[texhax] Bilbliography ... [policy]

Uwe Lück uwe.lueck at web.de
Thu Nov 10 21:48:19 CET 2005


At 10:32 04.11.05, Robin Fairbairns wrote:
>jonathan fine^W^W uwe lück writes:
> > \iffalse meta-comment ... just on fairness and policy [continued below]
>no closing \fi (until now)


Best occasion ...: Irrespectively of other recent diagnoses,
I acknowledge very much that you have accompanied recent
pointings to your FAQ with brief contentual answers.

> > 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.

Whose report? I tried to draw your attention to the fact that
he copied the messages, which is helpful:

>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/

As you may see in other postings, both error messages seem
to come from Standard LaTeX's \bibitem, where the
{bibliography} environment has been replaced by something
inappropriate, especially omitting \usecounter.

> > "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.

Nearly; I wanted to tell that I am sometimes aware
that my implementation is too lazy ... and when the
bug report arrives, I think `oh my, this is what I was
afraid of'. Especially, one user remarked that one function
ceased to work which generated one control sequence
each page. (The user had not realized any capacity
problem -- I credit this to TeX configurations that
entirely hide diagnostical informations from the users
-- maybe even `Rerun ...'.)
Yet this was just a consequence of that another function
generated about 80 control sequences each page.
Both of these functions worked alone, but not together.
I conjectured this when he told me `BTW, ... doesn't work
any more', so I asked for the .aux, which corroborated
my suspicion (the control sequences were generated
by \newlabel). -- But can we say in general when we
need the .aux?
-- Similarly there is a comment in size10.clo saying
`this might be wrong!', so when the author reads a
complaint about \topmargin ...

> > 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

You are right, thanks, I must take account of this.
Still I think that my own packages are not the only ones
that might profit.

> > 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.

Well ... according to what I know, not diagnosing the state of other
people's mind is one of the main symptoms of severe forms of
autism. So you might look for a job as ... not paid worse than
TeX fanatics are paid, I guess.

>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 recognized and acknowledged this.

However, some posters are very new to the matter and
may even not know what FAQ means.

And I myself have often spend hours with searching FAQs,
finding only answers to questions like "What is TeX?"
Sometimes being successful depends on the wording ...
At 14:44 09.11.05, Peter Flom wrote:

>But, if a person is very new to TeX, I think that
>asking questions
>without doing the basic work may be ignorant, rather than rude.  No one
>is born knowing how
>to figure out the basics of TeX.   Sure, the FAQ is there, but people
>CAN be confused by it.
>People MIGHT not even know where to look in the FAQ. Indeed, they might
>not know to LOOK for a FAQ.  Sure, people SHOULD know to do this, but a
>failure in this regard is ignorance not rudeness.

> > 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?

This case wasn't an example, sure.

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

This noting is outdated, I would say, have you read?

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

Very interesting ... yet I won't look into comp.text.tex,
too much occupying. I have stopped exchanging personal
e-mails with David Kastrup, continuing discussion with him
only on mailing lists where personal things could be kept out.

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

A few years ago, some Lafontaine suddenly quitted all
his jobs as a minister of the BRD and in the SPD, having
been upset about some things. He became a tabu thus here.
Now, in recent weeks, other leading politicians here suddenly
quit their jobs, or retreated from their ambitions. This has
been commented as, e.g., "and now Stoiber makes the Lafo".
The popularity of these politicians decreases very rapidly ...


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