Guide to Answering Questions

There are several different activities involved in finding answers for our community provided data questions. A single analyst may be involved in all of them, but you can also participate in a few. These tasks are:

  • Triaging a question through voting
  • Clarifying the question, to ensure that the question is understandable and answerable
  • Researching where to find data to answer the question
  • Providing an answer to a question
  • Commenting or reviewing an answer.

The first task involves voting on the question. The next two two tasks involve writing comments that are attached to the question, the fourth involves creating an answer, and the last involves commenting on an answer.

To get involved with any of these tasks, you will need to create an account on the site. You should also register for or slack channel to communicate with other analysts.

Triage The Questions

The first, and easiest way to participate is to help rank the questions, by voting for the questions that you think are interesting. To vote, just use the up and down arrows on the left side of each question in the main question lists.

Clarifying The Question

If, after reading a question, you are not sure how to answer it, the question may need some additional information or clarification. You cal ask the question author for more information by clicking on the comment button on the question.

Researching a Question

One of the more time consuming tasks in answering a data question is finding the right data. Often the question must be changed to provide any answer at all, so finding data that can answer the question, or a similar question, is the first tasks. Do some online research to find data that might be useful, and if you find something, provide a link with a comment on the question.

Answering the Question

To provide the best answer to the question, you should do some basic analysis on public data, with an explanation of your method and submit the results as an answer to the question. The best answers will include a reference to the source data and a link to a Jupyter notebook, R notebook, or other analysis program.

Commenting on or Reviewing an Answer

Reviewing an answer or providing a thoughtful comment is a service to both the person who asked the question and the analyst who answered it. Comments should be constructive, highlighting new, useful information, significant errors, or other lines of analysis.

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