Galaxy Community Board

Keywords: Special Interest Groups, Community of Practices


The Galaxy Community Board (GCB) is proposed to take over the functions of the Global Galaxy Steering Committee. During GCC 2023, we discussed how to empower the Galaxy community in terms of project planning, decision-making, execution, and overall governance.


Representation of community aspects of the ecosystem is central to long-term project sustainability. The goal is to empower community members to participate in planning and governance, through efficient and transparent structures and processes, that can scale effectively as the Galaxy project continues to expand.

The GCB will provide a supportive virtual forum for the exchange of ideas, and a governance body representing the interests of participating communities. It will organise and manage its own agenda and work, including arranging meetings and asynchronous discussions. The agenda might include planning new initiatives; supporting ongoing development; identifying and advocating for user needs; managing coherent, community-owned proposals and responses in the roadmap processes and other important project decision-making.

Efficient communication between the GCB (Community Board) and both the GEB (Executive Board) and the GTB (Technical Board) requires at least one representative from GEB and from GTB to be also members of the GCB. Therefore, it is recommended that at least one member of each of the other two Boards are also members of the GCB.

In summary, the goals of the GCB are:

  • discuss and summarize scientist (user) feedback to help guide the technical development of the Galaxy platform;
  • communicate scientist (user) vision and feedback to the GTB and GEB;
  • develop proposals to advance scientist (user) goals in the Galaxy community.

Community Special Interest Groups (SIGs)

The GCB is a governance structure representing groups that are not primarily technical, such as the existing Proteomics and Microbial communities, through engaging in capacity building, toolkit development, outreach and training. The term Special Interest Group (SIG) refers to these dedicated scientific communities. No specific restrictions are proposed, other than making a useful contribution to the project, no specific restrictions apply.

Active contributors are encouraged to form and govern their own SIG, with a focus on specific shared interests. Each SIG may elect one member to represent their interests on the GCB. This is analogous to the Technical Board, consisting of representatives of the Working Groups (WG).

Characteristics of SIGs

  • Often focused on community development (distinct from the more technical issues managed by WGs)
  • Self-regulated, which includes organising meetings, developing training material and tools, maintaining the Hub pages, and choosing a representative for the GCB
  • Dependent on community needs, SIGs are easy to form and dissolve for ongoing recognition, easy to create and to dissolve, can be transient
  • Supported with administrative infrastructure provided by the Galaxy Project and the GCB, such as:

    • mailing list
    • website infrastructure and a place on the Galaxy hub to present the Community
    • presentation slot at the annual GCC conference
    • Chat channel/room
  • Govern their own activities such as organising meetings, developing training material and tools, maintaining the Hub pages, and choosing a representative for the GCB.
  • Represented in the GCB in order to articulate needs and requirements as part of the Galaxy Project roadmap and (competitive grant) processes.

Requirements for SIGs

  • Must have 2 or more members to be viable
  • Must maintain a page on the Community Hub with at least:

    • A description of the focus and purposes of the SIG.
    • A clear explanation of how individuals can join and maintain membership.
    • Details of access to the SIG’s communication channels.
    • A description of roadmap-related processes for gathering input from members.
    • The current contact/email address for the nominated GCB representative, and to manage membership and internal communication for itself.
  • Use at least one public Matrix channel under the Galaxy Matrix space.

Creating a new SIG

We encourage everyone with an interest in contributing to Galaxy to join a SIG, WG, or to create their own SIG. The Galaxy Project Management Office (PMO) is the first point of contact for anyone wanting to form a new SIG. To illustrate the scope of SIGs, see the community page on the Galaxy Community Hub and the following examples:

  • Microbial (People interested in Microbial research, tool, workflow and training development)
  • Industry Forum (a forum for people to exchange needs and experiences with Galaxy in Industry settings)
  • Indian Galaxy Community (regional Galaxy community, interested in Galaxy community building)
  • AnVIL (funded project related to Galaxy)
  • BLA (Better License Annotation SIG - does not exist yet, but could bring people together to better annotate Galaxy tools and workflows with appropriate licenses, could develop License recommendations)

Why make a SIG?

Prevent work duplication

It’s surprisingly easy for individuals halfway across the world to need the same tool and build the same tool. What a waste of time when there are so many cool things to do!

Highlight new resources

If you’re working in the same research area, for instance, it can be exciting when someone builds something new that could help your research. With so many things getting added daily, it’s easy to miss this news. SIGs can point out such highlights and give you new ideas for your research or work.

Peer review

Need someone to look at an issue? Want some feedback on a tutorial or tool? Your fellow SIG members are a lot more likely to help you if you help them, and, more importantly, if they know who you are. Cut through the 1.8k of issues on Github by making some work friends in your field.

Building community

The bigger the community you have, the more power in developing further resources (or grant proposals!), finding collaborators, co-authoring papers, etc. Higher user counts give you more sway in decision-making and building up Galaxy further, advancing your own work. It’s a lot easier to say you need something and 100 users agree, than to ask on behalf of yourself alone.

Many hands make light work

When delivering training (like Smorgasbord global training events) or projects, it’s rather important that the website you point to, quite frankly, looks nice. Imagine half the training is out of date, or - as happened to this author - you send someone to a page to learn a field and they get 3.5 hours into a 7 hours tutorial that no longer works, is outdated and not relevant to the name of the page itself. You immediately lose people and waste time. Preparing training material for training events is a big task, but if you can share it amongst a SIG, you ensure sustainability and increase impact.

WG and SIGs are complimentary

WGs are distinct from SIGs in that they are:

  • focused on technical issues
  • manage important project infrastructure assets, including source code, for the long term
  • self-organised
  • have representative(s) as a contact point
  • send a representative to the Technical Board (GTB)
  • contribute to the roadmap by providing technical input and requesting resources for technical and development activities

SIG members, and especially the representatives, are encouraged to join WG meetings or talk to WG representatives to raise issues or request help. For example, SIG members could request assistance from the tools and workflows WG. WGs might contact SIGs to collect feedback from the community.