Open crowdsourcing arrives with PyBossa
The Open Knowledge Foundation (OKFN) has open sourced PyBossa version 0.1, a crowdsourcing micro-tasking platform for open projects. Pulling together volunteers to work on tasks can be a difficult logistical task, especially if the tasks are small like classifying the contents of a picture or transcribing some text from an existing document. For paid work like that, solutions like Amazon's Mechanical Turk divide up the load and then make the tasks available to a pool of workers, but for open data, open source or other open projects, there haven't been many options until the arrival of PyBossa.
PyBossa is the result of the OKFN working with the Citizen Cyberscience Center to create a platform which can bring crowdsourcing and micro-tasking to the many volunteers in the community. The project was inspired by Bossa, an open source framework for "distributed thinking", and developed in Python.
There are several example projects that demonstrate what can be done with PyBossa. Flickr Person can ask a volunteer to classify the last 20 published images on Flickr and say whether there is a human in the picture, while Melanoma asks the volunteer whether a photograph of a skin lesion is showing signs of being cancerous.
Other projects include Urban Parks, which presents volunteers with a map of a city and asks them to locate a park within that city. The developers have initially focused on online citizen science projects but think there are numerous applications for the software such as helping to preserve manuscripts through transcription.
The AGPLv3 licensed PyBossa project is available from its GitHub repository, which also includes details on how to install and deploy the alpha release level software. A full guide is also available which shows how to create a crowdsourced application.