New Website

Five years ago, I put together the first iteration of the Bodega Workshop’s website as a dirt-simple wiki hosted through the (Davis, CA-based) wikispot project. Our initial goals for the website were simple: provide an editable set of course materials for use during the workshop and accessible review materials for course participants afterward. A wiki-based system seemed ideal for this, instructors could easily add new content and (more importantly) the students could fix our errors. To get it launched that first year, Rich Glor, Brian O’Meara and I spent a big chunk of the workshop simply gathering up content and dumping it into the wiki framework. As the years have gone by, many people associated with the course have all pitched in to add content, revise outdated parts, and just clean things up. It’s been a great group effort.

About a year after first launching the website, we noticed that it was starting to get a fair bit more traffic than would be expected based on the number of people involved with the course. Since that time, the usership for the site has continued to grow and now averages a couple of hundred visitors a day—a small number in the scheme of things, but a much larger number than any of us initially expected. We have also been happy to see that the user community for the website is highly international (it varies through time, but the proportion of visits from outside of the US typically hovers around 50%).  Its good to see that course materials developed in the workshop get such wide use. 

Average daily visitors from 2008 to present. Spikes and dips associated with the March workshop and winter holidays are obvious, but what’s going on with those pre-holiday spikes in traffic?

Over the last five years, the content of the website has grown from that first single page to more than 200 and maintenance has become more unwieldy within the confines of the original wikispot framework. Furthermore, as fond as I am of the retro 90s “sea green and periwinkle” look that the website sports, I’ll grudgingly admit that we are far past due for a refresh. To remedy both of these issues, I’ve moved the site over to WordPress. Rich Glor kindly donated the use of our new domain, and I’m handling the hosting on my lab website’s server. A potential downside to this change is that we lose the wiki functionality where anyone can log on and make changes. That said, the group of active editors for the old wiki site has never been particularly huge, so this won’t have a large impact on site maintenance.

We of course still welcome any additional contributors to the site, whether you’re involved with the workshop or not. Please use the comments to note important typos or errors. I’ll be keeping an eye on things and will incorporate minor changes as necessary. Better still, get in touch with me and I’ll make an account for you. This way you can join the ranks of regular editors to the website. We would particular welcome input from anyone who has an interest in contributing new tutorials to the site or would like to contribute blog-style posts about emerging topics or other goings-on in phylogenetics. The course website gets used by a whole lot more people than attend the course, so it only makes sense that this wider community helps shape the content. In particular, I’d like to encourage former Bodega students to pitch in and contribute to the site, there’s around 400 of us out there at this point.

The old wiki site will stay up for a while, but won’t be updated anymore. Please update any bookmarks/RSS feeds to point to this site.

In other news, the 2013 workshop is now only a month away! We should see a flurry of updates from workshop planners, Brian Moore and Peter Wainwright; the workshop coordinator, Gideon Bradburd; and the rest of the instructors soon.