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Offline Pmb

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New Science Website
« on: 24/09/2013 06:35:38 »

Hi folks,

I need some advice so I’ve been allowed by one of the powers that be to post about the new website I’ve created.

Being disabled is too boring and depressing. To solve this problem I've decided to go into business for myself. I won't be making any money off it but I want to do something for my community and start to feel useful again. So I've created a non-profit organization to aid in the progress and education of science. My councilor at Mass Rehab loves this idea. What a wonderful feeling that was! :)  This will all be done through a website. Eventually there will be dictionaries for all branches of science and, hopefully, a science encyclopedia. There will be tutorials in all branches of science, some of which I've already created and are on under my home page at http://home.comcast.net/~peter.m.brown/

Membership will be very restrictive. People will be ranked according to their level of understanding. E.g. If someone has anywhere from a BS to a PhD they will be labeled as a “Professional scientist.” Someone who is a technician or works in a field of science and has knowledge of that branch even though they don’t have the BS-PhD they will be labeled “Junior scientist/technician”. This ranking is only to help determine what that person might know in order to be able to properly explain/discuss something with them. That’s missing in all forums I’ve been too and its made things difficult for many others and myself. If there is no technical training they will simply be called a “Standard Member.”

I will be creating software to aid in the study of various things like the graphical display of a function and perhaps even the multimedia to show the time evolution of things like EM fields. MIT did this and the software is open sourced. I'll get my hands on it so we can play with it.

Eventually there will be science journals on the site. Perhaps they will be free, perhaps not. I need to figure out what costs will be coming my way and prepare for it.

The company is called New England Science Consortium. Last week I finally got the website up and its located at http://www.newenglandscience.org/

I am starting off with discussion forums. I'd like some advice on these forums. Since the topic is science this is what I have so far

Natural Science

   Physical Science

       Physics
       Chemistry

   Earth Science

       Oceanography
       Geology
       Meteorology
       Zoology
       Human Biology
       Botany

Formal Sciences

      Decision Theory
      Logic
      Mathematics

Applied Science

     Medicine
     Computer Science
     Engineering & Technology
 
Philosophy

     Philosophy of Science
     Science and Religion

Do you like this list? Are there’re things missing that you’d like to see?
I’d like some advice on posting rules. I obviously won’t be letting people who don’t know what they’re talking about disrupt the forums. I don’t like the idea of banning anybody though. What I may do is censor those people who refuse to play by the rules. I’ll require people to be civil. No tormenting of other members will be allowed. Moderation will be much softer. If someone needs to be told to stop doing something they they will be send a PM. They will not be flogged in public. :)

All comments and suggestions welcome.


 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: New Science Website
« Reply #1 on: 24/09/2013 08:40:20 »
Pete,

There are a number of "Science Websites".  It will take something big to set yours apart from the rest. 

You may choose to add the following categories (and rearrangements).
  • Environment & Climate
  • Front Porch/Kitchen Table/Lounge/????
  • I'd make a "Human Sciences" section which would include the subheadings:
    * Human Biology & Physiology
    * Medicine
    * Psychology/Sociology
  • You can have a General Biology section independent from human biology.
Making it difficult to become a "member" could be a problem.

Most often members are ranked by their contribution to the website.  I like the idea of ranking a bit by knowledge.  However, perhaps one should consider starting all members as junior members, and promote based on the quality of contributions

One of the Q&A websites I've been on in the past allows one to give a "thumbs up/thumbs down" rating to every article/contributor.  Your rating gets listed somewhere on the profile, I think, but also the more positive ratings, the more one gets noticed by the website staff.

At some point, you will have to start seeking "moderators" who are often interested volunteers.  This will be especially important if you choose to have a review system in fields that you aren't familiar with.  Ranking contributions will help you with your moderation.  However, you may also solicit "scientists" independent from your "moderators".

There would be benefits of making an article based website rather than making a forum based website.  Present an article + comments.  Or, perhaps have both an article section, as well as a general forum section (somewhat like TNS has).

There are two ways of doing a comment section.
  • Linear comments (like TNS has), where comments must be kept in order.
  • Comments + subcomments
    The advantage of this is that you could potentially order the primary level comments by relevancy rather than chronologically.

Articles can come in several formats:
  • Primary Source, Scientific (PEER REVIEWED)
  • Scientific Review Articles (PEER REVIEWED)
  • Review and Comments about scientific articles.
  • Science for the Lay Person.

If you choose to go for the primary source articles, then you will need to come up with a review system too.

There are many people that are looking for good places to post/publish articles.  But, it may be difficult to become established as an article based website without having a paid staff.

