[R] A Few Suggestions to help out newbies

Peter Dalgaard BSA p.dalgaard at biostat.ku.dk
Wed Apr 3 00:50:49 CEST 2002

ggrothendieck at yifan.net writes:

> It has been said that the key difference between Open Source
> projects and commercial projects is not just that the commercial
> packages cost money but that the commercial developers listen to
> their users better than Open Source developers do. (I am not saying
> that R developers don't listen, I am just bringing out this view of
> Open Source vs. Commerical, in general). If commercial developers
> don't listen to their users then they don't stay in business very
> long!

Sorry, but this is just plain wrong. The main difference is that Open
Source people try to get it right, commercial entities try to get it
sold. There are plenty of examples where user feedback and wishes have
been very long in finding their way into commercial software (much of
the early free software came out of Unix environments where
development was stalled because they were tied to an AT&T codebase
that noone had the capacity to start improving upon). Even more often,
you'll find that features in commercial software get added after some
sort of market analysis and then a targeted effort is made or
contracted to supply what is *perceived* to be user requirements. Not
always with fortunate results.

I'm not saying that user input isn't useful, but it is not always that
simple to respond to it. Apart from the basic issue of manpower, it is
also a question of analyzing the subject matter to an extent where you
can see what kind of code makes sense and which does not. If wishes
start taking on a tone of demand, with nothing offered in return, they
tend to get overheard or become the target of sarcasm. Notice however,
that the sarcasm has a component of sincerity: R is a programming
language; it should not be beyond the capacity of experienced users to
develop simple functions to perform tasks in their subject area. If
people don't realize that then maybe it's about time?

   O__  ---- Peter Dalgaard             Blegdamsvej 3  
  c/ /'_ --- Dept. of Biostatistics     2200 Cph. N   
 (*) \(*) -- University of Copenhagen   Denmark      Ph: (+45) 35327918
~~~~~~~~~~ - (p.dalgaard at biostat.ku.dk)             FAX: (+45) 35327907
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