Several online communities have come together to establish a new research partnership to promote open, publicly accessible, and ethical academic inquiry into the vibrant social dynamics of the web. Called the Digital Ecologies Research Partnership, or DERP, it will provide academics with a single point of contact for retrieving data and metrics from the allied communities.
The internet represents a new challenge for researchers looking to understand human behaviour. Retrieving information about user behaviour from websites can often be a time consuming process for these researchers as they often require multiple sources and data points to come to a conclusion. By creating a focal point for requesting information, DERP hopes to make things easier for science to get what they need.
It’s not clear if DERP will provide more data than what is publicly available, but that may not be out of the question depending on the credentials of the research project in question. Those who are worried about privacy concerns should note that all of the websites involved generally allow anonymous usage and do not track their users.
DERP is currently comprised of imgur, Reddit, Fark, Stackexchange, and Twitch.