If you have an active website, do you want it to be self managed, or have every article managed by staff? 

One of the "unique" things about TNS is that the topics are supposed to be phrased/written as questions???  This does two things.  First of all, it opens up a discussion and makes people feel as if they are contributing.  Web searches are often in question format, and thus question based topics may create more web hits.
 

Online alancalverd

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Re: New Science Website
« Reply #2 on: 24/09/2013 09:05:34 »
Good luck with the venture.

I used to contribute to a site that had a general forum backed by a "sort of peer reviewed" collection of longer essays with substantial graphics. Happy to put you in touch with its founder who I am sure would be very helpful (he ran out of time and the group ran out of money).

Assessing expertise and credibility may not be all that simple. I doubt that anyone would ask a question relevant to my 40-year-old physics PhD, but I've studied enough meteorology in 40 years of flying and sailing to navigate safely in an alien environment, and many people are interested in weather and climate.

I think you could make a big impact on science education by inviting schoolteachers to "ask a scientist". I don't know about your neck of the woods, but there's a dearth of specialist teachers in the UK. I think it's easier and more effective to teach science to a teacher than to teach a scientist to teach. 
« Last Edit: 24/09/2013 09:09:58 by alancalverd »
 

Offline Pmb

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Re: New Science Website
« Reply #3 on: 24/09/2013 09:10:13 »
Quote from: CliffordK
Pete,

There are a number of "Science Websites".  It will take something big to set yours apart from the rest. 
I'm not so much interested in setting it apart from the rest of making it hit big. If I tried to do that I'd probably fail. I have to approach this from the point of view that I want this to be the kind of science website that I've always been seeking to use. The kind where there are scientists who are willing to sit and talk about what you're interested in because they too are interested in it. I want a place where if I recommend that someone learn something like the basics I don't have to say "Go read a book" but simply refer to a part of the website. I want to be able to communicate better than the other places I've seen and that means multimedia. I want to be able to give to the science community by someone comming by and asking me to write some science software and there be no charge but they find it useful. I want to be able to feel like a contributing member of society like I used to feel back in the 90s before cancer and back injuries destroyed my life. I'd like a forum where I don't have to see a bunch of crackpots peddeling their theories. When someone asks me for help I'd like to be able to know where they're comming from and not have to interogate them into telling me that they don't know trig. I hate that. It's not like I'm judging someone but I need to know that sometimes so I know the best way to explain things. These things I can have with my own website. I won't get rich with it. But I do have a lot of well known scientist friends who are going to give me advice on the way.

Quote from: CliffordK
You may choose to add the following categories (and rearrangements).
  • Environment & Climate
  • Front Porch/Kitchen Table/Lounge/????
  • I'd make a "Human Sciences" section which would include the subheadings:
    * Human Biology & Physiology
    * Medicine
    * Psychology/Sociology
  • You can have a General Biology section independent from human biology.
Making it difficult to become a "member" could be a problem.
Excellant. Thanks.

Quote from: CliffordK
Most often members are ranked by their contribution to the website.  I like the idea of ranking a bit by knowledge.  However, perhaps one should consider starting all members as junior members, and promote based on the quality of contributions.
Great idea. We think alike on this. I had a similar idea. That's where the ranking came in, i.e. BA-Phd, JHunior scientist, Science Enthusiest etc.

Quote from: CliffordK
At some point, you will have to start seeking "moderators" who are often interested volunteers.
I have one already. His name is Nathan Aviezer. He's a retired condensed matter physicist who has written three texts on science and religion. We became great friends over the years in e-mail and he's willing to do whatever I ask of him. He'll be doing a lot of moderating to begin with. Great guy!

Quote from: CliffordK
There would be benefits of making an article based website rather than making a forum based website.  Present an article + comments.  Or, perhaps have both an article section, as well as a general forum section (somewhat like TNS has).
Thanks. This is the kind of thing I'm interested in. Who writes these articles?


Quote from: CliffordK
There are many people that are looking for good places to post/publish articles.
Who are these people? Not crackpots I hope? 

Quote from: CliffordK
If you have an active website, do you want it to be self managed, or have every article managed by staff? 
What’s the difference?
 

Online alancalverd

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Re: New Science Website
« Reply #4 on: 24/09/2013 09:14:19 »
Quote from: CliffordK
There are many people that are looking for good places to post/publish articles.
Who are these people? Not crackpots I hope? 

Alas, mostly. And "religion and science" looks like a troll feeding station. But a sharp mind and a sharp pencil will win: the editor's decision is final in a privately owned site.
 

