Volunteer computing projects (VCPs) have been set up by groups of scientists to recruit members of the public who are asked to donate spare capacity on their personal computers to the processing of scientific data or computationally intensive models. VCPs serve two purposes: to acquire significant computing capacity and to educate the public about science. A particular challenge for these scientists is the retention of volunteers as there is a very high drop-out rate. This paper develops recommendations for scientists and software engineers setting up or running VCPs regarding which strategies to pursue in order to improve volunteer retention rates. These recommendations are based on a qualitative study of volunteers in a VCP (climateprediction.net). A typology of volunteers has been developed, and three particularly important classes of volunteers are presented in this paper: for each type of volunteer, the particular benefits they offer to a project are described, and their motivations for continued participation in a VCP are identified and linked to particular strategies. In this way, those setting up a VCP can identify which types of volunteers they should be particularly keen to retain, and can then find recommendations to increase the retention rates of their target volunteers.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/peter_darch/5/