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, or post it below. Of course, I can't promise that I'll have time to answer the question.