What’s The Answer? (community participation visualization)

BioStar is a site for asking, answering and discussing bioinformatics questions and issues. We are members of the community and find it very useful. Often questions and answers arise at BioStar that are germane to our readers (end users of genomics resources). Every Thursday we will be highlighting one of those items or discussions here in this thread. You can ask questions in this thread, or you can always join in at BioStar.

This is an unusual item to highlight, it’s very much navel-gazing at BioStar, I know. But I thought it was interesting (and not just because I saw my name in it). It looks at the participation in the community over the years.

News: The Biostar Swarm: a visualization

Below is a visualization of the user activity on Biostar since October 2009.

A link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtgY1e0bZFo

Users are represented by their names, and the small stars around them are the posts they create. These are color coded by the post type: red for questions, green and blue for answers and comments.

Starting May 2010 we focus on new user activity only. This means that we only show a user’s activity approximately within one month after they joined.

For January of 2011, 2012 and 2013 we show the activity by all users. For May 2011 and 2012 we show the moderator activity only.

The visualization is done via the code_swarm tool.

It’s also the kind of thing that’s useful to explore a type of visualization. It helps you to envision ways to think about visual representation of data sets, even if this  particular data set isn’t something that will change the direction of your research. But it’s an engaging way to think about what “code swarm” might be able to do for other types of projects.