[R] Re: reading in columns of a data set as factors

Faheem Mitha faheem at email.unc.edu
Thu Apr 27 18:37:26 CEST 2000

On Thu, 27 Apr 2000, Martin Maechler wrote:
>     Faheem> because I am getting a little desperate. I have had serious
>     Faheem> problems finding sufficiently detailed documentation about
>     Faheem> Splus/R. The online help is often very cryptic, and much of the
>     Faheem> other available documentation is either severely incomplete or
>     Faheem> outdated.
> as a probable co-author of much of this documentation, I'd like to find out
> what is cryptic and even more what is ``severely incomplete or outdated''.
> {More helpful than publicly critizing,
>  would be to send specific suggestions for improvements; 
>  since R has been a huge community effort ...
>  We *do* appreciate bug reports on (and contributions to) documentation!

Dear Martin Maechler and others,

My apologies. I meant no offence, and did not mean to be publicly
criticising. I do greatly appreciate the work of the R community. Without
you, I would not be running R on my home computer, and this mailing list
has been very helpful to me.

I did not mean that the R online help was incomplete or outdated, though I
certainly find it cryptic, and as a beginner myself, I doubt if I would be
much use in expanding/improving it. I may possibly find it cryptic because
I am a beginner, of course, and I realise the on-line help is not meant to
replace a manual or textbook. One specific thing that would be helpful
would be more and simpler examples on the help pages. I find the examples
useful when there are some, but I find that they often include a lot of
other functions and terminology which I have to figure out first in order
to see what the function I'm interested in is doing. Perhaps slightly
simpler (artificially simple?) examples would be more helpful. Remember,
I'm speaking as a novice, and I assure you I put in plenty of effort
trying to figure out stuff.

When I said incomplete/outdated, I was alluding to free manuals and guides
available online, written by Mathsoft and others, much of it years old,
and the books I have come across in libraries. These are OK for the
basics, but not when you need details on some specialised topic. Since
R/Splus is changing so rapidly, much of the documentation available to me
alludes to version 3 of Splus and so forth. This is a fact of life, and
nobody's fault.

However, I do take the point about constructive suggestions. Again, I
apologise for any unintentional offence I may have given.

                          Sincerely, Faheem Mitha.

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