Wolfram Community Is Turning 10,000
October 20, 2015 — Vitaliy Kaurov, Academic Director, Wolfram Science and Innovation Initiatives
Community is about to turn 10,000! Members, not years. We launched Wolfram Community in July of 2013. After two short years, it has grown to just a hair’s breadth away from 10,000 participants. Join now and help us reach this milestone!
We’ll award prizes to new members with the most creative profiles who join until the day we hit 10,000. The five people with the most detailed and creative profiles will get a one-year subscription of Wolfram|Alpha Pro and one million Wolfram Cloud Credits. Wolfram Community profiles allow flexible formatting (here is an example), so use it fully. An additional grand prize will go to one of the winners—a personally signed copy of Stephen Wolfram’s upcoming book, An Elementary Introduction to the Wolfram Language. In your Wolfram Community profiles, tell us about what you’ve done and dream to do with Wolfram technologies. The best dream wins!
We have seen many great posts and built new features for the convenience of our members. Today we’re excited to unveil a number of usability improvements, starting with what we call “email notifications.” This is a flexible set of options to be pinged by email when something interesting is happening on Wolfram Community. It can be fine-tuned to your liking so you get just the right information. Three of my favorite options for email notifications are pings for new posts in my groups, a monthly digest of the best handpicked posts, and a ping when someone mentions my name in a post. Thanks to the latter, while all members’ emails are kept private, there is still a way to reach out to a person if the person allows such messages. Featured contributors of the best posts can be found on a special honor board, with our first selection shown below. We have also opened a marketplace for projects, collaborations, and job discussions. In this blog, I will talk about these and many other exciting changes that happened on Wolfram Community during our two-year run.
First of all, I would like to announce that we have consolidated all our separate forums inside Wolfram Community to inspire crossover of discussions between various branches of Wolfram technologies and initiatives. Most recently we integrated the Wolfram Science and Computer-Based Maths forums, and also bid farewell to MathGroup, our longest-running email newsgroup, which is a big part of Wolfram history. We have seen many of the MathGroup members taking part in Wolfram Community. I hope we will completely assimilate the MathGroup audience due to Community’s advanced modern networking features, which can easily give a newsgroup-like experience. Also, the one and only MathGroup chaperone Steve Christensen is now helping to moderate Wolfram Community. All legacy forums will soon be archived and open for browsing only. From now on, please come to Wolfram Community for socialization on any subjects related to Wolfram technologies and initiatives.
With this release, we are introducing tools to empower users: a set of new groups that will promote better communication plus aggregation of the most useful content. You can find them all on the Groups page in the Featured tab as shown below.
From the start, Wolfram Community encouraged real-name advanced member profiles (e.g. Seth Chandler) and open-form sharing of professional ideas. In this way we have a fast publishing medium comparative to microblogging. A good example is the post Simulating a global Ebola outbreak by Marco Thiel.
I am happy to announce we are introducing a new group, Staff Picks, to highlight and collect the best posts. Please join it! The best of our Staff Picks will be featured in our all-new monthly digest. Only our internal editorial board can place posts in the group, ensuring the highest quality, but anyone can suggest a post for the board’s consideration. Authors of the selected posts are considered featured contributors, and together with their features are distinguished by special honorable badges. They can be seen via the “Featured” filter on the People page. The first few prominent Community writers can be seen in the top image above. Please consider writing about what you do with Wolfram technologies to qualify for the Staff Picks. This will raise the profile of your work among professionals on our Community as well increase your visibility on search engines that discover our Community content within minutes of posting.
Jobs is another innovative group we are launching. Think of it as a marketplace, a job board, an entrepreneurial idea exchange, and a collaboration resource. We would like our business-minded users to connect about Wolfram-related projects. Any company seeking Wolfram technologies specialists should consider advertising their open positions in this group. We also welcome posts from individuals seeking collaboration on projects. That’s a definite venue, for instance, for emerging startups seeking data or machine intelligence Wolfram scientists. Collaborate and advertise away!
The Staff Picks and Jobs groups can always be found on the sidebar of the Wolfram Community front page, as shown below.
