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Re: Standards-Version and compat level

Sean Whitton writes ("Re: Standards-Version and compat level"):
> On Thu, Jun 07 2018, Tommi Höynälänmaa wrote:
> > Which Standards-Version and compat level should I use in the Debian
> > packages I publish?
> Do you mean publish outside of Debian?  Or in Debian?
> For the standards version, you should use whatever version of Debian
> Policy the package is compliant with.
> Please be sure you understand the purpose of the standards version field
> before using it!
> https://www.debian.org/doc/debian-policy/#s-f-standards-version

TBH the description there doesn't capture the intent very well.  We
fairly recently had a discussion about what Standards-Version meant,
when it should be updated, and how often it should be checked, here on
this list.

I drafted the text below which I think captures roughly the consensus.


>From 48198f88395bf659b269697c15143c09eb8b1c36 Mon Sep 17 00:00:00 2001
From: Ian Jackson <ijackson@chiark.greenend.org.uk>
Date: Fri, 8 Jun 2018 18:09:46 +0100
Subject: [PATCH] Standards-Version: Document the semantics better

Signed-off-by: Ian Jackson <ijackson@chiark.greenend.org.uk>
 policy/ch-controlfields.rst | 14 ++++++++++++++
 1 file changed, 14 insertions(+)

diff --git a/policy/ch-controlfields.rst b/policy/ch-controlfields.rst
index 0771346..e5e9954 100644
--- a/policy/ch-controlfields.rst
+++ b/policy/ch-controlfields.rst
@@ -537,6 +537,20 @@ Thus only the first three components of the policy version are
 significant in the *Standards-Version* control field, and so either
 these three components or all four components may be specified. [#]_
+For a package to have an old Standards-Version
+is not itself a bug.
+It just means that no-one has yet
+reviewed the package with changes to the standards in mind.
+The Standards-Version should not be updated
+except after reviewing the applicable upgrading checklist.
+A very old Standards-Version
+can mean that infelicities in the package are likely.
+As a rule of thumb,
+each package should be reviewed at least once per Debian release,
+so a Standards-Version older than the previous Debian release
+is indicative of work (if only review work) that needs doing.
 .. _s-f-Version:

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