R goes to StackExchange

July 6, 2010

(This article was first published on Ben Mazzotta's Weblog » R, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

“What’s the big deal? We already have the r-help mailing list.”

No, it’s a big deal. Really.

Have you forgotten the joys of being a first-year R user, either begging advice off of friends or using Google to search archives of the R-help list? (Firefox has a dedicated search add-on for the R-help archives.) Yes, it gets the job done, but it’s kludge. If you’re a self-taught R programmer you know what I’m talking about.

StackExchange for Statistical Analysis will let experienced users answer statistics questions, presented in a legible format, and good answers are promoted to the top of the list. Questions can be tagged by subject matter and by package. Proper formatting for code swatches, and for discussion. It’s modeled on StackOverflow.

A well-designed, user generated site for statistics might make it possible for newbies to learn without posting a thousand redundant and ill-posed questions to the help list. It might make it more palatable for experts to monitor discussions and lend a hand from time to time, rather than having to offer up a personal email address as a sacrificial lamb to the greater good of teaching statistics.

Young experts don’t want to have to monitor email all day to be part of the discussion. Their answers belong on a website with a normal content management system, with good search functions and user interactions.

Go sign up. Or read Tal Galili’s post on why you should sign up. Compare it to what’s on offer at MetaOptimize and I think you’ll agree this is a much more general-interest statistics tool.

To leave a comment for the author, please follow the link and comment on their blog: Ben Mazzotta's Weblog » R.

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