Question: Helping Biostar Grow
gravatar for Eric Normandeau
8.9 years ago by
Quebec, Canada
Eric Normandeau10k wrote:

Hi people!

I've been using StackOverflow for some time and I appreciate the invaluable support this community has provided me to learn better tricks with my coding. (if you don't know about it and do some coding in your work or for fun, I highly suggest you go have a look there!). There is, however, a definitive lack of interest or knowledge concerning bio-informatics on StackOverflow.

I have only found BioStar a few days ago and already feel how tremendously helpful this community could be, if it grew to reach it's critical mass. The cross-breed that are bio-informaticians could definitely use such a common space and no doubt make it a fun place to share precious experience and information.

We can all take part in contributing to the growth of this community. The page already lists three suggestions to do just that:

  1. Invite people (kind of makes sense by itself...)
  2. Ask questions (to populate the wiki with useful information)
  3. Create tags (to help classifying this information)

We can even add other concrete actions to these. What about:

  • Publicity (talk about BioStar on your blog, facebook page, twitter, you name it!)
  • Add your own!

I suggest that we give a few minutes of our time in the coming week to help that community grow into the incredible resource it has the potential of becoming :)

Please contribute your ideas on how to achieve this goal!


biostar • 3.6k views
ADD COMMENTlink modified 8.8 years ago by Jasmine2560 • written 8.9 years ago by Eric Normandeau10k
gravatar for Fred Fleche
8.8 years ago by
Fred Fleche4.3k
Paris, France
Fred Fleche4.3k wrote:

I have been managing a Google group called Group4Bioinformatics. [?]Since I think BioStar is the best way to offer a technical Bioinformatics Forum I decided to frozen Group4Bioinformatics and to encourage members to join BioStar.[?] More over I decided to change the Bioinformatics Forum links on my Website and now there are directed to BioStar. [?]So it is my little contribution in order to help BioStar to grow.[?] [?]Hope this will help to get nice contributors.[?]

ADD COMMENTlink written 8.8 years ago by Fred Fleche4.3k

Can only help! Thanks for this redirection of French brains :)

ADD REPLYlink written 8.8 years ago by Eric Normandeau10k
gravatar for Istvan Albert
8.9 years ago by
Istvan Albert ♦♦ 79k
University Park, USA
Istvan Albert ♦♦ 79k wrote:

We been having a little trouble attracting the audience that may benefit the most from this site: beginner bioinformaticians, wetlab biologists looking to expand their skills, etc.

I am planning to implement a new rule at work: I'll direct everyone asking me a bioinformatics question here: aka I'll help you if you ask it on BioStar first.

PS1: A tip, use your full name! BioStar is also a place to demonstrate your skills. Why not ensure that future employers can associate your persona with the expertise.

PS2. We do have a domain name, but I forgot to turn it on early on, and if I were to do so now everyone with Google OpenID would lose their account. This is specific to Google ID as it is the only OpenID provider that adds the url into the login hash.

ADD COMMENTlink written 8.9 years ago by Istvan Albert ♦♦ 79k

@Istvan Albert This may be heretic, but considering the fact that there are 35 people actively contributing, wouldn't now be a very good time to change the domain? Maybe warning people in advance? Maybe sending emails? Not that I think the subdomain is such a negative thing. Coming from StackOverflow, I can only see that being linked to the same kind of highly serious, functional and interesting projects lends biostar credibility. G'night :)

ADD REPLYlink written 8.9 years ago by Eric Normandeau10k

@Istvan Albert Just an idea, which you probably have thought about, but why not having the domain name automatically redirect to the biostar.stackexchange site? Concerning the more global aim of this post, I just read your own post about BioStar growth. I will definitely redirect questions I get to work on this group. That sound very promising. Many thanks for being at the head of such an undertaking. Do not hesitate to ask for help in any way! Cheers

ADD REPLYlink written 8.9 years ago by Eric Normandeau10k

@Eric yes the domain does redirect, but alas that means that it looks like a subdomain of the stackexchange site rather than a individual domain.

ADD REPLYlink written 8.9 years ago by Istvan Albert ♦♦ 79k

@Eric yes the domain does redirect, but alas that means that it looks like a subdomain of the stackexchange site rather than an individual domain.

ADD REPLYlink written 8.9 years ago by Istvan Albert ♦♦ 79k

as someone using a google openid, i dont want my account reset! what's wrong with the current url? and what's the alternative?

ADD REPLYlink written 8.9 years ago by brentp22k

@brentp Nothing is wrong from my point of view, as plainly stated in my comment, i was only mentioning an option. If there is the slightest chance that it can harm the community, then I am also against it. Cheers.

ADD REPLYlink written 8.9 years ago by Eric Normandeau10k

@brent the only potential issue is that search engines treat subdomains differently than full domains. Obviously that is not worth the trouble to do it. Hopefully there will be a workaround for it in the future.

ADD REPLYlink written 8.9 years ago by Istvan Albert ♦♦ 79k
gravatar for Jeroen Van Goey
8.8 years ago by
Jeroen Van Goey2.2k
Ghent, Belgium
Jeroen Van Goey2.2k wrote:

I helped spreading the word by tweeting and posting in The Life Scientists, Python for Bioinformatics and Ruby for Bioinformatics groups on Friendfeed about BioStar. I can't quantify it in any way but what I think has had the most impact eyeball-wise is the link to BioStar I added to the sidebar of the bioinformatics subreddit (a community of 850+ subscribers).

