Complete "BOINC Unification" in one website

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John37309
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Message 16976 - Posted: 30 Apr 2008, 18:35:02 UTC
Last modified: 30 Apr 2008, 18:44:00 UTC

Is the complete unification of all BOINC projects possible in one website?

This is a very important question today with the growing number of BOINC projects that are appearing around the Internet. Even the most enthusiastic BOINC users are finding it difficult to keep track of new projects, forums/message boards and documentation. Plus all the other things involved in tracking and documenting these projects and what they are about.

I have been putting a lot of thought into this topic and trying to decide how it could be achieved. There has been some recent discussion on the BOINC email lists about BOINC documentation and where it should be. There seemed to be a good general consensus that the best way forward is for all documentation to be on the BOINC website itself. Some steps forward to make this happen are being looked into but i suspect that the end result will still be very fragmented and difficult to navigate for both scientists and BOINC users.

To fully Unify BOINC projects, forums and information, everything needs to be on one website. The ideal website would be the BOINC website where anyone wanting to get involved in helping could go to the website and, in a very simple and inviting way, become involved in the website using what ever skills that individual has. Some people are just basic users and want the basic info, some users want to help but have no real Internet skills, some users have basic Internet and html skills, and some people have excellent programming skill and might want to help develop the BOINC software itself. Some people just want to chat on forums and message boards.

I am not fully sure why, but there seems to be some resistance from the BOINC project management team to allow ALL information from ALL projects to be displayed and collected on the BOINC website. I believe it has to do with the fact that new projects have not yet proven to be legitimate and BOINC management cannot be seen to support an unproven project that could well be run by gangsters for all we know.

I think a fully unified BOINC website would need some of the following things;

1. A very cool and modern looking website with a content management system like Joomla that is very easy to manage everything. Simple navigation on the website so you never get lost.

2. Simple and inviting way for ANY level of user to login and register for EVERYTHING on the website.

3. A management structure for different levels of Internet ability from basic user to simple contributor to advanced programmer.
Some categories of users might be;

Website administrators,
BOINC Development Team,
BOINC Forum moderators Team,
Documentation team,
forum help & Support Team,
Team Leaders,
Website Team,
Graphics team,
BOINC News Team,
New projects team,
BOINC Internet promotion team,
etc, etc.

You should be easily able to apply to be part of any of these teams by posting a message to say what skills you have for the job.

No matter what the skill level, no user who wants to get involved and help should be excluded! There are hundreds of tasks other than programming BOINC that could be done to help BOINC or the projects involved.

4. Combined forums/message boards. With the growing number for project message boards, we would need a seamless way to combine at least one forum from every project. Currently new projects tend to have "Number crunching", "Science", "Cafe" and some have "Teams". What if every project had a message board that could be displayed as part of a much larger forum on another website. For instance it could be called "BOINC general SETI" or "BOINC general Rosetta". This forum could be displayed as part of one Hugh "BOINC forums" where everyone could go for ALL projects. Its just not possible to continually visit all the current projects and many projects are suffering as a result. One Hugh combined forums on one website would unify everything in a seamless way.


*****************

If this is not possible on the BOINC website itself, then we need a second website where this is possible.
The website needs to be 100% impartial, not promoting any website, team, person, thing, product, advertising, anything except BOINC projects.

Look these are just some idea's to get started, i throw this message open to your discussion and thoughts.

How can we Fully Unify everything about BOINC in one website.... No projects excluded except for a darn good reason to blacklist a project for doing something very bad.

John.
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Message 16978 - Posted: 30 Apr 2008, 19:05:57 UTC

At first glance, this sounds like what Grid Republic is doing. How is this different?
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John37309
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Message 16979 - Posted: 30 Apr 2008, 19:10:55 UTC - in response to Message 16978.  
Last modified: 30 Apr 2008, 19:12:46 UTC

At first glance, this sounds like what Grid Republic is doing. How is this different?

