What’s The Answer? (where + how to get help online)

wyp_q_mark2_thumbnail1We started the the weekly “What’s the Answer?” thread to highlight various sources of interesting discussions related to bioinformatics around the internet. It was years ago–before communities like Biostar and others were well-trafficked and well-known. It’s been great to see these sources mature and draw diverse discussants from all over the world. What’s particularly helpful is that it’s not just the resource providers who give the answers now, as it used to be with the mailing list system at a given site. Now lots of end-users of tools can chime in about their experiences.

Recently a helpful pair of blog posts by Keith Bradnam summed up the helpful locations that exist now. The first post was: Where to ask for bioinformatics help online and listed a number of the locations we explore, and is taking suggestions for others as well. You should have a look at them, some we didn’t cover much here.

A second post offered guidance on how to ask properly: How to ask for bioinformatics help online. It’s really important to understand the community norms at these places. I find they can get very testy if they consider you off-topic for their forum, or if you are trying to ask them to do your homework. So you really should think about where and how you are asking for help. Sometimes you may be better off at a different site.

Anyway, since there are now so many mature sources of advice in this field, we are going to retire this topic as a weekly item. But our posts will still be here and searchable, so if there is a topic we’ve covered it will be available. But you should spend your time checking out the various places where the chatter goes on. And you should contribute to the answers when you know them. The proportion of consumers to contributers is often out of whack. A dedicated small bunch is very active, but we are all better off with more diverse contributors. Add your voice.