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Re: Package descriptions and making them better

On Sun, Sep 30, 2001 at 01:33:05PM -0400, Daniel Burrows wrote:
>   I recently had reason to examine most of the descriptions in the
>   Debian archive, and, well, they were pretty bad.


> A statistically significant number of them weren't even properly
> formatted according to our own definitions,


> and many (maybe even a majority) were grammatically incorrect,
> stylistically awkward, or just plain unhelpful.

Yup.  Yup.  Yup.

> I'd also like to give a couple of suggestions to people writing or
> revising descriptions.  These are not intended to be exhaustive or
> definitive (of course), but they might be a starting point for
> improving the quality of package descriptions.

I'm more than happy to work with you in drafting such guidelines.

In related news, see <bugs.debian.org/108416>.

> Another good place to look is the sections in the policy manual dealing
> with descriptions; specifically, 5.7.  I can't find a reference for
> the formatting of descriptions (which might explain a fair number
> of the improperly formatted descriptions I've seen..)

As you'll see from reading the logs of 108416, some people in this
project are quite committed to the package maintainer's right to have
the shittiest possible package description he can devise.  Some take a
kind of pride in being unhelpful to the user, for instance by defending
the practice of having multiple packages with exactly the same (short
and extended) descriptions.

I strongly agree with the bulk of your message.  I suggest we take
advantage of the so-far-unused debian-l10n-english list for this
purpose.  Sometimes even native English speakers need a little help, so
I can see this list easily encompassing the goals of your proposed
debian-proofreading list.

G. Branden Robinson                |    Kissing girls is a goodness.  It is
Debian GNU/Linux                   |    a growing closer.  It beats the
branden@debian.org                 |    hell out of card games.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |    -- Robert Heinlein

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