Increasing community awareness about package releases, updates and changes

I would like to suggest that as a community we use a new hashtag/tag when discussing updates or new releases of R packages. My proposal is that this hashtag would be useful on social networks like Twitter, useR community sites like community.rstudio.com and in blogposts.

Evidence for need

  1. Information about package updates and changes is not easy to find and many users are likely never to read the NEWS.md file on CRAN or Github.

  2. In my experience, most folks update package X in the middle of trying to install another package Y that has a dependency on the newest version of X. Updates are therefore made unconsciously without checking release notes.

  3. Few package developers consistently write blogposts for all releases of their packages. It's extremely time consuming writing update posts, particularly when updates include work from outside the core group of maintainers. Package developers are in general happy when folks blog about package updates, e.g. @yihui welcomes "unofficial" blogposts. It's less work but more reward for devs :slight_smile:

  4. Package developers want folks to test their packages, especially before a new release; dplyr v0.8.0 is an excellent example, with @romain asking multiple rounds of testing on Twitter

  1. Deprecation and API changes are a natural part of package development. There's a limited number of times users will accept packages emitting warning messages about changes.
  1. Sometimes packages fundamentally change. A great example is how gganimate has been re-imagined by @thomasp85

Benefits

In principle, a widely used tag for package updates will provide the following benefits:

  • Devs can more easily recruit folks to test out development builds of their packages
  • Devs can more easily poll their package users on potential changes, new features of use cases of their package
  • Devs can more easily link users to blogposts/content about release updates written by others
  • Users will be more aware of package updates and may be more deliberate about their decision to update packages
  • Users might feel more encouraged to write blog posts about new features as they can be readily shared with an interested audience. More involved useRs is only a good thing.

Suggested Tag: #rmdnews

I would like to suggest #rmdnews for the following reasons:

  • It's short at 7 characters, 1 more than #rstats
  • It isn't explicitly about released updates, devs frequently use NEWS.md for development notes
  • It makes sense! The NEWS.md file is where updates are detailed!
    • But why not `#rnewsmd? I think it looks ugly.

There may well be much better options.

Disadvantages

It's incredibly hard to get a hashtag going (thanks @mara for chatting with me about this). Hashtags that are used by the community are more likely to proliferate than those enforced in a top down fashion. That's why I wanted to discuss the idea here, in the RStudio community.

Update

Updated post to make clear the suggestions are for more than a tag on RStudio Community.

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This is really interesting @martinjhnhadley (I want to go through it more systematically before really replying), I'm just wondering if this is the right category for it. While this definitely is relevant to R Admins, I'm thinking that this might pertain to a wider audience. Perhaps #package-development (since there are more people that make packages than administer R across a system…that's just a hypothesis) or even #general?

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I think that discussing the use of tags ont the community is more appropriate for the #meta category

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Thanks for suggestions from @mara and @andresrcs. I've changed the category to package development and edited the post to make it clearer that I'm suggesting a tag for both RStudio Community and elsewhere.

Just a personal appreciation, if I read this tag without context provided, I would think is about rmarkdown package news and not about r packages news in general, how about #rpkgnews?

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