The Zooniverse classes itself as a 'citizen science' project. Citizen science is scientific research that is conducted in some part by amateurs; this technique is usually employed when there are vast swathes of data to sift through. This may seem like a redundant way of processing in these days of increasing computer capabilities, but crowdsourcing as it is known, does help with the deluge of data some projects retrieve. The Zooniverse projects are also necessary as, for now, the human brain is still more capable at identifying images and patterns. The initial project, Galaxy Zoo, was a collection of images taken by high intensity telescopes of far off galaxies. Participants were required to state the shape and patterns seen within each image, whether it was round or spiralled, colliding, etc. The project has gone to classify literally millions of images, some of which had not been seen by anyone until they were classified. Other astronomical projects include several other galaxy projects as well as Moon Zoo, Solar Stormwatch and PlanetHunters.
Since Galaxy Zoo, they have spread out including new projects that are a little closer to home - as well as the astronomical projects, the Zooniverse now includes projects that including listening to bat calls to identify European bat populations and studying cyclone images to classify storms. If this is not to you liking there are also projects such as oldWeather - reading through old ship logs and transcribing the weather information - and Ancient Lives - helping the Other Place translate and transcribe the Oxyrhunchus Papyri. Budding conservationists maybe interested in Snapshot Serengeti - identifying animals from camera traps or try identifying calls in Bat Detective and WhaleFM, or go fishing in Seafloor Explorer . The Zooniverse has also recently joined with Cancer Research UK to establish Cell Slider encouraging participants to join in classifying archived cancer samples.