Proposal: Scientific Software
Stack Exchange sites are meant to be scoped around very specific areas of study.
To make it bigger I invited my friend from bio-imaging to ask some example questions, and that's why we had example questions about brain imaging software.
However what if we restricted it to a very specific area of study. What I have in mind is the following: I regularly follow the Q/A forums for ORCA, CFOUR, MOLPRO, DIRAC, MOLCAS, MRCC, PSI4, ACESII, NWCHEM, GAMESS(US), GAMESS(UK) and DALTON, and too many times I've felt that these 8 forums need to be:
- combined into one, so that if a problem can be solved better in CFOUR than in DALTON (or if the expert that knows the answer to a question is active in the CFOUR forum but not the DALTON one), the asker has more chance of getting a helpful (or accurate!) answer,
- put in a consistent place where people are rewarded for helping each other (the upvotes and downvotes).
Interestingly, the two software packages that are by far the most widely used: ADF and GAUSSIAN, don't seem to have any Q/A forum at all! So this would be aplace to ask questions about these two.
MOLCAS questions are asked to the 417 members of the Facebook group, but not everyone has Facebook so this is preventing the Q/A community from reaching its full potential:
I've got feedback from users of these forums and they are interested in a global Q/A site for this collection of software packages, many which do the same things in different ways. However people are not just going to start asking questions on some SE that is already established with 95% of the questions not being software based. The active members in these communities are interested in helping users of these software packages, not in questions about the scientific field itself.
If questions about scientific software are too domain specific for a site like Super User, questions about the tools and applications used by a scientific community should be asked on one of the Stack Exchange science sites set up specifically to host that subject space
SuperUser is not appropriate for this community.
Furthermore there is not a science SE that hosts this subject space. Some questions could loosely go on some SE's, but it will get confusing. Some ORCA questions would go on one SE and others on another SE, and others on another SE, and there's a reason why that hasn't started happening yet. A specific SE for this community of software users which has a population in the 1000s or 10,000s would be a place where people would start asking questions.
If the proposal has no chance on the StackExchange Network, is there an API or set of templates we could use to get started on our own website with a similar voting format?