Choosing between this site and StackOverflow for posting a question


But part of what I like about this site, as a complement to SO, is … what if we don’t have to gatekeep and stress out so much re: duplicates? Maybe it’s ok that certain questions come up repeatedly because it’s always new to someone? In the limit – all questions are very elementary and repetitive – that would, of course, be bad. If that seems to be a real problem, perhaps there’s a way to tag or relocate such questions.


Perhaps gatekeep wasn’t the best word. Maybe triage . Subsequently i found that this site does compare questions (just not very well)


If my issue was an error and I thought it was related to a package, I’d tend to go to github issues before Stackoverflow

I tend to use the latter more when I I want to get from A to B but haven’t even coded enough to produce an errror


This is a really good point, and I think it actually relates to what @pssguy is describing re. question comparisons— I like that the comparisons exist on SO, however the comparisons are only based on certain variables. And, for a beginner (or anyone not familiar with the vocabulary around the problems that come up) two similar questions might not actually seem to be the same thing.

It’s also possible that they aren’t the same thing (because of time and OS changes, or things that no longer exist, etc.), but that can be an intimidating thing to declare on SO:
"My very similar question is definitely different from all the others."
is (in my mind) a bold statement in the world of SO.


I’ld like to add to this discussion that asking questions about topics that touch best practices in coding or also other programming languages (i.e. webdevelopment stuff for shiny), might result in much more emphatic answers, if people share the same background -> specialist in R, but maybe not in computer science in general.


SO doesn’t really gatekeep; anybody is free to ask any question. Questions may get closed (and deleted if they are spam/useless), but SO faces a stream of questions without reprexes, duplicates, and more. Some get fixed, some get closed, and some unfortunately become tumbleweeds, which is really worse than getting closed as a duplicate, as the asker never gets an answer.

As far as this site goes,

  • When a question has a good reprex and isn’t a very common one, the community should perhaps respond, “Hey, this is a good question! You should ask it on SO,” which gives the asker a confidence bump and makes it easier for people to find the question later.

  • If the question is a very common one (e.g. one of SO’s r-faqs), linking to the canonical question on SO, e.g. for joins or long to wide form or summarizing multiple variables or making lists of data.frames can be really useful. There’s not really a point in deduplicating here, but there is a point in directing the asker to a set of solid answers. Translating the answer to their context (i.e. answering) is nice as well, but sometimes pointing askers to the right resource is actually all they really need.

  • Other questions (opinion-based, looking for tools, etc.) fit more neatly here than SO.

The SO API is good, and these could be nailed down to a particular set of parameters (say top 10 Qs and As with most votes on a given set of tags), so this wouldn’t necessarily be complicated if there’s interest. The top questions usually get answers, though, so they’re more use for reading than answering, if that’s the intent.

If bold, it’s not uncommon. For it to be useful, it has to be followed with a distinction, though. I see a lot of XY questions that make that claim but don’t illustrate a difference in their reprex, and the difference is only teased out after lots of comments (if the question even gets that far).


Ok, I got curious, which led me to the SO API docs, which naturally led to


top_so <- function(n = 10, 
                   tags = tidyverse::tidyverse_packages(), 
                   from = Sys.Date() - 1, 
                   to = Sys.Date()) {
    response <- httr::GET('', 
                          path = 'search',
                          query = list(pagesize = n,
                                       fromdate = as.integer(lubridate::as_datetime(from)),
                                       todate = as.integer(lubridate::as_datetime(to)),
                                       order = 'desc',
                                       sort = 'votes',
                                       tagged = paste(tags, collapse = ';'),
                                       site = 'stackoverflow'))
    content <- httr::content(response)
    content %>% 
        pluck('items') %>% 
        map(~splice(.x[-2], set_names(.x$owner, ~paste0('owner_', .x)))) %>% 
        transpose() %>% 
        modify_depth(2, ~.x %||% NA_integer_) %>% 
        simplify_all() %>% 

top_tidy_qs <- top_so(from = Sys.Date() - 7)

#> # A tibble: 10 x 19
#>          tags is_answered view_count accepted_answer_id answer_count score
#>        <list>       <lgl>      <int>              <int>        <int> <int>
#>  1 <list [3]>        TRUE        310           46438286            5     7
#>  2 <list [3]>        TRUE         67           46411437            2     5
#>  3 <list [2]>        TRUE         16           46452389            2     4
#>  4 <list [2]>        TRUE         40           46459423            2     4
#>  5 <list [4]>        TRUE         78           46404283            5     3
#>  6 <list [3]>        TRUE         63           46395144            2     3
#>  7 <list [3]>        TRUE         62           46416114            2     3
#>  8 <list [2]>        TRUE         60           46400226            1     3
#>  9 <list [3]>       FALSE         48                 NA            1     3
#> 10 <list [2]>        TRUE         38           46410963            2     3
#> # ... with 13 more variables: last_activity_date <int>,
#> #   creation_date <int>, last_edit_date <int>, question_id <int>,
#> #   link <chr>, title <chr>, owner_reputation <int>, owner_user_id <int>,
#> #   owner_user_type <chr>, owner_accept_rate <int>,
#> #   owner_profile_image <chr>, owner_display_name <chr>, owner_link <chr>

top_tidy_qs %>% dplyr::select(score, answer_count, title)
#> # A tibble: 10 x 3
#>    score answer_count                                                                                                  title
#>    <int>        <int>                                                                                                  <chr>
#>  1     7            5                                    How do I do a rolling cumsum over consecutive rows of a tibble in R
#>  2     5            2                                                                         Index of next occurring record
#>  3     4            2                                                            R cumsum with multiplication based on value
#>  4     4            2           Change axis labels when plotting a numerical vector against an &quot;as.numeric&quot; factor
#>  5     3            5                                                                              Conditional non-equi join
#>  6     3            2                                                            apply function to grouped rows in dataframe
#>  7     3            2 How to create box plots with all points where for each group, the color of the points can be assigned
#>  8     3            1                                                  Get element number of list while iterating through it
#>  9     3            1                                       How to create a ggplot 2 spaghetti plot for a 2x2x2 design in R?
#> 10     3            2                                  Replacing punctuation in string in different ways by word length in R

Warnings: This code is rough and may fail. Don’t abuse the API (Terms); if you plan to use this as more than a curiosity, register an app.


Cool! Now it would be nice if I could click the links in the link column when viewing the top_tidy_qs dataframe. I guess I’ll look for the RStudio feature request thread and post it there!


I’ve seen that in iTerm2 (including when running R interactively), in which you can click on any URL/file path/email address/etc. when holding CMD, but I suspect implementing it was a lot of work. For now, utils::browseURL works, e.g.



do you mean something like this


top_tidy_qs %>% 
  mutate(question = paste0("<a href=", link, ">", title, "</a>")) %>%
  select(question) %>%
    class = 'compact stripe hover row-border order-column',
    rownames = FALSE,
    escape = FALSE,
    options = list(
    paging = FALSE,
    searching = FALSE,
    info = FALSE


Incredible! I’ll definitely be leveling up on SO pretty fast now.


I knocked up a shiny app for this

Just enter any tags and you get a table of results with clickable link to individual questions


Looks good, but it’d be more useful to be able to query the top-scoring questions. Actually, it’s sometimes more interesting to look at the top-scoring answers, which tend to outscore their questions significantly.


Might be more useful for you. Others might want to look regularly and see latest.
I put in a nominal 100 limit
Just reduce your tags, sort on score, change the dates and you can handle your requirements - or change one line of code :grin:
I agree about the top-scoring answers being useful and I’d also like to see the answerer
(TBH that might be the most useful parameter of all)
.However, i don’t think these currently form part of API. NB any SO staff reading might help on that


Thanks @mara! As an R/programming newbie, this really speaks to me! For example, I was trying to use linked brushing, but I didn’t know the term or whether it was even possible. After a while, I stumbled upon this plotly example, and found out which packages and functions were necessary by deleting/substituting bits of the code at a time after a lot of trial-and-error…

Once I found the Shiny gallery/articles/videos, everything was very beginner-friendly :+1::blush:


@taraas, I know where you’re coming from, but maybe “new” is relative :stuck_out_tongue: I’ve been learning R for about 7+5 weeks (with 3-4 months in between) :wink: before that, I only did free intro to python/ruby/HTML+CSS/git courses online because I wanted to know what code looks like ^^

Even though you don’t find SO intimidating, maybe you could imagine that other people might (or maybe it really is so not intimidating for you - in that case, I’m jealous!) :slight_smile: This thread convinced me to sign up for an SO account, and I luckily found a question I could try to answer, but I do find this site more friendly…

Maybe a “newbie” tag or something similar to the first-timers-only issue label on GitHub would be helpful in pointing relative newbies to help others on topics they’re less familiar with and learn how to better answer questions or so :blush:


In the works in the tidyverse right now!


Awesome, thank you!! :smiley:


Perhaps to my eternal shame, I had to JFG the term JFGI.


You’re certainly not the first, nor will you be the last…