[Rd] help.request() for packages?

From: Matthew Dowle <mdowle_at_mdowle.plus.com>
Date: Tue, 26 Apr 2011 21:08:27 +0100


Have I missed something, or misunderstood?

The r-help posting guide asks users to contact the package maintainer :

   "If the question relates to a contributed package, e.g., one downloaded from CRAN, try contacting the package maintainer first. [snip] ONLY [only is bold font] send such questions to R-help or R-devel if you get no reply or need further assistance. This applies to both requests for help and to bug reports."

but the R-ext guide contains :

   "The mandatory ‘Maintainer’ field should give a single name with a valid (RFC 2822) email address in angle brackets (for sending bug reports etc.). It should not end in a period or comma. For a public package it should be a person, not a mailing list and not a corporate entity: do ensure that it is valid and will remain valid for the lifetime of the package."

Currently, data.table contains the datatable-help mailing list in the
'Maintainer' field, with the posting guide in mind (and service levels
for users). This mailing list is where we would like users to ask questions about the package, not r-help, and not a single person. However, R-exts says that the 'Maintainer' email address should not be a mailing list.

There seems to be two requirements:

   i) a non-bouncing email address that CRAN maintainers can use - more like the 'Administrator' of the package

   ii) a support address for users to send questions and bug reports

The BugReports field in DESCRIPTION is for bugs only, and allows only a URL, not an email address. bug.reports() has a 'package' argument and emails the Maintainer field if the BugReports URL is not provided by the package. So, BugReports seems close, but not quite what we'd like.

help.request() appears to have no package argument (I checked R 2.13.0).

Could a "Support" field (or better name) be added to DESCRIPTION, and a
'package' argument added to help.request() which uses it? Then the
semantics of the Maintainer field can be closer to what the CRAN maintainers seem to think of it; i.e., the package 'Administrator'.

Have I misunderstood or missed an option?


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