There are a thousand BOINC/SETI/Project etc websites out there that do this. One thousand people working on their own in small groups. we need one central website. Everything is split and needs to be centralised if possible.
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Message 16980 - Posted: 30 Apr 2008, 19:13:54 UTC
Last modified: 30 Apr 2008, 19:18:11 UTC

Is not the whole point of an open source public project that they are free of this kind of beaurocracy? Are you not missing the entire paradigm here? BOINC is an enabling technology, a tool, not a lifestyle.
Wave upon wave of demented avengers march cheerfully out of obscurity into the dream.
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Nicolas

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Message 16981 - Posted: 30 Apr 2008, 19:14:42 UTC - in response to Message 16976.  

If I was involved with unifying project forums, there would be no way to access it from a web browser :)

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Message 16984 - Posted: 30 Apr 2008, 19:33:02 UTC - in response to Message 16980.  
Last modified: 30 Apr 2008, 19:33:23 UTC

Is not the whole point of an open source public project that they are free of this kind of beaurocracy? Are you not missing the entire paradigm here? BOINC is an enabling technology, a tool, not a lifestyle.


+1. I personally like the fact that I can run my own project, by myself, how I like it. I don't seem much need to be combined because what would this page list? Stats: there are plenty of stats pages(eg boincstats.com). List projects: again a lot of the sites that list stats by nature list a large number of projects. Allow users to join in one spot: Account managers do that. Also I think one problem is the "unproven" thing. I mean some projects do have problems with errors (my team just diverted resources to crunch one project hard and then it kept producing errors :( ). The problem is sometimes there are legitimate errors the first time an application is released, especially considering all of the platforms out there. So the first release is different. Also, who judges whether it's "proven". I mean I've been running a project without errors for quite some time now and I still have people call my project alpha or I get emails asking if they can help me get started. I do understand, though, that it can be hard keeping all of the boinc world straight and clear. I think a good team is the real solution.

Team Picard
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[B^S] BOINC-SG
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Message 16985 - Posted: 30 Apr 2008, 19:34:42 UTC

All in all, it sounds like a good idea.

As an example, I'm member of a Gospel Choir. Of course, there are many, many choirs we would love to get in touch, but its difficult. So there's a website where every choir can sign up, subscribe to newsletters, and so on. Other people can search for choirs by ZIP code for example, they have a forum for general discussions and much more...

I could imagine an "All-in-one-website" if its not overloaded, not too many informations so newbies just get lost.

On the other hand, I think that you can find all these things & infos at every bigger team website like Rechenkraft.net, SETI.Germany, BOINC Synergy, SETI.USA and so on...

So I dont know if I would prefer such a website instead of my team website...

But I will follow this discussion, its an interesting idea!

Cheers, Shai
Crunch fair!

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Message 16987 - Posted: 30 Apr 2008, 20:02:48 UTC

I agree that a "one-stop shop" web site, where people can see and discuss all BOINC projects, is desirable. That's the role I intended for account managers (BAM! and GridRepublic). Of these two, I think GridRepublic is more likely to fulfill this role for average volunteers. GR's pace of development has been slow, but they're close to releasing some very cool new features.

Neither BAM! nor GR has done much towards allowing user-supplied content, or defining volunteer roles as you describe. I think they should. If you think so too, contact Willy de Zutter (BAM!) or Matt Blumberg (GR) and tell them so.

Why not have boinc.berkeley.edu provide a master index of projects? It's for the reasons you describe. Bad guys make a bogus project and list it on the BOINC site; thousands of computers are trashed. Giant PR disaster, and possible lawsuits against UC Berkeley.

I and the BOINC team (Rom and Charlie) need to stay focused on writing, debugging, and documenting software. BOINC is technology; I don't want it to be the "brand" or the web portal. I would prefer for GridRepublic or BAM! to play this role.
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John37309
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Message 16991 - Posted: 30 Apr 2008, 20:10:48 UTC - in response to Message 16987.  
Last modified: 30 Apr 2008, 20:11:43 UTC



I and the BOINC team (Rom and Charlie) need to stay focused on writing, debugging, and documenting software. BOINC is technology; I don't want it to be the "brand" or the web portal. I would prefer for GridRepublic or BAM! to play this role.

So create a managment structured website where any level of user can get involved with whatever skills they have.

