The Large Variance in the Attention Level of Readers

Yihui Xie 2018-01-31

As statisticians, we are trained to pay attention to the variance of samples, but in real life, we often forget it. I think that is why some people cannot stop fighting with someone wrong on the Internet.

I keep forgetting this, too, and let outliers bias me. For example, I often feel heartbroken when I see users ask questions on Twitter without reading the documentation on which I have spent countless hours. What is worse is that they may get misleading or wrong answers. Perhaps my documentation is just too poor or boring, and perhaps they just didn’t pay attention.

Sometimes I feel like I would have to bend the head of a user towards a specific sentence in the documentation since a pointer to a section in the documentation is not enough (example), which is fairly frustrating.

On the bright side, some readers pay amazingly close attention to what I write. For example, this morning I received a pull request on Github (rstudio/bookdown#526), in which two double quotes were corrected to single quotes. I love Germans. Someday I’ll write more about my experience with a few Germans.

Sometimes happy. Sometimes sad. On average, it is okay.

Sometimes happy, and sometimes sad. On average, it feels okay.