Newbie expresses his opinion on the importance of Community - “Is a given community inviting or is it just hype?”

This topic was originally a reply in "Plotly: set_credentials_file("your user name" "your credentials) does not work" @EconomiCurtis

I wouldn’t modify things, unless some people were running into similar “newbie” issues. I have somehow gotten past these issues and have moved on to other ones in the “Chinese box” (a box within a box within a box, etc.).

One thing that I pay careful attention to: “Is a given community inviting or is it just hype?” I have found that the R and RStudio community is very inviting based on my limited experiences. It is more important for someone to give an answer rather than the correct answer.

One thing I am interested in: I am not a developer, but I have spent many years “around” s/w development from my many years of experience at Nortel as a Unix Sys Admin and eventually, the manager of Unix Sys Admin. I bring this up because I am not a complete “newbie” but I come from a slightly different background and most of what I know will end up being translated into the Leprechaun language which is unix (now linux). I’ve heard it said that there are 100 difficult ways to do anything you want in unix(linux) and all 100 of them roughly equivalent in difficulty and robustness. I am at about the same level on any package (the very beginning), but I’ve very tentatively chosen R/RStudio, mainly because of the history and folklore surrounding R. Other contenders are Ruby (on Rails), Python, C++, Perl, etc. The criteria I use is:

  1. How long before I can do powerful things easily?

  2. Is “code re-use” built into the language?

  3. How does it relate to databases? Which ones are in use or popular?

  4. Does it have a known history and associated culture surrounding it?

  5. (Most important) How about the community? Would I be proud of being associated with the members of the community? Since you become like the others that you hang around with, will being a member of this community be a source of pride or shame?

Mike Mazarick

Hi Mike,
I think this is an interesting set of questions, and it makes a lot of sense to ask about community on a board that is expressly about that.

If you're looking for feedback, I think it would help to tell a little more about what you're trying to do. You mention that you're "interested" in development, but I'm not really sure what that means to you. Are you looking to collect research around software communities from a sort of academic angle? Are you looking to solve a certain kind of problem? Are you thinking about a career change?

One way to get some perspective about different languages would be to look at the posts David Robinson did when he worked at Stack Overflow, which include a lot of interesting comparisons between programming languages, how they're used, and industry trends.

To your questions,

  1. From my POV, the tidyverse group of packages in R have offered a way for someone like me without much programming experience to do lots of immediately useful analyses. I think R's strength is with data analysis, and it's ability to expand in seemingly any esoteric direction using packages on CRAN (and/or GitHub). I also think the DataCamp folks have done a great job putting together good introductory materials to get you going quickly. As it happens, David Robinson works there now, and here's his take along the lines of your question.
  1. Yes, R makes it easy to build functions that build upon other functions. TBH I'm not sure if it's better or worse than any of the other languages you mentioned. Here's some great advice on how and when to write a function in R.


  3. I think the R & RStudio is great and in my experience is trying to do community and welcoming right. I highly recommend checking the rstats hashtag on Twitter and following the @R4DScommunity Twitter account, which connects people who are engaging with the online book I mentioned in #2 above. I also check religiously to see new examples of cool stuff and new blogs to follow.