Through Eyewire, the general public can get involved in our research. We offer competitions about once a week where you can earn more points while still helping to map the retinal connectome.
Eyewire challenges have varied; many are points-based, but some are cube-based, and some are even accuracy-based. Here are the different competition formats so far.
Each VS competition is held every other week from Thursday at 11:00 AM Eastern to Friday at 11:00 AM Eastern. When signups are running, select a team in your notification popup, then you'll be registered; you can change teams up until the competition has actually started. Averaged points per player are how we determine which team wins.
These weekly challenges began by happening every Friday from 2:00 to 4:00 PM Eastern. Learn the full rules here. HQ then added Happy Hour 180 for players on the opposite side of the globe from HQ; Happy Hour 180 runs every Thursday from 8:00 to 10:00 AM Eastern. And now, most recently, there is HH3 ("Happy Hour Cubed") for those folks playing Eyewire every Friday from 10:00 PM to midnight Eastern. Enrollment for all of these events is automatic.
Every month there is a 24-hour period for all Eyewirers to focus together on speed-growing one cell and then finishing as many other existing cells as possible. This falls somewhere in the second half of the month, most often the fourth or fifth Wednesday but sometimes the third. In odd-number months, marathons start at 8:00 PM Eastern, while in even-number months, they start at 8:00 AM Eastern. You receive bonuses based on how many cubes you trace. Enrollment for this event is automatic.
Every couple of months, we hold a series of thematically linked challenges with a simple storyline behind them. This began with the Eyewire Winter Games to commemorate the 2014 Winter Olympics, eventually followed by the Chemical Z competition for Halloween that year. With the help of our own players, we have now developed these events into more regular occurrences. These competitions typically take place in the lead-up to our player promotions. Challenge week events usually include an Accuracy Happy Hour, The Hunt (or Evil Cubes), Trivia, a VS Challenge, and a Marathon. The last two events work just like they always do, but the first few only happen during challenge weeks.
Accuracy Happy Hours
When Eyewire holds an Accuracy Happy Hour, the time window and basic points-based bonuses are the same as for a normal Happy Hour. However, additional bonuses can be earned based on how accurately players trace during the time window.
HQ launches a special cell with 12 mergers; players have 24 guesses to send a chat bot about where they think the mergers are located. Bonuses are allocated based on how many mergers a player finds and how close their coordinates were. Full Hunt rules and guidelines can be found here. A few Scythes typically assist with preparing the Hunt cell. Note that this event only takes place in February, June, and October.
HQ launches two special sets of 12 cubes apiece; all the cubes are moderately to highly tricky to trace with 100% accuracy, hence the designator "evil." Bonuses are allocated based on a player's most accurate performance between either set of cubes. A few Scouts and Scythes typically assist with collecting cubes deemed suitably "evil." Note that this event only takes place in April, August, and December.
For just over 48 hours, a chat bot asks questions on the hour (and every two minutes in the last hour). These questions may be about neuroscience, other science topics, Eyewire facts, or topics related to the challenge week's theme. Bonuses are allocated based on the first three players to answer correctly, or in the case of numerical questions, how close to the correct number someone guessed.
With the beta Eyewire Cup in 2014 and a full-blown version in 2018, we have experimented in how to compete with brackets just like for sporting events. This may become a more regular event in the future.