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Building New Online Discussion Platforms with the Haystack Group




CSAIL: Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab

Faculty Supervisor:

David Karger

Faculty email:


Apply by:



David Karger: karger@mit.edu

Project Description

The Haystack group does research developing novel systems to support new and better forms of online discussion. Among them are NB, which supports students discussing course textbooks, readings and lecture videos on the margins of the content. Wikum, which supports large group deliberation with collaboration to summarize the main points of the discussion YouPS, which helps people automate handling of their email Murmur, which tries to make mailing lists work better Squadbox, which protects people from online harassment Trustnet, which helps protect people from misinformation online More information about these projects and others can be found on the haystack group website. The group's work is centered on building web applications.As much work is devoted to the design of new interfaces and functionalities as to their implementation. We deploy our work to be used in the wild as a way to study the impact of our tools. We do almost no machine learning and are not a good fit for people interested in building skills there. Students should be expected to work at least 8 hours per week. Interested students should send a resume and transcript to David Karger (karger@mit.edu).


The relevant general background is basic programming (6.0009) plus some experience with HTML/CSS and javascript (although this can also be acquired on the fly).