Re: Bug#295328: general: Help messages to stderr should be banned
md@Linux.IT (Marco d'Itri) writes:
>> I suppose I will start filing minor bugs against packages that do
>> this. I'd like to hear other people's opinions, though. (It occurs
>> to me that help output to stderr is arguably appropriate if an invalid
>> option is given). Part of the problem is that its fairly depressing
> WTF? This is a long-time UNIX tradition, I'd summarily close such a bug
> opened on one of my packages.
It's not clear what you're talking about here.
It's certainly correct (and "tradition") for _error messages_ to go to
However, --help output _is not an error message_. It is program output,
produced in response to an explicit user request.
Programs that send --help output to stderr are annoying for any user,
and doubly so for inexperienced users that may not know how to redirect
stderr (e.g., with 2>&1).
These are the reasons that the GNU standards specify that --help output
should go to stdout, not stderr.
[There are many non-GNU programs (and some GNU programs that don't
follow the standards properly) that send --help output to stderr, but
there seems to be no particular "tradition" about it -- basically prior
to GNU, people didn't seem to think very hard about this issue, and
it was pretty random whether stderr or stdout was used.]
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