How can we bring more users to the Rosetta project?

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Message 12073 - Posted: 15 Mar 2006, 23:18:46 UTC
Last modified: 15 Mar 2006, 23:20:43 UTC

I thought it might be a good idea to start a thread for people to submit suggestions to help bring more users to the project. I\'ll start by summarizing a few ideas I\'ve read on various other posts, and then add a few of my own ideas. Then, I\'m hoping others will add their own creative ideas to this thread.

Graphics: I like the colorful and dynamic graphic you now have. As a novice, feedback on what I\'m helping to research is important, and a simple graphic, which I may actually only rarely display is important. I also think BOINC is a great parent/child science project, and a child (or teen) is going to have a better feel for what\'s going on if they can SEE it. Seeing the thing find it\'s way through a workunit is intriguing. So, improve them in any way possible. And, if possible, improve them in ways that help lay people understand the science work you are doing.

Optimized clients: Always a good idea to get the most crunch per clock tick. And for the credit junkies, to deliver credit for the work.

Eliminate client errors: I know you\'re working on it. Successful completion of work units is part of the sense of satisfaction one has with participating in the project. And, to the contrary, client errors make people feel they AREN\'T really helping, and that a given project isn\'t \"worth the hassle\".

A few ideas of my own:

References from other projects: Find projects that are limited in time scope, and ask them to mention Rosetta in an EMail that they send to their participants summarizing their findings and how their project is going dormant for a time and how folks might have some fun participating in Rosetta.

EMail inactive users: I got an EMail from Einstein saying (I summarize) \"hey, we loved having your participation previously, it was very helpful to our science work... we\'ve got a new project now and need help to crunch all the data. We\'re hoping to have it all done in 6 months. Please consider adding Einstein back to your list of projects.\" ...and I did! And they now estimate they\'ll have all the work processed in about 4 months... so see \"references from other projets\" previously mentioned.

Show some guage of completion (entire project): It\'s kinda nice the way Einstein shows the total number of work units there will be, and the number remaining to be completed.
http://einstein.phys.uwm.edu/server_status.php
It throws down a challenge to complete them. I realize Rosetta doesn\'t have a definitive guage of completion. But perhaps you could CREATE one. I mean if you are presently studying 3 different concepts, then set some goal for work units needed for each and show a status bar on how many are completed. And keep the past completed concepts on the list too. Maybe with links to the images of the top finds for each and a write-up on how science has progressed due to the completion of this work.

Identify the outcome: I like the science updates from Dr. Baker. Sometimes a bit beyond me :), but good to have them available. But if you can use a specific example, (and hey, why not pick examples that make headlines?) and tell HOW the current work will help find a cure for AIDS or cancer or whatever, that would help give people something tangible. \"I\'m helping find a cure for cancer\". It also brings in people of specific interest groups. \"Hey, my parent had cancer, my brother has MS, (or whatever...) and here is a way I can help find a cure!\". And it allows a cancer (or AIDS, or SARS, or bird flu, or MS) newsletter or support group or other free publicity, to mention the project and the help people can offer to it.

Credits: Part of the problem any project has is the learning curve to install and use the software. The message boards are the main resource to help new users through the process. Why not give credits to users for posting useful answers? This would further encourage the community to support itself. Perhaps a voting system where users click \"this answer deserves some credit\". And if you get 10 votes, you get so many credits added to your total. Something like that. There are some people that make LOTS of posts, but they aren\'t HELPFUL. So the feedback to EARN the credits is a key point. Maybe create a ranking system where 10 voted responses give you \"tutor\" status, and 10 more you go up to \"graduate assistent\" and eventually you work up to \"mentor\" and \"honorary professor\"... something like that. Have a little icon for the level of the person that posted response. Maybe the icon is a model sequence and the higher levels have a longer, more complex chain.
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Message 12094 - Posted: 16 Mar 2006, 15:36:47 UTC

