Which RStudio blog posts “pleased” Hadley? A tidytext + web scraping analysis


Davis Vaughan


August 16, 2017


Awhile back, I saw a conversation on twitter about how Hadley uses the word “pleased” very often when introducing a new blog post (I couldn’t seem to find this tweet anymore. Can anyone help?). Out of curiousity, and to flex my R web scraping muscles a bit, I’ve decided to analyze the 240+ blog posts that RStudio has put out since 2011. This post will do a few things:

  • Scrape the RStudio blog archive page to construct URL links to each blog post
  • Scrape the blog post text and metadata from each post
  • Use a bit of tidytext for some exploratory analysis
  • Perform a statistical test to compare Hadley’s use of “pleased” to the other blog post authors

Spoiler alert: Hadley uses “pleased” ALOT.

Required packages


Extract the HTML from the RStudio blog archive

To be able to extract the text from each blog post, we first need to have a link to that blog post. Luckily, RStudio keeps an up to date archive page that we can scrape. Using xml2, we can get the HTML off that page.

archive_page <- "https://blog.rstudio.com/archives/"

archive_html <- read_html(archive_page)

# Doesn't seem very useful...yet
#> {xml_document}
#> <html lang="en-us">
#> [1] <head>\n<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-8">\n<meta charset="u ...
#> [2] <body>\n    <nav class="menu"><svg version="1.1" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" xmlns:xli ...

Now we use a bit of rvest magic combined with the HTML inspector in Chrome to figure out which elements contain the info we need (I also highly recommend SelectorGadget for this kind of work). Looking at the image below, you can see that all of the links are contained within the main tag as a tags (links).

The code below extracts all of the links, and then adds the prefix containing the base URL of the site.

links <- archive_html %>%
  # Only the "main" body of the archive
  html_nodes("main") %>%
  # Grab any node that is a link
  html_nodes("a") %>%
  # Extract the hyperlink reference from those link tags
  # The hyperlink is an attribute as opposed to a node
  html_attr("href") %>%
  # Prefix them all with the base URL
  paste0("http://blog.rstudio.com", .)

#> [1] "http://blog.rstudio.com/2017/08/25/rstudio-conf-2018-early-bird-pricing/"    
#> [2] "http://blog.rstudio.com/2017/08/22/rstudio-v1-1-preview-object-explorer/"    
#> [3] "http://blog.rstudio.com/2017/08/18/google-cloud-platform/"                   
#> [4] "http://blog.rstudio.com/2017/08/16/rstudio-preview-connections/"             
#> [5] "http://blog.rstudio.com/2017/08/15/contributed-talks-diversity-scholarships/"
#> [6] "http://blog.rstudio.com/2017/08/15/shiny-1-0-4/"

HTML from each blog post

Now that we have every link, we’re ready to extract the HTML from each individual blog post. To make things more manageable, we start by creating a tibble, and then using the mutate + map combination to created a column of XML Nodesets (we will use this combination a lot). Each nodeset contains the HTML for that blog post (exactly like the HTML for the archive page).

blog_data <- tibble(links)

blog_data <- blog_data %>%
  mutate(main = map(
                    # Iterate through every link
                    .x = links, 
                    # For each link, read the HTML for that page, and return the main section 
                    .f = ~read_html(.) %>%

#> [[1]]
#> {xml_nodeset (1)}
#> [1] <main><div class="article-meta">\n<h1><span class="title">Newer to R? rstudio::conf 2018 is fo ...

Meta information

Before extracting the blog post itself, lets grab the meta information about each post, specifically:

  • Author
  • Title
  • Date
  • Category
  • Tags

In the exploratory analysis, we will use author and title, but the other information might be useful for future analysis.

Looking at the first blog post, the Author, Date, and Title are all HTML class names that we can feed into rvest to extract that information.

