Stack Exchange: Why I dropped out

May 13, 2013

(This article was first published on The stupidest thing... » R, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

Stack Exchange is a series of question-and-answer sites, including Stack Overflow for programming and Cross Validated for statistics. I was introduced to these sites at a short talk by Barry Rowlingson at the 2011 UseR! meeting, “Why R-help must die!“

These sites have a lot of advantages over R-help: The format is easier to read, math and code can be nicely formatted, the questions are tagged, search is easier, and there should be less redundancy.

Additional pros

  • It’s good to help people.
  • It’s fun to rack up reputation points for helping people.
  • It’s good exercise, in both thinking about statistical questions and in articulating useful answers (and there are some interesting questions).

However, some cons

So I gave up

I started spending time on stackoverflow and cross-validated soon after returning from UseR! 2011, but I lost my patience and quit within three months.

One needs to treat each question with respect, and I eventually seemed to lose my ability to sustain such goodwill. I think I take things too personally.


I should clarify: I do continue to use Stack Exchange, mostly through google. Many problems I run into have already been answered. I just don’t have the right temperament to participate regularly in answering others’ questions.

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