Forum: Declining quality of biostars
6
gravatar for mforde84
12 weeks ago by
mforde84900
mforde84900 wrote:

I think this community is becoming less and less useful. People barely contribute. It's unanswered question after unanswered question. Any one have a suggestions on active online bioinformatics communities?

forum quality • 1.1k views
ADD COMMENTlink modified 11 weeks ago by Charles Plessy2.2k • written 12 weeks ago by mforde84900
5

Yes
Biostars :)

ADD REPLYlink written 12 weeks ago by Medhat6.9k
3

Hi mforde.

Please edit your post to add detail on your analysis, evidence, or include some constructive options on how to improve the site, otherwise the post will be closed as 'non-constructive', to improve the quality standards of this site.

ADD REPLYlink modified 11 weeks ago • written 11 weeks ago by Michael Dondrup43k
2

Are you trolling ? I just can't make up my mind on whether this is a serious question.

ADD REPLYlink written 12 weeks ago by Jean-Karim Heriche13k

I do not know what is in his mind, but if there is an up-vote for his question it means that there is some support for his ideas!

ADD REPLYlink written 12 weeks ago by Medhat6.9k

Probably trolling and getting the support of that. However, I would definitely back the stats that healey provided. But if you are unhappy then please reframe the questions you asked that had been left unanswered and tag it well, am sure fellow researchers will get back at their suitable time.

ADD REPLYlink written 12 weeks ago by vchris_ngs4.0k
2

I missed this thread originally - today I was paging through the site, it popped up on the 3rd page even though the last contribution to it that had bumped it back to front was 20 hours ago.

So there is sufficient new content to drop this thread onto the 3rd page in just 20 hours.

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by Istvan Albert ♦♦ 73k
1

also modifying / adding a comment or answer to a very old thread is one more reason. Today, I've seen a lot.

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by venu4.3k
1

On the front page by recent activity time today I counted ~13 unanswered questions, versus all the other questions which had answers (including multiples) totalling ~ 24 separate answers. So I'm not sure that I really agree with your premise that many/most(?) of the questions on here go unanswered...

ADD REPLYlink written 12 weeks ago by jrj.healey2.4k
3

Also, how many of those "unanswered" have actually been answered, just as a comment not as an answer so it still shows as unanswered?

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by Emily_Ensembl13k
1

That's true, I didn't delve in to each thread to see. Not to mention, that I would say that the reason for "unanswered question after unanswered question" is by far because the OP doesn't come back and actually accept any answers that are received.

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by jrj.healey2.4k
1

It would be nice to have a different color/gradation/"acknowledged" status once a question receives a comment. That should show that the question has been addressed by someone.

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by genomax33k
1

Aren't you just going directly to the Open section?

ADD REPLYlink written 12 weeks ago by h.mon8.7k
4

I assume OP is disappointed not getting an answer to his/her question here as quickly as he/she posts it.

@OP: Not to sound rude but people in any community are not experts in all fields. Everyone do not always have a ready-working solution.

People barely contribute

I don't think so. We need to have some patience until the question is noticed by the right person. It doesn't mean the quality is decreasing if the question is not answered within minutes.

ADD REPLYlink written 12 weeks ago by venu4.3k
7

It only says "2 days ago" for me, regarding when the post was first created and when the horrifically rude "Well? Anyone have any suggestions? I mean come now, this isn't stack exchange guys." comment from the OP was posted, so I'm not sure how big the gap was. However if the OP is wondering why their question wasn't answered I can think of two reasons:

  1. You originally posted on a Saturday. A lot of us here have lives and don't choose to spend our weekends browsing bioinformatics fora looking for people to help. The people who could have helped you may not have gotten onto BioStars until today.

  2. You then posted an extremely rude comment and nobody wanted to help you. I can only conclude that theobroma and Jean-Karim are absurdly nice people, because I wouldn't have answered your question after that. I'd even have been tempted to moderate you.

