[R-pkg-devel] CRAN student assistants

Hadley Wickham h@w|ckh@m @end|ng |rom gm@||@com
Thu May 16 16:55:26 CEST 2019

Hi all,

The thread seems to have drifted off topic. I really didn't want this
to devolve into a discussion about when cat() or message() is more
appropriate — I have complete faith in Jenny Bryan's ability to
understand technical tradeoffs and pick the most appropriate given the
constraints. I am most interested in understanding what level of
discretion CRAN's "Studentischer administrativer Mitarbeiter" have to
critique the implementation of R packages, particularly for packages
that do not yield R CMD check problems or otherwise violate CRAN

I mean no disrespect towards the CRAN maintainers (whose tireless
efforts are a crucial part of making R the success that it is), but I
don't think it's unreasonable to enquire as to who is involved in a
crucial piece of open source community infrastructure, and, if
students are involved, what their scope of work is and how they are
trained and supervised.

I do recognise that my question "Who are they?" may have been
perceived as overly intrusive. To clarify: I don't want to know names
or other personally identifying information, but I would like to know
in general terms how many there are, and what backgrounds they have.
Similarly, I don't want to know how much they are paid, just whether
or not they are volunteers or employees.


On Tue, May 14, 2019 at 10:23 AM 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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