Re: [R] popular R packages

From: Matthew Keller <>
Date: Mon, 09 Mar 2009 20:20:09 -0600

Hi all,

Put me in the camp that says more information is better than less information - even if imperfect. Interpretation can be left to those using the data.

Also, "popular" can mean many things. An alternative to number of times a package is downloaded would be a ratings system, where R users can supply starred ratings or something (much as they do on netflix or amazon). Combining this with # of downloads would give users some idea about the users' perception, impact, and possibly the quality of a package. Obviously it would be imperfect, but it seems to me this would be better than the even more scant and more imperfect information currently available. I wouldn't advocate that such information be used in the same way a citation index is, but it might prove helpful to users who are confused (even paralyzed) by the ever burgeoning number of R packages.

There was a discussion on this a while back in which Bill Venables said: "To me a much more urgent initiative [than rating responders on R listserves] is some kind of user online review system for packages, even something as simple as that used by has for customer review of books. I think the need for this is rather urgent, in fact. Most packages are very good, but I regret to say some are pretty inefficient and others downright dangerous. You don't want to discourage people from submitting their work to CRAN, but at the same time you do want some mechanism that allows users to relate their experience with it, good or bad."

Find the whole thread here:


Matthew C Keller
Asst. Professor of Psychology
University of Colorado at Boulder

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