[R-pkg-devel] CRAN student assistants

David C Sterratt d@v|d@c@@terr@tt @end|ng |rom ed@@c@uk
Wed May 15 12:28:35 CEST 2019

Dear all,

as a CRAN contributor, I am interested in answers to the questions
Hadley raises.

I very much appreciate the huge amount of work the CRAN team do. I get
the impression that hitherto much of it has been funded by "goodwill".
That's not sustainable and it definitely needs to be staffed

As a contributor I've come to expect that I have to abide by the
submission guidelines, and that with every release of R the checks get
more stringent. This is a very good thing for the quality of code, even
if it makes me curse at the time!

I've also come to expect some comments on things like the formatting of
quotes in the package description.

I maintain one package (geometry) on a goodwill basis. It's not related
to my current work, and I get little academic credit for it. Unexpected
comments at the final stages of submission deplete goodwill. It would be
helpful to know what to expect, especially if standards are becoming
more stringent.

Best wishes,


On Wed 15 May 2019 at 09:45 GMT, Joris Meys <Joris.Meys using ugent.be> wrote:

> Dear Hadley,
> a follow up mail: You know who they are. Your organisation has the policy
> to add all email correspondence with CRAN to the github repo.
> https://github.com/r-lib/gargle/tree/master/cran-correspondence
> That's how I now also found out who they are. One is a doctor. She has a
> PhD. The mere fact you insinuate that this woman could be a student, is
> disturbing. The other obtained an engineer degree in 2011, and is currently
> obtaining a second one in Economics while working as a project assistant.
> Also here I find it disturbing you question the competence of someone with
> that experience, and who was selected by people known for their
> thoroughness.
> In light of this new information, I fail to understand why you even bother
> asking for information you had already. I would appreciate if you would
> stop gaslighting about CRAN and show those ladies the respect they deserve.
> Kind regards
> Joris
> On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 11:06 AM Joris Meys <Joris.Meys using ugent.be> wrote:
>> 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())
>> Yes
>> 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.
>> Joris
>> 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
>>> ______________________________________________
>>> R-package-devel using r-project.org mailing list
>>> https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-package-devel
>> --
>> Joris Meys
>> Statistical consultant
>> Department of Data Analysis and Mathematical Modelling
>> Ghent University
>> Coupure Links 653, B-9000 Gent (Belgium)
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>> tel: +32 (0)9 264 61 79
>> -----------
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>> http://www.biowiskundedagen.ugent.be/
>> -------------------------------
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David C Sterratt, Senior Research Associate
Institute for Adaptive and Neural Computation, School of Informatics
University of Edinburgh, 10 Crichton Street, Edinburgh EH8 9AB, Scotland, UK
http://homepages.inf.ed.ac.uk/sterratt - tel: +44 131 651 1739

The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in
Scotland, with registration number SC005336.

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