In the code below, an example of extracting the author information is shown. To select a HTML class (like “author”) as opposed to a tag (like “main”), we have to put a period in front of the class name. Once the html node we are interested in has been identified, we can extract the text for that node using html_text().

blog_data$main[[1]] %>%
  html_nodes(".author") %>%
#> [1] "Roger Oberg"

To scale up to grab the author for all posts, we use map_chr() since we want a character of the author’s name returned.

map_chr(.x = blog_data$main,
        .f = ~html_nodes(.x, ".author") %>%
                html_text()) %>%
#>  [1] "Roger Oberg"        "Kevin Ushey"        "Roger Oberg"       
#>  [4] "Jonathan McPherson" "Hadley Wickham"     "Winston Chang"     
#>  [7] "Gary Ritchie"       "Roger Oberg"        "Jeff Allen"        
#> [10] "Javier Luraschi"

Finally, notice that if we switch ".author" with ".title" or ".date" then we can grab that information as well. This kind of thinking means that we should create a function for extracting these pieces of information!

extract_info <- function(html, class_name) {
          # Given the list of main HTMLs
          .x = html,
          # Extract the text we are interested in for each one 
          .f = ~html_nodes(.x, class_name) %>%

# Extract the data
blog_data <- blog_data %>%
     author = extract_info(main, ".author"),
     title  = extract_info(main, ".title"),
     date   = extract_info(main, ".date")
select(blog_data, author, date)
#> # A tibble: 253 × 2
#>    author             date      
#>    <chr>              <chr>     
#>  1 Roger Oberg        2017-08-25
#>  2 Kevin Ushey        2017-08-22
#>  3 Roger Oberg        2017-08-18
#>  4 Jonathan McPherson 2017-08-16
#>  5 Hadley Wickham     2017-08-15
#>  6 Winston Chang      2017-08-15
#>  7 Gary Ritchie       2017-08-11
#>  8 Roger Oberg        2017-08-10
#>  9 Jeff Allen         2017-08-03
#> 10 Javier Luraschi    2017-07-31
#> # … with 243 more rows
select(blog_data, title)
#> # A tibble: 253 × 1
#>    title                                                                        
#>    <chr>                                                                        
#>  1 Newer to R? rstudio::conf 2018 is for you! Early bird pricing ends August 31.
#>  2 RStudio v1.1 Preview - Object Explorer                                       
#>  3 RStudio Server Pro is ready for BigQuery on the Google Cloud Platform        
#>  4 RStudio 1.1 Preview - Data Connections                                       
#>  5 rstudio::conf(2018): Contributed talks, e-posters, and diversity scholarships
#>  6 Shiny 1.0.4                                                                  
#>  7 RStudio v1.1 Preview: Terminal                                               
#>  8 Building tidy tools workshop                                                 
#>  9 RStudio Connect v1.5.4 - Now Supporting Plumber!                             
#> 10 sparklyr 0.6                                                                 
#> # … with 243 more rows

Categories and tags

The other bits of meta data that might be interesting are the categories and tags that the post falls under. This is a little bit more involved, because both the categories and tags fall under the same class, ".terms". To separate them, we need to look into the href to see if the information is either a tag or a category (href = “/categories/” VS href = “/tags/”).

The function below extracts either the categories or the tags, depending on the argument, by:

  • Extracting the ".terms" class, and then all of the links inside of it (a tags).
  • Checking each link to see if the hyperlink reference contains “categories” or “tags” depending on the one that we are interested in. If it does, it returns the text corresponding to that link, otherwise it returns NAs which are then removed.

The final step results in two list columns containing character vectors of varying lengths corresponding to the categories and tags of each post.

extract_tag_or_cat <- function(html, info_name) {
  # Extract the links under the terms class
  cats_and_tags <- map(.x = html, 
                       .f = ~html_nodes(.x, ".terms") %>%
  # For each link, if the href contains the word categories/tags 
  # return the text corresponding to that link
    ~if_else(condition = grepl(info_name, html_attr(.x, "href")), 
             true      = html_text(.x), 
             false     = NA_character_) %>%

# Apply our new extraction function
blog_data <- blog_data %>%
    categories = extract_tag_or_cat(main, "categories"),
    tags       = extract_tag_or_cat(main, "tags")
select(blog_data, categories, tags)
#> # A tibble: 253 × 2
#>    categories tags     
#>    <list>     <list>   
#>  1 <chr [3]>  <chr [1]>
#>  2 <chr [1]>  <chr [0]>
#>  3 <chr [2]>  <chr [4]>
#>  4 <chr [1]>  <chr [0]>
#>  5 <chr [1]>  <chr [0]>
#>  6 <chr [2]>  <chr [0]>
#>  7 <chr [1]>  <chr [3]>
#>  8 <chr [3]>  <chr [8]>
#>  9 <chr [3]>  <chr [2]>
#> 10 <chr [1]>  <chr [3]>
#> # … with 243 more rows
blog_data %>%
  filter(title == "Building tidy tools workshop") %>%
#> [[1]]
#> [1] "Packages"  "tidyverse" "Training"
blog_data %>%
  filter(title == "Building tidy tools workshop") %>%
#> [[1]]
#> [1] "Advanced R"       "data science"     "ggplot2"          "Hadley Wickham"  
#> [5] "R"                "RStudio Workshop" "r training"       "tutorial"

