[R] Problems in Recommending R

Neil Shephard nshephard at gmail.com
Tue Feb 3 13:04:44 CET 2009

Adam D. I. Kramer-2 wrote:
> I respectfully disagree. In my repeated experience, I have seen colleagues
> in industry and university simply write R off as "too difficult" or "not
> worth the effort" based on purely cosmetic grounds, and then at my urging
> and after some instruction embrace R as being a fantastic piece of
> software.
> The reality of the situation is that before you read a book, you only have
> its cover to judge. Suggesting that people should read every book
> regardless
> of the cover does not make sense for people who have other things to do.

I respectfully disagree with your disagreement :-)

You don't just have the cover by which to judge a book you have reviews of
the book too (unless of course its just been printed, but even then it
quickly gets sent out to review which then appear in

As it is there are a lot of "reviews" which extol the virtues of R.  If
you're colleagues (or anyone else) ignores these in favour of the "look" of
the web-site to determine whether they are to start trying out and using R
then that is their loss.

Adam D. I. Kramer-2 wrote:
> In the ecological context of open-source software, the "cover" or
> cosmetics
> of a software program, its documentation, and its support structure are
> actually quite correlated with overall ease of use, and if functionality
> is
> modeled as the factorial interaction of "information produced" with "the
> amount of time it takes to produce the information," then functionality
> correlates with ease of use, and so the appearance of the webpage is not a
> "triviality."

Again I'd disagree, perhaps the most widely used suite of software has a
very simple and clean web-site with few bells and whistles, ditto for one of
the most popular text-editors.  I am of course referring to the suite of GNU
utilities (http://www.gnu.org/) that make a working GNU/Linux distribution
and Emacs (http://www.gnu.org/software/emacs/ ).

I like the R web-site, its clean and simple, present key information
prominently (manuals, docs, CRAN, RNew and mailing lists).


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