Crowdsourcing Quality Control for Dark Energy Survey Images

http://images.spaceref.com/news/2015/crowd.des.jpg"We have developed a crowdsourcing web application for image quality control employed by the Dark Energy Survey. Dubbed the "DES exposure checker", it renders science-grade images directly to a web browser and allows users to mark problematic features from a set of predefined classes. Users can also generate custom labels and thus help identify previously unknown problem classes. User reports are fed back to hardware and software experts to help mitigate and eliminate recognized issues. We report on the implementation of the application and our experience with its over 100 users, the majority of which are professional or prospective astronomers but not data management experts. We discuss aspects of user training and engagement, and demonstrate how problem reports have been pivotal to rapidly correct artifacts which would likely have been too subtle or infrequent to be recognized otherwise. We conclude with a number of important lessons learned, suggest possible improvements, and recommend this collective exploratory approach for future astronomical surveys or other extensive data sets with a sufficiently large user base."

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