Creating a Platform for Self-Service Learning and Collaboration in the Rapidly Changing Environment of Research Computing

Julie Ma, Torey Battelle, Katia Bulekova, Aaron Culich, John Goodhue, Jacob Pessin, Vanessa Sochat, Dana Brunson, Tom Cheatham, Sia Najafi, Chris Hill, Adrian Del Maestro, Bruce Segee, Ralph Zottola, Scott Valcourt, Zoe Braiterman, Raminder Singh, Robert Thoelen, and Jack Smith

Volume 12, Issue 2 (February 2021), pp. 37–40

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  author={Julie Ma and Torey Battelle and Katia Bulekova and Aaron Culich and John Goodhue and Jacob Pessin and Vanessa Sochat and Dana Brunson and Tom Cheatham and Sia Najafi and Chris Hill and Adrian Del Maestro and Bruce Segee and Ralph Zottola and Scott Valcourt and Zoe Braiterman and Raminder Singh and Robert Thoelen and Jack Smith},
  title={ Creating a Platform for Self-Service Learning and Collaboration in the Rapidly Changing Environment of Research Computing},
  journal={The Journal of Computational Science Education},
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Ask.CI, the Q&A site for Research Computing, was launched at PEARC18 with the goal of aggregating answers to a broad spectrum of questions that are commonly asked by the research computing community. As researchers, facilitators, staff, students, and others ask and answer questions on Ask.CI, they create a shared knowledge base for the larger community. For smaller institutions, the knowledge base provided by Ask.CI provides a wealth of knowledge that was previously not readily available to scientists and educators in an easily searchable Q&A format. For larger institutions, this self-service model frees up time for facilitators and cyberinfrastructure engineers to focus on more advanced subject matter. Recognizing that answers evolve rapidly with new technology and discovery, Ask.CI has built in voting mechanisms that utilize crowdsourcing to ensure that information stays up to date. Establishing a Q&A site of this nature requires some tenacity. In partnership with the Campus Champions, Ask.CI has gained traction and continues to engage the broader community to establish the platform as a powerful tool for research computing. Since launch, Ask.CI has attracted over 250,000 page views (currently averaging nearly 5,000 per week), more than 400 contributors, hundreds of topics, and a broad audience that spans the US and parts of Europe and Asia. Ask.CI has shown steady growth in both contributions and audience since it was launched in 2018 and is still evolving. In the past year, we introduced Locales, which allow institutions to create subcategories on Ask.CI where they can experiment with posting institution-specific content and use of the site as a component of their user support strategy.