The Population Project


Antoine Bello · May 24, 2021

Why we need volunteers

Calling the Population Project an ambitious initiative might be the understatement of the year. We need to identify up to 8 billion people in countries with highly different linguistic structures and record-keeping traditions.

Want an example of the challenges we face?

  • In Korea, three surnames (Kim, Lee, and Park) account for more than 40% of the population.
  • There are over 100 million people by the name of Wang in China alone.
  • It is estimated that over a billion humans don’t have a birth certificate. No one is exactly sure when or where they were born.
  • Hundreds of alphabets are used throughout the world. Although roman characters are the default for the site, we strive to display all names in their original alphabet.

How you can help

Simply put, we need your time and enthusiasm to gather as many records from as many corners of the world as possible. It means scouring the internet, looking for long lists of names, ideally from official sources. These lists can take many forms: electoral records, candidates running for office, marathon runners, high school graduates, etc. Our two guides, the Volunteer Handbook and the Scraping Handbook will teach you the basic techniques to extract data from the web and organize it in a spreadsheet.

When we launch our website later this year, you will also be able to create and edit the records of your friends and family. A simple tool will allow you to notify them, hopefully contributing to the virality of the site. The way we see it, the work of the volunteers and the website will complement each other. We’ll need both to succeed.

We’re also interested in hearing from you if you have special skills in the fields of data science, search engine optimization, linguistics, online marketing, or machine learning. We face many challenges that require very specific expertise.

Qualities needed

There are no absolute prerequisites but you will be more productive if you:

  • know to search efficiently on Google;
  • are comfortable with Excel;
  • are curious, resourceful and you love to poke around.


You can work as little or as much as you want. Whatever your contribution, we’ll be grateful for your time. Unfortunately, we are not able to pay you. This is a 100% volunteer opportunity, as we are operating on a limited budget.

The work is entirely remote.

How to apply

Please write to volunteers@thepopulationproject.org, attaching your resume or pointing to your LinkedIn page.

More information

The Population Project Volunteer Handbook