One big advantage of using open-source tools is the fantastic ecosystems that typically accompany them. Being able to tap into a massive open-source community, by way of downloading freely available code is decidedly useful. But, yes, there are downsides to downloads.
For one, there are too many packages out there. There are imperfect duplicates. You can easily end up downloading inferior code/package/module compared to existing other. Second, there is a matter of security. I myself try to refrain from downloading relatively new code, not yet tried-and-true. How do we know if a package is solid?
I recently came across this useful web application* which provides a friendly assist to check the number of downloads of an R package. I was curious about my own packages:
At first glance it doesn’t look too shabby. But compare it with, for example, Frank Harrell’s Hmisc (for Harrell Miscellaneous) package downloads:
20M downloads. Now that is a proper way to give back to the community.
You can use this web application to check if a package is trending, if it has matured, or use it in conjunction with the CRAN Task Views to compare packages from the same category to help you prioritize your trials.
* There are other such web applications, but less useful, in my opinion.