Some time ago, I came across a blog post highlighting how open-source contributors can be alienated by maintainers. Tim Jurka describes his unpleasant experience of sending an updated version of an R package to CRAN. He highlights the short and impersonal messages from CRAN maintainers, an apparent contradiction, and generally felt alienated by the process. Interestingly, there are four lessons to be learnt offered:
– don’t alienate volunteers — everyone in the R community is a volunteer, and it doesn’t benefit the community when you’re unnecessarily rude.
– understand volunteers have other commitments — while the core R team is doing an excellent job building a statistical computing platform, not everyone can make the same commitment to an open-source project.
– open-source has limited resources — every contribution helps.
– be patient — not everyone can operate on the same level, and new members will need to be brought up to speed on best practices.
I guess everyone would sign up to this, but oddly enough my experience with the team running CRAN has always been of the nature Tim Jurka cites as a positive example: brief, but courteous. What is definitely missing from said blog post, though, is an appreciation that the team running R and CRAN are also volunteers!