Skip to content

Instantly share code, notes, and snippets.

Embed
What would you like to do?
Discourse for open science

The recent Open Science SE site got shut down by StackExchange folks.

There is another proposal for the same right now http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/90201/open-science.

I am all for that proposal, trying to get open science going again on SE.

However, an alternative is Discourse, created by Jeff Atwood, etal.

Example forums:

We could put up our own forum. Benefits:

  • We, the people involved in the forum, would run the forum - it can increase in size slowly w/o having to be subject to SE's rules
  • It has a lot of the same features of SE (great UI, markdown support, multiple login options, badges), minus voting/points

We would have to pay server costs, but that's minimal for such a potentially big group of people.

If you're not familiar with Discourse, visit one of the links above and peak through some of the discussion threads.

Totally fine if this is shot down - just thinking out loud

@noamross

This comment has been minimized.

Copy link

commented Aug 21, 2015

I'm mixed on this. One benefit of SE over a forum is visibility. An SE site would have the instant pedigree of being a "definitive" Q&A site, and is low-friction for anyone using any other SE site.

On the other hand, I'm not convinced the SE format is ideal for open science discussion. Looking at both the past and current proposals and the questions asked, the scope is hard to discern. A discourse site might be more amenable to freer discussion, but in that case, how does it differ, and what is it's purpose, beyond the many fora through which the community discusses things now? Both ROpenSci and Mozilla Science Lab have fora that don't have that much traffic. General topics are frequently discussed via twitter and the blogosphere, and then there are any number of subgroup-specific listservs and communities.

Not saying there isn't a purpose to this. I just think it needs more clarity.

@sckott

This comment has been minimized.

Copy link
Owner Author

commented Aug 21, 2015

@kbroman fixed

@sckott

This comment has been minimized.

Copy link
Owner Author

commented Aug 21, 2015

@noamross right, this proposal does need more clarity - need to go give a talk now though

@Daniel-Mietchen

This comment has been minimized.

Copy link

commented Aug 21, 2015

Thanks, @sckott, for thinking of that option - I certainly did not have Discourse on my radar, and I agree that it would be useful to set the rules ourselves rather than have them forced upon us. I don't know Discourse, so I went in to the sites you listed and looked around a bit. It did not intrigue me, but I might find it acceptable if the community would actually use it.

I also had a look at Question2Answer, which is used by PhysicsOverflow, and I liked that better. Haven't yet dug deeper on this one either, though.

@noamross wrote:

General topics are frequently discussed via twitter and the blogosphere, and then there are any number of subgroup-specific listservs and communities.

These general topics are a very central part of interactions across the openscience community, so I think we should aim at using an infrastructure that promotes that. SE policies of discouraging example/ list/ broad questions stand in the way of that, and discussions held via Twitter and the blogosphere tend to be too ephemeral, too hard to follow and to re-discover or even to download in bulk.

As for carving out our corner in some existing SE sites, I'd find that too noisy if the core motivation is to follow #openscience matters.

@sckott

This comment has been minimized.

Copy link
Owner Author

commented Aug 21, 2015

@Daniel-Mietchen Sorry about doing this here, but it didn't seem like it belonged in the SE proposal - i didn't want to distract if this was not a popular idea.

There has been some positive reception to this idea on twitter (https://twitter.com/tpoi/status/634569416970215424, https://twitter.com/TheAtavism/status/634572658156310533), but sounds like we should not do this.

@Daniel-Mietchen

This comment has been minimized.

Copy link

commented Aug 21, 2015

The more I think about it — and the more I get annoyed by all those closing votes for questions I find relevant — the less I am inclined to think going for SE again makes sense, so checking out alternatives would seem the way to go, and please don't let my comments stand in the way of you thinking further about using Discourse. Have any of you had a look at Federated Wiki?

@Dilatino

This comment has been minimized.

Copy link

commented Aug 22, 2015

Hi all,

If the Open Science community would be happy to live as an independent and completely self-governed and self-moderated community on a similar adapted Q2A platform http://www.physicsoverflow.org/ useses, the PhysicsOverflow team would be willing to offer technical help by lending its software (for free of course) and get a new site started and running very efficiently (in public mode!) from the SE data dump (the whole content of the closed private SE beta site could be recovered).

However, the Open Science community would have to recruit their own technical administrators, moderators (and in the best case a system developer too), as the PhysicsOverflow team is at present too small to run and provide full technical (24h) support for more than one site.

