[R] Input appreciated: R teaching idea + a way to improve R-wiki

David Airey david.airey at Vanderbilt.Edu
Mon Oct 22 22:46:38 CEST 2007


I would love more quality online documentation around the same level  
as at UCLA (http://www.ats.ucla.edu/stat/; the Stata pages are  
fantastic), but I think I would like the first draft responsibility  
to fall to the well qualified instructor (Hi Matt!), and those with  
at least a Masters in statistics.

I chose to learn Stata in 2002, because the documentation was far  
superior. R documentation has improved immensely, and now there is a  
lot more material to get average scientists (like me) comfortable  
with using R packages and writing R functions. However, R  
documentation is still too terse with regard to well explained  
examples, compared to other software. You can find examples, sure,  
but they may not be so well explained in the function help file.


> I appreciate the input. Off-list, someone suggested that I set up a
> class wiki, and have this be the first sieve. I could do some quality
> control there first (perhaps sending the link to this list serve at
> the end of the semester for others to check over), and then post the
> final manuals on the R wiki. I think its a good idea and am mulling
> it, but part of me asks: why not just post the (perhaps imperfect)
> manuals on the wiki and allow the wiki to do what wikis are supposed
> to do?
> I guess I resonated with Ricardo Pietrobon's point: the essence of a
> wiki is that it is evolving and self-correcting. Even to get something
> started over there would be an improvement. If people wait until they
> are 100% certain that everything is 100% accurate, a much diminished
> pool of people would post... The accuracy of wikis improves as more
> people post. In other words, I think that it is the number of posters,
> and not necessarily the signal:noise ratio, that drives wiki
> accuracy...
> Matt

Matthew C Keller
Asst. Professor of Psychology
University of Colorado at Boulder

David C. Airey, Ph.D.
Pharmacology Research Assistant Professor
Center for Human Genetics Research Member

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