So this site is for statisticians and people with an interest in the discipline, and covers amongst other things, applied statistical analysis and visualising data.

Communicating statistics is a hot topic and one many statisticians are professionally involved in and personally passionate about.

This seems like a good place for questions about communicating statistics, and I imagine many users of this site will have plenty to contribute. I'm also sure there will be some people who want to stick rigidly to mathematical statistical questions, who might find this too 'applied' for their tastes.

So, questions about statistical communication: On topic or off topic?

If on topic, it probably needs a tag or two since it's something some statisticians are passionate about and that others aren't interested in.

If off topic, we probably need to be clear about why, where precisely we draw the line, and where statisticians and others who communicate and advocate statistics should go with such questions.

Here's a simple practical example of a question which I posted here on the basis that it seemed to be relevant to enough people in this community to attract quality interesting answers. I've had a look on the FAQ and it's not addressed their directly. I went looking for communications related questions to see if there was any precedent, and found one: this one with a lively discussion and plenty of upvotes, plus a few 'explanation' related questions that are part communications part teaching (which has a tag) 1, 2, 3,.

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    $\begingroup$ Here's another one that turned up at the top of 'related questions' for my one. stats.stackexchange.com/questions/155/… So I guess I'm asking, if general communications-y questions like this are popular here, how should we deal with and classify specific ones? I'm thinking "communications" and/or "layman" might be good tags $\endgroup$ Apr 4, 2012 at 15:53
  • $\begingroup$ I think good communication is not only important in teaching statistics but also terribly important when doing statistical consulting. I discuss thia a lot on the ASA Statistical Consulting Sections eGroup. Have it here if there is nowhere else for it. $\endgroup$ May 9, 2012 at 17:04

1 Answer 1


You raise a great point. I strongly advocate statistical communication as on topic. As far as I know, we have accepted such questions and have never closed such a one as off topic. Communication-related issues constantly crop up in comments and answers, so why not in questions, too?

Tags naturally get created along with a question or a reply. If you have a question in mind that needs a new tag, you can go ahead and create that tag when you post the question. I notice that there already is an tag and 16 threads are graced with its presence. Maybe this does (part of) the job?

The FAQ attempts to be at once specific about this community's focus and vague about the details, precisely so that unexpected questions (such as those about communication) will have a chance.

  • $\begingroup$ Glad to hear you are in favour! re "you can go ahead and create that tag" - hypothetical third person singular can go ahead and create the tag, but sadly 2nd person singular needs 300 rep to do so... re intuition tag: I used 'intuition' in my question as the closest option, as well as 'teaching' which isn't a very good match. It looked like around a third of the existing 'intuition' questions were communications-related, while around two thirds were more to do with an analyst's intuitions while interpreting data: a separate worthy topic and maybe a better fit for that tag. $\endgroup$ Apr 4, 2012 at 16:05
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    $\begingroup$ Whenever you don't have enough rep to do something you think would help the site, please just flag the question to contact a moderator with your suggestion. I'll take your post and comments here as tantamount to such a flag and give you a provisional communication tag so we can see what happens with it. $\endgroup$
    – whuber Mod
    Apr 4, 2012 at 16:07
  • $\begingroup$ Cool, thanks. I've dropped the less appropriate tags from the linked question. $\endgroup$ Apr 4, 2012 at 16:16
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    $\begingroup$ @user This is a friendly reminder to be careful about wholesale tagging (or retagging) of lots of questions. Give the community some time to weigh in and to see the effects. (A year ago, one of our more avid members went a little overboard with retagging and feelings were hurt when some of his work was reversed.) $\endgroup$
    – whuber Mod
    Apr 4, 2012 at 16:24
  • $\begingroup$ :) don't worry, I'd just finished! I thought it made sense to get the balling rolling by retagging a few of the posts I'd linked to. Good advice though. $\endgroup$ Apr 4, 2012 at 16:27
  • $\begingroup$ @whuber I hope I'm not the culprit in question :) I know I lobbied for an "analysis" tag. I wasn't hurt to see it go, but like OP I thought it could have organized the site's content-flow a bit better. I would definitely echo the aspect of letting users direct their questions' tagging when appropriate. $\endgroup$
    – AdamO
    Dec 12, 2017 at 14:49
  • $\begingroup$ @AdamO The person to whom I was referring quit the site as a result of that contretemps and has long since been forgotten by all but a few old-timers (who wish, I suspect, that he had continued contributing). I am grateful for all your work here and especially for your frequent (and good) answers. $\endgroup$
    – whuber Mod
    Dec 12, 2017 at 15:06

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