Refer a friend: Your best source of new participants is word of mouth. Someone to convey some enthusiasm about the project and assurance that you really don\'t even notice it\'s running on your PC. Why not take a cue from the phone companies, and start a \"friends and family\" plan? Where you\'d be asked as you sign up for the EMail address of the person that referred you (if any) and then once the new participant reaches say 250 credits, your friend gets bonus credits. Credits is the one thing that really costs nothing. Or maybe spur on the teams. You\'ll get TEAM credits if your team recruits the most new members this month (of course then you have the problem of defining \"new\", you want new hosts, not existing ones to simply add the team designation).
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Message 12095 - Posted: 16 Mar 2006, 16:21:06 UTC
Last modified: 16 Mar 2006, 16:21:59 UTC

Thanks for starting this thread, Feet1st.

I just finished reading a book called \'The Tipping Point\'. One of the topics is the idea that easy/cheap ideas can often lead to success.

My idea for spreading R@H, or even other boinc projects, is to get someone involved who interacts with a lot of computer owners who wouldn\'t otherwise hear about boinc, let alone have the experience to install it.

Think the Geek Squad. How many of us who fix family computers also install BOINC on them to add to our stats? Well, the geek squad touches thousands of computers a day. What if they asked if their customers would like Boinc installed free of charge? Geek Squad can advertise they are doing it as a public service, computer owners feel good about helping medical research. . and the Geek Squad increases their business. . .

Boinc running at 100% doesn\'t impact things most of the time. However, there is always the person who locks their computer in a desk in a dusty room. Geek Squad gets those people back as customers when their computer starts locking up from overheating.

I\'m not suggesting the GS do it to increase business. . they would have to like to idea on its merits. However, the increased business could counter the extra time spent installing all the clients in the first place.

Anyone work at Geek Squad, or another computer repair shop? :)

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Message 12104 - Posted: 16 Mar 2006, 20:15:51 UTC - in response to Message 12095.  


My idea for spreading R@H, or even other boinc projects, is to get someone involved who interacts with a lot of computer owners who wouldn\'t otherwise hear about boinc, let alone have the experience to install it.


That\'s what participants want (at least me):

1. Stability: Make the apps stable and rock solid. Not everyone likes to micro manage his/her Boinc clients (I do :)). Some of them have data centers that would crunch for rosetta. But they need the clients to be the \"fire and forget\" way. Start it and don\'t bother about it any more. Still not possible with Rosetta due to some showstoppers in the client.

2. Feedback: Tell the crunchers what\'s going on, what comes next, what are the goals and keep them informed about the progress. This is already on the way with the daily status report. But: the more informaton the better it is

3. Communication: People have questions/problems they ask in the forum. Answer them or at least try to do that. Give the crunchers the feeling that they are needed and part of the project and not just some cpu cycle donators (did anyone mention Predictor? SCNR :))

4. People like to know about their contribution to the project and most of them NOW. I\'d love to see a feature that shows my results in a map like that of the top predictions right after delivering/validating my result. Or show us a comparison of the calculated result against the top result to date in the screensaver. Or something else that allows some kind of competition.

5. Keep people interested in the project AND the research behind it. Explain complex things in a way one can understand it without being a doctor in biology/chemistry

6. Make the client an universal binary for OSX. Almost no one needs this except me :-)) If not I\'ll have to switch to Einstein with one machine, it seems they already have one

As I can see, there are tons of alternative systems out there. Why not releasing a Solaris/BSD or maybe AIX client? Pretty powerful machines in most cases...

David Baker mentioned he needs ten times the computing power Rosetta has today. Way to go me thinks, competition between BOINC projects is steadily growing, the admins must begin to advertise for their project. The best/most interesting/most promising project (from user\'s perspective) wins!