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by Emily_Ensembl13k

The problem is the last 5 or so questions I've posted have received hundreds of views but no answers or comments. And then when I do answer to questions or raise what apparently are salient issues on this site, I get snotty retorts. Honestly, I'd like to thank you for adding to that number. It really shows what you're here for. By all means... moderate me.

ADD REPLYlink modified 11 weeks ago • written 11 weeks ago by mforde84900
5

Please explain how what I said was snottier than "Well? Anyone have any suggestions? I mean come now, this isn't stack exchange guys."

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by Emily_Ensembl13k
4

Looking at just the last couple of your questions, it strikes me that they tend to be more statistical/mathematical in nature. Could it not just be the case that most people here aren't entirely comfortable answering those questions? It may be somewhat out of their particular domain of expertise. As others have pointed out, everyone on here answers questions out of their own pure selflessness - there's nothing tangible in it for them. It's not anyones place to complain when you don't get an answer - those are the breaks when using a forum.

Setting that aside, lets assume there is someone on the site who can help you - you won't achieve that by goading people like you did in your last question, or by posting this subjective, and frankly false, forum...

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by jrj.healey2.4k

Biostar is the first choice of most people I know for any bioinformatics related queries. Could you please provide some analytics to support your claim?

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by Gjain5.0k
12
gravatar for genomax
12 weeks ago by
genomax33k
United States
genomax33k wrote:

As you recall everyone here is spending their own time to answer questions without any personal gain (some satisfaction in my case). Just by the nature of online communities (and Biostars particularly wants to be open/low barrier for new users) we get a lot of questions from new users that are either incomplete/repeats or from areas where we may not have any experts to answer those questions. It is best to leave those questions unanswered rather than have questionable answers that don't benefit anyone.

We can only have a vibrant community when there is a good balance of providers and consumers (have you been both?). There is no way to control that mix.

We have had many discussions about this in recent past and there is no one magic bullet to fix some of these issues.

ADD COMMENTlink modified 12 weeks ago • written 12 weeks ago by genomax33k

Agreed - looking through the unanswered questions they're mainly either duplicates of older questions, or do not provide enough detail. Also it's summer and so the quality of questions typically drops and/or becomes all about 'where is a good place to study bioinformatics', etc.

Having said that, i think Biostars could do more somehow. One thing i particularly like about StackOverflow is the user profiles, where you can see how many people you 'reached', questions answered, popular questions, etc. I think that's really valuable at making you feel part of a community and seeing that you're doing good. The points system is a good gamification, but somehow seeing others with huuuuuge scores can make people apathetic towards contributuing. This was mentioned on bioinformatics.se about biostars, and it got under my skin because i felt bad about having 10k points. it does come across as an argument from authority. Perhaps a 'most active bioinformaticians this week' page, would be a good idea. Keep the total counter, but put more emphasis on recent contributions. speaking of bioinformatic.se, the traffic there has gone down, and down, and down... so i think this is just a slump the relates to school holidays or something. Besides the goal isn't to be active it's to be helpful :]

Honestly, Biostars is the king of bioinformatic support groups, and if you don't like it take off the black-hat and put a different colour on :) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_Thinking_Hats

ADD REPLYlink written 12 weeks ago by John11k
1

SO has a 'top x% this month' stat which is quite good. Perhaps we need something like that.

ADD REPLYlink written 12 weeks ago by jrj.healey2.4k
1

It would be interesting to build an automated duplicate questions detector - StackOverflow and Quora both have their own implementations, there's currently a competition at Kaggle to improve on the automatic implementation at Quora.. But it's not that straightforward. Could be fun for a Google Summer of Code project.

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by Philipp Bayer4.6k
11
gravatar for h.mon
12 weeks ago by
h.mon8.7k
Brazil
h.mon8.7k wrote:

I think most unanswered posts are from unanswerable questions. And even then, in general there are lots of comments trying to get clarification.

