SOFA stands for Statistics Open For All. What does “Open For All” mean and why is it important?
Open For All means:
- The statistical algorithms used are visible and can be examined by interested users with minimal difficulty (and no Non-Disclosure Agreements required etc).
- The software is available in the languages users need. At this stage, SOFA Statistics is available in English and has been translated into Galician (largely) and Russian (partially) but the goal is to include as many languages as possible.
- The program is available without payment (especially important for students and people in developing nations).
- SOFA Statistics will run on as many computer environments as practical. Currently, only Windows and Ubuntu Linux are supported, but the goal is to add a Mac package ASAP, and possibly some other Linux distributions.
- The program tries to reduce the amount of prior learning a user has to have to use the package successfully and appropriately. It is not assumed that statistics can be used without thought or any statistical insight, but the goal is to help the user make the right decisions at the right points.
So why does this matter?
- So students can easily access useful and educational statistical software (no, a spreadsheet doesn’t count )
- To allow smaller, or poorly-resourced organisations e.g. non-governmental social service organisations/charities/groups in developing nations etc to conduct basic quantitative research and to generate useful ad hoc and routine reports
- Because statistical thinking is a fantastic intellectual resource that deserves greater appreciation. It is a shame that the main idea most people have about statistics is “Lies, damned lies, and statistics”.