[R] A comment about R:

Peter Flom flom at ndri.org
Tue Jan 3 19:11:53 CET 2006

>>> "Ben Fairbank" <BEN at SSANET.COM> 1/3/2006 12:42 pm >>> wrote
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
curve is a serious problem, and in the past I have discussed, off
with one of the very senior contributors to this list the possibility
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
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
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?

I, for one, have had this experience.  I am usually hesitant to post
elementary questions here.

However, I think that the 'cogent reasons' given by 'one of the very
senior contributors' are valid.
I think that  a 'newcomers list' would only really be useful if it
included some experts who could respond,
out of generosity.  I don't think the R community lacks generosity -
obviously not, given all the thousands of 
hours people have spent writing the language and all the packages and
so on.  

But these generous people have different abilities and get pleasure in
different ways.  Some people get a thrill
out of answering complex questions that require them to come up with
novel solutions involving complex code.
Some people get a thrill out of helping newbies over the humps. 
Dividing the lists might help the experts, as much as it helps the


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