Re: [R] Rating R Helpers

From: Pablo G Goicoechea <>
Date: Mon, 03 Dec 2007 10:37:51 +0100

   I'm just a R user who joined the list searching solution for a problem.    I do not think rating helpers is a good idea. For once, they do it freely;    no need to harrash (?) anybody. On the other hand, it could have the    opposite effect; people afraid to get a bad rating do not post their    potentially valid answers.
   But more importantly, the list is full with examples of how to accomplish    the same result with different approaches. Some might be more elegant than    others, but for sure they show R potentialities. And I have seen several    corrections/discussions among old timers themselves.    Packages reviews are another issue. But if anybody is going through all that    work, why not to make the appropriate corrections to the packages? They are    GPL, aren't they?
   Mark Kimpel escribió:

I'll throw one more idea into the mix. I agree with Bill that a rating system for respondents is probably not that practical and of not the highest importance. It also seems like a recipe for creating inter-personal problems that the list doesn't need.

I do like Bill's idea of a review system for packages, which could be incorporated into my idea that follows...

What I would find useful would be some sort of tagging system for messages. I can't count the times I've remembered seeing a message that addresses a question I have down the road but, when Googled, I can't find it. It would be so nice, for example, to reliably be able to find all messages related to a certain package or package function posted within the last X days. This could be implemented as simply as asking posters to provide keywords at the end of a message, but it would be great if they could somehow be pulled out of a message and stored in a DB. For instance keywords could be surrounded by a sequence of special characters, which a parser could then extract and store in a DB along with the message.

Of course, this would be work to set up, but how many of our "experts" who so kindly give of their time, get exasperated when similar questions keep popping up on the list? Also, if we had a web-accessable DB, the responses, not the responders, could be rated as to how well a reply takes care of an issue. Thus, over time, a sort of auto-wiki could be born. I can think of more uses for this as well. For example a developer could quickly check to see what usability problems or suggestions have cropped up of on individual package.


On Dec 1, 2007 2:21 AM, [1]<> wrote:

This seems a little impractical to me. People respond so much at random and most only tackle questions with which they feel comfortable. As it's not a competition in any sense, it's going to be hard to rank people in any effective way. But suppose you succeed in doing so, then what?

To me a much more urgent initiative is some kind of user online review system for packages, even something as simple as that used by has for customer review of books.

I think the need for this is rather urgent, in fact. Most packages are very good, but I regret to say some are pretty inefficient and others downright dangerous. You don't want to discourage people from submitting their work to CRAN, but at the same time you do want some mechanism that allows users to relate their experience with it, good or bad.

Bill Venables
CSIRO Laboratories
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-----Original Message-----
From: [4] [[5]] On Behalf Of Doran, Harold
Sent: Saturday, 1 December 2007 6:13 AM
To: R Help
Subject: [R] Rating R Helpers

Since R is open source and help may come from varied levels of experience on R-Help, I wonder if it might be helpful to construct a method that can be used to "rate" those who provide help on this list.

This is something that is done on other comp lists, like

I think some of the reasons for this are pretty transparent, but I suppose one reason is that one could decide to implement the advise of those with "superior" or "expert" levels. In other words, you can trust the advice of someone who is more experienced more than someone who is not. Currently, there is no way to discern who on this list is really an R expert and who is not. Of course, there is R core, but most people don't actually know who these people are (at least I surmise that to be true).

If this is potentially useful, maybe one way to begin the development of such ratings is to allow the original poster to "rate" the level of help from those who responded. Maybe something like a very simple questionnaire on a likert-like scale that the original poster would respond to upon receiving help which would lead to the accumulation of points for the responders. Higher points would result in higher levels of expertise (e.g., novice, ..., wizaRd).

Just a random thought. What do others think?


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   Pablo G Goicoechea

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