The Future of setiQuest?

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What is to become of setiQuest?

I think we all are frustrated that it has not blossomed into a vibrant on line community devoted to participating in the search. As a result of discussions on the weekly setiQuest IRC chat (Tuesdays, 11am California time, 18:00GMT, at irc:// we have come to a decision.

We are going to allow setiQuest to settle into a "local minima energy state" which would be a sort of maintenance mode.  In short - this will involve the following:

  1. Keep the SETIQuest website active.
  2. Let the forum operate as it has been.
  3. Keep the Wiki - keep adding to the documentation when appropriate.
  4. Keep the SonATA source code open source.
  5. Steer people over to whenever possible.
  6. Occasionally we will have projects that will operate through SETIQuest. For instance the MWWT project we will be doing with Alysha.

This would mean operating pretty much like we are now, except being more up front about it.

I would like to stress the importance of SETILive. Have you all been participating in it? If not, please do. And please comment on their forum, help them make the site better.

On our side we are very close to getting the real-time followup to work with the SETILive site. This means that within a couple of weeks, signals that are reported by SETILive participants will be fed into our real-time system and directly affect observations as they happen. This has taken a lot of work on the SETILive side and the SETI side, two very different systems working together like this is always a challenge.

As a side note: all signal reported by participants up to this date are being saved and will be combed through once we get the live followups working. This information will be very valuable to us.

Why do we want to direct your attention away from setiQuest? We believe the SETILive project has much more potential to engage the citizen scientists for the following reasons:

  1. SETILive is FUNDED, they have resources to properly serve the community.
  2. The SETILive crowd sourcing technique will allow many more people to participate
  3. SETILive does not require you to be a signal processing expert.
  4. The SETILive project allows data to be distributed and put in front of participants in a more bandwidth efective manner. No more gigabyte size files.

This is in contrast to our setiQuest efforts:

  1. SETI really doesn't have the funding or resources to properly serve the community.
  2. The setiQuest non-crowd sourcing technique is attention bandwidth limited.
  3. A lot of what setiQuest potentially offered required you to be a signal processing expert, thus limiting who could actually make any use of the data or information.
  4. A lot of people have trouble with downloading and generally handling large amounts of data.

I'd like to view the setiQuest project as an experiment that will keep on giving. There have been some successes, but we've been focusing mainly on the negative things. I don't think I want to get into defending SETI for these failures, experiments are meant to be allowed to fail, and hopefully turned around. But here is my very high level list of what went on:

  1. Initially we did have funding and Avinash was assigned to work on setiQuest. That resource ran out.
  2. There was a disconnect between the setiQuest project and the technical/SonATA side. There was a desire on the setiQuest side to develop a successful and valuable outreach. The technical side just didn't have the extra time/energy/funding/desire to support setiQuest.

In short - we did not think through how much resources (time/energy/funding/desire) this project would take away from our minimally funded SonATA project. SonATA needs to be our main focus.

So now, we are going to be up front about what SETI's participation and effort will be in setiQuest: minimal. We'll keep the site going in hopes that a group of people will want to take some control and keep the forum and documentation alive.

Comments? Please do so at


SETI Live's funding ran out

SETI Live's funding ran out in January 2013.