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There is a small but significant R-community developing at stack overflow. For those who don't know R: it is a full programming language specifically directed towards statistics and data analysis. As could be expected, the voting rate for the R tag is substantially lower than for other tags. This makes it difficult to distinguish the good questions and answers.

I'm looking for ways to motivate those people to vote more often. Any ideas?

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We should offer some sort of badge to encourage voting ;) – Michael Mrozek Sep 7 '10 at 19:38
Well, it seems to me as if those badges are not exactly an incentive to the people following the R tag... – Joris Meys Sep 7 '10 at 19:41
Related (merge?): [ Have you noticed that questions tagged with Flex are rarely voted up? ](…) – kennytm Sep 7 '10 at 19:43
How are you calculating the voting rate? What tags are you comparing it to? – Bill the Lizard Sep 7 '10 at 19:55
I checked other programming tags. Maximum vote for R : 97. Minimum vote for R: -4. Compare this to Java : 289 / -16 , Perl: 99 / -14 , Python : 551 / -51 , ... It's a gut feeling, I might be wrong as well. – Joris Meys Sep 7 '10 at 20:03
You're an R programmer and you're comparing max and min values? ;) – Bill the Lizard Sep 7 '10 at 20:12
@BilltheLizard: Right on! Let's see some medians, standard deviations, and bell curves! :) – MPelletier Sep 7 '10 at 20:17
@Bill Correction: I'm a lazy R programmer and I didn't bother about data collection. Got the point : stop complaining, start voting! – Joris Meys Sep 7 '10 at 20:33
@Joris - Back of envelope here: R tag has ~2,000 uses while Java tag has ~66,000 uses. The max upvoted R post of 100 and Java of 300 suddenly look like maybe some R questions are getting voted on a lot compared to R's popularity... hard to tell w/o .... ummmmm.... statistics. – Peter Ajtai Sep 7 '10 at 20:36
@Joris: Sorry about the snarkiness, but I couldn't resist. Most R programmers I know are really statisticians who got roped into programming somehow. You're comparing outliers when you want to be comparing averages. You should be looking at average votes/question, votes/answer, or votes/view to get a meaningful measurement of how people are voting per tag. – Bill the Lizard Sep 7 '10 at 20:37
What makes R special that we should worry about getting people to vote for it in particular? Why should we be worrying about my favorite niche tags? I mean [latex] and [make] are really struggling here. Can't I get some love, too? – dmckee Sep 7 '10 at 21:18
@dmckee: That's only because looking for latex on Google often brings up NSFW results... And yet the R people think they have it bad! – MPelletier Sep 7 '10 at 21:45
up vote 4 down vote accepted

"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason." -- Jack Handy

If you want votes to mean something, you don't want people just tossing giving them out for the heck of it. "Oooh, this question mentions R - I've heard of that, UPVOTE!!"

Ever notice how some of the most up-voted questions and answers on SO are also the most useless? Favorite lists, GTKY questions, etc. - stuff that readers don't have to think about, but up-vote purely because they identify something familiar. The other extreme are questions and answers that only a handful of people in the world could ever understand or appreciate. If you want meaningful votes, you have to look for something that falls between these.

R seems to be on the low end of the spectrum, but hardly at the extreme edge. Questions and answers do get some attention. They may not generate the same kind of rep that, say, C# Q&A does, but then... nothing does.

If you feel R Q&A needs more votes, go vote. You have enough votes to burn to make a sizable difference, if you really care enough to do so. Whether that's for the better or not depends largely on how much care you put into it...

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For some reason I have to look up GTKY every time I see it, and every time I'm disappointed in what it means. – Bill the Lizard Sep 7 '10 at 20:45
@Bill - It must me the silent K. I have the same issue. – Peter Ajtai Sep 7 '10 at 20:52
@Peter: Thanks, I thought I must have a synapse misfiring or something. :) – Bill the Lizard Sep 7 '10 at 21:02
@Bill: I don't know why, but the Greater Kentucky Credit Union always shows up as the first result in Google, which confuses me even more until I see the second result – Yi Jiang Sep 8 '10 at 0:32

It's bound to happen to any other small-but-significant SO sub-community. In the same family of single character languages, [J] is rarely voted, because of little exposure. Maybe not as badly as R, but still.

A lot of the older questions from the early days of SO got stellar up-votes, simple stuff like How Scalable is SQLite?. It's a valid question, and a valid answer, but nowadays this very same question gets asked very often, and doesn't skyrocket in up-votes. In the early pioneer days, when nearly all posts could be seen by nearly all visitors, a lot of the voting was concentrated on the same spots.

As SO grows, fringes form, and are not as often visited. The edges of known space are pushed further out, to where no one can reach them all (and be called a single being). SO ages and from the dense cloud it once was now becomes a vast, spinning galaxy. Quadrants are ruled with different customs, and we all grow apart.


I was trying to make a Star Wars allegory (without mentioning the cliché), but I think I lost my train of thought somewhere.

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I missed this one, but definitely +1 for the nice loss of thought trains :-) – Joris Meys Sep 28 '10 at 13:26

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