Is Biostar A Research Advice Tool Or A Tutor (Helping Students) Or Both?
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13.0 years ago

Perhaps a controversial question - but one that's come to mind lately. Or stated another way, What is your objective in using BioStar?

For me, I look for advice and answer questions that relate to my research projects and research expertise. I don't take a look at or even attempt to answer questions outside those areas. I have seen over the time I have participated in this forum a number of questions, often poorly posed, that appear, and I know this is just an appearance, to be homework questions. Sometimes several on the same topic from different users, often new, often appear within a short time of one another. Most times I will ignore such questions because I simply have too many other demands of my time.

I'm not advocating that certain questions should be banned or segregated in any way. I am simply curious how others view this valuable Q&A forum. For me, as the lone computational biologist in my institute, having the "contact" or resource is invaluable as a means to accelerate my research. Just understand, I cannot go into tutor or teaching mode as often as I wish I could.

Please share your thoughts. Thanks!

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13.0 years ago

I tend to consider BioStar as a virtual lobby for bioinformaticians, in the same way I would expect a congress/meeting to be useful: a place where to find a majority of people doing different things (some of them interesting enough to consider them in your decision-making algorithms) and a minority of people doing something similar or even the same stuff you are doing. in this later cases it is great to see how others do the same things as you do but in different ways, how they help you with your respectable doubts, or even how they've been able to solve issues that you haven't gone through yet, nor even have posted them here. in all these cases I guess I'm answering your question as "research objective".

to be honest I first joined BioStar to have my questions answered, either by posting them myself or by reading other's similar ones, but when you see questions that are somehow easy to answer I don't mind writing a few lines on what I usually do or know. I'm sure that doesn't cover solving "homework questions", unless they are so straight that you can definitely see that those people (not necessarily students, but I get your point) are indeed struggling to get out of a situation.

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Thank you for your comment and thoughts. For one, I wish I had more time to get to all of the questions I could answer, but... And so I tend to gravitate to those that are of a more sophisticated nature.

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I tend to check the RSS entries, looking for something related to my field of knowledge, but once I'm in I really like fiddling around. I certainly wish I had more time ;)

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13.0 years ago
Neilfws 49k

I answer far more questions than I ask at BioStar. However, on the occasions that I have asked questions, I've received excellent, useful answers. This indicates to me that the forum works as it should, on the whole.

With regard to the questions: I think it's important to provide support to people at all stages in their bioinformatics career. Learning how to ask good questions is a skill so when questions are poorly-phrased (or tagged!), we can help by getting the questioner to clarify in the comments (or editing their tags). Where questions are obviously homework, we can ask them what they have tried already. When a questioner fails to provide further information, it suggests that they are a "one-time" visitor: they've probably posted their question all over the Web and have no interest in the BioStar community. I think it's fair to close such questions as "no longer relevant".

It can be frustrating and time-consuming, but I think it can be made less so if the more experienced members help to shape the community by setting appropriate standards and practices. In addition to the above suggestions, I'd like to see (1) more people select a best answer to their question, (2) less "knee-jerk" down-voting without good reason and (3) where you do down-vote, have the balls to explain why, publicly.

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I down voted this so that I could earn my critic badge.

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13.0 years ago

I've received very helpful and informative answers to questions I've asked here. In addition, I find that at the exercise of trying to give a good answer-- even for the rare question where I feel I know a good answer as soon as I read the question-- is valuable to me as well. Teaching on a topic is the surest way to determine the real limits of your knowledge, particularly when you do it in public.

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13.0 years ago

Like Jorge I see BioStar as meeting grounds for like minded individuals, some of whom are beginners others are experts in some application domain.

Traditional publication avenues are ill suited for exchanging 'know how' or describing the decision making that goes into a project, we usually present the outcomes in as coming from a linear process.

Here even if the advice relates to a seemingly simple question I often feel that I can see through it the methodologies and avenues that follow and how they integrate in a bigger picture.

Overall reading the advices and comments provides me with a better grasp of how much I don't know. Strangely that makes me feel more relaxed and confident in what I do know.

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Thanks, Istvan. Please see my comment to Jorge above - same applies for your response.

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I can't agree more with the "publication avenues" metaphor, since this is how knowledge has always been served for us researchers. but considering the relative little amount of people doing exactly the same as any of us are doing, and specially considering how sparse we are through the geography, this kind of forums definitely help building knowledge bridges between people who otherwise wouldn't be able to contact. thumbs up for BioStar!

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13.0 years ago
Thaman ★ 3.3k

My notion toward BioStar is "learning by sharing" with expertise in related field. To be true BioStar has given me the precise meaning of Bioinformatics and what it really does. I joined BioStar in quest of finding relevant answers which satisfied me not in terms of homework but in terms of project and research work.

Moreover, I find it wise to ask questions which are troubling me for several days and taking all my time. So, BioStar can be a research advice tool for them who alreadys knows the techniques or a tutor for the beginners. For me it's a platform from where I can learn "how to think like a computer scientist"

It's true what neilfws said : it's important to provide support to people at all stages in their bioinformatics career.

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