[R] Several R vs S-Plus issues

Peter Dalgaard BSA p.dalgaard at biostat.ku.dk
Wed Oct 3 19:55:13 CEST 2001

David Brahm  <a215020 at agate.fmr.com> writes:

> Peter Dalgaard <p.dalgaard at biostat.ku.dk> wrote:
> > Sorry if I sound annoyed, but I am....
> Grossly unfair, Peter!  And since you chose to vent your annoyance publicly,
> I am responding publicly.  I spent several hours trying to build a coherent,
> single-page summary of my observations over several weeks, and my reward is a
> scolding for sending my email to the address given in the FAQ???  Jeez!  Just
> delete it if it offends so much!

Sorry I cannot do that. I'm among the guys that actually try to fix
things once in a while. And has spent several *years* doing so.

And sorry for taking it out on you, but these things are recurrent.
The note was targeted at everybody.

(I don't think you'll find anything in the FAQ saying that bug
reports should be sent to r-help, though.)

> > PLEASE do not post several bugs in one report ...
> > PLEASE discern between actual bugs and points for discussion...
> Not mentioned in the FAQ (section 9.2), nor anywhere else on CRAN that I can
> find.  It sounds like r-bugs is some kind of automated system that cannot
> handle non-standard formatting, is that it?  I assumed it was just read by a
> human (the "bugs guy"), parsed, and handed out appropriately, sorry.

Maybe the FAQ needs some points added on this, but it does talk about
reporting _a_ bug.

Let me explain: 

R-bugs is a semi-automatic bug-*filing* system, which attaches a
report number and keeps reports with similar numbers together. It
allows us to sort reports into categories, say "Language" and move
them to "Language-fixed" when they are fixed. We cannot fix everything
at once so we review unresolved reports occasionally and see if the
bug is still there (occasionally the bug gets fixed but noone updates
the repository) and maybe try another stab at isolating the problem.

The problem with a multiple report like yours is that it is cannot be
uniquely filed (although there's a TooMuchAtOnce category), but worse:
It lingers in the repository until every problem in it is resolved,
and there is no heading that can tell us at a glance what the report
is all about. Every time it is reviewed we have to read the whole
thing through to recall what the issues were and filter out those
questions that were already resolved, or previously decided to be
unresolvable. This makes the whole debugging process take much more

> > PLEASE do not mail to multiple addresses. All bug reports are echoed
> > to the r-devel list and should be discussed there.
> Then I don't understand how to communicate with the "development team", besides
> just posting to the general discussion list.  

If you mail to r-bugs, the report is copied to the R-devel list and
presumably read by the interested developers. A copy of this and any
follow-ups on the list get stored in the repository.

> Is every posting there really
> read and handled by the right people?  I guess I fundamentally don't understand
> your communication model, e.g. how my comment about subsetting (which isn't
> strictly a "bug") gets to the guy who actually writes "[".

That one arguably *is* a bug (whereas the fact that R gets you a
missing result from indexing with a missing value is a design

For discussing the design of things, you could take up the issue on
the r-devel list as a normal topic. This may or may not spark some
discussion, which is about the best you can hope for. Obviously, noone
is *obliged* to change things according to your tastes.

> > Sorry if I sound annoyed, but I am....
> Likewise.  R-help sure is filled with a lot of negativity.

Sorry if you feel that. I think there are others who actually feel
they are getting help.

   O__  ---- Peter Dalgaard             Blegdamsvej 3  
  c/ /'_ --- Dept. of Biostatistics     2200 Cph. N   
 (*) \(*) -- University of Copenhagen   Denmark      Ph: (+45) 35327918
~~~~~~~~~~ - (p.dalgaard at biostat.ku.dk)             FAX: (+45) 35327907
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