BTW: Rosetta is IMHO one of the most interesting Boinc projects. At least it makes more sense than searching for little green man or a ten million digit prime number :)



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Message 12109 - Posted: 16 Mar 2006, 22:32:40 UTC
Last modified: 16 Mar 2006, 22:34:38 UTC

Web page design contest: Why not have a contest? There\'s probably scores of web page designers out there that would LOVE the chance to get some free publicity of their own! Have a contest to design a webpage explaining the project and enticing people to join, and the winner gets their page used and full credits and URL links listed for the design. Maybe narrow it down to top 5 or 10, and have the winner determined by number of new users that click a \"join now\" button on the page. Have a list of links from the homepage and ask new users to join from the one they found the most interesting and understandable. And maybe randomize the order of the 5 so they each get a fair shot at displaying on the top of the list.
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Message 12146 - Posted: 17 Mar 2006, 11:51:22 UTC

Take the example set by CPDN/BBC

The BBC are one of the UK\'s major TV providers, providing service on analogue, satellite, and terrestrial digital channels. Climate Prediction\'s lead orgainsiations include the (UK) Open University, a Uni whose undergrad degrees are entirely provided by distance learning, apart from a few one-week summer schools. The OU and BBC have therefore worked together since the 1970\'s and it would have been easy for the CPDN project to get an introduction to the BBC\'s TV producers. I guess Rosetta would need to work harder to get that initial contact.

What CPDN offered the TV station was their own brand on the project. A defined sub-project of CPDN, with a limited (one to two year duration), a separate project ID, a defined area of science within the CPDN project. All of this means that the TV station can legitimately claim the BBC CPDN prohect results as being created by its own viewers.

The BBC offered a documentary on climate change and included a part of that on the distributed computing project, and details of \"how you can take part\". There will be follow up documentaries on the results from \"their own\" project. Personally I doubt if the BBC sub-project will be wound up - if it generates enough interest and publicity for the TV station it will be revitalised and given a new scientific mission (again a carefully chosen component of the overall CPDN mission).

It seems to me that Rosetta has at least as much to offer a TV network, and at least as much to gain back from such an arrangement. How many Americans have a computer at home but do not yet know about distributed computing? How many of them watch TV sometimes? A fair number of those would love to feel they were part of a push to do basic science - especially if the TV programme does a good presentation of the various possible benefits (AIDS, cancers, etc).

Would the US public service TV channels take up an opportunity like this?

Would a commercial network look at it as a viable option? - It is not as daft as it sounds, if they get so many hundred thousand folks crunching, then that statistic alone will attract advertisers when they transmit the follow-up broadcasts, let alone the fact that TV stations just love to see their name on other people\'s projects.

Try to get a network that will offer the documentary for international viewing - after all the programme will attact people wherever TV is transmitted in English. Or at least, try to avoid accepting a national (or one-state) deal that ocks you out of a similar project in another country later on.

The BBC did the project proud - they not only got TV time, they got write ups in the TV listings journal put out by the BBC, and the write-ups on the BBC website is still there for anyone to see, whether they were in the original broadcast area or not.

And whether you get the TV link going or not, you can always borrow the ideas the BBC injected about starting and running your DC project - again, see their website.

Just a thought.
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Message 12157 - Posted: 17 Mar 2006, 18:57:54 UTC

RE: BBC CPDN, yep, that\'s a good example of co-branding. Combine that with the thought on working with people that are out there working with PCs, and I came up with...

Anti-virus co-branding: Why not co-brand with an anti-virus software company? They\'ve already got an install-base, and resident applications on 1000s of PCs with internet update capability. Get them to put a copy of BOINC and a ROSETTA preconfigured client on their distribution CDs (optionally installed of course), and offer their customers the ability to knock out viruses both at the byte level, AND the cellular level! In fact, let them put their name on the project or the team, and have several AV vendors compete for team points!
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Message 12227 - Posted: 19 Mar 2006, 0:05:47 UTC

Corporate guidelines: I read in another post that someone had studied it and concluded that a crunching PC uses about 60watts more power than an idle machine that\'s powered on. I believe this number probably didn\'t fully account for air conditioning costs (or heating savings) and a disk drive that spins down when inactive for a period of time. But, if you use that 60watts as a rough estimate, it means (60 watts x 24 hours x 365 days / 1000 watts per kilowatt * 8 cents per kW = $42/yr) that the power cost to the user is about $42 dollars a year. Although, during Winter, one could easily argue that the heating costs of the building are reduced significantly when many PCs are active.

