What do DSCN readers want?

5 June 2021

From the desk of Laura Norén

(read more about Laura Norén)

bar chart showing least favorite and favorite attributes of the DSCN

We asked which 4 attributes of the DSCN readers most liked and disliked. Our “comprehensive coverage” and “academic/research focus” got the broadest support and had the fewest critics. The “ethics angle” was in the top three with the closely related “writing tone” in fourth. All four are attributes the editorial team values highly. We interpret the survey results as a vote of confidence in our shared vision.

The job postings and Tweet of the Week are controversial with similar numbers of likers and haters. 

As a result of the lackluster enthusiasm bordering on revulsion, we will drop the Tweet of the Week as a standard feature. We will now run exceptional tweets and/or TikToks when they are truly hilarious and on-topic.

We have a different attitude about job postings. Here’s the thing, readers. If you have a good job and aren’t responsible for hiring, the job postings may feel like clutter. We see that. But readers who want new jobs - 10% of you! - or who want to hire great people, see job postings as highly relevant. Upshot? We will not be eliminating or further reducing the job posts, but we may revamp how we present them.

What we’re getting right

Looks like we are mostly getting the cadence right. Half of you like the every other week schedule, and the remaining half of you are split between wanting DSCN more often and less often. We will keep the every other week frequency for now.

If you happen to be among the group that wants more DSCN in your life, keep reading. 

New DSCN content types

OK! We may have caused a mild panic for some readers by asking about other content types. Some of you thought we might stop emailing you. LOL. You gotta request an unsubscribe if you want us to stop showing up in your inbox. 

I repeat: We are one hundred percent committed to producing an email newsletter. 

We are also considering adding new content types to the Data Science Community Newsletter line-up.

DSCN Podcast, anyone?

Over half of all respondents (55%) want to try a podcast and 6% are curious about the ClubHouse audio format. With audio, listeners can get DSCN content while baking, doing laundry, cleaning up after dinner, walking a dog, or creating data visualizations. We are definitely exploring our audio options. We love the idea of adding an audio content form.

To make a podcast we need: a marquee podcast sponsor

The most important caveat about the podcast offering is that it will cost money we don’t currently have. We don’t believe in asking people to work for free nor do we have the risk tolerance to rely on inconsistent funding streams like Patreon. 

I would love to produce a DSCN podcast - with an even higher snark quotient than the newsletter due to vocal intonation alone - so please let the DSCN know if your organization might want to be our marquee podcast sponsor. 

Twitter 

Many readers (41%) would also like to see us produce tweet threads of specific stories. This makes a ton of sense. We use your Twitter feeds (well, we use the Twitter feeds of those of you who have given us permission to use your feeds) to keep us aware of what you’re publishing, what you’re talking about, and what your institutions are launching, curtailing, botching, building and claiming as victories.

For those of you who compose tweet threads about your research: Keep doing it. We love them. Your fellow readers love them. Thank you. 

Tweet threads are surprisingly time consuming to produce. We want to signal boost the great science communicators out there who are already doing the work it takes to write a good tweet thread. Pro-tip: please use plots, charts, and other data visualizations if you are summarizing research.

We will retweet more of the threads we find and appreciate from the ADSA account (https://twitter.com/AcademicDataSci) and my personal account (https://www.twitter.com/digitalFlaneuse). If you want to get our attention, use hashtag #DSCN. It’s nice and short and will help us find and amplify your tweet threads quickly.

LinkedIn

A good fifth of you also want more LinkedIn posts (22%). This is somewhat surprising because the Data Science Community Newsletter has almost no LinkedIn presence. It was also an extremely polarizing type of content. Others threatened to raise hell if we start doing much with LinkedIn. 

Given the less polarizing arenas that garnered greater enthusiasm, we are hitting snooze on the LinkedIn posts to give us time to gather more feedback.

SMS

I included the option to receive SMS texts throughout the week as a joke. Two percent of you may have taken me seriously. Either that or at least 2 percent of the people taking the survey were robots. If there are truly readers who want me to text you about data science news throughout the week, send your number and preferred topics to  laura.noren@nyu.edu. I will avoid SMS, but I will start a Signal group. 

Disclaimer: I do not know all the hidden meanings of emojis and may inadvertently send something that’s a bit...off. Please DM me to let me know what it is that I have accidentally done.

TikTok

We didn’t ask you if you wanted DSCN via TikTok. 

But some of you very much DO want DSCN via TikTok, preferably with dance.

To quote my favorite VP of Eng:  we shall see.

Slack

We didn’t write a response option for Slack because the Academic Data Science Alliance (ADSA) already runs a Slack instance. If you have a login to academicdatascience.slack.com, get on in there and chat. If you want access to the ADSA Slack instance, please email me and ask for an invite (laura.noren@nyu.edu).

The Write-In Comments

Ah, yes. The write-in comments. Thank you to those of you who took the time to write in anything, especially if you were funny about it. For instance, the person who wants to get the newsletter as a giant scroll to unfurl at a lab meeting? I think you’ll be hearing from team DSCN about that one.

What really gets your pantaloons in a twist: Advertising

Many of you recoiled at the thought that there may be advertisers associated with the DSCN.

First, let us assure you, we aren’t offering a traditional advertising model. We have guidelines that outline the qualities sponsoring organizations must have in order for us to accept them. This will not be like the time organic vegetarian and vegan food bloggers got righteously angry when their advertising network placed ads for sausage links, cold cuts, and chicken nuggets on their blogs.

We are offering several sponsorship opportunities.

To the commenter who pointed out that advertising is a “bad look for the newsletter”: if there’s a way we can proceed that would be less “bad” looking, but still allows us to pay staff, please reach out again. Our goal is to avoid the “bad”-ness part of the look and still do good things like retaining editorial control, making the newsletter available for free, and paying our staff. We think we can pull it off.

We request that our readers give us the benefit of the doubt to find the kind of support that keeps the DSCN free. Ideally, our sponsors will be institutions, departments, and labs that promote things you want to know about. 

Want to know more about the DSCN audience?

Go here to read our blog post about reader demographics for the DSCN.

Looking for more From the Desk?

Check out the From the Desk archive!