[R] Protocol for answering basic questions

Jari Oksanen jari.oksanen at oulu.fi
Wed Dec 1 19:14:26 CET 2004

On 1 Dec 2004, at 19:46, DupliseaD at dfo-mpo.gc.ca wrote:

> I have been a member for only a few days but I find the tone of some
> responses are inappropriate for a list dubbing itself a "help list". I 
> also
> completely understand that traffic needs to be kept at a modest level 
> to
> keep advanced users interested; therefore, I suggest that a second 
> help list
> be created to deal with "advanced R help". Belong to both lists if you 
> wish
> and filter your email for cursory glances or a detailed reading. Users 
> must
> judge themselves the level of their queries and perhaps a note saying
> something like "requests to the advanced list are generally made by 
> users
> who already have a very good working knowledge of R" or some very rough
> benchmark for judging your level like 2 years.
> I do not know how much work this would involve or resources available 
> for
> this - it is a blind proposal. I think it might deal with many of the
> problems both beginner and advanced users have with the present list.
You may have not been long enough on this list to see that some of the 
old-time gurus have reached a demigod like status. Demigods have all 
rights to be `rude' (that's almost a definition of a demi-deity). That 
said, I do know your sentiments: I'd be afraid to post a question to 
this list. I also remember that I was shocked that the first message I 
sent here got answers from people like V&R (both) and many others, and 
these were friendly and useful answers (although I could have found the 
answer to my question with careful reading of documents -- it was about 
specifying offset in glm).

This is a subscribed mailing list. As such, this is a restrictive list 
with more stringent rules than open newsgroups. Well, newsgroups can be 
really harsh places, too. I don't think that it would be wise to 
establish a parallel novice mailing list. That would add only one extra 
irritation: cross-posting to several lists. However, I do think that 
novice questions could be be better served in a newsgroup (Usenet) than 
in a closed mailing list. There have been several suggestions of 
transforming this mailing list into a newsgroup, but these suggestions 
have been rejected, and rightly. However, if you want to have novice 
group with slacker netiquette, you could try to establish a parallel 
and alternative newsgroup with different emphasis than this mailing 
list. I am sure that many of the greatest gurus wouldn't follow you 
into this newsgroup, but they would keep to this mailing list. If you 
want to  have answers to 'basic', 'silly' or 'simple' questions, you 
don't need them either.

Suggesting a Usenet newsgroup a generation thing. I think some of the 
younger users would prefer a Wiki or a Forum (these are words I've 
seen, but I wouldn't visit places like this, talking about my 

cheers, jari oksanen
Jari Oksanen, Oulu, Finland

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