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

Clint Bowman clint at ecy.wa.gov
Mon Feb 3 22:14:54 CET 2014


Thanks for the brilliant summary of my thoughts.


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On Mon, 3 Feb 2014, MacQueen, Don wrote:

> Every browser-based interface I've ever seen has a number of features that
> I find to be huge deterrents. To mention just two:
> - They waste copious amounts of screen space on irrelevant things such as
> "votes", the number of views, the elapsed time since something or other
> happened, fancy web-page headers, and so on. Oh, and advertisements. The
> Mathematica stackexchange example given in a link in one of the emails
> below (http://mathematica.stackexchange.com/) illustrates these
> shortcomings -- and it's not the worst such example.
> - In most if not all cases, one has to login before posting. I have too
> many usernames and passwords as it is.
> Right now, at this very moment, in my email client's window I can see and
> browse the subject lines of 20 threads in r-help. And that's using only
> about half of my screens vertical space. In contrast, in the Mathematica
> stackexchange example, I can see at most 10, and that only by using the
> entire vertical space of my screen. The "From" column in my email client
> shows the names of several of the people contributing to the thread, which
> the browser interface does not. In the email client, I can move through
> messages, and between messages in a thread using my keyboard. In a
> browser, I have to do lots of mousing and clicking, which is much less
> efficient.
> As it is now, r-help messages come to me. I don't have to start up a
> browser. So it's much easier to go take a quick look at what's new at any
> time.
> True, I had to subscribe to the mailing list, which involves a username
> and password. But once it's done, it's done. I don't have to login before
> posting, which means I don't have to remember yet another username and
> password.
> What "...duplicated efforts of monitoring multiple mailing lists)"? I have
> no duplicated effort...in fact, I have almost no effort at all, since the
> messages come to me. There was some initial setup, i.e., to filter
> different r-* messages to different mailboxes in my email client, but now
> that that's done, it's as simple as clicking on the correct mailbox.
> In other words, in every way that's important to me, the mailing list
> approach is superior. I do not support abandoning the mailing list system
> for any alternative.
> -Don
> -- 
> Don MacQueen
> Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
> 7000 East Ave., L-627
> Livermore, CA 94550
> 925-423-1062
> On 2/2/14 1:49 PM, "Liviu Andronic" <landronimirc at gmail.com> wrote:
>> 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:
>> http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2014/01/stack-exchange-cc-data-now-hosted-by
>> -the-internet-archive/?cb=1
>> "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:
>> https://archive.org/details/stackexchange
>> 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:
>> http://meta.askubuntu.com/questions/5444/is-ask-ubuntu-official-ubuntu
>> - 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).
>> Opinions?
>> Liviu
>> ______________________________________________
>> R-help at r-project.org mailing list
>> https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-help
>> PLEASE do read the posting guide
>> http://www.R-project.org/posting-guide.html
>> and provide commented, minimal, self-contained, reproducible code.
> ______________________________________________
> R-help at r-project.org mailing list
> https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-help
> PLEASE do read the posting guide http://www.R-project.org/posting-guide.html
> and provide commented, minimal, self-contained, reproducible code.

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