[Rcpp-devel] [Rd] GPL and R Community Policies (Rcpp)

Dominick Samperi djsamperi at gmail.com
Thu Dec 2 02:48:44 CET 2010

On Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 8:19 PM, Spencer Graves <
spencer.graves at structuremonitoring.com> wrote:

> Hi, Dominick, et al.:
>      I know nothing about about Rcpp, it's history and the contributions of
> Dominick and anyone else.  I think everyone should be appropriately
> recognized for their contributions.
>      However, I feel compelled to briefly outline personal experiences with
> collaborators who were so concerned that their contribution be properly
> recognized that it limited our success.  To successfully commercialize the
> ideas, we needed the collaboration of others.  However, my collaborators'
> excessive concern about getting "their share" made it exceedingly and
> unreasonably difficult to obtain the extra help we needed.
>      A famous example of this was the Wright Brothers.  They  invented the
> airplane and spent much of the rest of their lives trying to defend their
> patent.  Wilbur was dead long before it was settled, and Orville got so
> little from it that it was clearly a massive waste of their time.  Moreover,
> "The legal threat suppressed development of the U.S. aviation industry." (
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wright_brothers_patent_war)
>      I sincerely hope that this present discussion can be settled in a way
> that does not damage the incredibly productive collaboration that has made R
> the overwhelming success it is.  The future of humanity is brighter because
> R makes it easier (a) for scientists to better understand the things they
> study and (b) for common people to better understand and manage the problems
> they face.

Nicely said, and I agree. I think I made it clear in my original post that
this has nothing to do with patents or
intellectual property rights. Under GPL there are none. This does not mean
that I do not value GPL, but we shouldn't
let the pursuit of free software turn us into "gadgets".


>      Best Wishes,
>      Spencer Graves
> On 12/1/2010 4:20 PM, Dominick Samperi wrote:
>> On Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 6:37 PM, Gabor Grothendieck
>> <ggrothendieck at gmail.com>wrote:
>>  On Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 5:18 PM, Hadley Wickham<hadley at rice.edu>  wrote:
>>>> Perhaps a wider community of R users can weigh in on a
>>>>> policy decision that was implicitly deemed acceptable on this
>>>>> thread. Namely, that it is fine to arbitrarily and
>>>>> for no reason deprecate the contributions of past
>>>>> authors, and as more progress is made, even more
>>>>> disparaging remarks can be added.
>>>> What is disparaging about saying "a small portion of the code is based
>>>> on code written during 2005 and 2006 by Dominick Samperi"? I read this
>>>> as a factual statement saying that the current version of Rcpp is
>>>> based on, in a small way, your earlier work.
>>>> For reference, a disparaging comment would be something like: "This
>>>> package was based code written by Hadley Wickham that made my eyes
>>>> bleed", or "The development of this package was driven by the godawful
>>>> code that Hadley wrote".
>>> Its very difficult to truly assess relative contributions when you mix
>>> in design, coding, level of effort, promotion, etc.   I would not
>>> focus on the single word "disparaging".  I think the poster simply
>>> used the wrong word and perhaps what he meant was more along the lines
>>> of: as the creator of the package he presumably set the design (or
>>> significant elements of the design) for all subsequent work and in
>>> that respect even if its true that the number of lines he generated is
>>> relatively small compared to the current package, that phrase gives
>>> the misleading impression that his contribution was also small.  There
>>> is a difference between something that is true and non-misleading and
>>> something that is true and misleading.
>>>  There is an important element of this discussion that is being
>> overlooked,
>> namely, the timing. If indeed my contributions were minimal (and they
>> were not for the reasons you suggest) then why was it decided now,
>> for this particular release, to update my status? Why not the last
>> release? What changed? There were only a few new features added
>> to this release. What made the difference?
>> More importantly, as I suggested in my original post, this practice
>> sets an absurd precedent, one that motivated Stallman to write
>> the GNU manifesto (where he used the oxygen mask metaphor).
>> Should we reevaluate all contributors, present or past, and
>> adjust the level of deprecation on the
>> author line appropriately before each release?
>> I suspect that I have contributed far more than some of the
>> people listed on the author line. Does this mean that their
>> contributions should be discounted accordingly? If not,
>> why not?
>> Thanks for your courage. People who send supportive comments
>> tend to send them off-list, not wanting to state them publicly.
>> Dominick
>>  --
>>> Statistics&  Software Consulting
>>> GKX Group, GKX Associates Inc.
>>> tel: 1-877-GKX-GROUP
>>> email: ggrothendieck at gmail.com
>>>         [[alternative HTML version deleted]]
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