One combined website with everybody working together.
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John37309
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Message 16998 - Posted: 1 May 2008, 0:53:35 UTC

Email sent to Willy and Matthew as suggested by David.
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Profile Mike O

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Message 17000 - Posted: 1 May 2008, 3:07:48 UTC

I agree something needs to be done to make all the boinc projects better in as many ways as possible. Unifying them in to one big site could solve many issues!

This is an I idea I posted about a site overhaul for Seti's site which I find remarkably boring to use and look at.

I wonder if there is a way to form a "Seti Site Design Team", recrute people with very good knowledge in php/mySQL/html/css/java or individuals in each respective language (that will donatate their time) and get to work on building a mirror site on a test server. I think it would solve issues if a second group called the "Site Approval Team" was formed to decide on issues like the general 'motif' or 'theme' of the new pages and assign the 'design team' the tasks to get the the pages done. Something like.. the design team decides on a overhead, rollover, drop down menu system and tells the 'design team' to get to work on it' Ok so they get to work but have an argument over say... John thinks his menu is better than Michelle's. It would be the approval teams responsibility to study and select the best 'menu' based on its 'feel' I.E ease of use and general looks. END OF STORY.. Dont like it.. you dont have to be part of the design project if you can't deal with a rejected idea!! That makes me think also that a basic working set of rules needs to be created for both the 'Approval Team' and the 'Design Team'
I think the staff.. I.E. Matt, Eric and the rest, should NOT be a member of either team BUT will have the ABSOLUTE say on weather or not a page is exceptable. The prime directive being.. 'NO objectionable content' "EXTREMLY KID FRIENDLY!" The Seti Staff will need to participate in helping sort things out, like how to get to some of the data or may be asked to export the data via XML for use on the new pages. Basicly, they would be acting as 'contributers'. There are also SECURITY ISSUES that will have to be delt with. For example, the data containing user info.. passwords... the forums data sets as well as the science data. I recommend setting up a second set of data bases with the same structures as the originals but with just enough fictitious data to work with.. Also.. the mirror forums could be used wisely by the design team, approval team and the Seti Staff to discus design issues while testing prior to publication of the new site.
When the design team, approval team and the Seti staff says 'It's ready to publish' the new Site will just appear all at once...
....A hush fell apond the crowd as they gasp in amazement over the outstanding ease of use, functionality and the brilliant use of colors of the new Seti@home!!


If anyone is interested, this is the site I build for my wife and I but mainly to just learn coding in php/flash and java. It contains a flash driven menu so if you do not have flash, the pages wont load properly. http://tnmshouse.com There are a fair amount of buttons on the left but are made from reusing one flash program.
its late and I must be up early but I will be back to see where this goes. Thanks Johnny for contacting me about this idea of yours.. very exciting idea to think we could combine it all in to one mega site :)
thanks for reading...
Mike
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John37309
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Message 17002 - Posted: 1 May 2008, 3:30:04 UTC
Last modified: 1 May 2008, 3:41:07 UTC

Thank you Mike O,
Your skills are very much in demand and you should be able to contribute in some way to either SETI@home or the development of BOINC itself. Mike you should sign up to the BOINC email lists and just start reading what is going on in the development of BOINC and the projects. You will catch on in time and you will find you can be involved!

I believe that with the current BOINC website management structure, the whole project is loosing out massively on hundreds of willing volunteers just "Mike O" that want to contribute but where can anyone like myself or "Mike O" go to get involved. The current structure is not inviting, has no navigation and the BOINC website needs to be brought into the 21st century.

1000 willing volunteers with various skills that would love to be involved..... It can only happen as one very large team in one website.....The BOINC website.

Should we suggest to "Mike O" that he goes and gets involved in BAM or Grid Republic....? I suggested the BOINC email list...Am i right??? I don't know! Where do willing volunteers with various skills go to get involved?
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popandbob

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Message 17006 - Posted: 1 May 2008, 6:54:49 UTC

I think that its a necessity for boinc to make things simpler. Making a one stop website like the account managers for all boinc projects would save tonnes of user hassles(users would automatically be signed up for it when they install boinc). I think the projects could maintain their own websites for info/science/forums/other under their own domain with links from the main boinc website.

