Posts Tagged ‘unproductivity’

Stack Exchange: Why I dropped out

13 May 2013

Stack Exchange is a series of question-and-answer sites, including Stack Overflow for programming and Cross Validated for statistics. I was introduced to these sites at a short talk by Barry Rowlingson at the 2011 UseR! meeting, “Why R-help must die!“

These sites have a lot of advantages over R-help: The format is easier to read, math and code can be nicely formatted, the questions are tagged, search is easier, and there should be less redundancy.

Additional pros

  • It’s good to help people.
  • It’s fun to rack up reputation points for helping people.
  • It’s good exercise, in both thinking about statistical questions and in articulating useful answers (and there are some interesting questions).

However, some cons

So I gave up

I started spending time on stackoverflow and cross-validated soon after returning from UseR! 2011, but I lost my patience and quit within three months.

One needs to treat each question with respect, and I eventually seemed to lose my ability to sustain such goodwill. I think I take things too personally.

Update

I should clarify: I do continue to use Stack Exchange, mostly through google. Many problems I run into have already been answered. I just don’t have the right temperament to participate regularly in answering others’ questions.

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Gamified

26 Sep 2011

Barry Rowlingson gave an interesting talk at UseR 2011, “Why R-help must die!” He suggested the Q-and-A type sites Stack Overflow (on programming) and Cross Validated (on statistics), both part of Stack Exchange.

An interesting feature of these sites is that, in addition to voting up and down on the questions and answers, one accrues reputation points. I’ve found this to be surprisingly addictive, and perhaps that’s the goal. Consider the O’Reilly book Gamification by design.

I agree with Barry that these sites are an excellent replacement for R-help, which I stopped paying attention to years ago. The format is easier to read, math and code can be nicely formatted, the questions are tagged, search is easier, and there should be less redundancy.

But currently the R questions at StackOverflow are rather advanced, and so I’ve found the general statistics site, Cross Validated, a bit more fun (that is, I’m more able to answer the questions).