Where am I going with all of this? Well, one of the guidelines in all of the donate your computer projects is.. well, to be sure it is YOUR computer. And so there\'s probably tens of thousands of PCs in business which are unused, because the company doesn\'t approve, or the worker is afraid the company won\'t approve and so doesn\'t ask.

So, what if you could get the companies to establish guidelines for use? I mean, define the hours of the day, months of the year, and network bandwidth and hours allowed. BOINC already has all of those controls (well, months of the year would be a manual process, the thought here is that the corp. guideline might rule out Summer months when they are paying big bucks in cooling costs already). Find some old, or commission some new studies to determine if PC longevity is lengthened or shortened by continuous use. And what the actual costs of use are. This would let companies write off the contribution on their taxes... if only they could quantify it... which is easily done with the team statistics.

You convince one IT department with 10,000 machines, and well... then you can convince dozens more! But you have to have a stable client, and you have to have a very simple method of installation. After all, SOMEone has 10,000 machines to set up!
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Message 12237 - Posted: 19 Mar 2006, 3:39:29 UTC

A different sort of idea.

My brother\'s fraternity is starting a philanthropy project crunching Rosetta.

It doesn\'t cost them any money to get it set up.

He happens to be a member of an engineering frat (Theta Tau) and most if not all of them have computers.

So, any of you brothers and sisters out there may want to reccommend it to your chapters as a project.

Kathryn
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Message 12239 - Posted: 19 Mar 2006, 4:48:09 UTC - in response to Message 12237.  

A different sort of idea.

My brother\'s fraternity is starting a philanthropy project crunching Rosetta.

It doesn\'t cost them any money to get it set up.

He happens to be a member of an engineering frat (Theta Tau) and most if not all of them have computers.

So, any of you brothers and sisters out there may want to reccommend it to your chapters as a project.

Kathryn


Good idea. Universities can be used in so many ways given the fact that almost all students have a computer. Even team competitions between departments might work some places. eg physics department vs chemistry, etc.

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Message 12251 - Posted: 19 Mar 2006, 8:56:57 UTC - in response to Message 12239.  

...Even team competitions between departments might work some places. eg physics department vs chemistry, etc.


be great if the physicists beat the chemists on a biochem project ;-)

or for that matter if the chemists beat the pysicists on LHC or Einstein...
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Message 12256 - Posted: 19 Mar 2006, 11:21:34 UTC
Last modified: 19 Mar 2006, 11:25:05 UTC

Afraid this got buried....and consider it to be a wonderful idea. SETI got mentioned by some random guest on this very show tonight again. Meaning, publicity snowballs itself...
\'
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Message 12204 - Posted 18 Mar 2006 20:58:30 UTC [Edit this post]
Last modified: 18 Mar 2006 21:13:16 UTC

Dr. Baker,

In the past various scientists from Seti and Seti@home have appeared on a syndicated late night radio show called \'Coast to Coast\'. In fact, at one point one of the largest seticlassic team was formed by the listeners to that program (Team Art Bell--seticlassic). On most days guests are interviewed from various backgrounds and fields of interest. Many times they are \'psychics\' or ufo enthusiasts, etc. However many MAINSTREAM SCIENTISTS appear there including Nasa scientists, engineers and scientists from JPL, members of the Sceptics society, etc. Please don\'t let some of their \'crackpot\' guests scare you away. They have a link on their website for potential guests to submit their availability to be interviewed on the show. The show is aired on hundreds of stations in the U.S. and Canada and has an international audience via the internet. It airs 1am to 5am EST 7days a week. It is rebroadcast on many stations the following evenings at a more reasonable hour. The website where you may find the contact information for appearing on the show is www.coasttocoastam.com

Doing a 30 or 60 minute telephone interview there would surely garner you a thousand more hosts. Possibly even 10 or 20 thousand. The M-F host\'s name is George Nory. On the weekends the host is the semi-retired originator of the show, Art Bell.