PLEASE!

~BoB
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[BOINCstats] Willy

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Message 17008 - Posted: 1 May 2008, 7:51:31 UTC - in response to Message 16987.  

Neither BAM! nor GR has done much towards allowing user-supplied content, or defining volunteer roles as you describe.

Not exactly sure what you mean here but several times I invited all projects (by means of the mailing lists) to send me documentation or promotional material for use in combination with BAM!. Response was close to nothing.

I'm all for adding this kind of content to BOINCstats/BAM!. I'd also welcome general info, FAQ's etc for BOINC in general or project specific. I'm not even shy of adding information about statistics sites or GR. Because BOINCstats/BAM! is multilingual the information can be available in several languages (depending on the translators willing to do the work of course).

I agree that a "one-stop shop" web site, where people can see and discuss all BOINC projects, is desirable. That's the role I intended for account managers (BAM! and GridRepublic). Of these two, I think GridRepublic is more likely to fulfill this role for average volunteers.

I agree that BAM! may be too difficult for the starting user. It's intended to do as much as possible which makes in complicated. Another problem may be that I'm incapable of placing myself in the average user, so ideas to make BAM! accessible are very welcome.

Will comment some more when the coffee starts doing it's work.


BOINCstats | BAM!
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Les Bayliss

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Message 17013 - Posted: 1 May 2008, 8:38:01 UTC - in response to Message 17010.  

Tell ya what... put the list together and I'll host it. If the disaster happens and the lawyers ask me where I got the list I'll just tell them some 1 ball man from the States gave it to me but I can't remember his name.


Perhaps 2 lists are needed; one with a list of projects (url and a brief description), and a second one for comments and warnings about those that appear suspect, such as the one about a puzzle, where you first of all had to buy a puzzle.

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John37309
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Message 17023 - Posted: 1 May 2008, 14:27:18 UTC
Last modified: 1 May 2008, 14:40:14 UTC

We have had several opinions so far, some are in favor of one unified BOINC website, some are not. Anyone that has attempted to address the 4 main topics outlined in my first post has suggested everything from hosting the full project list themselves to not being able to unify a few message boards in a browser.

Like i said, there are already 1,000 very cool websites out there with easy navigation, reasonable documentation, hundreds of forums and their own management structure led by one enthusiastic BOINC user or project admin. Everybody is working alone or in small groups. There is no one complete website anywhere for users to visit and get started.

People come and people go, there is no one website that EVERYBODY can contribute to under the 4 topics.
1. A very cool and modern looking website for the 21st century that represents the "Worlds largest Super Computer ...BOINC" ( My Granny could make a MySpace website that looks better than the BOINC website).

2. Simple and inviting way for ANY level of user to login and register for EVERYTHING on the website.

3. A management structure for different levels of Internet ability from basic user to simple contributor to advanced programmer.

4. One single Combined forums/message boards on the website.

And point No.5, The website needs to be 100% impartial, not promoting any website, team, person, thing, product, advertising, anything except BOINC projects. Everybody seems to be willing to host it except BOINC Berkeley!

*********

I don't care where, or on what server this happens, but if it is not on the BOINC website, then David and the BOINC team need to be willing to Very heavily promote and link the website that it does happen on. That means the BOINC website should be trying its best to remove as much or all its Internet traffic sending it through this other website that does deal with the 4 main topics.

If its a legal thing about bad publicity or a law suit from one malicious BOINC project that gives the whole thing a bad name, then BOINC needs to fork out the money and get a solicitor or law firm to legally cover them with a water tight legal disclaimer. As someone else said, somebody or some website is going to take the rap if something goes wrong. BOINC Developers can work hard to build a good prevention system like we discussed in Geneva last year. The possible "Fail safe shut down button" or something.

And to anyone that says unifying BOINC projects in one website is a bad idea, then simply don't take part in it. Continue with your own project or website and see how you get on working by yourself, just ignore this discussion. Having one combined website that everybody can contribute to does not mean that all other BOINC related websites will shut down, they will only improve because everybody will have access to quality information.

