using stackexchange was: Re: unsubscriber e-mail office pool anybody?

From: Axel Kohlmeyer (
Date: Thu Mar 07 2013 - 03:04:16 CST

On Tue, Mar 5, 2013 at 3:39 PM, Ajasja Ljubetič
<> wrote:

> But seriously, I'll use this opportunity to mention something a bit off
> topic:
> Lately I have been spending a bit of time on
> and I must say that the stack-exchange
> model is superb. Questions and answers can be edited (by anybody), and
> upvotes/downvotes really help keep the signal to noise ratio high.
> Perhaps we could find a home for namd questions on
> This is actaully just me thinking out loud, I'm not even 100% sure this is a
> good idea. But sometimes I wish I could give a mail here a +1 or -1 or close
> as too localized etc...

this idea has popped up on several mailing lists over the last months.
i am a great fan of this system as well. the "stackoverflow" community
has helped me a lot with quite a few programming issues. the problem
is that this is a "numbers game". to make something like this work,
there needs to be a large enough community that is willing to invest
some effort into answering questions in a way that would lead to
building a so-called "knowlegdebase".. also, the stackexchange type
Q&A system is better suited to handle certain types of questions,
particularly the "how do i do this?" kind of inquiries. whereas
specific technical questions tend to be more effectively handled with
a mailing list. so the additional problem is, how to get people to ask
their questions in the right place? you could say that the NAMD wiki
is an attempt in the same direction. this kind of approach seems to be
working ok for some communities (Tcl/Tk, emacs), but not so well for
others. "if you build it, they will come" doesn't work normally. there
has to be some critical mass of people that makes this sustainable,
and some incentive for others to join and make an effort to give
better answers. something that turns more people from "consumers" into
"providers". unfortunately, the highly competitive nature of research
stands in the way.

one thought in the discussions on this subject elsewhere is that a lot
of the problems are of a rather general nature and more about how to
do MD as such and not as much specific to a single software package.
so to broaden the pool of available "providers" one could conceive
pooling resources with other community supported MD packages (which
may also help to resolve some of the misconceptions that people have
about those different packages as a bonus). this would be particularly
helpful for tools like PLUMED or COLVARS that are available for
multiple MD packages. or post processing and analysis of data.

in short. a great idea, but how can we make it work?


> Also, can the mailing list perhaps be set up in such a way that sending
> unsubscribe to namd-l would actually work?

> Best regards,
> Ajasja

Dr. Axel Kohlmeyer
International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste. Italy.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.6 : Wed Dec 31 2014 - 23:21:01 CST