2021 Annual Letter to Examine readers

Written by Kamal Patel
Last Updated:

Here’s our annual letter. You’ll see some good stuff we did, some things we mucked up, and one big thing we’re really pumped about for 2022. Let’s get to it!

Something big is in store for 2022

The Examine website looks really dated.

This makes sense, as the site was originally developed on a shoestring budget in 2010. In the ensuing years, we’ve stretched the functionality of the original codebase about as far as it’ll go.

So in 2020, we began planning a major overhaul. In 2021, our developers started writing an all-new code base, and we hired an experienced design firm to speed the transition to a faster, better-organized, modern-looking Examine.

That’s our first goal — to make Examine into a better version of itself. But we’ve also spent months challenging all our own assumptions of what Examine is, to imagine what Examine could be.

What if you could graphically view connections between hundreds of aspects of health? What if you could find the information you need in the blink of an eye, then easily “zoom in and out” to get the level of detail you want?

Now, I don’t want to overpromise and underdeliver. We’re on the path to an exciting new design, but we still have a limited budget. Remember that Examine is an independent education company: there’s no big corporation pulling our strings, but by the same token, there’s no big corporation filling our pockets.

What money we have comes from our Membership sales. In other words, it comes from Examine readers, and so we want to use it to directly benefit Examine readers. Over the past two years, we’ve conducted lengthy interviews with dozens of our Members and had hundreds of internal debates, all to determine which changes will be most beneficial. And you should be seeing the first results of that process between March and May of 2022.

In 2021, our research team has doubled in size

Whereas 2022 will be The Year of the New Website, 2021 was The Year of the New Researchers.

We spent months screening candidates. To become an Examine researcher, you need to know your stuff (such as biostatistics, epidemiology, and nutritional biochemistry), write clearly, and … be a nice person. To ensure accuracy and reduce potential bias, we constantly review (and thus criticize) one another’s work — a process that requires everyone to be courteous, humble, and open-minded.

But wait, why did we double our research team? One reason is that the rate of study publication keeps increasing. We have to parse thousands of new papers each month, select the most important, summarize them for our Members, and use the accumulated data to update the hundreds of pages on the site.

Which brings us back to our upcoming new website: the other reason we needed to double our research team is that the new website will require us to update and add many, many pages. It’ll be a busy year!

We’ve made our fair share of mistakes along the way

We’re proud of what we’ve achieved, and we’re excited for what’s to come. But let’s be honest: all is not rosy. We maintain a list of our mistakes so you can keep us accountable, and while we’ve corrected many over the years, we also keep making new ones.

A mistake isn’t always something we do, either. It can be something we don’t do. For instance, I mentioned that we use the data collected while summarizing new studies to update other pages on the site. That’s true. But we’re running behind!

There are several reasons for this. One is that our current code forces us to update each page separately — this is fortunately a headache our new website should solve. And another reason was that we needed more researchers — which is why we hired so many this past year.

So hopefully, we’ll start catching up soon.

How can you help?

Your feedback informs our overall strategy. It helps us decide the future of Examine. Whenever we send out an email, you can let us know your thoughts on it: just hit “reply” to this or any email, and I’ll read what you have to say.

Other than that, just hang tight while we’re working on the new website. The wait may be a little long, and the waters may be choppy at times, but I think the final destination will be worth the ride.

Happy holidays, and thanks for being an Examine reader!


Sincerely,

Kamal Patel
Co-founder, Examine

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