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

Spencer Graves spencer.graves at structuremonitoring.com
Thu Dec 2 02:19:57 CET 2010

Hi, Dominick, et al.:

       I know nothing about about Rcpp, it's history and the 
contributions of Dominick and anyone else.  I think everyone should be 
appropriately recognized for their contributions.

       However, I feel compelled to briefly outline personal experiences 
with collaborators who were so concerned that their contribution be 
properly recognized that it limited our success.  To successfully 
commercialize the ideas, we needed the collaboration of others.  
However, my collaborators' excessive concern about getting "their share" 
made it exceedingly and unreasonably difficult to obtain the extra help 
we needed.

       A famous example of this was the Wright Brothers.  They  invented 
the airplane and spent much of the rest of their lives trying to defend 
their patent.  Wilbur was dead long before it was settled, and Orville 
got so little from it that it was clearly a massive waste of their 
time.  Moreover, "The legal threat suppressed development of the U.S. 
aviation industry." 

       I sincerely hope that this present discussion can be settled in a 
way that does not damage the incredibly productive collaboration that 
has made R the overwhelming success it is.  The future of humanity is 
brighter because R makes it easier (a) for scientists to better 
understand the things they study and (b) for common people to better 
understand and manage the problems they face.

       Best Wishes,
       Spencer Graves

On 12/1/2010 4:20 PM, Dominick Samperi 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.
> Dominick
>> --
>> Statistics&  Software Consulting
>> GKX Group, GKX Associates Inc.
>> tel: 1-877-GKX-GROUP
>> email: ggrothendieck at gmail.com
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