In case of interest, please write to: admin@physicsoverflow.org to discuss and organize things further.

Regards

Dilatino

@ArtOfCode-

This comment has been minimized.

Copy link

commented Aug 22, 2015

Who's running this show at the moment? I think @Dilatino's suggestion is worth considering as another alternative to a Discourse site.

@Zizouz212

This comment has been minimized.

Copy link

commented Aug 23, 2015

It looks cool - However, I think a site like this would work well on SE, and I actively support it. I would be careful if you try to run it somewhere else - You guys would be totally independent, and as such would be very vulnerable to any weakening events. If activity declines, if something happens, you are all on your own. At least with Stack Exchange, you have community managers and developers who are already active handling the "background stuff." Don't be discouraged by the fact that you have to restart.

I also want you to know that you have support from other communities. There are many science-related sites on SE, which created a little buzz about the proposal. You also have people, namely moderators who are active on very related sites, which are in the community willing to help. I've got some experience with the "open" aspect: I'm a moderator at the sister site Open Source. These members, and a few of them were fairly active during that closed beta, are more than willing to provide support and answers to the site-development questions that you may have.

Give it another try: You'll get both the professional Q&A format that make the Stack Exchange model successful, and if you would like extended discussions, there are live chatrooms that are available for community use. Since the community runs the site, you will be able to choose which sorts of questions are accepted and on-topic, and loosen up the discussion level a little bit.

I understand: closed betas are a little bit of a hassle sometimes, as the questions are out of the mind, and aren't "real-world situation" questions. Don't see it as an obstacle. There's an avid community interested in this that is from all over the world, and they would love to see the site succeed. Since many community members now have a feel with how the closed beta works, you have the ability to plan out questions, and make rough drafts on community-made site policies. Store any questions that you encounter in real-world situations, and when the closed beta on SE begins, ask them straight away. This will allow for the influx of questions that will make the beta, and hence the site successful.

If you do want to ask me questions, about the failed beta, or the future, I've created a chatroom linked with the new Area 51 proposal that currently exists, and it can be found here: http://chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/27080/discussion-for-open-science Simply give me a ping (@Zizouz212) and if I'm around, I should be there in a jiffy :)

@Daniel-Mietchen

This comment has been minimized.

Copy link

commented Aug 23, 2015

Thanks, @Dilatino — that's a very interesting offer.

@Dilatino

This comment has been minimized.

Copy link

commented Aug 23, 2015

@daniel you are welcome, the PO team would be happy to assist giving birth to an Open Science brother site :-)

To be honest, I personally think that trying to restart the Open Science proposal on Area51 is rather pointless. The official goal of the SE company is not to support and maintain international academic communities, but to get "clean" (comments are considered to be noise and can be deleted by moderators at will) libraries of Q&As useful to an as large as possible crowed of external Googlers, written by voluntary contributors: https://www.quora.com/Is-there-a-community-on-Stack-Exchange-Stack-Overflow-sites-like-there-is-on-Quora/answer/Sebastian-Schacher

If the Open Science community decides to accept the help and collaboration with the PO team to set up an Open Science community outside the SE network, this would of course need more work that restarting on Area51 and roughly the following steps would be needed:

  1. decide about hosting (this is rather cheap such that a even a single person could pay it) and the server the future community is meant to live on
  2. The PO technical team would install its adapted Q2A software and create the data base needed
  3. Import all questions of the closed SE beta site from the data dump
  4. The open science community adapts the framework for its purpose (logo of the site, customable texts, style and layout) as needed.

The decision concerning what steps to prepare the site should be done in private mode and when it is time to go public would be completely up to the Open Science community itself.
If needed, I would be willing to help people log into their from the data dump imported account, at least in the initial phase.

To get the business started, some people should take the lead of the project ;-), and at some point it might be useful to shift the mode of discussion to a dedicated email thread containing the organizers of both communities as recipients.

@pietsch

This comment has been minimized.

Copy link

commented Aug 23, 2015

Thanks indeed, @Dilatino. I just wrote to the address you mentioned to get things going.

I think this is one of those decisions that aren't: For the time being, let's pursue all directions, let's make several offers. Time will tell what works out best.

@Zizouz212

This comment has been minimized.

