The Downside of Sharing A Personal Favorite

Yihui Xie 2017-10-03

We all have our personal favorite things like games, novels, sports, and so on. When we deeply love something, we have a natural tendency to share the love with other people. A few days ago I saw Joyce Robbins’ tweet:

Eliminating baseball examples from class since many can’t relate, but I confess that it makes me sad. I love baseball & baseball stats.

Unfortunately I’m among those people who don’t understand baseball. When I was a graduate student at Iowa State, our stat computing class used baseball dataset in the plyr package. Fortunately I didn’t take the class but was TA for the class, so I didn’t really have to learn too much about baseball terminologies. For example, I didn’t have to understand what the batting average was, but only needed to know how to calculate it from the data frame. Anyway, baseball was and is still a totally strange world to me, and I have zero interest in it.

My major personal hobby is badminton and I’m not interested in pretty much any other sports (my ping-pong skills are okay and my tennis skills are at the beginner’s level). I’m sure many people will be equally crazy if a stat computing course uses badminton datasets.

Indifferent cat

When I wrote the xaringan package, I knew this weird package name would prevent some people from using it, because most people, not being a Naruto fan like me, wouldn’t get what it means. Similarly I named several functions and parameters using ninja terminologies, and I believe most people will only be confused, even though personally I think they are great names.

Had I named this package differently (say, remarkR or remarkr), I guess it would be a little more popular. However, this name was a deliberate choice of mine, since I didn’t want it to be too popular, in the hope that the style of my slides would look unique for a longer period of time (otherwise I’ll have to look for the next nicer JS library to port to R).

Anyway, it is entirely okay for an individual to have some personal favorite things. The key is not to push too hard. Other people won’t necessarily enjoy your personal favorite. They may even hate it.