[texhax] Bilbliography problem

Robin Fairbairns Robin.Fairbairns at cl.cam.ac.uk
Fri Nov 4 10:32:49 CET 2005

jonathan fine^W^W uwe lück writes:

> \iffalse meta-comment ... just on fairness and policy [continued below]

no closing \fi (until now)

> At 12:47 01.11.05, Robin Fairbairns wrote:
> >it's fairly obvious you've got something completely broken up there,
> >yet you tell us *nothing* about it other than "it doesn't work".
> I have received mere "it doesn't work" reports for packages
> I am maintaining and would have been glad if they had been
> accompanied with any hint on what error report resulted --
> here at least the messages have been reported precisely.
> If one takes the time, a diagnosis seems to be available by
> a search of CTAN for `\@listctr'. One also sees that a LaTeX
> counter with an `empty' name has been referred to by \the
> -- I consider this strange, but it may refer to some private
> package involved.

whereas this report merely tells us that there's an error.

no mention of any package, even of whether the user is running latex,
context or plain tex.  my guess is he's not running latex, but i can
imagine circumstances where even that could be wrong/

> "Bug" reports of this kind usually may be unanswerable for
> "average" readers; yet as a maintainer of certain packages
> I am aware of weaknesses, so a message of this kind
> may suffice ... (see below)

reports of this kind will *only* *ever* be resolvable by someone who's
seen the exact symptoms before and resolved the problem.

> I have just typed a section containing hints for bug reports
> for a package that I maintain. My personal conclusions were:
> (a) one shouldn't discourage seeming bug reports in any way;
> (b) there are some important guidelines for bug reports, yet
> one shouldn't expect that users can find out exactly what
> one package writer needs for diagnosing. The usually
> procedure might rather be: (i) a failure message from a user
> (ii) a request (from package maintainers) on which informations
> on the problem might be helpful ... this often makes clear
> how important \listfiles may be ...

that's great ... for your package.  but in this case we don't even
know whether \listfiles would work.  in general \listfiles is useless
if the document encounters a bug from which it's impossible to

> It seems to me that Robin is quite sensitive wrt RTMF/FAQ
> postings 

robin is fed up with people who like to diagnose the state of mind of
others on lists.

sure, i refer to faq answers, where it would save me typing.  and
sometimes i suggest that people could have found that for themselves,
if they had bothered.

> I have experienced situations where requiring "a minimal example"
> was much more than could be expected from the user (and where I
> would have been unable for days as well).

big deal.  but would this case have been difficult? -- only to one who
didn't speak english enough to understand the faq answer, surely?

i note you've not offered a solution to this problem: so why are you
suggesting that it's solvable without any further input?

perhaps you feel, like jonathan fine w.r.t. david kastrup, that i
should stop posting.

fair enough: will do, if it's thought appropriate.


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