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Imgur, Reddit, FARK, StackExchange and Twitch have teamed up to create Derp: the Digital Ecologies Research Partnership. Derp, a word which the Oxford Dictionary defines as "a substitute for speech regarded as meaningless or stupid, or to comment on a foolish or stupid action," will now be a place for meaningful and intelligent work online. The research partnership allows users to collaborate within the academic community, use vast amounts of community driven data and share their findings. 

This research conglomerate will offer information to Columbia, Stanford, Harvard, MIT, McGill and other universities. Derp aims to offer two main services: providing researchers with data from different "community sites" and create a cross platform for academic research and analysis. 

Tim Hwang, the head of special initiatives, told The Guardian that Derp began "as a result of Imgur talking with a number of other community platforms online trying to learn about how they work with academic researchers." He explained, "In most cases, the data provided through Derp will already be accessible through public APIs. Our belief is that there are ways of doing research better, and in a way that strongly respects user privacy and responsible use of data.

While Reddit is comparably a small community platform, 115 million visitors a month compared to over a billion on Google and a billion users on Facebook, Derp will allow these Reddit users to more easily communicate for the purpose of research. 

McGill student Molly Sauter is one of the first researchers at Derp. She told The Guardian, "I feel like not only is it going to make it easier for researchers to gain access to important and interesting data sets, but it will also help diversify the online populations and communities being studied." 

If you'd like to Derp (and who wouldn't) head here

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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