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Sitting in the bar downtown, you start to wonder how to solve cases better, how the game works and what is the purpose of it all.

A weary detective looks up, nods to the barman for a double and starts to tell you his experience...

FAQ: General

What is the purpose of the game?

Phrase Detectives is a "Game with a Purpose", meaning that the data we collect will be used to help improve computer systems. The data will be used to train anaphora resolution systems that can be used to improve text summarisation and search engine indexing, which will ultimately lead to a better Web experience for you. Find out more about the project on the About pages.

Who should play the game?

The game is aimed at English and/or Italian readers of all ages. Read the instructions and complete the training tasks to get a good idea of what you need to do.
You can also adjust your settings to change the difficulty level of texts you will be given. If you are a native English speaker then "medium" is usually the best setting.

I haven't played the game this week, how have I managed to score points?

You are awarded "agreement points" whenever another detective agrees with your decisions, which means you score points even when you're not playing!

Where did the site design come from?

The overall design was by Jon Chamberlain. The level characters and orange man were from iStockphoto. Most of the 16x16 pixel icons were from the Fugue Icon Set by Yusuke Kamiyamane and some of the larger icons were provided by Larwick. Technical support from Ans Alghamdi.

I can't select text in the game and the "Done" button doesn't work. Why?

Some browsers may block the tools you need to play the game if your security settings are on maximum. In order for the game to work properly:

1. Go to Internet Options > Tools

2. Click on Trusted Sites

3. Add "" to your trusted sites (do not check the Require Server Verification)

This will allow your browser access to the University of Essex's server and will maintain your existing security settings for other sites.

Who can I contact about the game?

We appreciate feedback from the game, which can be emailed to

FAQ: Prizes

What are the prizes?

You could win £50 in Amazon vouchers for being the top scorer of the month, as well as other prizes for being in the top 10, if you have a minimum score of 5000 points in the month. If you have more than 10,000 points in the month, you get DOUBLE THE PRIZE!

When you play a head-to-head game you will be rated against expert answers. If you rating is 100 and you have over 1000 points, you automatically join the 100 Club and will be entered into a monthly draw for a £50 Amazon voucher.

Did you know you can add comments in the game? Some of these comments have been extremely value to the team and the most useful each month will get an extra prize of £30 Amazon voucher.

Prizes will be emailed to the winner so you must include your email address on the settings page to be eligible to win a prize.

If you are subscribed to the email alerts you will be alerted when a new competition starts. Only players who have played the game during the prize period will be entered for each draw. The winner's work will be inspected for quality by a panel of expert annotators. Players with work deemed to be automated or of very poor quality will be disqualified. The judges decision is final.

How do I claim my prize?

The prize will be emailed to the winner. Winners' usernames are posted on the homepage.

Can I claim the prize in an alternative currency?

Yes, please email with your requirements if you are the winner.

FAQ: Name the Culprit

I've made a mistake, how can I correct it?

The game is designed to filter out incorrect decisions by anonymously asking other detectives what they think. If you have made a mistake your decision will eventually be disregarded.

Why do I get points for answers that are wrong?

Your best answers will earn you more points the more that other detectives agree with you, potentially up to 10 times more, so putting the answers you think are right will earn you the most points in the long run.

Why can't I select the phrase I want to?

The most likely reason is that the automatic processing that detects the words and phrases has gone wrong and detected the wrong things. It may also be because some phrases are embedded in other phrases. You can write a comment about the phrase and skip to the next one if you can not select an appropriate referring phrase.

How can I get to the text at the beginning of the document?

Part of the game experience is to provide a "restricted context", by which we mean we only give you a set amount of text before and after the phrase. If you can't select the phrase because it has gone outside of this range then please write a comment and skip to the next phrase.

Why are the hidden phrases so difficult to select?

Unfortunately some texts have very in-depth phrases which means there are numerous embedded phrases to choose from. We are working on better ways to present this in the future.

FAQ: Detectives Conference

What are agreement points?

If the phrase has several different decisions then other detectives will be asked what they think in Detectives Conference. If they agree with you then you will be awarded an agreement points.

I agreed with the decision. Why didn't I get many points?

In this case it is likely that the decision was not agreed with by many other detectives. You score more points the more your decisions agree with other detectives.

I disagreed with the decision. Why do I have to redo the decision?

We would like you to correct the decision, this will score you agreement points in the future if detectives agree with you.
Prizes Oct 2021
Most annotations:
Magoogy £50
Magic_Is_Real £15
Wellington £10

Best comments:
"not a correct NP, they need to be kept separate"
AColson £30
"'Where are my brothers': this is a full sentence, not a NP"
Wellington £30
Top teams
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100 Club
Game stats

612 documents completed

The most recent was The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - The Adventure of the Speckled Band (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) completed by anagram on 09 Nov 2023

The last document to be worked on was Evolution (Wikipedia) by magoogy