Question: maintainer option for bioconductor packages
gravatar for FDG
11 months ago by
FDG70 wrote:

How is the maintainer("packagename") maintained by Bioconductor? Because I couldn't reach the maintainer via this webforum, but also I could not reach him/her using the maintainer() option. When I tried to use the e-mail address provided with this option I got:  " Mail Delivery System - I'm sorry to have to inform you that your message could not
be delivered to one or more recipients."

So if the maintainer does not respond to problems on the forum with the correct tag and is also not reachable with the provided e-mail address, should the package even exist within Bioconductor then? Eventually, when posting somewhere else and with the help of someone I reached directly via github from Bioconductor the problem was solved, but we both had the same knowledge of the RSVSim program and therefore he wasn't the person who should actually helped me.

I am just wondering, because I got this message from Bioconductor earlier:
"You've tagged your question with 'RSVSim' to indicate that you have a problem with the RSVSim package. If the maintainer of the RSVSim package does not monitor this forum (all maintainers are required to subscribe, but...) ..... You could try to reach out directly to maintainer("RSVSim")."

So this implies that there must be some form of maintainment by the developer.

R bioconductor • 269 views
ADD COMMENTlink modified 11 months ago by James W. MacDonald51k • written 11 months ago by FDG70
Answer: maintainer option for bioconductor packages
gravatar for James W. MacDonald
11 months ago by
United States
James W. MacDonald51k wrote:

Almost everything about a package is maintained by the maintainer, including their email address. We expect that people who submit a package will continue to maintain that package, and if a package does fall into obvious lack of maintenance (or if we are told that there is no further interest in maintaining the package), then it will be removed. But this doesn't include something like an email address - small infelicities like that are difficult to track - and for some packages it may take some detective work on the part of an interested user to track the maintainer down. Do note that a quick Google search leads me to believe that the maintainer of that package is now at the University of Cologne, so it should not be impossible to get direct questions answered.


ADD COMMENTlink written 11 months ago by James W. MacDonald51k
the email in question (which said it could not be delivered) went to the spam box, and that is why I just noticed. I was just wondering how packages are being maintained, and of course a google search could possibly have solved this, if the question wasn't solved already. I do believe however that its not just the responsibility of the user, but also Bioconductor to keep track of these small things, because it is of course in nobodys interest if a package is unmaintained or does not give any support. Emailing once every year if no changes have been submitted could already help. However I thank you for your quick reply and explanation.
ADD REPLYlink written 11 months ago by FDG70

Email them... and then what? If they don't reply, do we remove the package? Do we replace the listed email with an "unknown"? Neither of these are very helpful to users. Do we try to track down the maintainer's current email? Well, you had better hope that their names are sufficiently unique to enable unambiguous identification. And what makes you think that they'll even respond to questions if they can't be bothered to update an email address? Maybe they're now working in a different field, or left academia, or had some other misadventure, e.g., this unfortunate case.

At some point, people need to take individual responsibility. Keeping my contact details up to date is my responsibility, and no one else's - I'm an adult, after all (or at least that's what it says on my tax return). More generally, Bioconductor is built off the work of a volunteer community, and we can't force people to maintain their packages or support users. Fortunately, in many cases, the cream rises to the top, so if you're not satisfied, just switch to a package that is supported and maintained. And if there isn't one, make things better yourself - contribute to the maintenance of an existing package or write your own.

ADD REPLYlink modified 11 months ago • written 11 months ago by Aaron Lun25k
again, I was just wondering, there is no need to react so violently. I now understand its mostly volenteer work, so again I thank you for your answer
ADD REPLYlink written 11 months ago by FDG70
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