I’ve been following the monthly release of QIIME2 since its 2017.7 version and each new release kept surprising me with great new features. We know that QIIME2 is a free open-source bioinformatics pipeline. Talented people with backgrounds on both biology and compute science can contribute to its development. Unfortunately, most biologists have not been trained on computer programming and have only been a user than a contributer. The success of American Gut project reminds me that I, as a QIIME2 user, can also make a difference by donating to the QIIME2 development.
Will QIIME2 developers considering using crowdsourcing to boost and sustain the development of QIIME 2?
Thanks a lot for your interest in contributing to QIIME 2 and for the positive feedback! There are a few ways that you could contribute back to QIIME 2 without being a software developer.
One way to contribute without being a software developer would be to help other users on the QIIME 2 Forum by answering their questions. We always appreciate this, and time that we’re not spending answering user questions directly translates into us having more time to improve QIIME 2 and the QIIME 2 documentation.
We also have some recurring expenses for QIIME 2, such as server costs with Amazon Web Services for hosting this forum, maintaining our software build hardware, etc. At the moment we don’t have a way to take donations to put toward those expenses. Is contributing to those types of expenses the type of donation that you’re thinking of? If so, we’ll discuss this and see if we can work something out.
Attending QIIME 2 workshops is also a great way to contribute to the community. When we have a surplus of funds after running a workshop (which isn’t always the case), those funds are used to cover our server expenses, and some other expenses related to QIIME 2 development (e.g., paying for travel or meals when we do QIIME 2 code sprints). You can always find out about upcoming workshops at https://workshops.qiime2.org/.
Like what other free softwares commonly do, a message saying something like, “if you like QIIME 2, you can make a donation by …”, can be shown on screen after successful installation. For the use of fund raised from the public, I think the developers can use it wherever is needed, such as the maintenance of the server or salary for developers who get paid by projects.
As for QIIME 2 workshops, I’m more than happy to join only that we don’t have a chance in Europe. I know there’s a 2-day QIIME2 workshop during the Genomic Sciences workshop in Czech republic but we can’t only sign up the QIIME section. Any chance to organize more workshops in Europe?
I found the point you mention above about helping on the forum very interesting. I find myself reading the Q2 forum daily, (especially when I have other real work to do…) and occasionally I come across inquiries that are either simple to resolve, especially when you’ve made the error yourself a bunch of times, or that you know it’s been previously answered elsewhere. I’ve always been hesitant to qiime in (badum tss) in those situations as to not step on the admin’s toes or risk giving faulty advise. If this is something that the group feels would take some of the burden off and free up some time for you guys, perhaps a small guideline would help as to how you’d like those replies be. The main point obviously being as to not create extra correction work for you.
That being said, I’ll echo what @yanxianl said that the community really does appreciate all the work you guys do, it does set a great example of a success story for open and collaborative science, and so hopefully we can all find a way to support it in one way or another.
We have had discussions around this topic a few times in the past! First off, this is a community, and you are welcome to contribute as much or as little as you wish! That said, we love the idea of peer-support on the forum (as opposed to something like “official” or “admin” support). I think one way to handle this is to better document this, so that everyone’s expectations are managed:
User-to-user support is welcome and encouraged on the forum, and if a kind soul helps you out, take the time to say “thank you” and let the “official” team know your question has been answered (you can use the “Mark as Solved” feature, for example, to accomplish that). The caveat here is that unofficial support doesn’t necessarily represent the official team’s views, decisions, or goals. I think that makes sense, if you ask a question and a user you don’t recognize says “hey, I am just getting started with Q2, but this might help you” I would be really excited, and I would also keep in mind that they are just getting started with QIIME 2.
Official support is something we strive to provide all users. As @gregcaporaso has pointed out though, the less time we provide support here, is more time we can spend developing great new QIIME 2 features, plugins, and interfaces! We also recognize that this can’t always be the case.
Moving forward, I would encourage you to jump in and help out, if you’re interested!
Thanks so much for the kind words, and keep on QIIMEin’!! :