A memo for the science community regarding DM-provided support

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Summary: The DM team provides support for use of the Rubin Observatory data products, pipelines, and services on a best-effort basis during Construction. This support will henceforth be done via the Community.lsst.org Forum instead of via email or chat. This initiative is part of a broader effort to build an engaged, self-supporting science community. All members of the Rubin community are encouraged to adopt the same practice of raising and solving issues via the Community Forum.

Memorandum

To date, the Rubin Data Management (DM) team has provided informal and ad-hoc support to our early-adopter community of science pipelines and science platform users on a best-effort basis. However, the demands on DM developers’ time and the size of the science community will only increase during these final years of Construction and beyond, into Operations, and this mode of support is neither scalable nor sustainable.

A comprehensive model for community support during Operations is currently being prepared by the Rubin Observatory Community Engagement Team (CET), which will be fully scoped to support the community during Operations (and is currently ramping up). This model must be capable of serving thousands of scientists with a wide variety of skills, background, expertise, and resources. Opportunities for community input on this model are forthcoming. A foundational component will be to build a deep repository of openly available and searchable knowledge, and cultivate a global community of engaged scientists with the means to crowd-source solutions.

As a stepping-stone towards this future operations-era model, any support that the DM team is able to provide on a best-effort basis will henceforth be done via the Community.lsst.org Forum and not via email and chat platforms. As part of this best-effort, DM staff will start to redirect support questions received via email or chat to the Community Forum. All community members are encouraged to adopt the same practice of posting questions as new topics in the Forum and helping others to solve their issues by posting comments and replies.

It is appreciated that we all might encounter additional overheads or awkward moments as people adjust their workflows, but this will be a worthwhile investment if we can grow the Community Forum to host a repository of accessible Rubin-related expertise and an engaged, self-supporting science community. It is also recognized that an open forum might feel “too formal” to new users asking questions, and that there might be some grey area regarding what is and is not considered “support”; e.g., DM staff who participate in Science Collaborations with their discretionary science time, or Science Collaboration members who actively contribute to DM deliverables and whose questions do not represent requests for user support. We acknowledge that this is a grey area where a degree of judgement on a case-by-case basis will be required. Please be reassured that all levels of questions, discussions, and answers are all welcome and encouraged aspects of our community forum.

In which category should I ask my question?

Most questions for the DM team will fall into one of these three categories, which are regularly monitored by members of DM and the CET.

Science - Data Q&A: questions about the planned data products (e.g., scientific applications).

Support: questions about applications of the science pipelines (e.g., errors returned during attempts to process data from other facilities).

Support — Rubin Science Platform: questions about the Rubin Science Platform.

How do I get help with using the Community Forum?

Everyone needs an account for Community.lsst.org in order to post, but all public content is visible without an account. Questions about how to use the forum should be posted in the Meta category.

Here are some quick links to potential FAQs:

Additionally, a “tour” of Community.lsst.org was provided during the Rubin 2020 PCW session on Community Support. The tour starts at 25 minutes and 45 seconds into the recorded presentation. More information about that session is available in this Community Forum topic.

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