A great model to follow....

Here at QUBES we are trying to build a community of users that are excited to contribute and add their expertise, working together to solve the big problems we all face in quantitative biology education.  Perhaps the best model one could hope to emulate (at least in some ways) is the community of R users, widely known to be rabid (in a good way), super active, and amazingly productive.  If you post a question to an R forum you will often have answers in minutes, even if the tone isn't always the most polite :-) . And of course the software itself has continued to expand and improve as the result of user contributions.

A recent paper in PNAS (Mair et al. 2015) describes a study of the motivation of R contributors, and considers the major contributions of developing new packages and the less formal contributions made to online discussion forums. A lot of online communities all over science and science education might take note.  The results are nuanced, so you should really start with the original research, but it seems like a social platform with high interdependence among users, a chance to build reputation, collaborating with people viewed as having prestige, and feedback from the community all might contribute to making the R community what it is. 

Are you an R contributor? Do you see yourself in the results of the study by Mair et al.? Do you capitalize on the R community's productivity, yet still feel like an outsider to it?

How can we here at QUBES, and other online communities, intentionally build structures, incentives, or tools to encourage user contribution, given the personal user motivations discovered in Mair et al.? 



  1. online education
  2. online learning communities
  3. R

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