[R] A Few Suggestions to help out newbies

Emmanuel Paradis paradis at isem.univ-montp2.fr
Thu Apr 4 12:15:36 CEST 2002

At 06:37 02/04/02 -0800, Anthony Rossini wrote:
>> 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
>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
>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
>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.

I take this opportunity to mention that I revised thoroughly "R for
beginners" (currently on CRAN in French and in English). The new version is
now about 60 pages long (30 for the previous one). For the moment, only a
French version is available, you can download it with the following link
(only by FTP):


Translation in other languages is in progress. As usual, comments and
suggestions are welcome.


Emmanuel Paradis
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