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Re: Improving Package descriptions

Hi Vish,

On Sat, 2010-10-23 at 10:45 +0530, Vishnoo wrote:
> On Mon, 2010-10-18 at 10:52 +0200, Stefano Zacchiroli wrote:
> > So, even though I don't know yet their plans, let's assume that people
> > on the Ubuntu side would like to do some review / improvement on package
> > descriptions and also that they want to contribute back their work to
> > Debian (as I hope :-)).
> I was hoping to hear some response from Ubuntu Docs team or Phil
> Bull[who seemed the only person from the docs team interested in this].
> None seem free right now. Not sure if anyone from the docs team will be
> at the UDS either.

Sorry, I've been meaning to reply for a few days and hadn't quite gotten
around to it. I'm not at UDS I'm afraid, but I should be able to
dedicate a weekend or two to this at some point in the near future.

> Cleaning up the descriptions is a huge task and for Software Center we
> do hope to improve these descriptions.
> Since Debian is clearly interested in fixing these and the Docs team is
> also interested in collaborating with Debian, let's hope the planets
> align soon and we get the ball rolling. ;)

This is definitely a very big task, so we'll need to get a sizeable
number of contributors together (around 20 would be workable, I think).
The work wouldn't be difficult, but getting things right takes time. It
would be good to organise a "Jam" (c.f. Bug Jams) one weekend on IRC,
and to come up with an efficient way of editing descriptions in bulk
(filing bugs for each package sounds nightmarishly time consuming).

One thing I'm worried about is whether people will "get it". The aim, as
far as I'm concerned, is to produce clear, useful package descriptions
suitable for a wide audience of differing technical ability. Writing for
people with a lower level of technical ability can be very difficult -
the people doing the writing are typically technically-minded and so
tend to overestimate what their audience will be able to understand. If
we're going to embark on a big project to sort out all of the
descriptions, then we'll need to find some way of overcoming this
tendency. We have some draft guidelines [1]; it would be good to
generate some discussion around these, and to get a finished version
officially adopted by Debian/Ubuntu.

Also, I think it makes most sense to work directly upstream on this (in
Debian). Patching in Ubuntu and then forwarding upstream seems
inefficient to me. The issue here for me is that I'm not familiar with
the workings of the Debian community, so I'm not sure how a potentially
project-wide scheme like this should be handled.



[1] - https://wiki.ubuntu.com/PackagingGuide/Howtos/UsefulDescription

Phil Bull
Book - http://nostarch.com/ubuntu4.htm

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