A recent member VassiaAlk has posted numerous questions related to statistically analysis and software under these tags. Presently, their questions are on par with the tags but their questions aren't being well received. Out of the 13 questions asked, 5 are on hold.

I believe these tags are misleading. These tags suggest that questions on statistically analysis of data sets related to Biology are on topic for the site but the questions are being put on hold as off topic and the user is being advised to check out SO or cross validated.

Should these tags be removed to avoid confusion? If not, what is a question that would be on topic relating to data, biostatistics, and informatics? If there are questions that can utilize all these tags and be on topic, the tag wikis need to clear state this, and at present, data and biostatistics are empty. However, bioinformatics says:

Bioinformatics is a broad field that interfaces a variety of life science disciplines (biology, genetics, biochemistry, etc.) with a variety of quantitative sciences (mathematics, statistics, computer science, etc.). Bioinformatic techniques typically involve developing and applying software and algorithms to computationally intensive biological questions, such as those common in structural biology, genomics, sequence analysis, and systems biology.

Some scientists draw a distinction between the terms bioinformatics and computational biology. While these areas are indeed broad and diverse, the distinctions in terms is not consistent or well-defined.

I hope we can all see that these tags are very misleading since VassiaAlk questions cover the scope of stats, math, software, computational bio, etc, but they are being put on hold at a high rate.

  • $\begingroup$ Any thoughts about moving these questions to biostars.org? $\endgroup$ – bobthejoe Jan 28 '15 at 21:44
  • $\begingroup$ @bobthejoe it would be the posters duty to ask their questions else where plus I dont think SE is in the business of referring its members out since its goal is to grow the communities. $\endgroup$ – dustin Feb 4 '15 at 18:00
  • $\begingroup$ @dustin I disagree. That is the whole point of migration $\endgroup$ – One Face Feb 18 '15 at 14:25
  • $\begingroup$ @CRags what do you disagree with? I gave a few options and what is the point of a tag if it results in 100% migration? $\endgroup$ – dustin Feb 18 '15 at 16:50
  • $\begingroup$ @dustin I disagree with the comment above mine. I think it is OK to direct the op to the correct site and migrate preexisting questions. $\endgroup$ – One Face Feb 18 '15 at 23:10
  • $\begingroup$ @CRags biostars has a .org extension. I don't think it is in the SE sphere. That is basically promoting a competitive Q&A site. Did you read the comment above mine? $\endgroup$ – dustin Feb 18 '15 at 23:12
  • $\begingroup$ @dustin oh OK, in that case the questions can't be migrated. But still I think it's OK to redirect the op and point him /her in the right direction. Not everyone is good with computers, especially people from older generation. $\endgroup$ – One Face Feb 18 '15 at 23:15

I think some of the questions should have been kept open (at least in an edited form), but many not. If the problem and the specific application deals closely with biology, so that answers will depend on biological knowledge and assumptions of biological processes I think they are on-topic for the site. However, many of @VassiaAlk's questions do not contain any biology, and deals only with statistics and software (that are common with many other fields). In those cases, I think they are off-topic for BioSE.

To give some examples, this question on data normalization has nothing to do with biology and should be posted at StackOverflow (also this, but for CrossValidatedSE), but would probably be closed there as well for being unclear/opinion-based. On the other hand, this question on phylogeny construction and sequence alignment should be on-topic (I think). However, the last Q still has some problems, since asking for "the best" is always problematic, especially without more background information.

As for tags, I think we should use both and , but is vague and pretty useless.

  • $\begingroup$ Any comment on tag descriptions to try mitigated these problems in the future? $\endgroup$ – dustin Jan 20 '15 at 15:53
  • $\begingroup$ @dustin Not at the moment. Any kind of definition of tag:biostatistics would be good, that highlights that questions should contain a clear biological component. The bioinformatics tag is for somebody else to write/clarify (not my area). However, I think we should be more lenient there on direct biological applications, in the same vein as people can ask quite practical questions on other issues as long as they relate to biology (practical lab procedures, microscopy, field techniques etc). $\endgroup$ – fileunderwater Jan 22 '15 at 15:13

Relating the following topic, I'd agree in that it's much a matter of the context of the question. Bioinformatics is roughly the same as computational biology, at least, we use the term bioinformatics to cover everything. It'd be wise to just pick one tag, though. What's not going to be appropriate, though, is tagging bioinformatics to help with programming, computer engineering, statistics, mathematical models or algorithms. The biology is what's important.

Rescinding my original statement as it is above, I'm inclined to agree with comments, as well as the following article with respect to how we define bioinformatics, and computational biology.

  • $\begingroup$ I disagree, Bioinformatics should not be considered the same as computational biology. I would refer to this discussion meta.biology.stackexchange.com/questions/168/… $\endgroup$ – bobthejoe Jan 28 '15 at 21:46
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    $\begingroup$ Well, my broad point 8 days ago was we need to just pick one. In the elapsed time, though, this article has made extreme sense to me, and I'm inclined to agree with you. $\endgroup$ – CKM Jan 28 '15 at 22:50

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