Offline Pmb

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Re: New Science Website
« Reply #5 on: 24/09/2013 09:29:09 »
Quote from: alancalverd
Good luck with the venture.
Thank you so much! :)

Quote from: alancalverd
I used to contribute to a site that had a general forum backed by a "sort of peer reviewed" collection of longer essays with substantial graphics. Happy to put you in touch with its founder who I am sure would be very helpful (he ran out of time and the group ran out of money).
Thanks. I'd like that.

Quote from: alancalverd
I think you could make a big impact on science education by inviting schoolteachers to "ask a scientist".
What is "ask a scientist"?

Quote from: alancalverd
I don't know about your neck of the woods, ...
Haverhill,.MA. I'm moving to Boston in a few years. I have friends down there and none up here. Plus my professional friends are down there. I have a friend at MIT that will be giving me some advice. He's very well known himself.

Quote from: alancalverd
but there's a dearth of specialist teachers in the UK. I think it's easier and more effective to teach science to a teacher than to teach a scientist to teach. 

I've called the local school department and will be working with them. Thanks.
 

Offline Pmb

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Re: New Science Website
« Reply #6 on: 24/09/2013 09:55:04 »
Quote from: alancalverd
Alas, mostly. And "religion and science" looks like a troll feeding station. But a sharp mind and a sharp pencil will win: the editor's decision is final in a privately owned site.
I haven't decided on how membershipe will work yet. I'm considering membership to be by invitation only. But I'm not sure about this. I was thinking of contacting schools and clubs in the Boston area and on Boston's north shore and letting them know this site exists and see if they have any interest in making this site something useful to what they want and need. The forum is only a small part of what the site will be. I'm looking forward to writing some scientific software. :)
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: New Science Website
« Reply #7 on: 24/09/2013 10:42:51 »
Quote from: CliffordK
There are many people that are looking for good places to post/publish articles.
Who are these people? Not crackpots I hope? 

Alas, mostly. And "religion and science" looks like a troll feeding station. But a sharp mind and a sharp pencil will win: the editor's decision is final in a privately owned site.

With "Peer Review", you would be able to weed most of them out.

Certainly you could choose to do reviews of current news in science, but it could also be a lot of work to keep up with.

One group of target individuals would be the undergraduates.  Perhaps even graduate students who need to publish, but may not be able to get into the big journals, Science, Nature, etc. 

If you essentially make an online journal, then a lot would depend on the reputation that you build of the journal. 
 

Offline Pmb

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Re: New Science Website
« Reply #8 on: 24/09/2013 15:50:39 »
Quote from: CliffordK
With "Peer Review", you would be able to weed most of them out.

Certainly you could choose to do reviews of current news in science, but it could also be a lot of work to keep up with.

One group of target individuals would be the undergraduates.  Perhaps even graduate students who need to publish, but may not be able to get into the big journals, Science, Nature, etc. 

If you essentially make an online journal, then a lot would depend on the reputation that you build of the journal. 
Cliff my good man! You're a genious! That's the kind of thing I was hoping someone would point out to me if I asked this question. Thank you so much! So it'd be a transitional journal. A journal in which students or other scientists who haven't published can get their feet wet. I know that I myself was very uneasy just popping my article into a journal for publishing. Perhaps the site could be to peer review papers so that the author has a sense of comfort going to a major journal. I like it!! :)
 

Offline chris

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Re: New Science Website
« Reply #9 on: 25/09/2013 19:07:31 »
This is really a topic for "just Chat" because it doesn't strictly belong here.

Once everyone has spotted this, - and given it a thumbs up - I'll move it.

Chris
 

Offline Pmb

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Re: New Science Website
« Reply #10 on: 25/09/2013 20:09:12 »
This is really a topic for "just Chat" because it doesn't strictly belong here.

Once everyone has spotted this, - and given it a thumbs up - I'll move it.

Chris
I put it here because I'm looking for advice about what people here would like to have made available for them in the area of science. I didn't want to put it into all science forums though. Move it if you feel that's best though.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: New Science Website
« Reply #11 on: 25/09/2013 21:27:36 »
You talked about educational institutions in the Boston area.

How many universities are there?  MIT,  University of Mass - Boston, perhaps some community colleges?

You may wish to browse around MIT's and UMB resources to see what they have available, then if appropriate, contact some of the science departments there.  I could imagine both student contributions, as well as students being active in the article review process.

I suppose another question might be what age group you wish to cater to, as each age group may have completely different needs.

1st to 3rd grade (6 to 9 yrs or so)
4th to 8th grade (10 to 14 yrs or so)
9th to 12th grade (15 to 18 or so).
Undergraduate & Graduate students.
General "public".

