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Sunday, October 17, 2021

UCD graduate students start water resources website

Graduate students from different departments at UC Davis launched a social bookmarking website in May field called WaterSISWEB, which stands for Scientific Information Syndication Websites, and is dedicated to the water resources.

Kaveh Madani, a Ph.D. candidate in civil and environmental engineering, helped create the site, along with other graduate students from various departments and people on campus.

“I started this WaterSisweb because I had the knowledge of water resources and I thought this is the best one to start with,” Madani said.

The site is an information center for water resources where users can control the content. Users can post links and share their favorite bookmarks of other sites, articles, images, media and other sources for topics relating to water.

“The difference between a blog and a book marking site is that a blog has a moderator to decide what is good and what is not,” Madani said. “Here, the users control the content. If they are interested in something, they post it there because the taste of one person may be completely different from the taste of the entire community.”

The website itself has been expanding with popularity since its debut in May. To date, users from 88 different countries have visited the site, some of the most common being the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Iran, Italy and Australia. Searches can be filtered to specific countries, states and even cities, Madani said.

Users can post links under various categories with keyword tags to allow easy search access, as well as rate links by voting for them. Popular entries are kept in the top links section while articles that are completely irrelevant or that contain false information are removed from the site.

Michael Campana, a regular user and professor from the geosciences department at Oregon State University believes allowing the content of the site to be determined solely by users does have a downside.

I wish there were more categories and that they reflected water resources, not just hydrology and water resources engineering,” Campana said in an e-mail interview. “There are a lot of tags, but because everyone assigns their own tags the classification is often inconsistent. That’s the downside of having the users control the site.”

Campana has a blog site called WaterWired and recommends his readers visit WaterSISWEB often.

“I rely on the site mainly for serendipity,” Campana said. “Lots of ‘Gee, I didn’t know that!’ There are some things I never would have found on my own.”

Dane Behrens, also a Ph.D. candidate in civil engineering at UC Davis, is a site administrator who frequents the site regularly. He has been working with the site since its beginning and recognizes its potential.

“This site is important because it provides information on water-related topics that no other type of site can,” Behrens said in an e-mail interview. “It allows anybody who is interested to post water-related items that they find interesting – so it works really well as a forum for current news and science.”

Madani said he hopes the site will serve as a model for more scientific resource sites.

“We do not want to have something with low quality,” he said. “Not having it is better than having it with low quality. The goal is to make other SISWEBs. As soon as we have people who qualify and who are interested in dedicating their time and are credible, then we are willing to start.”

Future SISWEBs could be dedicated to electrical engineering, dentistry, transportation and climate change, Madani said. He said he hopes future teams of new SISWEBs will consist of a mix of professionals from around the world.

“We can bring the professionals and users in this field from all over the world together,” Madani said.

For more information, go to watersisweb.org.

ANGELA RUGGIERO can be reached at campus@californiaaggie.com.

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