The xForum (http://www.x-rayman.co.uk/xforum) is an international on-line web-forum, set up in 2006, for open collaboration and exchange of issues and information related to X-ray studies.
The forum is independent from manufacturers, universities and central facilities. Its structure has evolved with the users and continues to grow with each year of operation. To date there are 205 registered users world-wide ranging from the degree student to the professor. It is open to all from the novice to the expert.
What does it offer?
As scientists we are driven to collaborate and publish our work. As humans we have a natural instinct to socialise and to form groups. xforum combines the two into a lively mixture of science and social.
The xForum provides an area on the web where people can go and ask clever (and stupid) questions about X-ray diffraction theory and practise, hardware issues, software problems, etc. A permanent home which anyone could join and voice their opinion.
What about existing mailing lists?
Existing mailing lists suffer two problems. Firstly they are usually private, limited to customers of one particular company – so if someone posts a job advert, meeting announcement or some useful discussion about how to use a feature of SHELX to the Bruker list (for example), only Bruker users will see it – and perhaps more importantly only list users can respond to it.
Secondly, email lists tend to focus on one or maybe two topics at a time and in short bursts. A web forum allows many parallel discussions over long periods of time without getting muddled – users log in at any time and can see all the recently posted articles in their correct context.
The xForum solves both of these issues, and if you really love email – the forum can automatically notify you when a new post is made.