Cross-validated is a good site to sharpen one's skills in statistics. Lots of teachers and learners switching roles constantly, almost like taking a seminar. Today, someone said he is just a newbie and he is glad to get my help and attention, and yesterday a guru told me (I'm paraphrasing), "Well when I was a newbie (like you), I had people throw rocks at me too." So, it seems there are layers of newbieness. So maybe this is a question for the "great ones" on the site, "When did it occur to you that you weren't a newbie anymore, and how did you know that?"

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    $\begingroup$ After reaching 20k you can consider yourself as "trusted user" ;) More serious comment: I'm afraid that this site it not enough to learn about statistics and data analysis - you need to interact with real data to learn it. Moreover, it is good to be familiar with both academic and commercial data analytics since in both cases you approach problems a little bit differently. $\endgroup$ – Tim Sep 15 '16 at 11:21
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    $\begingroup$ I'll let you know when it happens. I think we're all still learning. I don't think there's any particular milestone that counts as having become an expert. For every topic I feel I have something of a handle on there's a dozen more I'm still definitely a beginner at. $\endgroup$ – Glen_b Sep 15 '16 at 11:40
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    $\begingroup$ Are you asking about being a "newbie" on this forum or about being a "newbie" in statistics in general (in real life)? $\endgroup$ – amoeba Sep 15 '16 at 12:16
  • $\begingroup$ @amoeba Newbies are mostly people with statistical dilemmas they want answers to, i.e., topics that do not usually come up at typical family dinners. So, yes, I am talking about the site experience, which has its own learning curve. $\endgroup$ – Carl Sep 15 '16 at 14:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Tim Fair enough, but who gets to 20k on this site without knowing statistics, data analysis, higher mathematics and software? $\endgroup$ – Carl Sep 15 '16 at 14:58
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    $\begingroup$ @Carl this was an insider joke :) $\endgroup$ – Tim Sep 15 '16 at 15:01
  • $\begingroup$ So are you just asking when someone tends to know the ins and outs of the site? $\endgroup$ – gung - Reinstate Monica Sep 15 '16 at 16:27
  • $\begingroup$ @gung Well, I suppose it is a bit like asking "When do people stop feeling that the car they bought is new?" If you crash into a tree, that could happen rather quickly, and I suppose if one has survived having a few unpopular questions on this site it could have a similar effect. So, it goes to self-confidence in using the site, which implies not only the mechanics of site usage, but, for this site, some statistical prowess is implied as well. $\endgroup$ – Carl Sep 15 '16 at 16:40
  • $\begingroup$ My point was to clear up that the "car" (I suppose) is feeling comfortable with site usage / culture, not statistics / machine learning. $\endgroup$ – gung - Reinstate Monica Sep 15 '16 at 16:53
  • $\begingroup$ @gung In my life, I have noted that a feeling of "security" or alternatively "self-confidence" in one's abilities comes from accepting a personal challenge that seems daunting, and by following that challenge to a successful resolution. The more daunting the challenge, the greater the self-confidence we extract from the achievement. So, in context, the newbie who is not a statistician (e.g., me) would likely get more of a "kick" out of making an impression on this site than someone with a PhD in stats, for whom such things are of course, well, expected. $\endgroup$ – Carl Sep 15 '16 at 17:16
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    $\begingroup$ (Nb, I don't have a PhD in stats.) I'm still trying to clarify if you want to know when a person stops feeling like a "newbie" with respect to the site's features vs. statistical expertise. $\endgroup$ – gung - Reinstate Monica Sep 15 '16 at 17:22
  • $\begingroup$ Newbie feeling is probably related to a mixture of unfamiliarity with the site's features and statistical inexperience, which are positively correlated to certain degree and which feeling likely mitigates with experience gained in either or both types of uncertainty. $\endgroup$ – Carl Sep 15 '16 at 17:56

I'm interpreting your question to mean "statistical newbie" rather than "Stack Exchange newbie" or "Cross Validated newbie". (If you're asking about the latter two, you advance pretty quickly. Just seeing what other say, comments, closed questions, etc, brings you up to speed fairly fast in most conventions of this site. Most...)

I feel like I've moved beyond statistics newbie, but that's due to lots of reading, lots of Cross Validated, and three years of on-the-job working, above and beyond my schooling. Beyond "not still a newbie", however, I still look at answers by gung, Macro, whuber, to list a few off the top of my head (but missing many great people -- sorry!) and feel inadequate. How do those guys know all of that stuff so seemingly intuitively? I'm not a newbie, I think I'm beyond a novice, but I'm a long ways from that expert level. What's the in-between? Journeyman?

But I can still answer questions. (Especially those with a more Computer Science/AI flavor, where by background is. And yes, I'll admit I'm a bad person who will answer R-specific questions whereas technically an R-specific question is off-topic. Maybe it's because I feel stronger in that area, so can give a better answer.)

  • $\begingroup$ There are first time user newbies who are statistical genius level, and start off saying, "I am just a newbie, but..." I would venture they do not stay newbies for very long. Then there are those who ask what variance means, who will be newbies for a very long time, if they even get to >+1. They probably give up when they cannot parse the English on the site. Let's face it, this site can be fairly intimidating. Or to put it another way, statisticians make people feel that their brains have been put through a meat grinder because having one's brain ground up is how one trains in statistics. :) $\endgroup$ – Carl Sep 15 '16 at 18:11
  • $\begingroup$ Eh? I am a newbie (or maybe "journeyman" is fair). I read Wayne's answers to gain insight (particularly on subtleties of interpretability...). $\endgroup$ – gung - Reinstate Monica Sep 17 '16 at 2:27

You are no longer a newbie when you get insider jokes without having them explained to you. However, you never feel like you are not a newbie because the very next question will intimidate you enough that you will begin to doubt your own abilities. A negative vote for humor? Gee, and I was being frank too-Thanks-that does put some perspective to it.

  • $\begingroup$ Please don't take downvotes badly here on Meta: they are not meant to be critical, but rather expressions of utility or agreement. $\endgroup$ – whuber Sep 20 '16 at 23:01
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    $\begingroup$ @Carl downvotes on meta don't necessarily indicate a bad answer. $\endgroup$ – Glen_b Sep 21 '16 at 8:00

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