Projects, Challenges, and Cookies.

Posted on 12 Feb 2015 01:13 by Mickey von Dassow

I'll get to the cookies, but first I want to tell you about Projects vs Challenges, which are a special type of Project page. All Project pages are places where a group of people can coalesce around a question or idea to do research on that topic, with each person adding their own creativity and skill.

Regular Project pages are free-form, flexible, and open-ended. You can use them in lots of different ways, and with lots of different styles, as described in previous posts (here and here). Anyone can start them, and make them for "important" research, or for fun, simple things (or both).

But the flexibility of the Projects creates the potential for confusion. If you can do just about anything, what should you do? And how should you do it? My friend Jim Strother suggested the idea for a special set of Challenge Projects to make it easier for experienced scientists to find help solving research problems (e.g. How can one measure the roughness of rocks at the seashore?). At the same time it seems like this might make it easier and more fun to get started as a non-scientist or a hobbyist.

Projects listed as Challenges will follow a set of guidelines to encourage projects that have substantial scientific value, and to ensure that people get to interact with the scientist posing the challenge, and with other participants. In comparison to regular Projects, Challenges should also clarify what the challenger's role is, what the project's goal is, and how people can participate.

To read more about Challenge projects, and how to start one, or participate in one, check on this new page which describes and lists them. As an example, I've added one Challenge to the list. It's a Challenge to create something I've been mulling over for years, and I've gotten comfortable with Wikidot's syntax, so I went a bit overkill on my challenge's page. I would encourage starting with a much simpler page than I did (perhaps something like this). You can always add pretty pictures, video, etc. later if you want.


Now, the cookies!
To kick off this new feature, I'm offering a batch of homemade cookies* to:

  • The first scientist to commit to creating a Challenge1.
  • The first scientist (other than myself) to create a Challenge2.
  • Two participants in Challenges, nominated by a challenger (by April 15May 1, 2015).
  • The creator of the top Challenge of the spring3.

*Unfortunately, I can only send cookies to people within the U.S., so if you're outside the US, you may have to settle for something less tasty, but with lower shipping time/costs (perhaps a custom IGoR snail image designed for you). Either way, top projects will be featured on IGoR's front page, and the winners will be featured too.

I'd love to read your comments, and get any suggestions for improvements!

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