[R-pkg-devel] CRAN student assistants

Joris Meys Jor|@@Mey@ @end|ng |rom ugent@be
Wed May 15 11:06:11 CEST 2019

Dear Hadley,

given you're on the list of R foundation members, I rest assured you have
other channels to ask about the identity of new CRAN staff directly to
those responsible. Their names and paychecks are of no interest to the
general dev world. I can understand CRAN doesn't want to make these names
public, in order to avoid thousands of beginning devs mailing them directly
with questions that should be answered elsewhere.

I'd like to take a moment to thank CRAN for extending their workforce.
Given the increased workload, this was long overdue. I'm fully confident
the responsible CRAN maintainers made a thorough selection of competent
people. They're not known for their laissez-faire attitude.

I further note that:

1) the devoid package is on CRAN.

2) Where cat() is used in gargle, message() is a better option for the
following reason:

> myfun <- function(){cat("Yes");message("No")}
> suppressMessages(myfun())

This is how I train my students, but you're entitled to your own opinion
obviously. When the opinion of a dev differs from CRAN however, it's up to
them to argue with CRAN about why their vision is correct. A third party
public complaint seems to be the norm lately, but in our region such things
are generally frowned upon, as it's considered basic politeness to solve
differences with the people directly.

Finally, I'd like to point out that one can easily use the argument "repos"
in install.packages() to install from a different repository. So there's
absolutely no problem to have your own repo where you hire the people and
make the rules. That might save you a few emails to the dev lists.

I hope your ongoing problems with CRAN get resolved soon.
All the best.


On Tue, May 14, 2019 at 5:26 PM Hadley Wickham <h.wickham using gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi all,
> Several people on my team have received responses to their CRAN
> submissions from new members of the CRAN team who appear to be student
> assistants (judging from their job titles: "Studentischer
> administrativer Mitarbeiter"). From the outside, they appear to be
> exercising editorial control[^1] and conducting design reviews[^2].
> CRAN is a critical piece of R community infrastructure, and I am sure
> these students have been surrounded by the proper checks and balances,
> but it's not obvious what their role is from the outside. I'd really
> appreciate knowing a little more about them:
> * Who are they?
> * Are they paid employees or volunteers?
> * What is their scope of work?
> * How are they trained?
> * If we believe that they have made a mistake, how do we request
>   review from a senior CRAN member?
> * They appear to be able to apply additional discretionary criteria
>   that are not included in R CMD check or documented in the CRAN policies.
>   Is this true? If so, what is the scope of these additional checks?
> Hadley
> [^1]: The devoid package was rejected because the student assistant
> did not understand the purpose of the package.
> [^2]: The gargle package was rejected because the student assistant
> believed that the use of cat() was incorrect. It was not.
> --
> http://hadley.nz
> ______________________________________________
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Joris Meys
Statistical consultant

Department of Data Analysis and Mathematical Modelling
Ghent University
Coupure Links 653, B-9000 Gent (Belgium)

tel: +32 (0)9 264 61 79
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