The blog post itself

Finally, to extract the blog post itself, we can notice that each piece of text in the post is inside of a paragraph tag (p). Being careful to avoid the ".terms" class that contained the categories and tags, which also happens to be in a paragraph tag, we can extract the full blog posts. To ignore the ".terms" class, use the :not() selector.

blog_data <- blog_data %>%
    text = map_chr(main, ~html_nodes(.x, "p:not(.terms)") %>%
                 html_text() %>%
                 # The text is returned as a character vector. 
                 # Collapse them all into 1 string.
                 paste0(collapse = " "))
select(blog_data, text)
#> # A tibble: 253 × 1
#>    text                                                                         
#>    <chr>                                                                        
#>  1 "Immersion is among the most effective ways to learn any language. Immersing…
#>  2 "Today, we’re continuing our blog series on new features in RStudio 1.1. If …
#>  3 "RStudio is excited to announce the availability of RStudio Server Pro on th…
#>  4 "Today, we’re continuing our blog series on new features in RStudio 1.1. If …
#>  5 "rstudio::conf, the conference on all things R and RStudio, will take place …
#>  6 "Shiny 1.0.4 is now available on CRAN. To install it, run: For most Shiny us…
#>  7 "Today we’re excited to announce availability of our first Preview Release f…
#>  8 "Have you embraced the tidyverse? Do you now want to expand it to meet your …
#>  9 "We’re thrilled to announce support for hosting Plumber APIs in RStudio Conn…
#> 10 "We’re excited to announce a new release of the sparklyr package, available …
#> # … with 243 more rows

Who writes the most posts?

Now that we have all of this data, what can we do with it? To start with, who writes the most posts?

blog_data %>%
  group_by(author) %>%
  summarise(count = n()) %>%
  mutate(author = reorder(author, count)) %>%
  # Create a bar graph of author counts
  ggplot(mapping = aes(x = author, y = count)) + 
  geom_col() +
  coord_flip() +
  labs(title    = "Who writes the most RStudio blog posts?",
       subtitle = "By a huge margin, Hadley!") +
  # Shoutout to Bob Rudis for the always fantastic themes
  hrbrthemes::theme_ipsum(grid = "Y")


I’ve never used tidytext before today, but to get our feet wet, let’s create a tokenized tidy version of our data. By using unnest_tokens() the data will be reshaped to a long format holding 1 word per row, for each blog post. This tidy format lends itself to all manner of analysis, and a number of them are outlined in Julia Silge and David Robinson’s Text Mining with R.

tokenized_blog <- blog_data %>%
  mutate(short_title = str_sub(title, end = 15)) %>%
  select(title, short_title, author, date, text) %>%
  unnest_tokens(output = word, input = text)

select(tokenized_blog, short_title, word)
#> # A tibble: 85,761 × 2
#>    short_title     word     
#>    <chr>           <chr>    
#>  1 Newer to R? rst immersion
#>  2 Newer to R? rst is       
#>  3 Newer to R? rst among    
#>  4 Newer to R? rst the      
#>  5 Newer to R? rst most     
#>  6 Newer to R? rst effective
#>  7 Newer to R? rst ways     
#>  8 Newer to R? rst to       
#>  9 Newer to R? rst learn    
#> 10 Newer to R? rst any      
#> # … with 85,751 more rows

Remove stop words

A number of words like “a” or “the” are included in the blog that don’t really add value to a text analysis. These stop words can be removed using an anti_join() with the stop_words dataset that comes with tidytext. After removing stop words, the number of rows was cut in half!

tokenized_blog <- tokenized_blog %>%
  anti_join(stop_words, by = "word") %>%

select(tokenized_blog, short_title, word)
#> # A tibble: 40,315 × 2
#>    short_title     word     
#>    <chr>           <chr>    
#>  1 Newer to R? rst immersion
#>  2 Newer to R? rst effective
#>  3 Newer to R? rst learn    
#>  4 Newer to R? rst language 
#>  5 Newer to R? rst immersing
#>  6 Newer to R? rst advanced 
#>  7 Newer to R? rst users    
#>  8 Newer to R? rst improve  
#>  9 Newer to R? rst language 
#> 10 Newer to R? rst rare     
#> # … with 40,305 more rows

