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Bug#108416: Bug#139957: period at the end of short description?

Note that whatever we decide on, I'll probably have to change
something, as most of my packages are adopted, and have little or no
consistency in how their descriptions are written.  I think this
allows me to be fairly unbiased, as I can't really argue for the way
my packages currently are, just in order to avoid the need to change

On Thu, Mar 28, 2002 at 09:06:04PM -0500, Colin Walters wrote:

> To make up for this (in addition to the fact that I'm working on #134106
> at the moment :) ), I'd like to add something new to the discussion.  I
> assert that the short descriptions are not titles nor sentence fragments
> per se; rather they are subtitles, like for a book.

I am uncomfortable with this view.  A title (or subtitle) is
capitalized the way it is because it is, more or less, a proper
name. A name may be descriptive, or it may be merely evocative or
suggestive, or none of the above.  We want descriptive, not merely
evocative or suggestive, and certainly not none of the above.

"Doctor Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the
Bomb": here the subtitle is definitely evocative, but not very
descriptive.  A package might have an official upstream subtitle
(something like, "Pathologically Eclectic Rubbish Lister"), and that's
probably not what we want.  We want a short description.  Really we
do.  So, I think that's what we should ask for.

Most short descriptions follow the template:

   <packagename> is a(n) <short-description>

That's not the rule subtitles follow, because titles (sub or
otherwise) are names, not (necessarily) descriptions.

More practically, as Branden points out, it's easier to add
capitalization in a display program than it is to take it away.  To
add capitalization, you merely need to filter a handful of small words
that don't get capitalized.  To take away capitalization, you need to
know every proper name and every acronym that might be used in a
description (because these shouldn't get de-capitalized).

So, to summarize, treating the short description as a sentence
fragment (or, my preference, as a noun clause) is both more correct
(IMO), and results in a more flexible system.

Thinking about this has inspired me to come up with an official
subtitle for WMRack (which I'm currently upstream for): "The
Wonderful, Magical Rack of Sound Bytes".  I think it's a fine
subtitle, but I do not think it would be an appropriate short
description.  I hope you all agree.

Chris Waters           |  Pneumonoultra-        osis is too long
xtifr@debian.org       |  microscopicsilico-    to fit into a single
or xtifr@speakeasy.net |  volcaniconi-          standalone haiku

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