The Rubin Observatory Model for Community Engagement

Version 1 of the Rubin Observatory Model for Community Engagement is now available at

The Rubin Observatory Community Engagement Team (CET) recently completed a series of five informal discussions with the science community. These sessions were an opportunity for the community to provide early input to the initial model for community engagement mentioned above, and to discuss how the CET could best provide support for science with the Rubin Observatory and its Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST).

The purpose of this post is to summarize the discussion series. The CET thanks all who participated, with special thanks to Nicole Auza for translating the slides and the presentation and discussion during the bilingual Spanish-English session on December 12, 2020. A recording of this presentation is available here. The following is a summary of some of the key aspects of our discussions. All should please feel welcome to reply in this thread or create new topics to expand on these points.

Regarding the use of our Community Forum,, we discussed:

  • how the forum can serve community support at scale (thousands of users)
  • the need to clarify various features in the forum such as categories, tags, badges, and marking solutions, in order to promote their effective use
  • the need to standardize affiliations so that users have more context for the origin of proposed solutions or advice, and can easily identify posts from, e.g., Rubin Obs. staff
  • how positive responses to all levels of expertise leads to constructive discourse
  • ways to enhance the welcoming experience for new users (e.g., forum how-tos)
  • a parallel need for non-public channels to allow users to seek support with proprietary derived data products and ask confidential science questions

Regarding methods for issue resolution and support for science, we discussed:

  • past experiences where insufficient support blocked scientific progress
  • how bottlenecks can form when direct contact with “experts” is the only support mode
  • methods for enabling crowd-sourced support for science (e.g., the community forum)
  • the materials and resources needed to bring down the perceived barrier that a very high level of software expertise will be needed to do any kind of LSST science

Regarding equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in research we discussed:

  • promoting and supporting EDI in our workplace and community culture
  • appropriately establishing targets and collecting diversity data from Rubin Obs. users
  • how the LSST Science Collaborations have been very proactive in establishing programs and practices for EDI in the Rubin science community
  • research partnerships with institutions that support underrepresented/minoritized groups
  • how targeted workshops to train faculty or postdocs in working with LSST data could “seed participation in the Rubin community"

The CET is taking all of these discussions forward as we continue to develop our Community Engagement Model for operations and, in the short term, prepare to support community participation in Data Preview 0 starting in June 2021.

As always, the CET reminds new science community members that one of the best ways to get involved in preparing for LSST science and learning more about the Rubin Observatory is to join one of the eight LSST Science Collaborations, which are open and welcoming to all.