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

(Ted Harding) Ted.Harding at manchester.ac.uk
Tue Oct 23 19:11:21 CEST 2007

On 23-Oct-07 16:11:12, Tony Plate wrote:
> [...]
> Is there any way on the R-Wiki for people to quickly and easily add an 
> annotation indicating that they believe some particular advice is poor 
> practice?  Ideally, these annotations would be easily searchable  so 
> that other users could find and fix or respond to them.
> -- Tony Plate

I think the ideal medium for this kind of thing (and in my opinion
it can -- and in the future will -- expand to the general domain
of on-line publication) is on the following lines.

A. Someone puts up a document. This is "owned" by its author
and cannot be changed by anyone else. (There is also an argument
for stipulating that on such a medium the author cannot change
it either--the "back-trace" could be meaningful and important).

B. There is one exception to (A). Anyone can "mark" a place in the
document with a link to another contribution (which might be a
further contribution, a comment, a correction, a link to something
else altogether, ... ). All such links can also be followed in the
reverse direction.

C. Rules (A) and (B) appliy to all documents in the hierarchy.

D. At some stage, the original author or anyone else can "wrap up"
what has happened so far by creating a new "root" document. The
previous version can be archived.

E. There is a case for plain-text file format where the content
can be expressed in words. More generally, though (and, of course,
especially for content which includes graphics or mathematics),
a generally-readable file format with the necessary capacilities
should be used. This seems to me to imply PDF (and exclude such
proprietary formats as Word or Excel, and unfortunately even PS
which is not universally readable). Where data need to be included,
this whould be possible using CSV files.

Having said all that, I'm wondering what web format and software
can conveniently implement such a structure. I have very little
experience with Wikis (apart from reading them from time to time),
so I don't really know how well a Wiki would lend itself to this.

There are some other considerations which would be at least

F. Searchability.

G. A user should be able to bring up a tree representation,
using edges to link nodes which, when clicked/hovered on,
would pop up a box giving a brief descrption of what the
link is about; and the user should be able to drop ("prune")
branches which are not of interest in order to simplify the

I'd be very interested to see commments on these thoughts!
Best wishes to all,

E-Mail: (Ted Harding) <Ted.Harding at manchester.ac.uk>
Fax-to-email: +44 (0)870 094 0861
Date: 23-Oct-07                                       Time: 18:11:17
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