[R] Rating R Helpers

Pablo G Goicoechea pgoikoetxea at neiker.net
Mon Dec 3 10:37:51 CET 2007

   I'm just a R user who joined the list searching solution for a problem.
   I do not think rating helpers is a good idea. For once, they do it freely;
   no  need  to harrash (?) anybody. On the other hand, it could have the
   opposite  effect;  people afraid to get a bad rating do not post their
   potentially valid answers.
   But more importantly, the list is full with examples of how to accomplish
   the same result with different approaches. Some might be more elegant than
   others, but for sure they show R potentialities. And I have seen several
   corrections/discussions among old timers themselves.
   Packages reviews are another issue. But if anybody is going through all that
   work, why not to make the appropriate corrections to the packages? They are
   GPL, aren't they?
   Mark Kimpel escribió:

I'll throw one more idea into the mix. I agree with Bill that a rating
system for respondents is probably not that practical and of not the highest
importance. It also seems like a recipe for creating inter-personal problems
that the list doesn't need.

I do like Bill's idea of a review system for packages, which could be
incorporated into my idea that follows...

What I would find useful would be some sort of tagging system for messages.
I can't count the times I've remembered seeing a message that addresses a
question I have down the road but, when Googled, I can't find it. It would
be so nice, for example, to reliably be able to find all messages related to
a certain package or package function posted within the last X days. This
could be implemented as simply as asking posters to provide keywords at the
end of a message, but it would be great if they could somehow be pulled out
of a message and stored in a DB. For instance keywords could be surrounded
by a sequence of special characters, which a parser could then extract and
store in a DB along with the message.

Of course, this would be work to set up, but how many of our "experts" who
so kindly give of their time, get exasperated when similar questions keep
popping up on the list? Also, if we had a web-accessable DB, the responses,
not the responders, could be rated as to how well a reply takes care of an
issue. Thus, over time, a sort of auto-wiki could be born. I can think of
more uses for this as well. For example a developer could quickly check to
see what usability problems or suggestions have cropped up of on individual


On Dec 1, 2007 2:21 AM, [1]<Bill.Venables at csiro.au> wrote:

This seems a little impractical to me.  People respond so much at random
and most only tackle questions with which they feel comfortable.  As
it's not a competition in any sense, it's going to be hard to rank
people in any effective way.  But suppose you succeed in doing so, then

To me a much more urgent initiative is some kind of user online review
system for packages, even something as simple as that used by Amazon.com
has for customer review of books.

I think the need for this is rather urgent, in fact.  Most packages are
very good, but I regret to say some are pretty inefficient and others
downright dangerous.  You don't want to discourage people from
submitting their work to CRAN, but at the same time you do want some
mechanism that allows users to relate their experience with it, good or

Bill Venables
CSIRO Laboratories
PO Box 120, Cleveland, 4163
Office Phone (email preferred): +61 7 3826 7251
Fax (if absolutely necessary):  +61 7 3826 7304
Mobile:                         +61 4 8819 4402
Home Phone:                     +61 7 3286 7700
[2]mailto:Bill.Venables at csiro.au

-----Original Message-----
From: [4]r-help-bounces at r-project.org [[5]mailto:r-help-bounces at r-project.org]
On Behalf Of Doran, Harold
Sent: Saturday, 1 December 2007 6:13 AM
To: R Help
Subject: [R] Rating R Helpers

Since R is open source and help may come from varied levels of
experience on R-Help, I wonder if it might be helpful to construct a
method that can be used to "rate" those who provide help on this list.

This is something that is done on other comp lists, like

I think some of the reasons for this are pretty transparent, but I
suppose one reason is that one could decide to implement the advise of
those with "superior" or "expert" levels. In other words, you can trust
the advice of someone who is more experienced more than someone who is
not. Currently, there is no way to discern who on this list is really an
R expert and who is not. Of course, there is R core, but most people
don't actually know who these people are (at least I surmise that to be

If this is potentially useful, maybe one way to begin the development of
such ratings is to allow the original poster to "rate" the level of help
from those who responded. Maybe something like a very simple
questionnaire on a likert-like scale that the original poster would
respond to upon receiving help which would lead to the accumulation of
points for the responders. Higher points would result in higher levels
of expertise (e.g., novice, ..., wizaRd).

Just a random thought. What do others think?


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   Pablo G Goicoechea

   Bioteknología Saila / Dpto Biotecnología


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   01080 Vitoria-Gasteiz (SPAIN)

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   [13]pgoikoetxea at neiker.net


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