Wednesday, 18 November 2009

My beaker overfloweth - New chemistry Q&A sites

Stackoverflow is one of the best Question & Answer websites for computer programming. It uses a carefully designed social model to build a community where people compete to give the best answer to questions in order to be rewarded with a better response to their own questions.

Recently, the people behind Stackoverflow have opened up the software to allow people to set up their own websites...but just for a beta period (money will then be required). Several chemistry 'stackoverflows' have already been set up. Here are a few I've heard about:

BlueObelisk: Questions about cheminformatics and computational chemistry leaning towards the open source or open data side of things. Update (07/10/2010): This website has moved to Shapado.
Chempedia Lab: Questions about experimental chemistry.
Chemistry: General chemistry (?)

These sites are all new so you won't find many questions there already. But give them a go. Go there and ask a question or two (even if you already know the answer), answer a question or two, and check back in a day to see what happens. You can log in with your Gmail address (among others) but do note that questions are not anonymous.

Such websites require a community. Some will gain such a community and flourish, others won't and will fail. In the meanwhile, go get some answers.

Image credit: Duncan Hull


Karol said...

So, what happens to these stackoverflows after the beta period ends?

Egon Willighagen said...

Hi Karol,

I share your concern and am pondering about writing a script to pull out the data regularly. There is no API for that, but the Atom feeds are pretty OK.

baoilleach said...

Probably, unless someone steps forward and sponsors them, they will disappear. If they are successful there would be a strong incentive for someone to sponsor the website.

Sean said...

Thanks for sharing this resource! I like the reputation component of stockoverflow.