[R] A Few Suggestions to help out newbies

Anthony Rossini rossini at u.washington.edu
Tue Apr 2 16:37:49 CEST 2002

> On Tue, Apr 02, 2002 at 03:28:13AM -0800, Zed Shaw wrote:

> > 7)  Create the "Encyclopedia of Statstics" online.  I would kill for a
> > repository of all the "trade secrets" of statistics, related to R.  For
> > example: a brief discussion of the merits of factor analysis,
> > considering its heritage with IQ tests.  Or, "The History of Student".
> > If this were organized right, it would even be possible to access it
> > from R itself and provide people with help with the statistics part of
> > using R (which is probably the most difficult portion).

This is a great idea, one which I started working on around late 1994 (the "online history and/or course thing").  One of the cool things that the early WWW had going for it was lots of people trying to integrate and collaborate, and one such project was the world-wide web encyclopaedia.   It had two extremely fatal flaws -- funding and academic credit (for people who worked on it).

It has a secondary flaw -- people worry more about contributing to a documentation project than to a software project (at least in my experience -- I've had 2 on-line text books since 1996 that many, many people have asked for hard-copy (at least PDF/PS versions) of).  But apparently the asking price was too high (fix mistakes/typos or contribute a paragraph).

And while I'm ranting, there are another set of problems -- people prefer to speculate than to write (code/docs/prototypes), and write than read (existing frameworks, and integrate with them).  Leads to many wheel reinventions.

If you really want something like that (on-line encyclopedia), there are plenty of approximations, for example.  I think the Statistica folk (I might be getting the package wrong) have something like that on their WWW site.

Of course, I didn't integrate with R back then, R wasn't too much at that point (and XML wasn't really worth noticing, let along developing with, until 1997/1998)...  But note the real point -- discussing how great something would be is quite silly until you attempt a prototype of it, to see how it might work out.  

And to reiterate what someone else mentioned -- most of the core people are busy; suggestions are best accompanied with at least a prototype to be fixed.

Finally, with respect to SPC -- yes, all the tools are there, in the sense that EVERY stat package, including plain excel, has all the tools.  Even C and Fortran have all the tools, in the sense I'm talking about.  Functions to make it easier, on the other hand, aren't present (yet).  And this is the crux of the matter.


A.J. Rossini                            Rsrch Asst Professor of Biostatistics
rossini at u.washington.edu                http://software.biostat.washington.edu/
Biostatistics/Univ. of Washington       206-543-1044 (3286=fax) (Thursdays)
HIV Vaccine Trials Network/FHCRC        206-667-7025 (4812=fax) (M/Tu/W)
(Friday location is generally unknown).

r-help mailing list -- Read http://www.ci.tuwien.ac.at/~hornik/R/R-FAQ.html
Send "info", "help", or "[un]subscribe"
(in the "body", not the subject !)  To: r-help-request at stat.math.ethz.ch

More information about the R-help mailing list