Launched in 2014, the Digital Ecologies Research Partnership (DERP) is a joint initiative by an alliance of community websites to promote open, publicly accessible, and ethical academic inquiry into the vibrant social dynamics of the web.
DERP seeks to solve two problems in the academic research space:
First, it is difficult for academic researchers to easily obtain data for their work beyond the confines of the largest social media platforms. DERP is a single point of contact for researchers to get in touch with relevant team members across a range of different community sites. We envision that this will lower the friction to investigating these sites in more depth, and broaden the scope of research happening within the academic community.
Second, it remains difficult to conduct good cross-platform analyses in academic research. By bringing a number community of sites together under a single cooperative effort, we intend to lower the friction of doing so, as well as better enable the sites themselves to coordinate with one another on supporting researchers.
DERP focuses on providing public data to academic researchers while facilitating an active online research community of Fellows. DERP will only support research that respects user privacy, responsibly uses data, and meets IRB approval. All research supported by DERP will be released openly and made publicly available. Partner platforms may also have additional guidelines and privacy commitments that apply to the research they support.
DERP Fellows are a community of affiliate researchers that currently are using DERP data, and also provide assistance to the Partnership on its continuing operations as an advisory committee.
As of September 2014, DERP has 5 partner organizations that collaborate in providing data and supporting academic researchers:
Imgur is a community that consumes, creates, and shares tomorrow's viral content, today. Every day, the Imgur community votes, comments, and distills more than 1.5 million images down to a curated, continuously updating stream of the best visual content the web has to offer.
reddit is an online community where users can submit, vote, and comment on content, stories, and discussions. The hottest stories as determined by the community through interaction rise to the top of the site, while cooler stories sink. reddit is open source, and community members are constantly tinkering and contributing features and translations back to the site. reddit also features the world's largest gift exchange and the redditgifts marketplace through redditgifts.com as well as video and original programming through reddit.tv.
Fark is a community dedicated to presenting news in a way that's both informative and entertaining. Featuring user-submitted news stories and with funny, sarcastic taglines, Fark appears very much like if the Daily Show ran the Drudge Report, but with irreverent discussion in real time.
StackExchange is a network of 125 communities that are created and run by experts and enthusiasts who are passionate about a specific topic. The platform builds libraries of high-quality questions and answers, focused on each community's area of expertise.
Twitch is the world's leading video platform and community for gamers with more than 45 million visitors per month.
DERP connects researchers with points of contact at online communities and data resources. If you wish to request data from a DERP community, please send us a proposal outlining your research.
No need for a long description, but the proposal should give us a sense of what you plan to do, what platforms you want to team up with, and what kind of support (datasets or otherwise) that you need.
This can be really lightweight - a link to your CV or academic page is enough.
Has the project already been approved through an IRB? Is it a new project, or part of an ongoing body of work? This won't be determinative, but is good to know.