Perhaps if you also could arrange to appear there with someone from BOINC or Einstein you might find the time appropriate for an interview would warrant an hour or more? If I am not mistaken Seth Shostak and Dr. David Anderson were once guests. I do not recall hearing the BOINC project discussed there since it\'s inception but do recall seticlassic representatives being interviewd there on several occasions and noticed the number of seticlassic users jump accordingly.

Better to note that interviews with guests are all conducted via telephone so little inconvenience should be experienced by you and potential other guests.

Please let us know what you think of the idea and if you are fond of it please keep us informed of whether you will be on the show.

[edit-clarifications]

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Message 12283 - Posted: 19 Mar 2006, 18:14:13 UTC

Net resistence: Some people have an engrained resistence to installing any software via the net (and for good reason!). But, for these folks, they might be more likely to install and participate if they could order a CD to get started. Perhaps someone like Amazon.com would donate some CD distribution capacity to help promote their brand image, timely order fulfillment and the like. Or charge $20 for the CD, and $10 of that is a tax deductable donation to the project.
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Message 12287 - Posted: 19 Mar 2006, 18:44:05 UTC - in response to Message 12283.  

Net resistence: Some people have an engrained resistence to installing any software via the net (and for good reason!). But, for these folks, they might be more likely to install and participate if they could order a CD to get started. Perhaps someone like Amazon.com would donate some CD distribution capacity to help promote their brand image, timely order fulfillment and the like. Or charge $20 for the CD, and $10 of that is a tax deductable donation to the project.



Appreciate your enthusiasm. Just way too complicated. Also, as for your company ideas in conjucntion with Rosetta? Too ambitious. There\'s not enough motivational return for them. My 2 cents...
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Message 12290 - Posted: 19 Mar 2006, 19:28:48 UTC
Last modified: 19 Mar 2006, 19:30:10 UTC

but he does have the germ of a good idea there robert. yes his cd idea is too complicated, but not the amazon idea. years ago i got into distrbuted computing with UD by clicking a link on AOL. can you imagine how many people would see and click a link on amazon? but that\'s another thing on dr. baker\'s \"todo\" list!

[edit] i\'ve listened to that program and it\'s good! that would be another way for dr. baker to get the word out[/edit]
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Message 12292 - Posted: 19 Mar 2006, 19:57:45 UTC - in response to Message 12290.  

but he does have the germ of a good idea there robert. yes his cd idea is too complicated, but not the amazon idea. years ago i got into distrbuted computing with UD by clicking a link on AOL. can you imagine how many people would see and click a link on amazon? but that\'s another thing on dr. baker\'s \"todo\" list!

[edit] i\'ve listened to that program and it\'s good! that would be another way for dr. baker to get the word out[/edit]



Exactly....to reiterate, that show has millions of listeners who are probably higher in % of average computer users. Despite what I think of some of the guest selections, it reaches a vast number of people. I enjoy the shows when they are featuring genuine scientists on whatever subject. But the bottom line is, they created perhaps a top 5 or 10 seticlassic team in years past through their radio broadcasts alone.....

