One Year of Citizen Science in FlyWire

On April 28, 2022, the first citizen scientists were invited to FlyWire. Today, one year later the connectome nears completion and the flagship FlyWire publication is on the horizon. Our seventeen Flyers proofread 16,316 neurons and annotated 21,151 cells. Thank you for this truly phenomenal effort.

The First

annkri and bl4ckscor3 were the first Flyers who gained production access (May 2), followed shortly by AzureJay, Kfay, KrzysztofKruk, st0ck53 and a5hm0r in the following days. Today, the full list of Flyers who unlocked production access includes:

  • bl4ckscor3
  • annkri
  • AzureJay
  • Kfay
  • KrzysztofKruk
  • st0ck53y
  • a5hm0r
  • Mavil
  • JousterL
  • Nseraf
  • crazyman4865
  • hewhoamareismyself
  • twotwos
  • TR77
  • aesanta1
  • Andrearwen
  • Manni_Mammut

The season opener in FlyWire was “Column 1,” an effort to proofread all presynaptic partners of a single medulla neuron. It took less than a month to complete these 143 cells, a proofreading rate that outpaced the entire first year of Eyewire.

Next we went for Zone 2, a group of presynaptic partners to 8 medulla neurons. Almost exactly one month later, these 688 cells were completed. Proofreading continued with periodic “Drops” of new cells, which could be accessed via the “Get Cell to Proofread” button.

Eventually Flyers outgrew these preselected cells and ventured off to find and proofread neurons of their own choosing. Today, we marvel at the fantastic collections of neurons shared in the nearly 300 posts in the Gallery of Amusements thread.

All Flyers who contributed at least 100 edits or 10 annotations will be named in the FlyWire Consortium as coauthors.

The Science

It seems that nothing had a greater impact on citizen science in FlyWire than Krzysztof’s plugins. Check out this post for a summary of the latest functionality. KK created a host of useful features in FlyWire, improving everything from cell tagging to organizing meshes to interface customization.

And of course we were all impressed by the attention to detail demonstrated by Flyers’ reviews of scientific literature on both and in the Q&A Log.

And of course, the Optic Lobe Cell Guide, which had considerable input from players, is perhaps the most comprehensive resource on the web and has been shared with several researchers, as well as government agencies. What a testament to the prowess of citizen scientists.

Thank you!

We’re immensely grateful for your participation in this shared adventure into connectomics. The success of FlyWire not only brings an unprecedented opportunity for scientists to generate and test hypotheses about how the brain works, but also it demonstrates the pace of progress (it took just 4 months to proofread the same number of neurons that took 10 years in EyeWire) and the technology and community strategies that will eventually lead to larger and more complicated connectomes.

The completion of the fly connectome is only the beginning of a new era of neuroscience. There’s lots more to discover and we are so excited to be on this journey with you.

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