A Building Energy Performance Simulation QA Site that will change your life.

If you’re involved in building performance modeling or analysis professionally or academically, please take time to read this post (or just go straight to the site). The community that I will introduce will change the way you do your job on a daily basis.

You’re stuck and need help. What do you do?

It happens to everyone: you’re almost finished with a project and you get stuck. Fixing this one little problem will allow you submit your results, head home early for the weekend, and may (if you’ve been stuck long enough) result in a full-out touchdown end zone funky chicken dance. Nothing would make you happier at that moment than to figure out your issue. What do you do?

Programmers have an amazing resource which helps them out.

If you’re a computer programmer, you would simply do a quick Google search and very often it will direct you to the exact same question that someone else has asked on a site called Stackoverflow.com. Their question will have also likely have been answered by multiple experts and you will easily be able to determine the most viable answer due to the number of user votes each one has. This discovery is always a huge morale booster and will save your life if you’re a new programmer. Stackoverflow was started in 2008 and has quickly made the internet a better place for learning programming: it currently has 1.5+ million users and 4+ million questions.

Due to stackoverflow’s overwhelming success, the company was re-branded as stackexchange.com - a platform for free, community-driven Q&A sites for numerous other domains. There are now 94 stackexchange sites devoted to cooking, mathematics, physics, etc in addition to programming. Check out a video of Joel Spolsky explaining the rationale of stackexchange. One community leader of the Geographic Information Systems site summarized the impact on that community:

I’ve been working in the GIS field for almost 15 years and been active on every applicable BBS, mailing list, online forum and wiki for that time. I can honestly state that GIS SE has something that all those others didn’t, and that something is valuable and worth nurturing.

The Building Simulation Industry needs a site like this. We need help making this a reality.

The building energy performance simulation and analysis field has similar passionate users who would benefit from the stackexchange phenomenon. A group of passionate energy modelers and myself have set up a Proposal on stackexchange for a site related to building performance which we need your help in making successful!

Stackexchange is quite picky regarding the communities that it allows to have sites on the platform; they need to have consistent, passionate users, quality questions, and a culture of voting. There are 3 phases the site must go through in this process: Definition, Commitment, and Beta. Right now our proposal is in the Definition Phase on the Area 51 application “Staging” site:

Visit Site

VOTE, Post Example Questions, and Promote!

Once you have “Followed” the site by creating a profile and clicking the Follow button, there are 3 things that the community needs your help with to graduate to the next phase:

  1. VOTE on the example questions _- Voting drives the Q&A economy, promotes quality, allocates reputation points to build experts, and is generally them most important contribution that even a passive user can help with. The importance of voting can’t be overstated. _We need 40 example questions with 10 votes each to make it to the next phase! Each person is allowed 5 votes so please use all of them!

  2. _Add Example Questions _- at the Definition phase, we only need examples of questions that are commonly asked in the community. It isn’t necessary that these are questions you don’t know the answer to - they are simply examples that others will vote on to show that we agree that they are valuable.

  3. Promote the site to your colleagues, students, and friends in the community. The more experts, the more voting, the more valuable this community is! If you think this is a good idea then take time to help grow the community. Let’s prove that we have a robust, curious, and active building performance modeling community!!

I’m not paid by Stackexchange nor do I seek to promote any other commercial intention through this effort; it’s just that I’m so excited about the opportunity that this could have on our domain. I program on a regular basis and sites in the stackexchange platform have made that part of my life happier and more productive. I would love to see this happen for energy modelers as well!