[R-wiki] Gelman's comments about R tips vs Wiki

Gavin Simpson gavin.simpson at ucl.ac.uk
Sun Apr 23 12:28:22 CEST 2006

On Sun, 2006-04-23 at 05:57 -0400, Gabor Grothendieck wrote:
> On 4/23/06, Philippe Grosjean <phgrosjean at sciviews.org> wrote:
> > Tony Plate wrote:
> >  > [...] (see hereunder for full post)
> >  > However, maybe this can be partially addressed by having larger index
> >  > pages, each one pointing to many different small example pages. [...]
> >
> > Exactly! Speaking about "browsing" the tips, the key is not to have all
> > tips on one page, but an index, table of content, summary, or
> > whatever-you-call-it page. You browse that page and click on the links
> > you want. This is more effective than browsing tens of thousands of
> > lines to discover that the tips you are looking for is the forelast one,
> > that is, the 9,999th one!
> >
> You want to browse the code itself, not just an index.  The way
> you learn R is to look at a lot of code and not by having to waste
> time jumping to dozens or hundreds of different pages.


/you/ might learn R best that way, but I doubt many people will. From my
own experience and from teaching R to colleagues and with students on
short courses is that they like a reasonable grounding in the basics to
allow them to get started, and then when they started doing their own
thing they want to ask "how do I do x?" Scanning a list of tips allows
them to drill down to the few items that sound like they might answer
their question. People don't want to read page after page of code -
especially on a screen - just to find the one sentence or line of code
that will help them solve their immediate problem.


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