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Who should join iMechanica?

Zhigang Suo's picture

Everyone. That is, everyone interested in mechanics and mechanicians. This includes students, academics, practitioners, publishers, managers in funding agencies, and enthusiasts. iMechanica is free: writers are free to post, and readers are free to read.

Registering takes less than 1 minute. All you need is your name and your email address. Within 2 minutes, you should have posted your first entry. Posting an entry is similar to sending an email: all you need is a title and a body of text. The rest is optional.

 

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Xi Chen's picture

Once registered and logged into iMechanica, you could click "my account" below your name on the top-left corner of the page, and then click the "edit" tab and then "my profile". You need to fill out your job function (e.g. Faculty), Job sector (e.g. Univeristy), Company or institution (e.g. Columbia University), and Doctoral thesis advisor, and submit it.

When you go back to "my account" page, you will see that the above information are listed in your user account. If you click on the hyperlink "Faculty" you will end up with all users who have registered as Faculty. Similarily, you could find out people who work in University, Columbia University, and find out your academic brothers/sisters. These are all very useful information regarding other users that belong to the same category as yours, so you could find out your colleagues and contact them.

I feel there are several "bugs" need to be repaired, or maybe I have not yet discovered how to realize such function:

1) It's hard to find out people outside my own category. For example, if I want to find out a list of students registered on iMechanica, I will have to first find out such an example, e.g. James Mills (my student) -- I need to click his name to bring out his profile, and then click the "student" link to find out the current list of students.

2) Many people do not fill out their complete information (e.g. job function, job sector, etc.) and thus they cannot be searched.

3) It appears that the name of institution and thesis advisor could be filled in "randomly" without a consistent format. For example, James Mills has used "Dr. Xi Chen" as his advisor, while my other students may use "Xi Chen" as their advisor. Thus, the tag becomes not so consistent. A more serious problem would occur in university names, e.g. UIUC vs. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, MIT vs. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, etc. Thus, I suggest we should add a note that the user should use the full name of the univeristy, as well as the full name of their advisor (including the initial letter of middle name) but without a title.

 4) Quite a few users did not use their real name as the user name, so it is difficult to identify them. Should we enforce everybody to use their real name with a given format (at the time of registration, along with mandatory fill-in information of job function, sectors, etc.)?

5) I also suggest to add the "State/Country" in user profile. For example, if I have a patent I may be interested to find out New York-based industry or collaborators for commerical reasons. Another example is to find out local people who could work with you as co-organizers of something. A search function like that could be useful.

Zhigang Suo's picture

Dear Xi: Thank you very much for the comments. All you points are exellent. Here are some of my thoughts.

Once a user register with a username and an email address, iMechanica automatically sends her an email. From this email, the user can confirm her registration. Then she can starts to post. This seems to be the lowest barrier for her to become a published iMechanician.

Now, we will gradually introduce features popular in a social networking website, such as Facebook. Drupal has some flexibility, and will surely improve in future releases. But at this point, perhaps we can keep all such information optional. So that beginners will not be confused. We have to be patient with Drupal and with ourselves.

After the user discovers the social networking features, and likes them, perhaps she will be motivated to fill out the forms, and change her username to her full name. The names that appear in all her previous posts will change automatically. This is a neat feature of Drupal: it identifies each user account by a number. Everything else about this account can be changed.

The issue with the names of institutions is a tough one. Perhaps we just leave as it is, and let people gradually find each other. Perhaps at some point, we can create a lookup table in the background, so that MIT will be the same as Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Or even some Google-like behavior to recognize typos and make helpful suggestions. Drupal cannot do that now. We'll have to be patient.

The names of Ph.D. advisors seem to be more manageable. So long as all students of a professor follows the same convention, it will be fine. Also, if some inconsistency arises, the names of the professors can always be changed.

You can always browse the user list.  This button appears in the header of iMech. You can also search for a user using the search box.

Xi Chen's picture

Dear Zhigang,

Thank you. I agree with your view that the barrier should be kept low. This helps to attract more people. Later if we could somehow encourage people to fill out their profile and build up the social network, the site will become more "professional" and it could distinguish itself from those regular internet forums/BBS. I can see your ambitious plan and I believe this site is going to be extremely successful.

Zhigang Suo's picture

Once people start to post in iMechanica, they will notice their names associated with the posts.  Perhaps by then they will be motivated to change to their full names.   Again, I ask for your patience. 

Also, there is an instruction on the registration page to advise people to use their full names

Perhaps this discussion will further alert people to this issue.

popular in a social networking website, such as Facebook. Drupal has some flexibility, and will surely improve in future releases. But at this point, perhaps we can keep all such information optional. So that beginners will not be confused. We have to be patient with Drupal and lookup table in the background, so that MIT will be the same as Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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