply your e-mail address. Your e-mail address is not visible to other users, but others may see your username in various contexts.

Usage information. We also monitor how people use our website, and aggregate general statistics about users and traffic patterns as well as data about how users respond to various site features. This includes, among other things, recording:

If you register and log in, the logs associate these activities with your username. In order to collect this data, we may use software that collects statistics from IP data. This software can determine what times of day people access our site, which country they access the websites from, how long they visit for, what browser they are using, etc.

What we do with the information we gather

Usage information is collected to help us improve our website in particular for the following reasons:

What is shared with third parties

We will never release e-mail addresses to third parties without your express permission. We will also never share data we collect about you unless (a) it cannot be associated with you or your username, and (b) it is necessary to accomplish our research goals. Specifically, we may share your anonymized data with research study participants, other researchers, or in scholarly work describing our research. For example, we might use one of your classifications as an illustration in a paper, show some of your classifications to another user to see if they agree or disagree, or publish statistics about user interaction. Aside from the above, information is held as confidentially as is practical within our secured database.

How we use cookies

In some areas of our site, a cookie may be placed on your computer. A cookie is a small file that resides on your computer's hard drive that allows us to improve the quality of your visit to our websites by responding to you as an individual.

We use traffic log cookies to identify which pages are being used and improve our website. We only use this information for statistical analysis purposes; they are not shared with other sites and are not used for advertisements.

You can choose to accept or decline cookies. Most web browsers automatically accept cookies, but you can usually modify your browser setting to decline cookies if you prefer. However, if you choose to decline cookies from Citizen Sort then functionality, including your ability to log-in and participate, will be impaired. Acceptance of cookies is implied if you continue to access our website without adjusting your browser settings.

Security measures

Members of the research teams are made aware of our privacy policy and practices by reviewing this statement upon joining the team. We follow industry best practices to secure user data, and access to the database and logs are limited to members of the research group and system administrative staff.

Removing your data

Due to the way in which we archive data, it is generally not possible to completely remove your personal data from our systems. However, if you have specific concerns, please contact us and we will see what we can do.

When we will contact you

We will contact you by e-mail in the following circumstances:

Informed Consent

Finally, throughout the duration of Citizen Sort, we will be conducting experiments on the design of the website that we will evaluate based on your reactions and performance. The specific topics we will be researching are the effects of system design on user motivation, data quality and learning. For example, we want to know what kinds of examples are best for improving your performance on the scientific tasks. To answer this question, we plan to deploy different examples on the system to see which work best. By participating in this research, you will help us to better understand the characteristics and needs of technology support for citizen science projects.

By creating an account, you agree to participate in the experiments on the system features. In general, we will not announce experiments ahead of time, but will post findings after the experiments are concluded. Data from these experiments will be used according to the privacy policy described above. No negative consequences are expected from participation in the experiments, but remember that you are free to discontinue use of the system at any time.

If you have concerns about the data we collect or the research on the system, you may contact: