for triage: tags for experience level in R and in programming in general?

In the introductory courses I teach, it can take students weeks before they can produce a working reprex consistently, so I was wondering whether it might make sense to ask first-time posters to use tags to self-assess both their level of experience with R and with programming in general. Maybe phrased in terms of length of time?

This would make it easier to tell which resources to point them to. For example, students who are new to R but not to programming might be referred to a longer read on how to create a reprex, but ones who are new to both might need the information in much smaller installments.

I think this would be too much subjective and even more each frequent responder has its own style and patience level so I think it would be hard to have an standardized response.

I wasn't thinking of a standardized response, but rather that the information would be useful context for folks trying to help new posters, and might cut down on repeated interactions that try to extract similar information.

Can you give a concrete example? I think I'm misunderstanding your intentions.

Sure, here's an attempt, but let me know if another example might help: In some case, I've only realized after a series of back-and-forth interactions with a poster that they had far less experience than I had initially thought, so my initial recommendation were not understood or could not be carried out easily. If I'd had some more context about the poster's background, I could have avoided confusing them, and could have tailored my initial responses to their experience level. Does that make sense?

Yes, but what is not clear to me is who is going to tag this users? or if they y have to tag themselves, how are they going to know that they have to do it and how trustful would be their own assessment?

Oh, I was suggesting the users tag their first posts, which could be suggested by the 'education.new-topic' text that new users see when they join. And rather than self-assess in qualitative terms, like 'I know a little', or 'I know a lot', I was suggesting they self-assess in terms of time, like 'I've used R for less than a month' and 'I've been programming for two years.' Users may not be accurate in their self-assessment, but I don't think they'd tend to systematically overstate their experience.

In my experience, the less experience they have with R and the community, the less they read the 'education.new-topic' text but maybe I'm just being pessimistic. Anyways, let's see what the others think about this.

A few thoughts:

  1. Make clear this is to help them get the help they need; not a grade
  2. Should be self-scored
  3. Assess algebra rather than programming
  4. T/F M/C quiz on reprex: which of the following matches [pattern] in the string "..."?

Short Term Tagging Issue - I should note that tags are currently not working correctly on the site right now. Tags can't be edited currently. We're aware of the issue and should resolve it very soon.


There is built-in functionality to help a bit with this, to list a few options available,

  1. Discourse adds a new user "notice" box. This is only visible to logged-in users with trust level 1 and up.
    For example, below, this is this user's first time posting. (Some documentation on how that works)

  2. Our homework policy asks anyone posting assignment questions to use the homework tag. But it's unlikely we'll ever get new-users to consistently follow such policies in practice when the come to the site via search.
    I see thsi tag most often used by people helping the person out, and they add the homework tag for the new-user. (Again, sorry about the tag-edit bug that prevents that from happening now!) But that tag, also, is not used consistently.

  3. New-Topic Template - We can create template new-topics, and so pre-fill those with appropriate tags and helper text.
    An example of this is on the RStudio-IDE trouble shooting guide, this link appears on the "RStudio Desktop Will Not Start" >> https://rstd.io/community-ide-start-issue
    This approach would mean we'd need to catch new-R-users before they post though.
    (Some documentation on building new-topic template.)

  4. Site and Category Banners - a long overdue feature request is to have a bit of material at the top of the homepage guiding users to the site, and the top of categories with category-specific tips. (For example if you land on a shiny topic-thread, you would have at the top of the page links for asking shiny-reprexes, links to the shiny-dev-center and other useful docs.)
    These should nearly certainly have content directed as novice-R-user personas.


On specifically this question, I kind of like relying on (1.) listed above. It's a very stable built-in feature that tags new-r-users most of the time. I think it's more about making people aware of the feature and how to interpret it.

But I also think it would be valuable to have a bit of a working work focused on how we can be better at these kinds of problems. Especially as we start implementing (4.) anyway. We can walk through some of these problems and ways to improve the site to address them. And if we resolve on any solutions that require customization to implement, I can add them to the site's development pipeline, and help with announcements and training where needed.

I guess, any volunteers? I'll organize something as the group forms.

1 Like

The tag-editing issue seems to be fixed now, or at least, I was able to edit tags on a post.

And I'm happy to help :slight_smile:

Have you tested on your own topic or in someone else's?
I can only edit tags in other's topics if I change to the dark theme.

I hadn't thought of editing others' tags -- I just checked on my own, and hadn't realized that in this context, helping new users edit theirs might involve editing their tags, too. (I don't think I can edit others' tags yet.)

1 Like