What’s The Answer? (asking developers first)

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 week’s highlighted question is a bit of “inside baseball”. But it was interesting to see the different perspectives on this among people who are developers and who lead help-desk functions at different places.

Forum: Asking the developers before asking Biostars

Dear all,

While most questions on Biostar are requests for methods and advices, many of them are also related to usage and installation of software and databases.

In the last case, the first thing to do is, to my opinion, to ask the developers/maintainers of the software/database. Most of the time, the group is more than happy to answer the questions. I’m wondering in how many cases this has been done before to post a question on Biostar. I think this could be a “must do”, and when no answer has been provided, it could be mentioned in the post. In addition, if an answer has been provided, Biostar users would sure be happy to know about it, so it may be posted together with the answer.

I believe such behavior may help: 1) ensure the right people (the developers of the application/database) are asked first, 2) help the Biostar community know about the best answer, 3) keep track of the follow up provided by the databases and developers (by the way it may also be good to know for referees).

Any opinion about it?

Arnaud Ceol

Opinions? Yes–they did have opinions. My favorite one was Emily’s pain that I’ve shared: giving someone several approaches to solve the problem that they describe. The recipients of that suggested strategy don’t seem to like it–so they ask around. They get the same suggestion elsewhere. They still don’t like it. At that point–maybe there’s something wrong with the question…but there’s no way to solve that it seems.