Re: [R] Splitting the list

From: John Maindonald <>
Date: Thu 05 Jan 2006 - 11:56:43 EST

I've changed the heading because this really is another thread. I think it inevitable that there will, in the course of time, be other lists that are devoted, in some shape or form, to the concerns of practitioners (at all levels) who are using R. One development I'd not like to see is fracture along application area lines, allowing those who are comfortable in coteries whose focus was somewhat relevant to standards of use of statistics in that area 15 or 20 years ago to continue that way. One of the great things about R, in its development to date, has been its role in exposing people from a variety of application area communities to statistical traditions different from that in which they have been nurtured. I expect it to have a continuing role in raising statistical analysis standards, in "raising the bar".

Another possibility is fracture along geographic boundaries. This has both benefits (one being that its is easier within a smaller circle of people who are more likely to know each other for contributors to establish a rapport that will make the list really effective; also there will be notices and discussion that are of local interest) and drawbacks (it risks separating subscribers off from important discussions on the official R lists.) On balance, this may be the better way to go. Indeed subscribers to ANZSTAT (Australian and NZ statistical list) will know that an R-downunder list, hosted at Auckland, is currently in test-drive mode. There should be enough subscribers in common between this and the official R lists that the south-eastern portion of Gondwana does not, at any time in the very near future, float off totally on its own.

There are of course other possibilities, and it may be useful to canvass them.

John Maindonald email: phone : +61 2 (6125)3473 fax : +61 2(6125)5549 Mathematical Sciences Institute, Room 1194, John Dedman Mathematical Sciences Building (Building 27) Australian National University, Canberra ACT 0200.

On 4 Jan 2006, at 10:00 PM, wrote:

> From: Ben Fairbank <BEN@SSANET.COM>
> Date: 4 January 2006 4:42:31 AM
> To:
> Subject: Re: [R] A comment about R:
> One implicit point in Kjetil's message is the difficulty of learning
> enough of R to make its use a natural and desired "first choice
> alternative," which I see as the point at which real progress and
> learning commence with any new language. I agree that the long
> learning
> curve is a serious problem, and in the past I have discussed, off
> list,
> with one of the very senior contributors to this list the
> possibility of
> splitting the list into sections for newcomers and for advanced users.
> He gave some very cogent reasons for not splitting, such as the
> possibility of newcomers' getting bad advice from others only slightly
> more advanced than themselves. And yet I suspect that a newcomers'
> section would encourage the kind of mutually helpful collegiality
> among
> newcomers that now characterizes the exchanges of the more experienced
> users on this list. I know that I have occasionally been reluctant to
> post issues that seem too elementary or trivial to vex the others
> on the
> list with and so have stumbled around for an hour or so seeking the
> solution to a simple problem. Had I the counsel of others similarly
> situated progress might have been far faster. Have other newcomers or
> occasional users had the same experience?
> Is it time to reconsider splitting this list into two sections?
> Certainly the volume of traffic could justify it.
> Ben Fairbank

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