The big question is, What will David and the BOINC team allow on the BOINC website, that's what this is really about. You have built a monster called "BOINC", you cannot simply say that the best portal to document and chat about it is BAM or GR or even SETI.USA, SETI.Germany or Team Ireland. You cannot build it and not take responsibility for managing the volunteers that want to be involved and help you. You cannot say that BOINC has 1 million volunteers and over 1 Terra bite of crunch power, and then say "Wouldn't it be incredible if BOINC had 10 million volunteers and 100 Terra bites of crunch power". If David, BOINC and UC Berkeley want credit for the beast, you must take responsibility for the consequences of something going wrong.

Allow the volunteers to help you, BOINC does not have to be a three man team!. What was that film, "Field of Dreams" with Kevin Costner that said "Build it and they will come".....Think about it!

John.
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Message 17027 - Posted: 1 May 2008, 16:59:39 UTC

Yes, we need a single web site that has complete info on all BOINC projects. That web site should be an account manager since they provide a unified interface for attaching/detaching projects as well as learning about them. Either BAM! or GR would provide an excellent basis for this.

BOINC is a technology, not a brand. Analogy: Web technology (HTML, HTTP) was developed at CERN, but they don't provide a Web search engine or portal; Yahoo! and Google can do a better job of that.


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John37309
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Message 17030 - Posted: 1 May 2008, 17:33:25 UTC - in response to Message 17027.  
Last modified: 1 May 2008, 17:35:03 UTC

Yes, we need a single web site that has complete info on all BOINC projects. That web site should be an account manager since they provide a unified interface for attaching/detaching projects as well as learning about them. Either BAM! or GR would provide an excellent basis for this.

BOINC is a technology, not a brand. Analogy: Web technology (HTML, HTTP) was developed at CERN, but they don't provide a Web search engine or portal; Yahoo! and Google can do a better job of that.


I'm disappointed to hear that David, i was hoping you would support this more, its in everyone's best interest. It will be very difficult to get a general consensus for another website where everybody can contribute.

David if we can get a consensus on another website, whatever website that is, will you be willing to support linking the BOINC software, BOINC Manager, documentation, forums and other BOINC related stuff to that website. In effect giving priority to the most up-to-date information often being on that other website?
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Matthew Blumberg

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Message 17039 - Posted: 1 May 2008, 20:37:08 UTC

thanks john for letting me know about this thread. of course, the idea of providing a unified interface to the boinc universe is the central concept behind account management. this is why we made gridrepublic.

also, as i outlined at the boinc conference last fall, i am working on some community features for our site that i think are designed to do just exactly what you are describing.

to meet the goals discussed at the conference and outlined here, these features need to be very user friendly, else you lose the potential contributions of non-technical users. doing this-- providing integrated account mangement, discussion, wiki, and fileroom, all with a simple UI -- is hard work, and our resources are extremely limited, so i'm afraid it has taken longer than i anticipated. but i think we'll be online in a week or two.

at this point it will have everything you describe --

* central access to find, learn about, join, and manage participation in all projects via a single login

* access to forums and wiki and fileroom via the same single login (eventually: transparent login to project-server discussion forums, in effect unifying discussion across projects)

...the wiki and discussion forums are well integrated, and the idea is to provide a toolkit for the community, particularly in regards to advocacy activities.

...of course this whole thing will only work with the leadership of knowledgable volunteers; and i hope people here will participate at many levels, and i'd like to extend an invitation to do so.

...next week i'll start uploading the seed content, and after that i'll invite everyone here to come take a look -- i'll invite everyone who might be interested to help us build it out and maintain it; and i'll invite everyone who is interested in the ideas of this thread but not interested in contributing at gridrepublic to let me know why and i'll address as many of these concerns as i possibly can.


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Message 17046 - Posted: 1 May 2008, 21:43:06 UTC - in response to Message 17027.  

Legal trouble or not, I agree that the official BOINC website shouldn't have project-specific stuff. You don't see phpBB website hosting FAQs for individual phpBB-based forums. You don't see MediaWiki website hosting Wikipedia policies and guidelines. Firefox help doesn't explain how to use web applications. BOINC website shouldn't have detailed explanations on what research projects are doing, or technical help in project-specific problems.
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