You may be able to cross target groups somewhat, but catering to a 1st grader and a college student might be like writing two completely independent websites.
 

Offline Bill S

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Re: New Science Website
« Reply #12 on: 25/09/2013 21:35:54 »
Go for it Pete!  With my lack of basics I might not even qualify as a "standard member", but if I did I could promise not to mention infinity.  :)
 

Offline Pmb

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Re: New Science Website
« Reply #13 on: 25/09/2013 21:39:07 »
Quote from: CliffordK
You talked about educational institutions in the Boston area.

How many universities are there?  MIT,  University of Mass - Boston, perhaps some community colleges?
Thanks Cliff! There's MIT, Harvard, Merrimack College in North Andover, MA. That's where I went to college. Then there's Brandeis University, Tufts University, Northeastern University, Boston College, Boston University, Wentworth Institute and UMass Lowell.

Then there area scientific organizations such as the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the Boston Museum of Science.

As a first step towards looking into grade schools and high schools I called the school department in my town and will be setting up an appointment to go talk to the person in charge of that kind of stuff.

Quote from: CliffordK
You may wish to browse around MIT's and UMB resources to see what they have available, then if appropriate, contact some of the science departments there.  I could imagine both student contributions, as well as students being active in the article review process.
Nice idea. Muchus gracias!!

There sure area a lot of possible ideas. I hope I can find the ones people want the most and which I can provide given my physical abilities.
 

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Re: New Science Website
« Reply #14 on: 25/09/2013 21:41:39 »
Go for it Pete!  With my lack of basics I might not even qualify as a "standard member", but if I did I could promise not to mention infinity.  :)
The idea of classifying members like that makes me queezy. However there are too many people trying to pass themselves off as something they're not and it makes things very confusing when trying to have a discussion. How are we supposed to know how to explain various things when we don't know what their background is? That is very frustrating!
 

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Re: New Science Website
« Reply #15 on: 29/09/2013 18:09:28 »
I wish someone would informed me the next time I created of moved a thread. Otherwise it'd ne. Otherwise it become too difficult to find.

Okay. The next thing I have to figure out is how to classify members of the forum. Here are the types of visitors that I forsee visiting the site

People Who are Interested in Science
People who have a need to know about science or a particular branch of science
Scientists in general

Does anybody have an other ideas of how of to do this.
 

Offline RD

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Re: New Science Website
« Reply #16 on: 29/09/2013 18:54:47 »
I wish someone would informed me the next time I created of moved a thread. ...
 Otherwise it become too difficult to find.

You can find your posts via the "Show Posts" link in your profile ... http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;area=showposts;u=12198
« Last Edit: 29/09/2013 18:56:24 by RD »
 

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Re: New Science Website
« Reply #17 on: 29/09/2013 20:02:00 »
What is "ask a scientist"?

Pretty much what it says on the tin. A forum where people who don't know or don't understand something can get authoritative information or a rational explanation. Not a discussion forum nor a billboard for new ideas (or even genuine discoveries). If each thread begins with "how does X work", "how can I calculate Y", or "what is the value of Z in imperial units"  it could be a very useful resource for teachers and students, and a good challenge for the respondents to explain their subject in lay language.
 

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Re: New Science Website
« Reply #18 on: 30/09/2013 05:09:30 »
I'm confused. What does a flaming folder next to the name of this thread mean?
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: New Science Website
« Reply #19 on: 30/09/2013 09:16:56 »
I'm confused. What does a flaming folder next to the name of this thread mean?

Time to burn the folder?

Ok...

I believe after 15 replies, the topic is considered a "hot topic", and thus marked as "hot" with flames.
 

Offline Pmb

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Re: New Science Website
« Reply #20 on: 07/10/2013 02:29:27 »
I'm also looking for what folks would like to see in a science website.

In the past when you've gone to the internet to go to a science website what is it that you were looking for? Was it that you wanted to learn about something? Had an idea that you wanted to explore. To bounce ideas of others with similar interests? To see what a professional scientist has to say on a particular subject? Etc.

Answering questions of that nature will aid me in creating a resource which will help you with whatever it is you wish to do or learn in science. Please help me help you. :)

Here's an example; software to animate certain things can be hard to find. Multimedia designed to aid in visualizing science is one example of a resource I'm considering providing. Another is a portion of the site where you can go for textbook usage. I.e. how many colleges and universities use a particular text for a given course. This can aid a person whose looking to find something to read for selfstudy.

Do any of you have anything you can suggest for me to provide to you?
 

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Re: New Science Website
« Reply #20 on: 07/10/2013 02:29:27 »

 

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