A few months ago I had the idea of writing an article in the style of the PLoS Computational Biology ‘Ten Simple Rules’ where to explain people how to use mailing lists and web forums to solve technical problems related to bioinformatics. Something on the style of ‘How To Ask Questions The Smart Way’ by Eric Raymond , but adapted to bioinformaticians and more gentle.
However, it does not make sense to submit a paper on best rules on getting help from online communities without achieving some sort of community consensus first. There are so many online communities, and so many different approach and best practices, that a single person can not be representative of all the different opinions on this.
So, I am launching the initiative of a open collaborative draft for a paper in the style of the PLoS ‘Ten Simple Rules’ series, entitled ‘Ten Simple Rules for Getting Help from Mailing Lists and Online Communities’. Here it is the main page of the project:
The document will be hosted on the WikiGenes Wiki, where everybody will be able to make contributions (upon registering to the site). The WikiGenes engine will keep track of the individual contributions and acknowledge the authors of the bigger ones. After two months from now (on May 28th), I will close the document and will propose the authors of the biggest contributions to sign it as authors; the manuscript will be then be sent to PLoS CompBio, where it will be eventually be published, provided it passes the editorial review process.