[R] creating an equivalent of r-help on r.stackexchange.com ?

Rolf Turner r.turner at auckland.ac.nz
Mon Feb 3 22:36:21 CET 2014

For what it's worth, I would like to say that I concur completely with 
Don and Bert.  (Also I would like second Bert's vote of thanks to Don 
for expressing the position so clearly.)


Rolf Turner

On 04/02/14 09:56, Bert Gunter wrote:
> Don:
> First, I apologize if this is off topic, but I thought I should reply publicly.
> I would only like to say thank you for so eloquently and elegantly
> summarizing my views, also. Maybe that makes me a dinosaur. If so, I
> happily accept the label.
> I find SO's voting for posting business especially irritating. I wish
> merely to post or to read the posts of others without being subjected
> to some kind of online pseudo game and ratings competition. That alone
> keeps me away. But Don said it better.
> I realize that I may be out of step with the masses here, and the
> masses should certainly decide. Hopefully I won't be around if/when
> they decide that R-help should go.
> Best,
> Bert
> Bert Gunter
> Genentech Nonclinical Biostatistics
> (650) 467-7374
> "Data is not information. Information is not knowledge. And knowledge
> is certainly not wisdom."
> H. Gilbert Welch
> On Mon, Feb 3, 2014 at 12:42 PM, MacQueen, Don <macqueen1 at llnl.gov> 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

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