#1
ive always played my minor scale like this (sorry about the horrible image)


but today i was reading the mt sticky and they displayed it like this

|R|-|o|o|-|
|o|o|-|o|-|
|o|-|o|-|-|
|o|-|R|-|o|
|o|-|o|o|-|
|R|-|o|o|-|


so what scale pattern is best to use or is it just a matter of preference
#2
Personally, I prefer to use 3 notes-per-string shapes. It is a matter of preference and there is only one difference between the two shapes you posted. You wouldn't have to move your index finger for the second one.
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#3
The most common one is the first one you posted. They are exactly the same thing, its all preference. it doesn't matter what you use, they will both be able ot play at the same speed, one wont be any faster than the other.
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#4
I prefer to play it the second way, but I use the first one a lot as well.

In the end, it doesn't matter. A scale is not a box position. You can do what you want and play any acceptable note anywhere.