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Domain Name

FYI. We now own and .com domain names

I discovered that I am not the only one to sense a strong sexual connotation in the word OpenWetWare. Maybe our soul is possessed by the devil, but we are probably not the only ones. --MartinJambon 03:54, 21 January 2006 (EST)

  • I think this is silly. If anything, I would worry about being associated with the term wetware in its more science-fiction definition. Even urban dictionary, the zeitgeist of sexual innuendo, has no references to anything sexual (unless of course, you find intelligence sexy/sexual). Otherwise, I think it is juvenile that we must avoid all names with the words open or wet (I am not quite sure which part of it many people think is sexual). --Sri Kosuri 18:29, 22 January 2006 (EST)
Please don't take me wrong. I don't view this as a problem. It's just a little funny that the first time I found OpenWetWare in Google I was really wondering what kind of web site it could be. --MartinJambon 21:13, 22 January 2006 (EST)
It is difficult to come up with a name that would sound good in every language and culture. A textbook example is Mitsubishi Pajero which is sold under the name Montero in North America and Spanish-speaking countries because of the vulgar meaning the original name has in Spanish.

Getting the word out on OpenWetWare

As a part of the iCampus proposal submitted on behalf of OpenWetWare, several ideas arose about how to cultivate a bigger and more active user base for OpenWetWare. I've started a list here of those ideas that

  1. don't require too much effort
  2. can be done by any OpenWetWare user
  3. internet-centered

The basic motivation for this is that the more people on OpenWetWare, the more useful information that goes up (hopefully).

Trying to get more links to OpenWetWare from other sites

The Nature article generated more traffic for the site. It might be nice to try to get other sites that are frequented by researchers to link to OpenWetWare in order to increase the probability that someone comes across our site. This probably simply involves an email to the webmaster for each site.

Promotion of OpenWetWare

We could conceivably try to actively promote OpenWetWare via online articles and features since there are likely large numbers of interested people who just haven't heard of OpenWetWare yet.

  • Slashdot
  • MIT spotlight (on the homepage)

Possible Collaboration Between OpenWetWare & Siphs

This section was started to discuss opportunities for collaboration between OpenWetWare and Siphs. If you have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to share them here. If you need more information on Siphs, visit

  • I think siphs is doing some cool stuff with tailoring some of the benefits of general online communities towards the biological community. For example, the journal club and references section seem particularly relevant. in addition, the question and answer sections seem pretty cool. As for integration between the OWW and Siphs, what I would be most worried about is understanding the terms and conditions of Siphs and if that is in line with where we want OWW to go. --Sri Kosuri 14:33, 27 Nov 2005 (EST)

  • The siphs terms and conditions are there for the protection of siphs and its members against unwanted and illegal use of the tools provided by the site. Rather than a full integration between OWW and Siphs, sharing content, or cross promotion seem like the best options. There are, as was pointed out earlier, license considerations that need to be figured out. We are going to contact the Creative Commons to see what they prospose as a solvency mechanism. If an appropriate solution to the CC licensing issue can't be resolved, then we should move the conversation to cross-promotion.--Ajhaveri 23:51, 29 Nov 2005 (EST)

iCampus Funding

iCampus student proposal preliminary deadlines are due November 15th. These awards provide up to $30,000 for development of tools to help research in technology-enhanced education. A preliminary proposal is due November 15th if people are interested. It may be a good way to get money for advertising, hardware/support, and the development of tools for making wiki's better places to colloborate and share information.

We made it to the final round! We are one of 6 groups vying for 3 grants. Hopefully things will work out, but great job so far everyone. --Sri Kosuri 06:31, 26 Nov 2005 (EST)

Check out the iCampus Application for OWW page for more information

Copyright Issues

Moved to OpenWetWare talk:Copyrights.

