Where are the R users?

April 9, 2015

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

by Joseph Rickert

A recent post by David Smith included a map that shows the locations of R user groups around the world. While is exhilarating to see how R user groups span the globe, the map does not give any idea about the size of the community at each location. The following plot, constructed from information on the websites of the groups listed in Revolutions Analytics' Local R User Group Directory (the same source for the map) shows the membership size for the largest 25 groups.


There are 11 groups with over a thousand members and a couple more who are close to achieving that milestone. With the possible exception of Groupe des utilisateurs du logicel R, I believe all of the groups in the top 25 hold regular, face-to-face meetings: so the plot gives some idea of the size, location and density of the "social" R community. 

There are, however, quite a few problems with the data that make it less than optimal for even the limited goal of characterizing the number of R users who regularly participate in face-to-face R events.

  • Only 102 of the 159 groups make it easy to find membership information. (Most of these are groups that have webpages through meetup.com which prominently display membership information.)
  • It is not clear that membership information is up to date. As an R user group organize, I know that it is difficult to keep track of active members.
  • People join multiple groups. It is very likely, for example, there is a significant overlap between the members of the Berkeley R Language Beginner Study Group and the Bay Area useR Group.

Nevertheless, I think this plot along with the map mentioned above do give some idea of where the action is in the R world. 

Note that the data used to build the plot may be obtained here:  Download RUGS_WW_4_7_15 and the code is here:  Download RUG_Bar_Chart

Also note that it is still a good time to start a new R user group. The deadline for funding for large user groups through Revolution Analytics 2015 R User Group Sponsorship Program has passed. However, we will be taking applications for new groups until the end of September. The $120 grant for Vector level groups should be enough to finance a site on meetup.com. If you are thinking of starting a new group have a look at the link above as well as our tips for getting started.


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