[R] Wikis for R

Frank E Harrell Jr f.harrell at vanderbilt.edu
Sat Jan 7 15:04:30 CET 2006

Detlef Steuer wrote:
> On Thu, 5 Jan 2006 11:23:04 -0200
> "Fernando Henrique Ferraz P. da Rosa" <academic at feferraz.net> wrote:
>>Martin Maechler writes:
>>> If you go to the bottom of that wikipedia page,
>>> you see that there is an "R Wiki" -- and has been for several
>>> years now (!) at a Hamburg (De) university.
>>> http://fawn.unibw-hamburg.de/cgi-bin/Rwiki.pl?RwikiHome
>>>So, are you sure that another R Wiki is desirable, rather than
>>>have people who "believe in Wiki's for R" use the existing
>>>one(s)?   I believe the main challenge will (similar as for
>>>an "R-beginners" mailing list) to have well-qualified "editors"
>>>to be willing to review and amend what others have written.
>>        IÂ´ve tried to colaborate on the R Wiki hosted by the Hamburg
>>university but the Wiki would get regularlly vandalized by some spam
>>bot, and then I'd have to manually keep reverting it several times. Also
>>the wiki engine used by this wiki is very rudimentary. I think the
>>DokuWiki engine, which is used by Philippe Grosjean is more promising as
>>a workhorse for an 'official' R-wiki. 
> What Fernando says is mostly true. I installed the UseMod Wiki after talking to some of "us" as a test balloon. The engine was chosen according to simplistic installation and a "just-enough" feature set. Perhaps that was a wrong decision. I`m one of the believers in wikis, but mine over here did not fly.
> Probably this and any wiki needs a critical mass for visitors beginning to return and collaborate and therein the Hamburg wiki failed. (One day I wanted to take down the wiki for apparently having no users, but just then someone gave some feedback)
> As Frank Harrel pointed out, this may be because R-help is just too helpful.
> In contrast to Frank I don`t think we should abandon e-mail because of its success. The mailing list is, in my opinion, the single biggest plus R has above all competition.
> The wiki should provide something complementary to r-help. Btw. those who do not search for information in the mailing list archives or on CRAN before asking simple questions won't do so in a wiki or in a bulletin board system. (I find those simply unusable. Am I getting old? I want to edit using my favourite editor, not in some browser window.)
> A central place for example code was my intention, when opening the wiki back then. 
> Back to operating wikis:
> The wiki spamming is a serious problem, especially because I HATE to login to read or edit anything. So the choice is: take the wiki as seriously as work and have a look every other day to remove the spam (or better: form a group of volunteers). That hurts or at least is no fun. Or put restrictions on it. That hurts even more. Perhaps I do not understand Philippe`s "loggable". What does a logfile with IPs help? The spammers are strangers selling ******; I don`t want to find them :-)
> To sum it up:
> There is a very simple way to proceed:
> Philippe uses his Docuwiki install  as official, _general_ Rwiki and I close down mine. The beginners will find their niche in there, if there is a real demand. 
> I wouldnÂ´t mind to give up "my" wiki, because I have to admit it failed to achieve what I would have liked.
> So, Philippe, if you like, you can take over. I would replace my wiki with a notice where to find yours and the community gets a second chance :-)
> Detlef

The current e-mail system places a low burden on users if they follow 
basic posting rules.  The burden is too low and users still do not 
search for past answers and we also get dozens of separate messages on a 
single topic (e.g., ylim on barplots).  As long as everyone allows this, 
a wiki or discussion board will not work.  We need to rethink the e-mail 
system in my view to create motivations for approaches with true 
memories and hierarchical keyword organization instead of using the 
apparent memory-less system.  This should be thought through to include 
the new graphics gallery and a data manipulation examples gallery, and 
other things, and needs to be launched from www.r-project.org IMHO.


>>        I think that the title could be perhaps changed to Rwiki
>>and the contents currently hosted on the Hamburg wiki 'transfered' to 
>>the new location, if the current mantainers of the Hamburg Wiki and
>>Philippe Grosjean agree (IÂ´m cc-ing this msg to them).
>>        This could emerge then as official or semi-oficial R-wiki, to be
>>linked to from the R-project home. 
>>"Though this be randomness, yet there is structure in't."
>>                                           Rosa, F.H.F.P
>>Instituto de MatemÃ¡tica e EstatÃ­stica
>>Universidade de SÃ£o Paulo
>>Fernando Henrique Ferraz P. da Rosa
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Frank E Harrell Jr   Professor and Chair           School of Medicine
                      Department of Biostatistics   Vanderbilt University

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