Front page description

The current description reads as follows:

OpenWetWare is an effort to bring together biologically interested laboratories and groups to 
share information. We hope this will lead to greater interaction between our groups, as well as 
provide an information portal to our collaborators, and ultimately, the rest of the world. This 
page is a portal to the various "front pages" to the wiki listed below as well as resources shared 
between all the labs. If you would like edit access, would be interested in helping out, or want 
your lab website hosted on OpenWetWare, please let us know

I think this could be improved; for example,

OpenWetWare is an effort to lower the barries of producing, disseminating, and understanding 
biological knowledge.  OWW provides a place for labs, individuals, and groups to organize their own
information and collaborate with others easily and efficiently.  In the process, we hope that OWW will
not only lead to greater collaboration between member groups, but also provide a useful information
portal to our colleagues, and ultimately the rest of the world.  This page is a portal to the various 
member "front pages" listed below; as well as resources shared between all the groups. If you would 
like edit access, would be interested in helping out, or want your lab hosted on OpenWetWare, please 
let us know

Please put comments, revisions, rewrites in this thread. --Sri Kosuri 15:34, 17 Sep 2005 (EDT)

Drew made changes to the description, this is what the page currently says:

OpenWetWare is an effort to promote the sharing of information, know-how, and wisdom among
researchers and groups who are working in biology. We hope OpenWetWare will lead to greater 
interaction between our groups, as well as provide a knowledge portal to our colleagues, and
ultimately, the rest of the world. This page is a gateway to the various "front pages" hosted by
OpenWetWare as well as to resources shared between all OWW labs. If you would like edit access,
would be interested in helping out, or want your lab website hosted on OpenWetWare, please let
us know.

How about the following synthesis of the last two --Sri Kosuri 22:52, 20 Sep 2005 (EDT)

OpenWetWare is an effort to promote the sharing of information, know-how, and wisdom among
researchers and groups who are working in biology.  OWW provides a place for labs, individuals, and 
groups to organize their own information and collaborate with others easily and efficiently.  In the
process, we hope that OWW will not only lead to greater collaboration between member groups, but
also provide a useful information portal to our colleagues, and ultimately the rest of the world.  This
page is a gateway to the various "front pages" hosted by OWW as well as to resources shared between
all OWW labs. If you would like edit access, would be interested in helping out, or want your lab website
hosted on OpenWetWare, please let us know.

