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

Barry Rowlingson b.rowlingson at lancaster.ac.uk
Mon Nov 25 16:58:22 CET 2013

Joran (on StackOverflow chat, funnily enough) has just pointed us to this:

http://www.win.tue.nl/~bvasiles/papers/cscw14.pdf  "How Social Q&A
Sites are Changing Knowledge Sharing
in Open Source Software Communities"

which includes a graph of postings to R-help and questions tagged
'[r]' on StackOverflow. By the end of 2012 SO was getting about twice
as many [r]-tagged questions as R-help was getting new threads.

The paper is a very detailed discussion on the use of mailing lists
and discussion sites.

On Mon, Nov 25, 2013 at 3:25 PM, Marc Schwartz <marc_schwartz at me.com> wrote:
> 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
> Petr,
> I may be confusing your final statement above, but the **main** R-Help
> archive is current to today:
>   https://stat.ethz.ch/pipermail/r-help/
> 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:
>   https://stat.ethz.ch/pipermail/r-help/2009-January/184196.html
> 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.
> Regards,
> Marc Schwartz
> ______________________________________________
> R-help at r-project.org mailing list
> https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-help
> PLEASE do read the posting guide http://www.R-project.org/posting-guide.html
> and provide commented, minimal, self-contained, reproducible code.

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