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

Marc Schwartz marc_schwartz at me.com
Mon Nov 25 16:25:45 CET 2013

On Nov 25, 2013, at 7:56 AM, PIKAL Petr <petr.pikal at precheza.cz> wrote:

> Hi
> I doubt if people start to search answers if they often do not search them in help pages and documentation provided. 
> I must agree with Duncan that if Stackoverflow was far more better than this help list most people would seek advice there then here. Is there any evidence in decreasing traffic here? 
> Anyway, similar discussion went in 2003 with outcome that was not in favour for separate beginner list http://tolstoy.newcastle.edu.au/R/help/03b/7944.html
> Petr
> BTW it is pitty that r help archive does not extend over year 2012. I found that *Last message date: Tue 31 Jan 2012 - 12:19:21 GMT


I may be confusing your final statement above, but the **main** R-Help archive is current to today:


That being said, as one who has been interacting on R-Help (and other R-* lists) for a dozen years or so, I would have to say that one would need to have their head in the sand to not be cognizant of the dramatic decline in the traffic on R-Help in recent years. Simply keeping subjective track of the declining daily traffic ought to be sufficient.

Due to work related time constraints, my posting here in recent times has dropped notably. I do still read many of the R-Help posts and along with Martin, am co-moderator on R-Devel. So am still involved in that capacity.

I do follow SO and SE via RSS feed, so am aware of the increasing traffic there, albeit, I have not posted there.

In addition, there are a multitude of other online locations where R related posts have begun to accumulate. These include various LinkedIn groups, R related blogs, ResearchGate and others. I do believe, however, that SO is the dominant force in the shift of traffic.

To answer Petr's question above, I updated and re-ran some code that I had used some years ago to estimate the traffic on various lists/fora:


To that end, I am attaching a PDF file that contains a barplot of the annual R-Help traffic volume since 1997, through this month. The grey bars represent the actual annual traffic volumes of posts to R-Help.

For 2013, I added a red segment to the bar, which shows the projected number of posts for the full year, albeit, it is simply based upon the mean number of posts per day, averaged over the YTD volume, projected over the remaining days in the year, without any seasonal adjustments. So it may be optimistic, as we are coming into the holiday season for many.

Bottom line, while the trend was dramatically positive through 2010, peaking at a little over 41,000 total posts, the volume has just as dramatically declined in 2013 to a projected ~21,400. This means that the volume for 2013 has dropped back to the approximate volume of 2005.

Only time will tell if the dramatic decline will continue, or reach some new reasonable asymptote that is simply reflective of the distribution of traffic on various other online resources.

To the original query posted by Bert, I would say no, there is not a need for a beginner's list.


Marc Schwartz

-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: R-Help.pdf
Type: application/pdf
Size: 4934 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <https://stat.ethz.ch/pipermail/r-help/attachments/20131125/d021dc80/attachment.pdf>
-------------- next part --------------

More information about the R-help mailing list