Flexible email notifications, mentioned earlier, are the most important part of the Community update. The first thing to understand is the flexibility: if you feel you receive too little or too much information, you can always change it in your settings. The settings can be accessed via the top-right corner menu of any Community page—just mouse over your name. Check-marked boxes show the default options.
One of the most useful preferences is “Someone has mentioned your name”: members can type “@” followed by members’ first and last names to tag them. As you type, a useful popup will suggest potential members. Another useful default preference is “There is a new discussion in one of your groups”. Please note it is unchecked by default, so you will need to check the box to use it. You should be aware, though, that sometimes an inexperienced member might put a wrong post in one of your groups. You can choose to ignore these, unfollow the group, or just uncheck this feature.
Numerous other improvements are out of the scope of this blog and will become naturally evident during your Wolfram Community usage. I should mention, though, that Wolfram Community supports:
- File attachments of many types
- Syntax highlighting for the Wolfram Language
- Easy-to-use, powerful post editor
- LaTeX and MathML mathematical notation
- Rich formatting of member profiles
- Numerous groups to accommodate a tremendous range of interests
With these tools, there is almost no limit to what you can share.
So what was happening on Wolfram Community during its two-year run? Great posts by people from all around the world! Here are just a few examples of some classics:
- GPS Mountainbike analysis by Sander Huisman
- Capturing Data from an Android Phone using Wolfram Data Drop by Diego Zviovich
- WiFi Signal Monitor in WL by Rodrigo Murta
- Random Snowflake Generator Based on Cellular Automaton by Silvia Hao
- Reading high resolution weather data from Netatmo by Marco Thiel
- Perfectly centered break of a perfectly aligned pool ball rack by Jim Belk
- A tetrahedral chain challenge by Stan Wagon
- 3D puzzle of the trefoil knot and its fibrations via 3D printing by Fred Hohman
- Older enrollments in Exchanges could cost insurers about 10% by Seth Chandler
- Non-transitive Grime Dice by Lincoln Atkinson
And there are many, many more. Now the best posts can easily be found in the Staff Picks group. There were also a lot of questions answered and many people helped.
Our network is about people and their ideas. The heartbeat of a community can be seen in its growth. So our two-year run can be summarized as a steady average of ten new members and thirty-five new posts per day. The whole history is reflected in the two plots below that use log-scale to better show the details. Some syncing reflects on the real-world dynamics. For example, you can see it in the dips around New Year’s (gray dotted lines) when the whole world takes a break and in the peaks around the middle of July (red lines) when the Wolfram Science and Innovation Summer Schools are in full swing.
Returning members frequently participating in discussions are the core of a community and one of the most important factors in its healthy growth. To highlight some of the most active members, I will use the Wolfram Language. The first step is to build a graph of member interactions from the Wolfram Community database. Any discussion is a nested tree, where members are vertices and comments are directed edges. To simplify the total graph of all discussions, I merged multiple edges between two members in a single weighted edge and called the graph g. Even simplified g is quite formidable visually. One of the best ways to distill its structure is to use CommunityGraphPlot. Note that I used clustering algorithms that do take into account edge weight. Below you can see only the central part of g with the most massive communities.
It is a good mix of internal Wolfram employees and users. But of course there are many more members who help the Community run. One way to see that is to find more graph communities inside a graph community! For instance, let’s take a look inside Marco Thiel’s community and see more highly active members:
Finding graph communities is a clustering method. Another strategy is to look at centrality measures. An interesting one is BetweennessCentrality, which ranks higher vertices that are on many shortest paths of other vertex pairs. In this way we could highlight members who facilitate conversations between other members. And here are the top thirty such mediators:
Again, we see a good mix of Wolfram employees and users. I am also very happy to see many people who also take part at our user-funded sister community, Mathematica Stack Exchange. These two communities are great complements to each other. Here are the profiles of the top three users from the table above: Frank Kampas, Marco Thiel, and David Keith. There are many more great people on Wolfram Community from all around the world who are not seen in this table. We at Wolfram are deeply thankful to all the folks who invest their time and energy in this project, and we encourage you to do the same. You might be surprised at how much you can discover, how many new people you can meet, and how fun and useful communication with like-minded people can be. Great minds think alike!