World readable/writable

  • Are we convinced that the current approach is appropriate in the long term? If world writable works for wikipedia, then why not for us? I'm not convinced the administrative burden is that significant seeing as so many people seem to keep good track of what is changing. I also suspect making wiki-wide changes may become more difficult if the wiki grows at the current rate as the inertia of convincing everybody that a change has merit increases. --BC
    • I just want to clarify Barry's remark. I think you are saying that it will be easier to decide if we want to create world writable access now, rather than later, when we have to get the approval of many many more groups. --Sri Kosuri 00:04, 16 Sep 2005 (EDT)
      • Yes, this is the bigger topic I was getting at. If OWW grows, administrative changes will get harder to apply unless there is an executive group empowered to make those changes.--BC 09:16, 16 Sep 2005 (EDT)
  • Currently there are fewer than 200 users with fewer than 250 changes per day--easy to keep track of. I'd recommend seeing how things go for a bit more, especially because a number of new groups have been added within the last few days and things are just starting to expand relatively rapidly. As the number of users expand, it will be much harder to keep track of what is going on, and much easier for things to be missed. With so many labs just starting up, the number of changes in the near future should increase dramatically, but this should eventually stabilize once the core info is in place. The current users are people who want to contribute in a positive way, but maybe it's best to let this stabilize for a bit before opening things up to the world.--Kathleen 23:52, 15 Sep 2005 (EDT)
    • My thinking on this was that regardless of how big OWW gets, that if it is a "healthy" wiki then there should always be sufficient people willing and able to keep track of it. To put that another way, if the active user group doesn't scale appropriately with the size of OWW then stagnation might be a bigger problem than vandalism.--BC 09:16, 16 Sep 2005 (EDT)
  • When Jason and I are trying to recruit other labs to join, they are at first quite put-off by people's ability to edit everything on the site. One thing that really reassures them is that every user has a trackable email address and that pretty much everyone is involved with a lab. I also agree that we wait on this for a bit. If and when OWW becomes so anonymous that people feel very distant from other labs, there are thousands of users, and edits every second... people will become much more amenable to opening things up (i believe). That being said, I think you bring up a good point. Perhaps we should create a board of directors that are voted on by the community (or something of the sort) that are in charge of decisions that are applicable to all of OWW. That way it won't be as cumbersome to make important decisions in the future. --Sri Kosuri 00:04, 16 Sep 2005 (EDT)
    • Agreed. Additionally, there is a difference between OWW and wikipedia in that labs are using this as a medium to showcase research/information that is attributed to them. Unlike wikipedia in which there is no 'by-line' for articles. So where vandalism in wikipedia reflects negatively on wikipedia as a whole, in OWW someone (not involved in OWW) arriving at a "vandalized" lab website might associate the vandalism with that specific group. I think this is where a lot of the desire to have users who are accountable (e.g. have logins) comes from. --JK
      • OWW is intended to be a collaborative space for like-minded groups to share info. and resources. Because of this, vandalism in OWW reflects just as negatively on OWW as a whole as does vandalism to wikipedia. If a protocol from lab X is vandalized, that raises just as much doubt over a protocol from lab Y. So I don't think we can ignore the fact that world-writeable is appropriate for wikipedia when deciding if it is appropriate for OWW. If we are committed to creating a collaborative space rather than just creating a medium to showcase research/information that is attributed to the group, then it seems world writable is definitely better.--BC 09:16, 16 Sep 2005 (EDT)
        • Just to clarify, I agree that vandalism always reflects on OWW as a whole as well, however my point was that it also can reflect negatively on a specific group (and thus is more frightening to groups), unlike wikipedia. Also, I agree with much of what you are saying, but just some more food for thought:
          1. one of the biggest complaints about wikipedia is that it is not credible, see article here from one of the orginal founders. I don't necessarily agree with everything he is saying, but it is worthwhile to include in the debate. Having members be non-anonymous helps this credibility.
          2. The major reason to make it world writable with no logins is to encourage mass participation (a la wikipedia) - do we think that will improve the contributions to the protocols section? (from barry's comment below) In particular, who is likely to improve the protocols anonymously who would not be willing to simply email asking for an account? (our current policy would just allow them to join so long as they provide a real email address, preferably a .edu one). I guess the difference I'm pointing out is that wikipedia is a very, very broad resource while this is quite a bit more specialized. That being said, maybe there are some people who think signing up is too much work...--JK
    • In response to Sri's argument, I feel that if people become very used to the idea of a closed user group, they will be much harder to convince that a change is warranted. We might have to expect the argument - "we designed our page and the information on it with the fact that OWW was world readable only in mind. We wouldn't feel comfortable with what we currently have up being writable by the public." Maybe this is just a transient thing as a lot of new groups are added but its also possible that we are seeing this effect already - labs are mainly posting descriptive stuff about what they do rather than using it as a collaborative space. With the exception of a few groups, contributions to the protocol sections is lagging behind that of the lab websites.--BC 09:16, 16 Sep 2005 (EDT)
      • I wouldn't be quick to write off collaboration simply because "labs are mainly posting descriptive stuff". A very small step away from full-on collaboration is decentralizing information sharing by enabling more people at the ends (the grad students) to frequently post "descriptive stuff" about what they are doing. As a result, users (and everyone else) are more likely to come across something that is interesting and strike up a collaboration. This becomes more difficult, I think, when you only see things in their final published form (after the work is over) or only on dept retreats/confs (a small subset of the space of people you might collaborate with).--JK
      • I am having a little trouble getting all of the members of our lab "on board" with the wiki. To try to encourage people to participate, I have tried to set up our space such that there are immediate lab benefits. As a consequence, our postings have been very lab-centric and not so collaborative (with a few exceptions). What I'm hoping to do is to get people to participate in a way that they can see an immediate benefit for themselves and the lab, and hopefully have this evolve into a greater contribution to the community as a whole. I think we need to give things a bit of time. Some people aren't so comfortable with this, so small steps may be the best way. As an example, I've talked to several people in the lab and some of them think that their protocols are too specific to put on to the wiki. This essentially provides a barrier for them to put anything on the wiki. I've tried to tell them that it will be useful for people in our lab, and then we can link out things to the general page. I think that we shouldn't try to implement everything you want this to be all at once for fear that we'll lose a lot of people who need to be eased into things. As Barry mentioned, openness is quite a new concept for most biologist. Let's let everyone get used to the idea.--Kathleen 11:14, 16 Sep 2005 (EDT)
  • I'm very impressed by the recruiting of other labs to join OWW that has been done so far. The general thrust of the arguments used above has been that it would be hard to convince people to join OWW if it was world-writable. While I'm sure this is true, it might not be a reason not to do it. Biology has suffered from being very cautious about sharing information. One important intention with OWW has been to open up that culture. So going with what people are most comfortable with right now might not always be best thing to do. Establishing the culture of openness and sharing is key and I think that world-writable is one way of doing that.--BC 09:16, 16 Sep 2005 (EDT)
    • One thing to keep in mind is that at least in the case of Synthetic Biology, in addition to establishing an open and sharing culture, we are also trying to promote a culture of accountability and responsibility. Therefore one argument in favor of retaining the user accounts is that it encourages people to be responsible for their work since their name is on it. Perhaps this is more of a concern for those of us engineering biology rather than studying it but nevertheless, it is a valid one. From a longer term perspective, one could imagine that venues like OpenWetWare and DSpace become an alternative and reputable method of sharing/publishing ones work. For instance, what if a wiki page undergoes so many revisions that it ultimately stabilizes and becomes the authoritative work on a particular topic. Then since the scientific community tends to use "publishing record" as a metric for evaluating people, it is also useful to maintain user accounts because it enables a record of each person's contributions. --Reshma 13:09, 16 Sep 2005 (EDT)
  • I do agree that a board of directors would make it a lot easier to implement major changes such as this in the future.--BC 09:16, 16 Sep 2005 (EDT)
  • Doesn't each lab/group on the wiki have an administrator? Maybe this group of people could be the "board", as each person could gather ideas from the group they represent and present them to the larger wiki community. This should reduce the potential for hundreds of opinions posted on a particular subject that may be hard to sort through and consolidate personal perspectives/ideas to make it easier to get a general consensus.--Kathleen 10:18, 16 Sep 2005 (EDT)


From Jim Hu: For the calendar, you might think about using phpicalendar to generate an RSS feed that gets parsed into the calendar page. That way the content can be controlled from a desktop mac using ical or a pc running mozilla calendar. More importantly, this means that those users can also subscribe to the calendar.

External authentication

It seems possible to add external authentication to the wiki via MIT certificates. --Ilya 16:33, 11 Nov 2005 (EST)


In the newest Tech. Review, I stumbled upon wikicities. They have connections with Wikipedia. It looks to be a relatively new site (2004?) but they basically host a collection of wikis on specific topics. Some kind of community openwetware like site on there seems like it would be a good idea. We would not need to be responsible for the system administration headaches and I'm sure there are other benefits of having a centralized location for the wiki. We should definitely keep lab/group specific stuff here. I'm not sure what the use of this could be, but I see lots of benefit of allowing the world to edit some things like protocols. They currently have almost nothing under their biology category. --Austin 17:01, 29 Jul 2005 (EDT)

Adding new groups to OWW

I would like to build an OWW-based wiki for a student group in which I am involved, Students for Global Sustainability. I think there are many benefits of using OWW for this purpose, including:

  1. Many OWW researchers are interested in building bugs that will help solve world problems (energy, pollution control, material production, etc.) and SfGS is also interested in the same problems. Discourse amongst the two groups would prove mutually beneficial.
  2. Biologists are underrepresented in the sustainability community at MIT, and the community would be strengthened by their inclusion.
  3. SfGS provides a different interface with the poltical/conservationalist scene than OWW researchers typically encounter. Such exposure could be good for career development, enhanced world view, etc.

I have set up a prototype page called Students for Global Sustainability Wiki. Please let me know how you feel about welcoming in the SfGS community to OWW.

--Samantha Sutton

I think this is a fine idea. For the most part there is little downside to bringing more MIT people into the wiki, as long as they are respectful of naming conventions, etc. For instance, even if a group creates a new wiki front page that is largely self-contained (i.e. it doesn't link to anything else in OWW) it doesn't really hurt the rest of the wiki at all. It just means we have more people using OWW which means they are more likely to encourage their labs to use it / copy edit stuff they see on our pages, etc. For a particular group there might not be huge upside, but i don't see much downside at all.
-Jasonk 08:22, 24 Jul 2005 (EDT)