Last month alone, the Stall Catchers community grew by 1,167 new catchers! And there’s a great reason for this - October is Microsoft’s annual Giving Campaign, during which employees rally to volunteer their time for a cause that feels important to them. This year, Microsoft invited Stall Catchers to be a featured event during the Microsoft annual Giving Campaign, which was a great honor for us. During 20 hours of catching events, 622 Microsoft employees collectively contributed one month's worth of Alzheimer's data analysis. Moreover, for each employee hour volunteered, Microsoft generously made an in-kind donation to help us keep Stall Catchers running! In fact, this support will enabled the platform to operate long enough for the catcher community to contribute the equivalent of two years of in-laboratory analysis to the Alzheimer's research being conducted at Cornell.
As some of you may recall, the Human Computation Institute (HCI) has been partnering with Microsoft for a few years now on various projects. Indeed, we hosted our biggest catchathon (remember this Discover Magazine post?) EVER - the Megathon, from Microsoft’s famous “Building 95”, and our partnership for improving the world continues today in many ways, which now happily includes October Giving.
"Too entranced by watching blood vessels to have questions :)" - catcher from MicrosoftGive team.
So who are these volunteer catchers and what do they do at Microsoft? HCI team members Pietro Michelucci and Shirley Bekins gave talks and helped host 11 of these Giving events in October, so we got to meet many of these folks, and it turns out they come from every nook and cranny at Microsoft! There were product developers, engineers, AI researchers and marketers, infrastructure tech support, branding, and the list goes on. But the one consistent thread was that these folks were earnest, engaged, and great to interact with, making it easy to embrace them in our expanding catcher community.
What other impacts did annual Giving Campaign have on Stall Catchers? Glad you asked ;) During October, we were running phase 2 of our new series of CrowdBot studies aimed at figuring out how we can combine artificial intelligence in new ways with Stall Catchers to speed up the research even more. Thanks to the increased catching activity during Microsoft Giving events, our collective community was able to complete the new CrowdBot study in a single month!
"Team work makes the dream work" - catcher from the AI & Innovation team.
But let’s get down to business. Another thing we discovered during annual Giving Campaign is that Microsoft employees can be slightly competitive. And by “slightly”, we mean, very! And we know they have been waiting eagerly to see the final stats that show how much each team contributed to the research.
"This is amazing" - catcher from the AI & Innovation team.
The overall top performing team was MicrosoftGive, which got a total of 6068742 points! But that was from the featured all-comers events, where any employee could join in - demonstrating the true power of working together. The competition, however, emerged from event organizers - these Microsoft employees went beyond the call of duty to organize teams of volunteers made up of colleagues from their own departments. So here we show all the teams organized by these heroic event organizers and how they stacked up in the teams competition!
Congratulations to the winning team Give 2021 Azure Core!
We also want to recognize that larger teams have a natural advantage for winning the points competition, and that there were some smaller teams that outdid larger teams when you look on a per-person basis. Here’s how the teams stack up when we look at the competition on the basis of average research annotations per person…
“Very Cool!" - catcher from MicrosoftGive
A huge thanks and a big “catchers” welcome to all the Microsoft folks who participated in Stall Catchers during the annual Giving Campaign. All contributions matter, and every single vessel analyzed advances the research. With such fantastic engagement and great outcomes we are looking forward to continuing this adventure next October. And in the meantime, we hope to see more of the now-familiar Microsoft volunteers stopping by on Stall Catchers whenever the mood strikes.