Stack Overflow reached critical mass a few months ago now. The site gets upwards of 6 million unique visitors a month. The chances are, if you write code, you know it exists, and you’ve received some sort of help there, whether directly or by proxy. In its wake, Stack Overflow has spawned Stack Exchange, a question and answer platform that anyone can buy into, and set up a site. So there’s now Stack Overflow type sites for any number of topics.
It seems, then, that bioinformatics is the perfect use case for Stack Exchange. A more narrow domain than science or biology, with an already web savvy community ready to coalesce around a useful focal point. Until recently, however, no one had made the site. Then a couple of weeks ago, http://biostar.stackexchange.com/ started to get some attention on Twitter and FriendFeed. It’s early days, but the site has made a good start, some interesting questions, with some good, intelligent, answers. My main concerns would be:
- Not enough users, no critical mass achieved.
- The site seems to be gaining some traction, and getting more active by the day.
- Not enough questions, no reason for users to keep coming back.
- This does remain an area for concern, but is also starting to pick up a little.
- No financial backing, the site may disappear after the test period comes to an end.