I recently stumbled across the popular Most Famous Statisticians thread, which remains open as a Community Wiki. Some comments in the thread suggest that it was necessary to convert it to a Wiki to avoid closure as a subjective topic.

My question is whether or not it might be possible to reopen the popular Statistical Anecdotes thread as a Community Wiki as well, since the questions are so similar in nature. Both are historical in topical matter and conducive to a "list of" format. The anecdote list also seems to fall into the same boat as the well-known Famous Statistical Quotations, What is Your Favorite Statistical Graph? and What is Your Favorite “Data Analysis” Cartoon? threads, all of which remain open as Community Wikis. The same is also true of the threads on Statistical Jokes and Statistical Sins, among others. In fact, it might be argued that the anecdotes thread is an even less subjective topic than any of the above, since value judgments aren't involved and merely relate historical events in a matter-of-fact manner, for practical ends.

Everyone seems to agree that the anecdote list is a useful thread, but doesn't quite fit the standard StackExchange question model - just like the other threads discussed above. Personally, I find colorful historical illustrations of great use in explaining stats & related fields to others who know even less about the field than I do; like the joke and cartoon threads, they also provide a temporary break from the dry tedium sometimes involved in stats; they also assist in reconnecting the abstractions we work with back to physical examples. They're actually an aid to productivity for all three reasons, not just entertainment. I don’t really have any anecdotes to contribute myself, but would like to leverage the answers as a resource, for teaching purposes among others. In the past I've run across many other such interesting tales besides the German Tank Problem in the academic literature, but they're widely scattered. It would be beneficial to us all to have them collected in one place - which might as well be CV.

The point of StackExchange is to get questions answered and to act as a productivity tool, both goals which the anecdote thread could help with. If it would break the StackExchange rules rather than bending them as we did to accommodate these other threads, please enlighten me as to the difference from the other Community Wikis listed above. I read some Meta posts on Community Wikis, but couldn’t use what I gleaned from them to discern the difference.

P.S. It may have already been converted to a Community Wiki, but not reopened; I’m unsure of the status. But if that’s the case, I’m still wondering whether reopening under the Wiki status still isn’t warranted.


1 Answer 1


The question is really Should ... (call me pedantic).

I suggest that it is best kept closed. The one answer posted before it was closed is a well-known example that deserves wide publicity, but I don't think there is enough focus to the notion of "anecdote" to stop the thread, were it re-opened, becoming an arbitrary ragbag of case studies.

The other threads mentioned mostly have much clearer focus and broadly speaking their success follows from that.

  • $\begingroup$ Is there any way to rewrite the thread, or start a new one, with a sharper focus to transform it into the "list of" formats of the other Community Wikis? I'm having a hard time discerning what makes that one an "arbitrary ragbag of case studies" and the others well-ordered; all I can see are arbitrary, disconnected lists of jokes, cartoons, etc. But maybe I'm missing something. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 27, 2020 at 18:26
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The jokes and cartoons threads are barely tolerated at stats.SE. Technically, they are not supposed to exist at all, as a matter of SE policy, but moderators have made exceptions for those two exact threads, and no others. $\endgroup$
    – Sycorax Mod
    Commented Aug 27, 2020 at 18:43
  • $\begingroup$ Indeed, but jokes and cartoons don't need to be systematic. $\endgroup$
    – Nick Cox
    Commented Aug 27, 2020 at 18:57

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .