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Nitpicking: you are doing it wrong

(I'm creating a new thread rather than replying to a particular message, because my mail is not at all personal. It's a general tendency amongst many debian-mentors reviewers that I'm going to rant about.)

A sponsor on 2011-07-08, 11:22 wrote:
1. You're using debhelper compat 7 and also only debhelper >= 7.0.50~ as Build-Depends. Please bump that to 8

Seriously? Is the sponsor suggesting that one should be build-depending on a newer version, even though one does not use any features of the newer one?

(I'm currently working on a package that (build-)depends on python-docutils (>= 0.5). This version is quite old, it was released in 2008, just like debhelper 7.0. Would it make sense if I suddenly bumped the dependency to >= 0.7? Or maybe even to >= 0.7-2~, since upstream recommends using their svn version, and 0.7-2 have some patches backported?)

Also, the sponsor failed to explain that normally upgrading debhelper compat is not a matter of bumping a number here and there. First you should read carefully the "Debhelper compatibility levels" chapter in debhelper(1) manpage and see how the changes could affect the package, adapt your packaging to the new compat level, then bump debian/compat, then build and test your package. That's a potentially time consuming and error-prone process.

Dear reviewers, next time if you are going to complain about:
- debian/compat being "too low";
- debian/rules not using dh (or not using cdbs);
- debian/copyright not in DEP-5 format;
- source format not 3.0 (quilt) when there are no patches whatsoever;
please think twice. Most likely, you are doing it wrong.

Don't get me wrong, in my opinion (some of) these things are "good". But making a big fuss about them is not helping anybody. It only distracts attention from things that are important, and creates false impression that they are somehow crucial for high quality packages. I can assure, they are not.

Jakub Wilk

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