[R] Should there be an R-beginners list?

Bert Gunter gunter.berton at gene.com
Sun Nov 24 18:13:30 CET 2013


If this has been previously discussed and settled, please say so and
refer me to the discussion. If you believe this to be inappropriate or
otherwise frivolous, also please say so, as I do not wish to waste
your time or this space.

I write as a long time reader and sometimes contributor to r-help. Due
to R's growth in usage by a broad data analysis community (engineers,
scientists, social scientists, finance, "informaticians", as well as
more "traditional" statisticians), this list seems to me to becoming
deluged by requests for help by "casual" users and students for whom R
is not going to be regularly or extensively used. I would characterize
this group as having only basic statistical, programming, and data
analysis skills. This is not meant as a criticism, and there are
certainly many for whom this is inaccurate. But ...

By and large, such users have not spend much time with R's docs,
including tutorials or FAQ's. Many of their posts reflect this, and
can be answered with basic replies or references to docs, to wit: What
is the difference between "ifelse" and "if else"? FAQ 7.31. Confusion
of data frames, matrices, and spreadsheet tables; etc.

Would it be useful, then, to establish an R-beginners list
specifically to absorb this traffic and free up R-help from what I
would say was its original intent, to provide a forum for serious,
more dedicated R users (Again, no criticism is intended here)?

I realize that, whether or not this suggestion is worthwhile, there
are several ways it could fail. First, too few might be interested in
responding to posts on the new list. Second, too few might consider
themselves "beginners" who post to it. Etc. So I would certainly say
any such effort ought to be a pilot and tentative .

I'll stop here. Again, criticize freely and/or send me off somewhere
else to prior discussion. Or to where it should be discussed. Or just
ignore, of course.



Bert Gunter
Genentech Nonclinical Biostatistics

(650) 467-7374

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