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

Barry Rowlingson b.rowlingson at lancaster.ac.uk
Wed Feb 5 09:20:39 CET 2014

On Wed, Feb 5, 2014 at 6:32 AM, Liviu Andronic <landronimirc at gmail.com> wrote:

> So in the end my proposal is not necessarily for r-help to go to SE,
> but more for R to have its own Q&A forum/wiki for helping R users.
> This could perfectly take the form of setting up its own open-source
> https://github.com/ialbert/biostar-central Q&A interface (a SE-like
> web interface) on R Core's servers. In this case the website would
> look like the following: http://www.biostars.org/ .

 Have you seen Field Of Dreams? Kevin Costner builds a baseball
stadium in the middle of nowhere and all his favourite baseball stars
appear out of the corn. He does it because he hear a voice say "if you
build it, they will come".

 R-core are not going to do anything for users. They are primarily, if
I recall one of Brian Ripley's talks correctly, doing it for
themselves. Quite right too.

R Core doesn't have servers - at least not ones they can just dedicate
to running and maintaining a Q+A site, especially one that could scale
up massively. That requires money for hardware or cloud servers, admin
time, sys maintenance time etc.

So if you think something is a good idea, build it, and they (the
users) will come. For example, I don't go to the r-project site for
help any more. www.rdocumentation.org has a much nicer search
interface. Someone started asking questions with the [R] tag on
StackOverflow, and now a lot of people hang around there. The RStudio
guys didn't whine on R-Core to build a nice user interface - they
built it, and look what happened.

Let's leave R-Core to carry on with the core, and let the community
build around it. If you can raise the cash to fund an amazon server
for a year that can run one of the StackExchange clones, and are
willing to admin it, then you can surely advertise it here and if
people like it they will come. Maybe you can build a business model
round advertising, consulting, or premium Q+A services (these exist:
my gf gets paid to answer what are probably homework questions...) to
keep it going. If you can't then you should appreciate what you just
asked R-Core to do for nothing.


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