Top 15 words overall

Out of pure curiousity, what are the top 15 words for all of the blog posts?

tokenized_blog %>%
  count(word, sort = TRUE) %>%
  slice(1:15) %>%
  mutate(word = reorder(word, n)) %>%
  ggplot(aes(word, n)) +
  geom_col() + 
  coord_flip() + 
  labs(title = "Top 15 words overall") +
  hrbrthemes::theme_ipsum(grid = "Y")

Is Hadley more “pleased” than everyone else?

As mentioned at the beginning of the post, Hadley apparently uses the word “pleased” in his blog posts an above average number of times. Can we verify this statistically?

Our null hypothesis is that the proportion of blog posts that use the word “pleased” written by Hadley is less than or equal to the proportion of those written by the rest of the RStudio team.

More simply, our null is that Hadley uses “pleased” less than or the same as the rest of the team.

Let’s check visually to compare the two groups of posts.

pleased <- tokenized_blog %>%
  # Group by blog post
  group_by(title) %>%
  # If the blog post contains "pleased" put yes, otherwise no
  # Add a column checking if the author was Hadley
    contains_pleased = case_when(
      "pleased" %in% word ~ "Yes",
      TRUE                ~ "No"),
    is_hadley = case_when(
      author == "Hadley Wickham" ~ "Hadley",
      TRUE                       ~ "Not Hadley")
    ) %>%
  # Remove all duplicates now
  distinct(title, contains_pleased, is_hadley)

pleased %>%
  ggplot(aes(x = contains_pleased)) +
  geom_bar() +
  facet_wrap(~is_hadley, scales = "free_y") +
  labs(title    = "Does this blog post contain 'pleased'?", 
       subtitle = "Nearly half of Hadley's do!",
       x        = "Contains 'pleased'",
       y        = "Count") +
  hrbrthemes::theme_ipsum(grid = "Y")

Is there a statistical difference here?

To check if there is a statistical difference, we will use a test for difference in proportions contained in the R function, prop.test(). First, we need a continency table of the counts. Given the current form of our dataset, this isn’t too hard with the table() function from base R.

contingency_table <- pleased %>%
  ungroup() %>%
  select(is_hadley, contains_pleased) %>%
  # Order the factor so Yes is before No for easy interpretation
  mutate(contains_pleased = factor(contains_pleased, levels = c("Yes", "No"))) %>%

#>             contains_pleased
#> is_hadley    Yes  No
#>   Hadley      43  45
#>   Not Hadley  17 148

From our null hypothesis, we want to perform a one sided test. The alternative to our null is that Hadley uses “pleased” more than the rest of the RStudio team. For this reason, we specify alternative = "greater".

test_prop <- contingency_table %>%
  prop.test(alternative = "greater")

#>  2-sample test for equality of proportions with continuity correction
#> data:  .
#> X-squared = 45.063, df = 1, p-value = 9.541e-12
#> alternative hypothesis: greater
#> 95 percent confidence interval:
#>  0.2809899 1.0000000
#> sample estimates:
#>    prop 1    prop 2 
#> 0.4886364 0.1030303

We could also tidy this up with broom if we were inclined to.

#> # A tibble: 1 × 9
#>   estimate1 estimate2 statistic  p.value parameter conf.low conf.high method    
#>       <dbl>     <dbl>     <dbl>    <dbl>     <dbl>    <dbl>     <dbl> <chr>     
#> 1     0.489     0.103      45.1 9.54e-12         1    0.281         1 2-sample …
#> # … with 1 more variable: alternative <chr>

Test conclusion

  • 48.86% of Hadley’s posts contain “pleased”
  • 10.3% of the rest of the RStudio team’s posts contain “pleased”
  • With a p-value of 9.5414477^{-12}, we reject the null that Hadley uses “pleased” less than or the same as the rest of the team. The evidence supports the idea that he has a much higher preference for it!

Hadley uses “pleased” quite a bit!


This post used a lot of different tools, but that’s the beauty of having over 12,000 R packages at our disposal. I think that this dataset could be used in a number of other ways, so be on the lookout for more posts!