Databits: A New Approach to Build a Community for Data Experts


The practice of working with data and visualizations is spreading, to newsrooms, universities, commercial companies and many other types of organizations which would have used other forms of expression before. As a result there is a growing need to create spots where creative work with data is being collected. Be it for inspiration, overview or new options to exchange. One new place that aims to build a community in this space is Databits.io.

Quote: "Databits is an invitation-based website where creative coders, engineers, data journalists, and data scientists multiply impact by sharing work and connecting." 

Here is how this site aims to build a community and collection of examples for data-driven work:

  • "Databits" are defined to be " a working prototype of code in case implemented with web technologies, together with a video recording of a demo written in a compiled language such as C++. Databits are creative pieces and can be very different, ranging from interactive data visualizations, to app prototypes, to novel algorithm implementations, to interactive books and data journalism pieces, etc. All databits are copyright of their respective creators."

In order to collect examples with some depth and quality, there a "tenure system", to distinguish regular users from, say, power users. While anyone can sign up as a regular user  the latter have more options. Regular users can register for free and create a Databits profile page, use an internal "like" feature or post to social media.

Users with interesting work can be invited to the tenured track, based on specific mechanism and then get access to more functionality.

Here is how the "tenure system" works:

  • Any regular user can become tenure track by going to the profile edit page and checking a "I'd like to be tenure track" checkbox. This will signal to tenured users with invites to consider inviting the user to full tenured status.
  • Each tenure track user is showcased on the tenure track users page, with his or her website listed part of the information. A tenured user with available invites may give tenure to tenure track users should he/she consider the work quality on the tenure track user's page appropriately high.
  • Tenured users have full permissions to share creative projects by creating databits, to comment on others' work, to use allotted monthly invites (if any) and invite people to become tenured users/give tenure to tenure track users, and use the rest of the site's functionality.
  • Becoming tenured user is easy if you have good creative coding work to back up tenured status. Just register on the site, point the URL in your profile to your work, and check the box to be tenure track on the profile edit page.

Based on information provided on the site, the goal is to grow the community over time by allocating invites to the tenured users, which then enables them to get new users to the tenured status. The number of invites available each month will be calculated by an algorithm, based on past activity and engaging the community. 

Finally, there is another element which could drive the activity on this site, which are "challenges". While in an early stage the goal is to pose "meaningful problems" where members can respond and provide suggested solutions. This could evolve into a platform where news sites, universities or companies could connect to this particular community.