update on the status of the ‘Ten Simple Rules’ initiative after the first 2 weeks

This is an update of the status of the ‘Ten Simple Rules for getting help from Mailing Lists and Online  Scientific Communities’ initiative, after two weeks.  I am posting it here, but if you want to follow the initiative you should better subscribe to the dedicated mailing list.

First of all, I would like to thank you the people who have participated. Honestly, I didn’t expect this initiative to proceed so fast, and I am very happy to have seen so many contributions and feedback :-).

It seems that the collaborative open approach has paid, this time!

Deadlines and submission date

The manuscript is already almost complete now. The original deadline was for the end of May; however, I was thinking that we could probably finish it and submit it earlier. The manuscript is in a status where each further modification can be more harmful than useful.

Title of the manuscript

Some people have proposed to remove ‘mailing lists’ and ‘scientific’ from the title.

However, I would prefer to keep both words in the final version. Mailing lists are by far the most popular medium of communication used by researchers. Most old school scientists are familiar with the concept of mailing lists and are subscribed to at least a few lists or newsletter. Thus, using the term ‘mailing list’ in the title can help getting the attention of this audience.

The word ‘scientific’ can be included or not in the title, it is just a matter of what sounds better.

Abstract and introduction

I am positively surprised of how much these two sections have improved compared to the original draft. Apart from some minor revisions, these sections can be considered as finished.

We should work a bit more on the supplementary table 1, ‘list of popular scientific mailing lists and communities’, which is now cited in the introduction. A minor issue is the fact that the PLoS CompBiol ‘Ten Simple Rules’ articles do not have abstracts. Therefore, we will have to merge these two sections together, probably by removing or reducing the first paragraph in the ‘Introduction section’.

In any case, it is good to have an abstract ready, in case we decide or have to submit it to other journals.

The first three rules

Currently, there are three candidates for the first three rules in the document: – How to start -> hints on how to find online communities, how to register, how to post
Don’t be afraid of asking a question -> rule to convince people that asking a question in a forum is not bad
– Define your problem clearly It is difficult to choose here. We may include some parts of the ‘How to start’ rule in the Introduction, and define better the ‘Define your problem clearly’ question.

“Don’t rush” rule and abbreviations

I don’t like much Internet abbreviations like ‘BTW’, ‘IMHO’, ‘RTM’, etc.. so I don’t like very much to include them in the paper. However, if you feel it is necessary, these should be included.

Rule 3,4,5,6

These rules seems to be complete. Rule 8 “Remember that the archive of your discussion can be useful to other people. “or those of you who have not been following the wiki lately, this rule has seen much editing in these two weeks. Congratulations to all the contributers. I think that this rule is ready now.

Rule 9  Be polite, avoid cross-posting on different forums and heated arguments.

This rule has been added after discussion on the wiki and this mailing list.  As Kevin noted, it encompass a range of good netiquette rules and is a bit too generic, but I think it is fine.

Rule 10. Give back to the community

This rule has also been added after discussion on the wiki. I like very much the idea of putting this rule as the last one. Colin Gillespie pointed out that we should look for a better word than “community”; let’s see if we can find a better one soon.

Other suggestions

There is a list of minor suggestions that are not general enough to be included as separate rules. Some of them are similar to rules already posted. I am afraid we will have to remove some of these details if we want to stay in the ‘ten rules’ limits, but the rules written so far are already sufficient for a divulgative article.

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