The reasons that our site is progressing slower than ChemistrySE:

  • Number of questions asked everyday on Chemistry SE is more
  • Number of answers posted is more
  • earned reputation by chemistrySE user are more(Chemistry SE quarter top user earned 6k rep compared with 3k of Biology SE quarter top user.)
  • and some other reasons enter image description here

Some possible reasons of BioSE slow progress are(maybe):

  • BioSE users are not as active as Chemistry SE
  • BioSE have less users than Chemistry SE
  • BioSE users don't vote and don't pay attention to site progress

My primary purpose wasn't comparing these two site.I just want to know Why BioSE progress slower than other sites and what should we do for it?

What should we do to improve this site?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I guess the number of active users is less. We do try up to answer old questions and we brought up the answered percentage from 85% to 91% but we need more active and expert users $\endgroup$
    Mar 10, 2015 at 5:01
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Another reason could be the more homework-droppers back at chemistry. I don't have statistics available, but realize that active users count, primarily (as @WYSIWYG says), and then it's avid users. Chemistry has lesser avid users and the number of active users are almost the same in both sites, but what I find most annoyingly problematic is that many users do not honor "vote early, vote often!". :) :( I realize there are lots of, even avid, users that only "mind their own business" (Reducing the amounts of votes and voters drastically) $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Mar 16, 2015 at 20:34
  • $\begingroup$ @MARamezani Can you post it a bit longer as an answer. $\endgroup$
    – Berne
    Mar 16, 2015 at 20:56

2 Answers 2


I think your basic premise is wrong. Let's have a look at the data:

                      Biology         Chemistry
Questions per day       13.2           19.4           
Percent answered        91%            91%             
Avid users              491            347       
Total users             8,727          8,025           
Answer ratio            1.5            1.5          
Visits/day              9,852          15,769         

The only difference that could conceivably be significant is the number of visits per day. The rest are basically the same.

The same goes for your Quantcast graph. I see no significant difference there. The reputation gained by the quarter's top user is not really useful information. That could just suggest that the top user on Chemistry is more active than the top one here. What you should look at is total reputation gained by all users in the last quarter. Since I don't have the time to figure out how to get that information, here's what the top 20 users gained in the last quarter:

Chemistry : 49200
Biology   : 35734

OK, so Chemistry users gained 13466 more reputation than Biology users in the last quarter. In order to understand what that means, however, one has to take into account the number of "voteable" posts, i.e. answers & questions (graphs generated using this SEDE query):


enter image description here


enter image description here

The actual data (this is for the period 2014-12-16 to today, 2015-03-17) are:

                     Biology         Chemistry
Votes per day         101               123         
Questions per day     10.3              15.2
Answers per day       12                20

So, in the last quarter, Chemistry has indeed been a little bit more active than we have. On the other hand, we've had a total of 9117 "voteable" posts (questions and answers) while Chemistry has had 11097. Since they have more posts, it's reasonable that they also gained more rep as we saw above. What is encouraging though is that we have an average of 4.5 votes/post while they are at 3.5. This means that they get slightly more questions per day but we vote more per question.

In conclusion, we can say that while Chemistry might be slightly more active than we are, the difference is very small and we seem to be better at voting. All things considered, I don't see an issue here.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ We're better at voting but we're also better because we're biologists ;) $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Mar 17, 2015 at 19:31

To be honest, no one knows. It could be one or even a combination of issues. Is it a user base problem? Maybe? Could it be that bio has more people looking to answer and not enough people looking to ask? Then the question is why doesn't bio have more user looking to ask questions?

At the basic level of biology, it is rather easy to find help at the university with your questions since they can pretty much be found in the chapter, section, etc if the student reads the sections or goes to a tutor center. This may keep potential questioners away at this level since they have no need to search for outside resources. Now, let's comsider a subject with a greater mathematical rigor at the basic levels; for instance, let's consider chemistry since you brought it up. A student may go to the tutor lab but find the tutors know chemistry well but when they ask about balancing equations, determine structural shapes and angles of elements, etc, the tutors are subpar in math. Since this no longer is I found the answer in section 3 of chapter 2, the students may be driven to look for outside help.

What about the advanced level of bio? On this end of the spectrum, you need to know experts in your niche and you may already be familiar with them through articles or because they are your PI. With students at this level, they may think they won't find help from anyone else unless it is their PI or author X. I can use a real life example here as well. I have a friend in MCB program at Dartmouth. He is taking an advanced NMR course and the book doesn't help with the problem sets since they come from them professor not the text. I tell this person to try bio since someone may know but they refuse to think they will be able to get help else where without even trying or looking into it.

Additionally, I have noticed the trait of not thinking anyone else can help besides my institution very common with bio people. Why is that? No clue but maybe people with similar personality traits are drawn to the field. If that is the case, then it will be harder more of a challenge to grow. However, that doesn't mean it won't happen it just may take more time.

Now that was just one thought. Is this correct? I have no clue. It could be one of the factors but then what are the others? How do we identify them? What role does each factor play?

I also noticed on the front page of bio, the site is receiving 10k visitors a day which has gone up from when I joined. With bio, when someone answers a question, that question is pretty much resolved as long is the answer is correct and no new research comes out and says we now know blank changing everything. Since this maybe the case, when people visit the site, they may find their answer is already available leaving no need to ask a new question. This isn't like math where you can ask how to do the question with this method making the question not a dupe so this could play a role in participation of people viewing the site as well.

  • $\begingroup$ I can't really comment on the psychology of bio students. I suggested this site to many people but they are still not using it (even though they love scientific discussions otherwise). Some of them are still asking questions on a facebook page. But I don't think people carry this notion that their PI knows all the stuff. I have a very contrasting view on that :D $\endgroup$
    Mar 10, 2015 at 4:53
  • $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG I am not saying they think their PI knows everything. Every bio grad student I know though, would rather stick with their PI or classmates then use this site. I have no idea why. If bio draws a certain crowd (mindset), that might be why they refuse to use or attempt to use this site. $\endgroup$
    – dustin
    Mar 10, 2015 at 4:55
  • $\begingroup$ on why doesn't bio have more user looking to ask questions: We do not have an expert base here to answer more complicated questions. Partly, this is also because of overflooding by trivial stuff. I don't understand why professors and professionals are not using this site. $\endgroup$
    Mar 10, 2015 at 5:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think we need to realize our profession's first gut response to a professional question is going to be a PubMed (or analog) search into the lit. That's why I've thought that professional users should post the questions they are finding the answers too. I'm not sure there's going to be a better way to build up the high level content needed to grow an expert base. $\endgroup$
    – Atl LED
    Mar 12, 2015 at 13:31

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