[R] a matter of etiquette

John Sorkin jsorkin at grecc.umaryland.edu
Tue May 11 21:31:51 CEST 2010

In the spirit of open software, and in the spirit of R which encourages review of software, if you find an error I think you should let the R community know of the error. Of course you should give the package maintainer the first crack at fixing the error, but if no fix is forthcoming, please inform the community.
John Sorkin
Chief Biostatistics and Informatics
Univ. of Maryland School of Medicine
Division of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine
JSorkin at grecc.umaryland.edu 
-----Original Message-----
From: Frank E Harrell Jr <f.harrell at Vanderbilt.Edu>
To:  <r-help at r-project.org>

Sent: 5/11/2010 12:00:24 PM
Subject: Re: [R] a matter of etiquette

On 05/11/2010 08:20 AM, Gabor Grothendieck wrote:
> You could send a reminder to the author.  Its happened to me that
> nothing occurred and 6 months later I sent another email and that
> seemed enough to get it fixed.
> You could also ask the maintainer if the package has been abandoned
> and offer to take over as maintainer.

I know this can be frustrating.  I reported a critical but trivial to 
fix error in a package 3 years ago and offered to take over the 
maintenance of the package one year ago, but the current maintainer does 
not get around to responding.


> If you just want to record the problems and offer some advice to
> others on a workaround you could add a page to the the R wiki:
> http://rwiki.r-project.org .   That way if its fixed you can later
> modify the page to remove the note or remove the entire page.
> 2010/5/11 Adelchi Azzalini<azzalini at stat.unipd.it>:
>> Dear useRs and expeRts,
>> I would like to ask your views on an issue for which there possibly
>> exists an established policy of the R-help list, but I am not aware
>> of it.
>> In 2008, I have spotted some errors in a package, one which is likely
>> to have many users (I am not one myself). The more serious errors are
>> in the documentation, since they lead to a completely distorted
>> interpretation of the outcome; in addition, there is (at least) one
>> programming error which produces some wrong computations. A few weeks
>> later, the maintainers of the package replied, with a promise to handle
>> these issues.
>> Today, I have looked at that package again, and everthing is as in 2008,
>> as for the points raised then. There has been at least one update of
>> that package, about one year after our e-mail exchange.
>> When I discover a bug in a program of a colleague, I point out it by a
>> private communication to the author. If the problem is of some
>> relevance, I expect that the bug is fixed in a reasonable time. In the
>> present case, this fix has not been provided after over 18 months, and
>> potentially users keep producing nonsense out of that package.
>> What is the appropriate way to proceed now? Announce these errors to
>> the whole R-help list, or what else?  I only rule out writing (again) to
>> the maintainers of the package.
>> Adelchi Azzalini
>> --
>> Adelchi Azzalini<azzalini at stat.unipd.it>
>> Dipart.Scienze Statistiche, Università di Padova, Italia
>> tel. +39 049 8274147,  http://azzalini.stat.unipd.it/

Frank E Harrell Jr   Professor and Chairman        School of Medicine
                      Department of Biostatistics   Vanderbilt University

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