(Inspired by this question, I thought it might be worthwhile to post a guide for those who just want to read and learn.)

What are the best ways for someone new to Cross Validated to sift through the volume of posts here and learn about statistics?

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up vote 15 down vote accepted

One way to use this site is just to learn more about statistics in general, and you might want to peruse the best of Cross Validated.

You might notice that certain individual CV contributors reliably provide useful and informative posts, and you might want to specifically go through their contributions.

  • The first thing to try is to click on users, and find that individual's userpage. Once there, you can click on "Answers" (to get a list of all the answers they've posted here), or "Questions" (for all their questions), and start reading. You may want to sort them by "Votes", in case they aren't already, so that you can work your way down from their 'greatest hits'. Unfortunately, it's hard to discern which posts that person might themselves think of as their best, but vote totals can be a reasonable proxy.
  • Note that you can also officially follow a user: At the bottom right corner of each user's userpage, there is a link for an RSS feed for that user's posts.

Another approach is to try to learn more about a particular topic (for example cluster analyses).

  • The most basic strategy is to click on tags, and find the tag for . If you click on that you will get a list of all questions that have ever been asked on CV with that tag appended. Note that you can sort this list by clicking on votes (for the most highly voted questions), or newest (for most recent), etc. (The vote totals for questions will be loosely correlated with the quality of information that exists in that thread, or at least I have advocated such an approach to upvoting questions here.) You could also sort these using CV's search options (click the link that says "advanced search tips" beside the search button) to get, for instance, only those questions that have answers.
  • You can blend the above two strategies as well, by navigating to the page for the tag and clicking on info. There you'll find a brief introduction to the topic in the form of a tag wiki excerpt, and the full tag wiki. Running down the right side of the page, you'll see a list of the CV users who have contributed the most under that category. By clicking more, you'll get a great deal of information, and you can click on the number beside a user's username and get a list of all the answers that user has posted on that topic. A slightly different variant is to go to the userpage of someone whose posts you've found helpful, clicking on "Tags", finding the tag in question (e.g., clustering) and clicking on it. This will give you a list of every post that user has written that was categorized with that tag.

Welcome to Cross Validated, and happy hunting! (Be warned, it's easy to wind up spending a lot of time here... )

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Although I have proffered an answer to my own question, others should feel free to provide their own answers. Alternatively, if anyone disagrees w/ something here, or thinks something needs to be added, they should feel free to edit this to make the changes (or comment & I can make the changes, if they're less comfortable editing directly). My point here is to get something that reflects some welcoming initial advice for new users that the community feels comfortable standing behind, so it shouldn't simply reflect my opinions. –  gung Feb 22 '13 at 18:57
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+1 Nice contribution, thank you! Tip: when I'm new to an SE site, I spend a few minutes looking through the first page of users (listed by all-time reputation). I am looking for high reputation per answer (factoring in the fact that some users have high rep because they're great question askers, which is independently of interest). These are the people I want to follow. E.g., if you do that here on CV, @Cardinal will emerge as an astonishingly high outlier. This is a person who carefully chooses where to contribute, always has something valuable to add, and writes quality answers. –  whuber Feb 22 '13 at 19:15
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We must also not forget that without very high-quality contributors able to answer questions in higher volume (like, you, gung, and many others), this site would not be as active or nearly as successful as it is. :-) –  cardinal Mar 1 '13 at 15:12
    
(+1) to the answer, and, @whuber, you are too kind. Your comment is also interesting to me in that I have made no conscious effort to "optimize" this quantity. We occasionally get fascinating questions (at all levels of sophistication); these are the ones I most enjoy reading and are, hence, the ones I'm most likely to answer in the limited time I have. The fact that these questions are (usually) easily recognized as interesting probably means that any answer I post ends up having somewhat higher average exposure. –  cardinal Mar 1 '13 at 15:21

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