As we are close to exhausting the comment thread, I will add my voice
here. This is a personal take as a two-year member on this site.
I thought the original idea was to do some brainstorming on how to bring the
attention of ASA members, and probably statisticians from other societies,
to this site, Cross Validated.
The great thing that CV does is to get the experts to teach the novices some
basic statistics in the context of problems they are working on.
Yes, it is true that we see a lot of good answers from working statisticians
or consultants to working problems, but there are also many interesting
exchanges between experts themselves. I don't think 'teaching novices' may
really motivate professional statisticians to visit this site. Instead we
need to clearly define what they can expect from this site (compared to ASA
listserver, for example) and what benefit they can derive for themselves and
for the community. In my view, an open platform for exchanges like this is an
unique opportunity to give his voice to anyone interested in statistics, and
share his opinion with others, whatever their level of expertise. It is
close to the idea of Open
Science, and in any case it
offers new perspectives for experts and casual users to become acquainted
with specific problems and engage in fruitful discussions. Who are the experts
on this site? Everyone that provided the right answer to a nice question is
a candidate. Everyone who consistently provides good answers to specific
questions associated to a specific tag is certainly an expert, and he is
probably perceived as such by the community. Other professional
statisticians might enjoy exchanging with him.
We are a community of benevolent users. The purpose of this site, and
more generally any sites in the Stack Exchange network, is to provide users
with a repository of knowledgeable and long-lasting answers to specific and
well-thought questions. Nothing more. We do not ask users who they are: they
are free to add some personal information in their public profile. We do not
ask users to be online everyday, but we expect they will be kind enough to
follow questions and answers in which they are involved, and contribute to
the community by voting, flagging, and helping the community as a whole (and
writing blog posts if they have some free time :-). People involved in QAs
get reputation and badges, as recognition of their participation. With
higher reputation comes higher power to boost this site. No rating system is
perfect, but the one which was chosen is generally doing its job: good
answers get higher votes, active members get higher reputation. This
reflects the opinion of the community, which is composed of experts and
students in applied and theoretical statistics, casual users of statistics
or "anyone else doing data analysis or interested in it as a discipline."
We ask questions and propose answers. New users can vote
up when they have 15
rep. Starting with 125 rep, they can vote
down. They are always
free to accept an answer: this is their very own decision to mark an answer
as useful with respect to the question they asked. Finally, askers can
always change their mind if a new and better answer is offered. Again, this
decision is that of the user. When the OP vote up and accept an answer, that
makes up a total of 25 points to the respondent. Other users can cast their
votes, in either direction, which offers an obvious counterbalance to this
individual decision. Most importantly, votes help to sort out good
questions and promote good answers.
We need votes. Voting is one of the bases of this
as has been said on
"content should always be the key." Everybody on this site can participate,
and with growing reputation users get more privileges (retagging, voting to
close, voting to reopen, wiki edits, etc.) to help to maintain this site in
Earning reputation in recognition of exemplary participation on SE has no
other goal than allowing users to weigh in site management and expression of
the user community. In the end, they become trusted users, and, certainly,
they have always been willing to share their knowledge and expertise.
We elect moderators. Moderators are not elected to dictate anything on
SE sites, but to help the community of users with specific tasks, in
particular they "look at every flagged post, and take action if necessary,"
as described in A Theory of
As high-rep users often do, they also remind users with SE policy, provide
guidelines for a better interaction on this wiki. It is important to
remember that they are part of the community.
This site is really a good opportunity for us. I believe everyone here would agree that we try our best to promote best
practices in statistical data analysis by providing authoritative and
meticulous answers. Users do their best, taking into account
the purpose of this site. Moreover, the SE system offers great facilities
for live edits, updates, and add support for rich formatting of text. This
is something that is clearly impossible on listserver. Professional
statisticians might see this as a great opportunity to have more interactive and perennial exchanges.
To meet a higher purposes the judges of answers should be certified
Who will decide on that? Does that mean that we have to exhibit a blue/white
card attesting our level of knowledge, thereby allowing a weighted voting
process? I think this reflects a misunderstanding of the purpose of Stack
Exchange sites. "Professional statisticians" can decide to participate or
not, as they do when interacting on dedicated mailing-lists, maintaining
software, or providing up to date material on their own websites. We won't
ask them what's their level of expertise is; we just ask them to provide the
best possible answer, in the spirit of Stack Exchange community-driven
I am sympathetic with any suggestion to extend this network of professional
statisticians and people interested in statistics as a discipline. Surely,
everybody will be happy with accredited statisticians visiting our site from
time to time, but to challenge the actual quality of this site, as the
following comment of yours might suggest
the system needs structure and consistency it seems to me to lack. A system
that is based on reputation points assigned inconsistently by members who
are novices and have no expertise to judge the correctness or incorrectness
runs counter to the motivations of Stack Exchange sites where everyone can
contribute. Interested professionals are invited to participate, to the
extent of their availability and their own interest.
To sum up,
CrossValidated is for statisticians, data miners, and anyone else doing data
analysis or interested in it as a discipline.
- Anyone interested in contributing to this site is welcome.
- Contributions made by professional statisticians are greatly appreciated.
- This site promotes well-crafted and useful answers to specific problems,
and it is driven by a community of benevolent users who all aspire to high