As a follow up to a positive reception of academic research by the StackOverflow community, I would like to invite you to participate in two academic surveys: Knowledge sharing in R, and Self-representation on Stack Overflow.

General remarks: Participation in these surveys is voluntary and confidential, and no information is disclosed to third parties under any circumstances. Responses -unless explicitly stated otherwise- cannot be traced back to individual respondents. Moreover, the results of such surveys would be included in scientific publications, hence transparent, and no personal data is going to be published. Abridged version of the study results will be published on meta as well. Both surveys include the opt-in option, allowing the participants to indicate whether they would be interested in participating in follow-up studies or being informed about the results of the research.

Knowledge sharing in R The research is being conducted by Bogdan Vasilescu, Alexander Serebrenik (both - Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands), Vladimir Filkov and Prem Devanbu (both - University of California, Davis, USA). Participation of Vasilescu is sponsored by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), Devanbu and Filkov---by the US National Science Foundation, Serebrenik---by Eindhoven University of Technology. The research is purely academic in nature and is not conducted on behalf of/for the benefit of commercial organizations.

Target audience: Users and developers of R, a popular free software environment for statistical computing and graphics.

Goal: To understand knowledge seeking and providing strategies within the R community.

Questions in this survey pertain to ways R users and developers look for and share knowledge, e.g., by consulting or contributing to mail archives, websites and books. We ask for your opinions on the frequency of these activities, quality of the results found as well as on changes in information seeking strategies.

Self-representation on Stack Overflow The research is being conducted by Alexandre Bisiaux (student at Polytech Nantes, France), Bogdan Vasilescu and Alexander Serebrenik (both - Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands). Bisiaux is supported by the scholarship from the region Pays de la Loire, Vasilescu and Serebrenik---as above. The research is purely academic in nature and is not conducted on behalf of/for the benefit of commercial organizations.

Target audience: Stack Overflow participants.

Goal: To understand how Stack Overflow participants present themselves using avatars. This survey is a step towards understanding how developers who use Stack Overflow present themselves, communicate with each other, and how does this communication translate to technical solutions. Related claims on meta: "I tend to take people more seriously if they post their real name and a photo", "As for posting photos of other people, I personally believe it sort of reflects poorly on the person who would use such a photo when that does not accurately depict him or her".

Questions in this survey are related to the images being used by StackOverflow participants and the reasons for using/not using these images.

Note This is a revision of an earlier call for participation in the same study.

  • 1
    What is R, and what exactly are the benefits too? Is this R language different from Praat? I know some R that is a fork of S language. And it is for academic calculations in audioprocessing via programming. ? Is it more professional than almost-solely-mouse-controllable Praat prog? Praat is used for scientific works in Phonetics.. So why R is better? – Xsi Jul 18 '13 at 6:30
  • @Xsi: R is a free software environment for statistical computing and graphics. R is indeed related to S. What benefits of are you referring to? Of the survey? Of R? – Alexander Serebrenik Jul 18 '13 at 6:31
  • @Xsi: I'm not familiar with Praat or phonetics research, in general. I know that R is used in bioinformatics, econometrics, organizational research and empirical software engineering. May be you can ask a StackOverflow question about advantages/disadvantages of R/Praat for phonetics research. – Alexander Serebrenik Jul 18 '13 at 6:39

This answer is the follow-up to our first call for survey participants - Knowledge sharing in R.

In total we received 169 replies, some of which as a result of our ad here on Meta. Thank you all for participating in our research! Your involvement proved invaluable.

We included the survey responses in a paper about how StackExchange Q&A sites are changing knowledge sharing in the R community, with a focus on r-help-the main user support mailing list for R. Our paper has been accepted for publication in the Proceedings of the 17th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW 2014). A preprint is available here.

Here is a brief summary of our findings:

  • activity on r-help has been consistently decreasing since around 2010 (participants are asking fewer and fewer questions), while at the same time the number of R-related questions asked on the two main StackExchange sites for R (CrossValidated and StackOverflow) has been accelerating;
  • participants in the two communities overlap, but different categories of r-help contributors are "attracted" differentially by StackExchange. For example, the proportion of mailing list users active on StackExchange is much higher among R developers than non-developers;
  • the levels of activity for r-help participants who are also active on StackExchange differ relative to those who restrict themselves to either the mailing list or to StackExchange: those participating in both r-help and StackExchange are more active;
  • knowledge providers active in both communities answer questions significantly faster on StackExchange than on r-help, and their total output increases after the transition to StackExchange.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

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