Posted by: Antony Williams in Vision
Copyright©2007 Antony Williams
Recently I posted some statistics regarding traffic to the ChemSpider website examined using various tools…our own and the Alexa Rank engine. Peter Schneider has commented on the performance of the various rank engines. He also asked an interesting question: “But the real question is: Does emolecules generate more income with an Alexa Rank of 400 000? It is not the question, if a site has more visitors or notâ€¦ The question is, which project will surviveâ€¦” It
s definitely worth commenting on!I am looking into the Alexa Toolbar issue and if Peter is correct in his judgment of its bias we will likely take it down. What we are looking for is accurate representation. We are now tracking google analytics and have signed up on compete.com as he suggested so only time will tell now.I think Peter is right in that there needs to be some standard way to compare sites. Certainly ChemSpider is not out to “beat” eMolecules or PubChem, or any of the new systems which might come online in the near future. I believe we all share the same space and bring value in our own ways. I have great respect for what Klaus and the group are up to. I collaborated with the team directly while I was at ACD/Labs – integrating ChemSketch into Chmoogle (as it was then), arranging exposure at Reactive Reports and then again with the logP donations working with the PhysChem product manager at ACD/Labs .Does eMolecules generate more revenue than ChemSpider with a lower Alexa rank. I would hope so…they are a business! I am not sure of their business plan but it does include exposing companies catalogs through their site (for revenue I should expect. – see example with a NCH skin on top of eMolecules engine at http://nchlab.emolecules.com/). I have also heard that in certain cases that compounds sold via the website results in a percentage going to eMolecules. I don
‘t know it is true but it is rumored to be that way. (By the way..I suggested to Klaus that we exchange our relevant structure collections and index each others structure collections and link between the sites but haven’t got a response yet. This type of exchange/integration is what Joerg is talking about here.)ChemSpider, on the other hand, is a passion project. Until about a month ago it was non-revenue generating …more bank account draining All computer software, hardware, ISP fees etc were paid for out of our bank accounts. Yes, we founded a corporation to do this…we
‘re an overly “litigious society”.Recently I chose a period of personal sabbatical so now I am the non-revenue generating member of the household (but a great chauffeur for the children). I am happy to say that now we actually have sponsors for the site. We did try the Adsense approach but the $2.50 per day wasn’t worth the reputation ding and the annoying screens. We’ve added “Buy me a Coffee” to the blogs…but so far we haven’t had one. So, we are depending on the kindness of our sponsors to keep the site going at present. If you look at the home page you will note that Waters was kind enough to sponsor the site and is a gold-level sponsor based on the magnitude of their support. We have recently received support from one of our other collaborators and their logo will post soon.
I can confirm that in my downtime I am looking for additional funding to the keep ChemSpider going in whatever way it comes: sponsorship, anonymous donations, grants, collaborations, begging, borrowing (no stealing…). ChemSpider can continue to move while there are free cycles to support it and enough income (or family monies available) to keep it exposed. If there is no way to create a revenue stream from the system it will certainly suffer in terms of the pace it moves when those of us working on it now get tired and some of us “go back to work” and have new career objectives to distract us. ChemSpider IS still a passion project. The intention is that there will always be an Open Access ChemSpider for chemists to use. I see no reason that everything you have access to now will ever be taken away. The majority of what we have in our development plans is for the good of all. I don’t know how else to commit to a deeper level of permanence for the site. We are not yet done with the conversations about Open Sourcing the code in the future.
So, thanks Peter for asking the question about “which project will survive”. If any readers have thoughts about garnering financial support for the system through sponsorship, grants, collaborative work etc please contact me at the usual address (antony.williams AT chemspider DOT com) and open the discussion. What we want is for ChemSpider to be around for many years to come..and I believe we can make that happen even in our spare time. That said, with dedicated effort the reach of this project can be truly massive…