Picking up a few thousand new crunchers this way would be easy. Once you factor in the fact that pubicity snowballs itself through word of mouth and spreads via exposure to other news outlet exposes and so on...you have a winner. A couple of hours of compiling some stats prior to a one hour radio interview and you get a few % points increase in the short term of the user base. Plus the longer term benefits....
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Message 12294 - Posted: 19 Mar 2006, 21:10:37 UTC

Re CD Distribution, you could use CafePress.com to distibute & make the cd\'s - all you have to do is provide the data, which shouldnt be too hard to do - you can easily set up a html autorun, and store a basic installation guide & info on the disc, walking people through the installation.
And the best part is, plain HTML can be read and initalised by almost any O.S\'s webrowser, so one disc could cover all 3.
Although, I digress, getting amazon to help you would be even better :)

Radio coverage sounds like a good idea... you could expand it tho to more than just one radio show - record the interview and see if any other radio stations would take it. (E-mail it to a few stations... they can always edit it / ask for a live interview). And by e-mailing it, you could send it to any country. (preferably that speaks english, although you could get it translated but that would take a lot of time.).
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Message 12295 - Posted: 19 Mar 2006, 21:34:02 UTC - in response to Message 12287.  
Last modified: 19 Mar 2006, 21:35:02 UTC

...as for your company ideas in conjucntion with Rosetta? Too ambitious.


I\'m not sure what \"too ambitious\" means, as opposed to the more or less stated goal of growing 10x in the project. My intent here was to start a brainstorm, and therefore, all ideas are worth consideration. I fully understand there\'s no way to implement all of them. I\'m just hoping to put something out there and let the project organizers decide what is possible and what\'s not. And what portion of which idea to adopt and which not.

There\'s not enough motivational return for them.


I think you may underestimate the importance (and expense) of \"corporate image\". I mean if your company is in the healthcare business, or medical insurance, or life insurance... then it would be a positive corporate (or government?) image, and another form of co-branding for them to stand behind the project.

In my view (and I realize insurance actuaries aren\'t likely as open minded), this project is a GREAT long term INVESTMENT for both medical and life insurance companies. Their claims could easily be reduced by 10% ten or twenty years out due to the work here. Do you suppose they could justify a tax deductable effort that\'s a tiny fraction of 1% of revenues to work towards the goal? In my view, they have a vested interest in seeing projects like this succeed. ...it\'s just too far off for THEM to see it, or feel they should be planning and investing towards it.
============
...so you get an interview on a popular radio program (which is a fine idea)... wouldn\'t it be great to just say:

[host:] \"So how does someone help with your research?\"
\"Just go to Amazon.com and search for Rosetta to get started\"?

Than to say \"well, you start out by downloading BOINC, which is available at www.... and don\'t forget it\'s a .edu website!... and THEN you dig up the project URL for Rosetta so you can use your... oh you have to sign up for an ID and password with BOINC, sorry I forgot to mention that, THEN add Rosetta, and be sure to do it when you\'re connected to the internet because you don\'t really get any errors reminding you to do that when you add a project.\" [don\'t bother picking at all that... you get the idea]
...your message about the need for help, and the value of the project gets lost in all of the mechanics of it.

My point is that an Amazon-type thing is EASY, and you just HAPPENED to mention \"Amazon\" on a popular radio program, and THAT has some value to Amazon ($15B market cap)... or Overstock.com ($529m market cap), or EBay ($53B market cap), or Books-a-million ($208m market cap), or whomever.



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Message 12296 - Posted: 19 Mar 2006, 21:47:54 UTC
Last modified: 19 Mar 2006, 21:48:23 UTC

if someone could get dr. baker to sit still long enough to make up a podcast it could be sent to

the podcast directory

NPR public radio

and

apple...itunes

all will list them for free and i\'m willing to buy them the garage band software if they have a mac available.



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Message 12297 - Posted: 19 Mar 2006, 22:02:07 UTC - in response to Message 12296.  

if someone could get dr. baker to sit still long enough to make up a podcast it could be sent to

the podcast directory

NPR public radio

and

apple...itunes

all will list them for free and i\'m willing to buy them the garage band software if they have a mac available.



If they will shoot it on any kind of video camera, I can edit and convert it to what ever format they want, including podcast (and I have the Mac and the software).

Regards
Phil


We Must look for intelligent life on other planets as,
it is becoming increasingly apparent we will not find any on our own.
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