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CrossValidated would have been outrageously useful to me a few years ago when I'd only taken one statistics course and couldn't figure out how to learn to test what I wanted to test. I wound up reading a lot of books. (Amusingly, I also couldn't find the statistics courses at my university because none of them were in the statistics department.)

I also find the more basic questions on the content of a typical introductory statistics class to be the most fun to answer.

I would thus like to tell people taking introductory statistics courses about CrossValidated. I'm wondering

  1. Does anyone think I/we shouldn't do this? And, if so, why?
  2. What approach would I/we use to tell people?

My thoughts so far on how one might tell people

  • If you know people who are taking introductory statistics courses, tell them that they might find help on conceptual questions at CrossValidated.
  • If you know people who are teaching introductory statistics courses, tell them to tell their students that they may find help on conceptual questions at CrossValidated in case they can't make office hours one week or whatever.
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If you know folks personally who can benefit from this site, by all means, let them know about us! But there are some indirect (but equally effective) ways of letting people know about this site.

The content itself is the main draw to this site. Now that school is back in session, there will be zillions of students with lots of questions. With the expertise on this site, Cross Validated should have as good a shot at having the best answer to any of those questions. Essentially, this is a great time to recruit new members!

What can you do to help?

  1. As a student, if you have a particularly interesting and intriguing question (and it's a good fit, per the faq), make sure you ask it here. You're not the only one having that question. Thousands of other people will, too. Ask them even if you think you're going to be able to find the answer yourself… and if you do find the answer, go ahead and answer it yourself.

  2. When answering academic questions, do everything you can to overkill it. Don't just answer with a hyperlink to some other discussion group somewhere. Write a detailed, step-by-step, ultra-clear guide with illustrations and examples. Help us have the best possible answer to the common problems and questions people have in academia.

  3. If a question comes in that is unclear, badly written, badly formatted, or in bad English, edit it into shape. We've always encouraged edits that improve spelling, grammar, and clarity. Make every question title as clear as possible!

This is a great opportunity to build up a body of answers to common statistics questions that will be super-popular in the coming weeks as the academic year reaches full swing. Those questions will bring in lots of traffic from search engines and if Cross Validated continues to have great answers like we have in the past, we stand a chance of attracting some great new users who will add value for years to come.

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    $\begingroup$ (+1) Well said. Those three points are really important; about point 1 specifically, we expect questions to be of interest for the community as a whole: questions worded like "do my job" or "answer my homework" (in the next 5', if possible) are not welcome here. Yes, this means an extra effort to frame the question; but it's also a good exercise. $\endgroup$ – chl Sep 28 '11 at 19:06
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    $\begingroup$ @chl Yes, you have articulated my concern. I welcome student questions, but the bad ones are starting to come in. Kids copying their homework onto the site just generate noise and lots of work for the community. These are not the users who will add value for years to come; at best, they will add value after many years to come, if they are inspired to go on in a related field. (Note that the OP was careful to refer explicitly, and twice, to "conceptual questions".) $\endgroup$ – whuber Sep 30 '11 at 3:25

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