OpenWetWare:Steering committee/Meeting - April 2007

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Audio from meeting.

SC Reports

Brief reports on the month's activity should be written by each chair 2 days before the SC meeting. At the meeting each chair will bring up any open issues that require discussion, but won't need to recount everything described below.


  • Mattias will put together a list of statistics that we'd like to have (work with software chairs to figure out what's feasible - e.g. most edits this month, etc)


Got approval from NPG and EMBO to re-use Ron Weiss's review article on synthetic biology as seed material for the first OpenWetWare WikiReview. It's still a work in progress. Also, put up a list of other reviews that are licensed for re-use here, so if you want to wikify one - go for it! Could also start one from scratch.


News and highlights

Goals for OWW News and Highlights:

  • to encourage input from a wide OWW user base
  • to have a straightforward protocol for contributing news and videos, as well as suggesting labs or events to be highlighted
  • to keep news and announcements current and make sure that highlights and videos are swapped out regularly
  • to maintain a cool-looking front page yet avoid discouraging OWW users from contributing due to formatting concerns or (understandable) reluctance to remove others' contributions
  • to make sure that news and highlights that are swapped out are archived appropriately

Possible News and Highlights formats:

  • News and Highlights could be curated, with an invitation on the front page to send news items and highlights contributions/nominations to the News and Highlights Chair(s). It does not strike me as ideal for the front page of OWW to be "curated," but, since it is currently locked to general editing anyway, at least this option encourages community contribution and seems to up the odds that news and highlights will be swapped out and archived in a timely fashion.
  • Another option would be to post a general invitation to contribute OWW News and Highlights, along with a link to some guidlines for contributions and instructions on how to archive items that are swapped out. This seems more in the spirit of OWW, but I am not sure if it is a practical way to achieve the above listed goals.
  • Other???

Discussion Points:

(1) What format should we go with?

  • We decided to setup a news at openwetware mailing list that Jen would keep an eye on, and add links to the Main Page to encourage people to nominate things for highlights.
  • We'll decide at the next meeting about whether we want news to be only OWW pages.
  • There was a suggestion to use a digg-style system to choose pages for the news, the main concern voiced was that wasn't something we could set up tomorrow as it requires a community of people who are actively ranking pages (something we don't have at the moment, maybe we can revisit if john gets pligg up and running).


We have been discussing how best to structure the outreach effort. On an organizational level, we have agreed that it is best to have people based in each area to be able to put a face to recruitment. The structure will consist of local outreach chairs in major academic areas. The responsibility of these people are to recruit and organize volunteers to head up the outreach on a school-by-school basis (and maybe eventually on a department-by-department basis to be organized by the school-level people).

The responsibilities of the local people will be to put up recruitment materials (flyers, emails, etc.), and try to give some department, or lab group presentations. Ideally we will have a set of standard materials for the local people to present - maybe a presentation, standard fliers, etc.

We need to do two main things from here - try to find regional outreach chairs, and start to prepare these materials. As a first step to prepare the materials, we are starting to collect some basic information on OWW:

  • the existing oww community - the labs, regions and countries represented
    • this will also help us recognize where we need to concentrate our efforts
  • combine existing resources together: Getting Started, Why Join? and OWW Presentations, Highlights
  • Some basic OWW facts - number of users, hits, etc.
  • list of pages that we can do a wiki tour with (similar to NCBI coffee breaks)
    • Prepare an outreach officer recruitment document that describes the position.

Please see the Outreach page for more specific details. Once these materials are gathered, we can get started putting them together into a nice compelling introduction to OWW in terms of what features it has, and what it can provide.

Targets for the next SC meeting

  • Submit to the SC a wiki document to present the goals behind OWW and the advantages to be part of it (basically a PR document, created from existing resources, that will be used later by outreach officers).
  • Survey on the current status of the OWW community (geographical distribution, areas of interests, status of the organizations involved, type of information hosted), and suggest a strategy to stimulate the OWW growth in some existing, or not existing, areas (would be great to team up with the analytics chair).
  • Recruit some additional outreach officers (at least 1 outreach officer per continent).We could use this nice combination of Google Earth and a picture album to visualize who is where.


OWW has gained several features over the last few weeks: Asterisk, Dewikify, PHPFreeChat, Syntax Highlighting, Toggle, Wikilists.

Upcoming Extensions and Feature Requests:

  • video hosting: using
  • RSS feeds, google search box, new skin
  • WYSIWYG editor? Good idea? Bad idea?
  • Yahoo / Google Maps mashup of labs and users.
  • Edit count extension: finding number of edits for a given user

Get general OWW accounts (e.g. google,, etc)?

  • Set up a custom skin that includes RSS feeds on main article pages and a google search
  • Sri asked about WYSIWYG, and ilya mentioned that it should be included in mediawiki 2.0, which is due out in the near future.
  • We discussed kind of stats can we get about the "daily life" of OWW - e.g. who are most active users.


Lucks 19:35, 1 April 2007 (EDT):Has anyone published a PLoS paper? On the publishing front, I think it would be very interesting to 'wikify' a PLoS paper. A link could be given to the main PLoS paper for a standard, citeable piece of work. The wikified version of the paper could contain additional links to more detailed investigations, etc.

    • Sri volunteered to try this out with a paper he is planning to publish in BMC


  • Finished job descriptions and got positions approved by MIT. Interviews will be starting next month.


  • We're going to try to create a single page with a feature list that would be prioritized by the steering committee. This would be used to task full time employees as well as volunteers. Additionally, we need to figure out how to prioritize such a list - discuss here.
  • New user experience could be better, we need to shorten the new account email.
  • Mattias asked how we can encourage more scientific content on OWW. The challenge of creating a merit structure was mentioned, and we proposed creating awards given by the SC to users for various things that help the community, demonstrate good science, etc. Please add your suggestions!