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Re: Improving Package descriptions

On Sat, Oct 23, 2010 at 04:49:47PM +0100, Phil Bull wrote:
> 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.

No problem.
[ FWIW: I'm ad UDS right now and will be available until Thursday
  evening. If you think we could benefit from a F2F discussion about the
  subject here, feel free to point me to the appropriate peer. I'll then
  take care of proxying information to Debian people as needed, once
  back. ]

> 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).

So, Debian side, package descriptions are maintained by individual
package maintainers and not centrally (I believe it's the same on the
Ubuntu side, although you probably have more liberal commit write access
to a wide range of packages). That means that for us the interface
between the text review work and the actual adoption of the description
improvement is the Debian bug tracking system (-l10n folks, please
correct me if I'm wrong!).

Of course that does not stop to have a sprint which, for the limited
time of the sprint, works using a different mechanism (e.g. etherpad-s)
and that, at the end of it, "serializes" the produced texts in a set of
bug reports (with patches!) sent to the appropriate packages.

I quite like the idea of a similar spring and it looks like it can be
organized in a very non-invasive manner. It's not up to me however to
say whether something like the above will fit with the -l10n
plans. Guys, can you please comment on that?

If it's something we, on the Debian side, we like too, it would be nice
to have it as a joint event, and I'll be happy to advertise it myself a

> 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.

We do have some guidelines too [2], although I haven't checked how they
compare with yours.

[2] http://www.debian.org/doc/developers-reference/best-pkging-practices.html#bpp-desc-basics

> 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.

This thread sounds like a very good start :-)

Shameless plug: for more general interactions need like this one in the
future, you might want to have a look at


Stefano Zacchiroli -o- PhD in Computer Science \ PostDoc @ Univ. Paris 7
zack@{upsilon.cc,pps.jussieu.fr,debian.org} -<>- http://upsilon.cc/zack/
Quando anche i santi ti voltano le spalle, |  .  |. I've fans everywhere
ti resta John Fante -- V. Caposella .......| ..: |.......... -- C. Adams

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