[R-pkg-devel] [R] a question of etiquette

Duncan Murdoch murdoch@dunc@n @end|ng |rom gm@||@com
Tue Jun 2 17:48:59 CEST 2020

On 02/06/2020 11:14 a.m., Adelchi Azzalini wrote:
> Thanks to all people that contributed  to this discussion,
> which turned out to be interesting, definitely not something which I expected at the beginning.
> To avoid verbosity, I restrict myself to two more points.
> (1) In case one adopts the indication that all the authors of a portion of code (irrespective of the extension, even in other languages)  are "of course now also copyright holders and authors", how should this be translated  in the nomenclature of Writing R Extensions (Section 1.1.1 The DESCRIPTION file)?  In this view, "ctb" is the more appropriate role, I believe. The "aut" label is not the right option. Otherwise, dozens on CRAN packages where "ctb" is extensively used should be amended.
> (2) Having read pertaining portions of manuals and pondered messages, I have come to the conclusion that the terminology set up in the above-quoted paragraph of "Writing R Extensions" is not always ideal. This issue would take a long time and space, so I only indicate one point: the role ‘"cre"’ (creator) for the package maintainer. There are many cases where this description does not fit. For instance, I have seen packages where an author has designed the package, written the entire code and documentation alone, maintained the package for some years, and then passed on the mere maintenance to somebody else; definitely, I would not describe the second person as the "creator".

I think the issue was that those roles are not invented by R, they are 
standard MARC roles (reference listed in the ?person help page), and the 
full list contains nothing that is particularly close to the role of 

Creator [cre] is defined as "A person or organization responsible for 
the intellectual or artistic content of a resource".  The common English 
use of the word creator would match that with "originally responsible", 
whereas a maintainer is "currently responsible", so it's not completely 

Maybe R shouldn't have tried to use MARC roles, or should have invented 
an additional one.  It's a bit late for that now, though.

Duncan Murdoch

>> So, I think the safe way is to include the original authors in the author list (and check their license carefully).
> In  general, "check the license" is a very sensible indication. In the specific case, the Matlab code comes with no licence indication - nothing.
> I have now submitted mnormt_2.0.0.tar.gz to CRAN, with a comment/query about this issue.  Let us see what "The CRAN" says. In case you want see the conclusion, the outcome should appear at https://cran.r-project.org/package=mnormt in a few days.
> Best regards,
> Adelchi Azzalini
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