[Rd] [Rcpp-devel] GPL and R Community Policies (Rcpp)

Gabor Grothendieck ggrothendieck at gmail.com
Thu Dec 2 01:55:38 CET 2010

On Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 7:20 PM, Dominick Samperi <djsamperi at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 6:37 PM, Gabor Grothendieck <ggrothendieck at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> On Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 5:18 PM, Hadley Wickham <hadley at rice.edu> wrote:
>> >> Perhaps a wider community of R users can weigh in on a
>> >> policy decision that was implicitly deemed acceptable on this
>> >> thread. Namely, that it is fine to arbitrarily and
>> >> for no reason deprecate the contributions of past
>> >> authors, and as more progress is made, even more
>> >> disparaging remarks can be added.
>> >
>> > What is disparaging about saying "a small portion of the code is based
>> > on code written during 2005 and 2006 by Dominick Samperi"? I read this
>> > as a factual statement saying that the current version of Rcpp is
>> > based on, in a small way, your earlier work.
>> >
>> > For reference, a disparaging comment would be something like: "This
>> > package was based code written by Hadley Wickham that made my eyes
>> > bleed", or "The development of this package was driven by the godawful
>> > code that Hadley wrote".
>> >
>> Its very difficult to truly assess relative contributions when you mix
>> in design, coding, level of effort, promotion, etc.   I would not
>> focus on the single word "disparaging".  I think the poster simply
>> used the wrong word and perhaps what he meant was more along the lines
>> of: as the creator of the package he presumably set the design (or
>> significant elements of the design) for all subsequent work and in
>> that respect even if its true that the number of lines he generated is
>> relatively small compared to the current package, that phrase gives
>> the misleading impression that his contribution was also small.  There
>> is a difference between something that is true and non-misleading and
>> something that is true and misleading.
> There is an important element of this discussion that is being overlooked,
> namely, the timing. If indeed my contributions were minimal (and they
> were not for the reasons you suggest) then why was it decided now,
> for this particular release, to update my status? Why not the last
> release? What changed? There were only a few new features added
> to this release. What made the difference?
> More importantly, as I suggested in my original post, this practice
> sets an absurd precedent, one that motivated Stallman to write
> the GNU manifesto (where he used the oxygen mask metaphor).
> Should we reevaluate all contributors, present or past, and
> adjust the level of deprecation on the
> author line appropriately before each release?
> I suspect that I have contributed far more than some of the
> people listed on the author line. Does this mean that their
> contributions should be discounted accordingly? If not,
> why not?
> Thanks for your courage. People who send supportive comments
> tend to send them off-list, not wanting to state them publicly.

Just to be clear I have never used the package and am not truly
commenting on this particular case but only the general ideas in this
thread.  Also I was not suggesting that the comments in the code were
purposefully misleading, only that they might be misleading since they
could be interpreted in terms of contribution even though they are
stated in terms of lines of code.  The author of the phrase may very
well have felt that the current team had done a lot of work to add
design ideas and develop and promote the software but perhaps the
unfortunate way in how it was expressed in that phrase that came out
as a seeming comment on the original creator's contribution rather
than the intended comment on their own, presumably also significant,

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email: ggrothendieck at gmail.com

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