[R] creating an equivalent of r-help on r.stackexchange.com ? (was: Re: Should there be an R-beginners list?)

Liviu Andronic landronimirc at gmail.com
Sun Feb 2 22:49:20 CET 2014

Dear Duncan,
I discovered something interesting wrt to the licensing and mirroring
of user-contributed material on StackExchange.  Please read below.

On Sun, Nov 24, 2013 at 9:00 PM, Duncan Murdoch
<murdoch.duncan at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I'm not aware of a discussion on this, but I would say no.
>> Fragmentation is bad. Further fragmentation is worse.
>> TL;DR
>> =====
>> Actually I'd say all mailing lists except r-devel should be moving to
>> StackOverlow in the future (disclaimer: I'm not affiliated with it).
> I would generally agree with you, except for a few points.
> 1.  I avoid StackOverflow, because they claim copyright on the compilation.
> As I read their terms of service, it would be illegal for anyone to download
> and duplicate all postings about R.  So a posting there is only available as
> long as they choose to make it available. Postings to the mailing list are
> archived in several places.
It seems that StackOverflow is officially proposing user-generated
content for download/mirroring:

"All community-contributed content on Stack Exchange is licensed under
the Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0 license. " And it is currently being
mirrored at least at the Internet Archive:

So, in principle, it would be possible/desirable to:
- spin the 'r' tag from StackOverflow and propose an r.stackexchange.com at
http://area51.stackexchange.com/categories/8/technology . Such a SE
site would be similar to http://mathematica.stackexchange.com/
- involve R Core to give blessing for using the R logo, if necessary.
This would be similar to what Ubuntu does with AskUbuntu:
- set a mirror on r-project.org for all the user content that is
produced by r.stackexchange.com , and thus allow R Core to keep the
info publicly available at all times. The mirroring on Internet
Archive would still hold.

> 2.  I think an interface like StackOverflow is better than the mailing list
> interface, and will eventually win out.  R-help needs to do nothing, once
> someone puts together something like StackOverflow that attracts most of the
> people who give good answers, R-help will just fade away.
The advantages for such a move are countless (especially wrt to
efficiently organizing R-related knowledge and directing users to
appropriate sources of info), so I won't go into that. I would only
note that most 'r-sig-*' MLs would become obsolete in such a setup,
and would be replaced by the much more efficient tagging system of the
SE Q&A web interface (for example, all posts appropriate for r-sig-gui
would simply be tagged with 'gui'; no need for duplicated efforts of
monitoring multiple mailing lists).



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