Reddit and Imgur may be home to fairly strange corners of the internet, but they're still filled with deeply valuable information about the world and how we all use the web. Now those sites, in conjunction with several others, are launching an initiative to help researchers study the data the sites collect to help them learn more about social networks or any other information that might go through them. The sites are having a bit of fun with naming the new initiative, which they're calling the Digital Ecologies Research Partnership, though they'd probably you rather call it by its abbreviation: DERP.
Research supported by DERP must be released publicly
Twitch, Fark, and Stack Exchange are also part of the partnership that's launching DERP. That's a collection of social sites of all sizes, and though none are absolutely gargantuan, they still include some of the most influential and important web communities out there. Naturally, DERP is also requiring that any research that it helps support is released in an open and public manner.
DERP will help researchers study the sites by setting them up with access to publicly available data. It's not stated whether DERP might allow researchers to access more than that on request, but the idea is more that DERP can serve as a single, simple source for researchers to start working with these sites. Rather than having go through one or more of these sites individually, DERP will handle all requests and should be able to get researchers the information they need. Already, DERP says that researchers at Stanford, Columbia, MIT, and several other universities are working with its data.