Copy link

commented Aug 23, 2015

@Dilatino. Just be wary of importing the questions from the data dump - It will mean that the content will have to be licensed under CC BY-SA. With discussions that had taken in the SE beta about changing that to CC0, you need to make sure that you follow the requirements. Also, a lot of people may not be happy that you have simply taken the content and just reposted it another site. I, for one, would not be happy at all if I hadn't seen this (and there are many others who will be very mad and upset for not ever being notified). You could possibly run into many legal issues with that.

I need to however dispute your decision on this:

To be honest, I personally think that trying to restart the Open Science proposal on Area51 is rather pointless. The official goal of the SE company is not to support and maintain international academic communities, but to get "clean" (comments are considered to be noise and can be deleted by moderators at will) libraries of Q&As useful to an as large as possible crowed of external Googlers, written by voluntary contributors:

You seem to write that the official goal is not to support, that is something I find to be misinterpreted. Stack Exchange is there to create a compilation of knowledge over a vast variety of subjects. They are more than willing to support these kinds of sites. It seems that the overall sentiment is that SE rejected the Open Science proposal, because they didn't want it. _That's not true._ It was rejected due to lack of activity, which is something that an SE site needs in order to survive. SE isn't running the site, they're running the servers, fixing bugs and providing basic support. The community will always run itself, and will set it's own guidelines and policies, not Stack Exchange.

I really urge all of you to reconsider. The new Open Science proposal should be back up into beta within a couple months based on the activity that is currently seen.

@Dilatino

This comment has been minimized.

Copy link

commented Aug 23, 2015

Hi @Zizouz212
thanks for your concerns, but the attributions done when importing SE posts using the PO software are water tight from a legal point of view. Also, there is no problem with removing accounts and contributions of people who dont agree with their content being imported, it gets done immediately on PO upon request and I guess any future Open Science community will do the same in such a situation.

I personally expect more people to be happy when learning that the content they contributed to the closed beta site can be revived instead of being lost, than to be upset ...

Cheers

@pietsch

This comment has been minimized.

Copy link

commented Aug 23, 2015

@Zizouz212 If people make contributions under certain Creative Commons license and then get upset when their contributions are re-used under the conditions of that license, then they are the ones who made a mistake. I do not think those people are as stupid as you think.

@Zizouz212

This comment has been minimized.

Copy link

commented Aug 24, 2015

@Dilatino Thanks. I just wanted to bring that up because I wasn't sure how the licensing on the proposed site would work (because if it were CC0 which had been asked on the SE site, it would not work well). I personally don't mind if some of my answers are up on the site, the concern was the licensing, which I likely wasn't clear enough about. Thanks for the support :)

@pietsch Kind words. I wasn't accusing anyone of being stupid. Sincere apologies if I were unclear, but I wanted to point out that if there was support for making user contributions under CC0, it would violate the license that the current SE contributions are under.

I'm not involved in any Open Science project (and I have no reason to, I'm only 15), but whichever course of action the general community takes, whether it is with Discourse or Stack Exchange, you'll have my support. Obviously, if you pick Stack Exchange, you'll have my support in building the site as well :D

@pietsch

This comment has been minimized.

Copy link

commented Aug 31, 2015

Just a little progress update: With lots of help from the PhysicsOverflow admins, I have successfully imported the Open Science SE dump into a fresh instance of the Question2Answer software. Questions (including votes) are looking good, but single sign-on is not going work because SE dumps no longer contain user IDs (or the EmailHash field). I will report back when the URL of my service has stabilized.

On the other hand, while skimming some answers, I became aware of a SE community called Computational Science. This could be a venue for more technical OpenScience-related questions that do not fit into Academia.SE or OpenSource.SE (for those who want to stay within the SE universe).

@pietsch

This comment has been minimized.

Copy link

commented Sep 4, 2015

Another update: The new Q2A site with all the questions and answers from the SE private beta is running here: https://openscience.ub.uni-bielefeld.de/

What this site now needs is administrators and moderators (and perhaps a logo and custom CSS). Contact me if you are interested. The nice people from PhysicsOverflow have donated two plugins that allow admins (and mods, if so configured) to help users regain access to their imported user accounts by entering the e-mail address. This needs some organizing.

@pietsch

This comment has been minimized.

Copy link

commented Sep 16, 2015

Another possible alternative or complementary offer: A colleague mentioned HUBzero as a platform intended to bring researchers from a discipline together. Perhaps it would be a useful tool for Open Science, too? Has anyone had any experience with it?

Sign up for free to join this conversation on GitHub. Already have an account? Sign in to comment
You can’t perform that action at this time.