Your post, for example, ticked people off and got answers, but in fact it is not a good question. How did you measure this claimed declining quality? How did you measure the lack of contribution? Did you use some software, or just eyeballed? Did you check the quality of unanswered posts over time to back your claim?

So far, it is like an "I mapped my reads to the genome but my file is empty, what is wrong dudes?" question. Ok, it is a forum post, but even so, sounds more like ranting or trolling than a helpful post.

ADD COMMENTlink modified 12 weeks ago • written 12 weeks ago by h.mon8.7k
5
gravatar for Michael Dondrup
11 weeks ago by
Bergen, Norway
Michael Dondrup43k wrote:

This is maybe a recurring discussion, see: Is The Biostar Fading? (Updated For 2014) and responses, unfortunately, the blog posts are now made private. BioStars is the most active community. Also, the OP is not constructive, as others have noted, please edit your question to make some suggestions on what to change.

Please also note that your post was sent, overlapping vacation and week-end in some time zones. You can't expect to get an immediate response on saturday/ friday night, even though you got comments quickly.

There are other sites like the public beta on SE: https://bioinformatics.stackexchange.com/ (280 Q's total and 225 visitors/day as of today, which is much less than biostars has per hour). The community overlap, but they have ~95% answered.

Quora bioinformatics: https://www.quora.com/topic/Bioinformatics, (2.8k Q's, don't have visitors stats?), as I see it, most of the questions there are more open ended and would not be a good fit here.

And of course :http://seqanswers.com/ for sequencing, focus on sequencing, with an old-school forum UI, you name it.

ADD COMMENTlink modified 11 weeks ago • written 11 weeks ago by Michael Dondrup43k
3

One should note that the 95% on the bioinfo SE site is a bit misleading, given that a number of posts have simply been removed and don't contribute to that number. It's easy to appear as though "all questions get answered" when unanswerable questions are kicked out.

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by Devon Ryan70k

the OP is not constructive

I haven't seen any comment from OP supporting his view. As mentioned in a comment to original thread, this discussion was raised by the disappointment of not getting an answer/suggestion to his/her other question here.

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by venu4.3k
1

Yes, I believe it was a rant, too. Of course complaining about low quality content by posting low quality content does not seem like a good idea. I found it nice though how eager people are to defend the community in a mannered way, it shows me how much they care. And maybe OP now at least feels better after blowing off some steam.

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by Michael Dondrup43k
2
gravatar for Charles Plessy
11 weeks ago by
Charles Plessy2.2k
Japan
Charles Plessy2.2k wrote:

There may be a timezone effect as well: in the morning, Japan time, I see a lot of unanswered questions, which is not surprising since much of the Biostar community is asleep. Conversely, if I ask a question at work hours, Japan time, I have the impression that first nothing happens and then it tends to get buried quickly by the peak of activity when the European and the Americans get on line, and therefore misses chances to catch attention. Well, c'est la vie...

ADD COMMENTlink written 11 weeks ago by Charles Plessy2.2k

This is definitely a genuine challenge. I'd love to see a discussion on viable solutions for this.

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by Ram12k

I think you'd need to really dramatically change the way threads are ordered on the main page, not ordered by time posted or time since last activity, but by using an algorithm much like Facebook's to push to the top of the page threads the site wishes users to see - perhaps because they are logged in and that user is known to be an expert in the field, or perhaps because there is extra weighting given to threads created during low-traffic periods. Content curation is an entire field in it's own right, and is conceptually easy but practically difficult due to a lack of standardised tools (at least, that i know of).

This is one of the great pities of bioinformatics and the way research funding is allocated. Securing funding for legitimately useful work such as this is going to be very difficult, even though the benefits could be substantial.

ADD REPLYlink written 9 weeks ago by John11k

One easy way to address this in short term would be to leverage the ability of "biostar" user to bump threads that have not received a single comment/answer in last 24 h back to main/top of page.

While on that topic, frequency of "biostar" user bumping old threads from past (some several years old) needs to be dialed back or eliminated (in favor of solution above). It was probably required in initial days of biostars (when there was less traffic) but should no longer be needed.

