[R] Size of R user base

Tamas Papp tpapp at axelero.hu
Tue Apr 20 15:33:20 CEST 2004

On Tue, Apr 20, 2004 at 10:47:06AM +0200, Philippe Grosjean wrote:

> The main role of this code would be, of course, to warn users that an update
> is available. One side effect would be that it should be possible to monitor
> access to the link in the centralized web site and to know:

I appreciate that it would be really nice to know the size of the user
base: the fact that lots of people are using R would give everybody a
warm, fuzzy feeling.

On the other hand, some people are getting carried away with this
discussion.  I would consider the above suggestion a serious violation
of my privacy: if I want to make this type of personal data (what
software you use is personal data, in the legal sense) public, I can
do it, but I don't want any software on my computer which "kindly"
does that for me if I did not ask for it.  I don't care whether the
data would be anonymized -- it is a matter of principle.  Note that I
am using Debian's popularity-contest package, but that was my choice,
not somebody else's.  BTW, this package would be able to give some
statistics on how widespread R is among Debian users.

So before people are coming up with ingenious (and possibly invasive)
methods to estimate the user base, I would like somebody to explain
why this is relevant.  R already has the "critical mass" it needs,
given that it is a specialized piece of software.  It is always good
to have a broader user base, but R is doing fine as it is.  In some
markets, it is safer to pick a product with a wider user base (think
VHS vs Betamax), and sometimes this argument applies to software (eg
you should not make your bet on a commercial, closed-source software
company with a dwindling user base, because if they go bankrupt, you
can expect no updates etc).  But free software is entirely different.

Knowing that we have more than a couple thousand users and dozens of
active developers is good enough for me.



Tamás K. Papp
E-mail: tpapp at axelero.hu
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