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Announcing the Smith Review Project: proofreading English in Debian packages texts

Please welcome the Smith Review Project to the galaxy of Debian projects.

Project presentation
This work is intended to continue all through the etch->lenny release
cycle and beyond. Its purpose is to review all English texts
associated with Debian packages, namely debconf templates, manual
pages and package descriptions.

The project is named Smith because every nice project must have a name
and Smith is a commonly accepted "common name" for people in
English-speaking parts of the world. It also opens possibilities to
play on words with "blacksmith", "wordsmith" and the like.  The project also
has a three-letter acronym name (SRP) which is mandatory in Free
Software projects.

Projects tasks and schedule
The first task of the project began in early March 2007. It aims
to review debconf templates for packages that use debconf to interact
with users.

In short, the aim of this process is to review the debconf templates
for packages that use them, based on their popcon score, and:
 review the debconf templates;
 update translations; and
 get new translations.

The debian-l10n-english contributors are currently polishing the whole
process and tools, while work already started on a few packages -
either packages with the highest popcon scores (kdebase, xorg,
cupsys...) or packages that recently introduced or modified their
debconf templates (lwat, aiccu, dtc...).

How to contribute to SRP?
Contributors with good skills in the English language and good writing
ability are welcome to join the project by subscribing to the
debian-l10n-english mailing list.  This will be the main communication
channel for the project.

The project will also use the #debian-i18n IRC channel on
irc.debian.org and a wiki page has been setup at

Details of the process and maintainer interaction
The reviews are intended primarily to check the spelling and grammar of
the packages, but also to move towards consistency in the style of
writing. Having a group of people who are unfamiliar with a package
reading the texts can also help to flag up areas that are not
particularly well-explained, or that could generate confusion. It is
hoped that, in addition to the language issues this project is tackling,
we can also help to address some usability issues.

The maintainers will be made aware of the process at all stages, and at
no point will any changes be made to their package without their
consent. It is hoped that maintainers will incorporate the changes into
their packages as with the normal l10n process. However, this does mean
that as the lenny release approaches, there may be an NMU campaign
to fix long-outstanding bugs from this project. This will not be done
for cases where the maintainer actually vetoes the change, though.
Nevertheless, the project team would like to ask maintainers to raise their
concerns with us so that we can work towards a compromise rather than
vetoing the changes.

If, as a maintainer, you decide to make changes to your debconf templates
at any point, you are invited to contact the team at debian-l10n-english
for a review of the changes at any time. This would help us with the
work, but also save you possibly having to make repeated changes to the
templates. This offer extends to anyone who would like their use of
English in any part of a package checked.

Any bit of Frenglish in this announcement and communication with
package maintainers should be taken as the author's own limited
capabilities with English.

Please note that the project *also* includes real good English
speakers and writers, so maintainers should not fear that their
packages end up speaking broken English.


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