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.
- 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
- The reputation points thing is a bit too addictive to me.
- The easy questions go fast; you have to watch constantly if you want a chance at them.
- Far too many questions are either dreadfully dull or terribly sloppy.
(See Jeromy Anglim‘s “How to ask me a statistics question” and Eric S. Raymond‘s “How to ask questions the smart way.”)
- Good answers are, at times, insufficiently appreciated.
So I gave up
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.