The old wayI receive a lot of statistics questions by email. Answering such questions by email is inefficient.
- A lot of questions re-occur.
- Answers only help a single person.
- Senders only get my suggestions, and not suggestions from other experts.
- Sender do not get much feedback on how to improve in the art of writing effective questions.
A better wayA better model involves using http://stats.stackexchange.com . It offers many benefits.
- Many experts have an opportunity to provide an answer.
- The questions can be improved and refined.
- Questions and answers are accessible from search engines. Thus, the question and answers become an ongoing Internet resource that are typically read by many hundreds of people.
- The answers are under a Creative Commons licence which means that they can be reused in other forms.
- Learning to write effective questions on question and answer sites is an important skill.
Procedure for asking a question
- Go to http://stats.stackexchange.com/ .
- Create an account
- You can create an account with a non-identifying user name if you prefer.
- Read the FAQ.
- Click ASK QUESTION.
- Enter your question title, description, and any relevant tags.
Important things to remember:
- Be prepared to edit your question to provide additional information in response to comments; be prepared to respond to people who propose answers and explain why the answer is helpful or not. Asking a question is only the beginning of the process. The people answering the question are volunteers who are often motivated to create a question and answer combination that will be helpful for others in the future. You should try to facilitate this process.
- When asking questions, show what initial research you have done to answer the question (e.g., Google searches, reading a textbook).
- Try to extract the general question out of the specifics of your project, so that answers will be of greater use for future readers.
- Include background information that might be needed in order to answer your question effectively.
- If your question includes multiple parts, then you may need to ask separate questions.
- If you are concerned about anonymity, create a user name that is non-identifying, and, if necessary, tweak your question to make any project-specific details a little more abstract.
- Your question may be clearer if you break up your question into (a) context; (b) questions; and where appropriate (c) your initial answers.
- If your background is psychology, be aware that users on stats.stackexchange have diverse backgrounds. Clearly explain any psychological terms or concepts.
Asking me a question
- If you are a research student or academic where I work in the School of Psychology, Deakin University, then send me the URL to the question by email, and I will do my best to answer your question.
- For all others, if you don't get a good answer in a few days and you think that I'd be well suited to answering the question, feel free to send me an email including the web address for the question. Of course, I can't promise that I'll have time to answer the question.