ADD REPLYlink written 9 weeks ago by genomax33k

The current thread "bumper" heavily favors recent unanswered questions - but it does have a chance of bumping an older or answered question as well.

If all new unanswered questions were bumped back with regularity it might feel overwhelming.

ADD REPLYlink written 9 weeks ago by Istvan Albert ♦♦ 73k

The current thread "bumper" heavily favors recent unanswered questions

Correct me if my understanding is wrong but the current definition of "unanswered/open" seems to be questions that do not have an "accepted" answer (even though they may have had many comments). If that is correct then can the thread bumper can be set to only bump those new questions from past 24-48h that have not received a single comment/answer?

ADD REPLYlink modified 9 weeks ago • written 9 weeks ago by genomax33k
1
gravatar for alpha_Qncx2K
11 weeks ago by
alpha_Qncx2K10
alpha_Qncx2K10 wrote:

I wish I could upvote or downvote answers. The star rating of an author shouldnt only be determined by the number of posts but also the quality of the posts.

If you determine the star rating of an author purely by the number of posts, you are incentivizing more posts, and disincentivizing people for giving detailed answers to hard questions..There are so many amazing posts here.. I think the people who post these should be incentivized more to do so..

ADD COMMENTlink written 11 weeks ago by alpha_Qncx2K10
2

The star rating of an author shouldnt only be determined by the number of posts

For the record this is not at all the case. Just posting a comment/answer does not get you automatic points.

There are many more posts that never get any up-votes (in spite of providing valuable information do not receive acknowledgement from the OP) or are marked as "accepted". This is partly a matter of new user education (and some of us have been actively trying to educate users).

Ability to downvote (used to exist) and has been discussed in the past year.

ADD REPLYlink modified 11 weeks ago • written 11 weeks ago by genomax33k

hmm.. ok.. I agree with the logic.. only upvote should work too.. especially since this is a small community. Though I kindof disagree with the assessment of Stackexchange/Stackoverflow in that post.. I am not sure that is the feeling of most people there. I have personally found people there very helpful.. and generally considerate.. :)

The other thing I noticed is that if instead of commenting as I did in this post, I just replied from "Add your answer" there is no upvote button.. Not sure whether I am missing something there..I see that a lot of people just use add a answer.. Perhaps a upvote button needs to be added to these?

Also maybe it would be beneficial to be able to upvote the opening post, as well?

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by alpha_Qncx2K10
2

For a new user you actually did the right thing by adding this as a comment (using ADD COMMENT/ADD REPLY). This helps keep the logical flow of threads.

SUBMIT ANSWER is meant to be used only for NEW answers to the original question. Many new users miss that fact, especially if they are commenting and not actually adding a new answer. Since one is adding a new answer, there is no need for a button to up-vote. It is definitely possible to up-vote the original/opening post for non-owners (original posters can't up-vote their own post/comments anywhere on the site).

ADD REPLYlink modified 11 weeks ago • written 11 weeks ago by genomax33k

actually you are very much correct.. Perhaps this is a minor bug.. I always view all websites in split screen in windows 10. (I checked on as well as in Internet explorer, microsoft edge on windows 10, Internet explorer on Windows 7, Firefox in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and the issue was repeatable)

I noticed in split screen mode, the options to upvote or downvote answers or the main questions dont appear across all these platforms.

I randomly did a full screen and suddenly saw the option to upvote the answers and questions. Not sure how many people view websites in split screen mode.. Maybe this option was recently added and the full functionality and testing hasnt been done..

If the sourcecode for this platform is available and if you can point it out to me... maybe I can help resolve this issue.

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by alpha_Qncx2K10
1

The source code is available here.

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by Devon Ryan70k

I don't think this is a bug. Biostars site auto-resizes the pages depending on the screen size. Once the screen size goes down beyond a certain dimension the voting button is not visible.

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by genomax33k
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