Comparing StackOverflow and the R-help mailing list

November 26, 2011

(This article was first published on NumberTheory » R stuff, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

Only recently I discovered StackOverflow. I know, as a nerd already programming for many years that is quite late. For those who are not familiar with StackOverflow (aka SO), it is a Question and Answer site for programmers. It is part of the Stack Exchange network, which offers a host of these QA sites on just about anything.

In terms of number of questions, SO is still quite small compared to the main QA mailing list for R: R-help. I also have the impression that the number of experts specialized in R is larger on R-help. However, there a few features of SO that I really like:

  • SO is more like a forum, people can revise their questions, and I like the way the question and answer are listed below each other.
  • There are many more option for markup: code highlighting, HTML, and embedding of images.
  • Users that answer questions corectly gain reputation points, as do people who ask good questions. In this way people who are good can be identified in that fashion.Not to mention that these reward points become addictive :) .
  • As you gain reputation, you get more options in the systems, e.g. editing questions, removeing bad questions etc.

In general I think that SO is a more interactive system, which is great fun to work with :) . What are your thoughts on SO, leave a comment!

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