Regarding helping BioStar grow, Joel Spolsky just made an announcement about the second version of StackExchange, the software which is the basis of this site. Most import change: Stack Exchange will now be free. I don't know what this means for the grant money that Istvan Albert has secured to keep this site running, but maybe that money can now be used to reach out to the people who we now have trouble attracting, the beginner bioinformaticians and wetlab biologists looking to expand their skills

The second important change is that new Stack Exchange sites are created to move to a more democratic, community process. This isn't relevant for us, but they describe what happens to existing StackExchange sites:

Q: What happens with existing Stack Exchange sites?

We don’t want to harm any communities that have already successfully gotten off the ground. This harks back to our corporate goal:

Make the Internet a better place to get expert answers to your questions.

Community is hard to build, and we want to work with you to preserve it if you’ve already done that with Stack Exchange. If we closed down or competed with the existing, successful Stack Exchange sites, that would conflict with our goals.

  1. Existing Stack Exchange sites will be kept open, under existing rules, for at least three months, and at least one year if you have an active site (defined as ten or more visitors or more on April 8th).
  2. You will not have to pay for these sites, ever.
  3. We’ll give you at least 3 months notice before shutting down any site.
  4. We’ll always make your data available for download.
  5. If your site remains very active, we’d love to work with you to migrate it to the new, community-owned Stack Exchange platform. That would be the best thing that could happen to a Stack Exchange 1.0 site, in our opinion: that way your site can take advantage of our existing resources and expansive community.

We meet the criteria in point 1 so I think we'll have to see how we can best do point 5: migrating to the new platform (I don't know how much of a break this will be,but maybe this is also the right time to start with a new slate and solve the Google OpenID login issue.)

PS: in response to the PS1 by Istvan Albert above I've changed my screen name from the moniker I use everywhere on the net (BioGeek) to my real name.

ADD COMMENTlink written 8.8 years ago by Jeroen Van Goey2.2k

Yes I think we should migrate to the new platform, though it is something that we should not undertake right away - let it settle a bit. We could use the forums to discuss any relevant issue.

ADD REPLYlink written 8.8 years ago by Istvan Albert ♦♦ 79k
gravatar for Giovanni M Dall'Olio
8.9 years ago by
London, UK
Giovanni M Dall'Olio26k wrote:

I have been contributing to a scientific online community in Italian for a few years now (molecularlab), and now I have some experience on how to publicize a website like this and make it grow faster.

One of the most important points is that we should all respect the netiquette carefully, especially by making sure that all the discussions have good titles and that no flames arise. Luckly, the stackexchange layout is great at doing this, as in principle everybody can contribute to moderation.

As for publicizing it, I told it to my friends and colleagues, and wrote a post on it on my blog: I think this may be sufficent. Maybe, if the website is successful, you could submit a paper or a letter to a peer-reviewed journal on it.

In any case, the best way to attract people is to ask interesting questions and make nice answers. When you post a new question or provide an answer, think on how google and other search engines will index it, so try to use a clean language and use tags and titles properly.

One possible obstacle is that most of the questions asked here will be very technical, so a newcomer could be scared by this as he won't be able to answer any question at the beginning. So I think it would be nice to post some generic questions now, something like 'What is the best programming language for bioinformaticians', etc., where newcomers will be able to answer and accumulate their first points.

ADD COMMENTlink written 8.9 years ago by Giovanni M Dall'Olio26k
gravatar for Paulo Nuin
8.9 years ago by
Paulo Nuin3.7k
Paulo Nuin3.7k wrote:

Why not send an email to EvolDir? It might work as an extension for questions posted there.

Update: I posted on my Python blog about it. It's on Planet Python, so it should get a good readership. Link

ADD COMMENTlink modified 8.8 years ago • written 8.9 years ago by Paulo Nuin3.7k

That is a great idea I think! I propose we transfer this as a new thread on Biostar-Central to discuss what should be included in this letter and work collaboratively on writing/proofing it. @Istvan Albert: Is this an appropriate approach? Cheers

ADD REPLYlink written 8.9 years ago by Eric Normandeau10k

Sure, that sounds good too.

ADD REPLYlink written 8.8 years ago by Istvan Albert ♦♦ 79k

I will write something down and send to the Google group.

ADD REPLYlink written 8.8 years ago by Paulo Nuin3.7k
gravatar for Jeremy Leipzig
8.8 years ago by
Philadelphia, PA
Jeremy Leipzig18k wrote:

I think Biostar should sponsor and develop a PLEAC-type subsection where someone posits a specific bioinformatics problem in pseudocode and various developers submit language specific solutions.

ADD COMMENTlink written 8.8 years ago by Jeremy Leipzig18k
gravatar for Conny
8.8 years ago by
Conny10 wrote:

Frankly, I think a catchier name than "Biostar" would help. It's so generic I have a hard time associating it with what it is.

Plus, from an SEO standpoint the name is not unique at all. :-/

ADD COMMENTlink written 8.8 years ago by Conny10
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