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Recently yet another of those error message questions came up on the tag, and it itched to open a community wiki question with the title:

"[R] error : could not find function..."

In which the three most important mistakes would be the answer:

  • check you typed the name right
  • check whether you installed the package ( install.packages("thePackage") )
  • check whether you attached the package ( require("thePackage") )

with some extra tips on how to find from which package a certain function is.

Now given the recent troubles around questions, I wondered if this one would be closed by the herds before we got a chance of making it into a decent wiki for future reference. I was thinking of doing that with some other very common error messages, but I'm hesitating.

Your ideas?

edit :

Question is now here: Error: could not find function ... in R but collecting close votes already... I couldn't edit one of the questions as the answers there always refer specifically to the question at hand, althought the solution can be very general.

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Except don't start the question with [R] -- using tags in the title is redundant and therefore discouraged! ;-) –  Cody Gray Aug 11 '11 at 13:33

1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

If it's a legitimate, programming-related question, and it's phrased as an actual question with separate answers, then there would be nothing wrong with it and it would not (should not?) be closed.

Remember that it's perfectly OK to ask and answer your own question, so long as you follow the rules set out in the FAQ, pretending that you're on Jeopardy! and phrasing it in terms of a question.

If you see a question crop up often, then it's generally a good idea to try and generate a "canonical" question with a really good set of answers, that you can then use to close the other questions as a duplicate of. I've recommended this myself several times, and others have as well.

Note, though, that you might be better off finding a good candidate among the questions that have already been asked, editing it a little to clean it up as much as possible, and then posting the definitive answer to that question. There's no reason to post a new one of your own if you can simply retool an existing question.

And once you've done this, you should definitely edit/suggest an edit to the applicable tag wiki () and include a link to your "canonical" or frequently-asked question so that people will be able to find it easily.

The only part people may or may not disagree with here is whether you need to make it community wiki if you do choose to post your own new question. Personally, I don't think so. If the question is useful, clear, and helpful to others, then you deserve all of the rep you get from upvotes. It shouldn't be mandatory to mark these as community wiki. You might consider marking the answer as community wiki in accordance with the true spirit of community wiki (so that it has a lower threshold for the reputation privileges required for editing), but I see this as somewhat less necessary now that suggested edits for all users, including anonymous ones, have been rolled out.

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