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Re: Variant spellings in GNU Emacs documentation

From: Barry Margolin
Subject: Re: Variant spellings in GNU Emacs documentation
Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2004 22:31:00 GMT
User-agent: MT-NewsWatcher/3.1 (PPC)

In article <address@hidden>,
 "Eli Zaretskii" <address@hidden> wrote:

> > From: Barry Margolin <address@hidden>
> > Newsgroups: gnu.emacs.bug
> > Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2004 07:39:34 GMT
> > 
> > I don't really have much problem with people using these derogatory 
> > nicknames in Usenet postings and similar media; this is an informal 
> > environment, and it's common to throw opinions and biases around in 
> > conversation.  But putting them in published software documentation just 
> > makes us all seem unprofessional and juvenile, and hurts the whole free 
> > and open software movement.
> Just FYI, these names were in the manual since about forever,
> certainly before I came on board of Emacs maintenance circa 1993.
> Heck, even the name of the Texinfo source file for the MS-DOS appendix
> to the manual is msdog.texi.
> So I think whatever juvenile and unprofessional attitude follows from
> this, it's been out there for so long that nothing can now change our
> image in people's eyes, and any damage it could have possibly done to
> the free software movement is already done.

Back in the old days, GNU software was mostly distributed within the 
self-contained hacker community.  We all were in on the joke, and used 
the same jargon and nicknames amongst ourselves.  The documentation was 
written with that target audience in mind.

Like it or not, though, times have changed.  *BSD and Linux are becoming 
mainstream software, which means that we have to expect that the 
documentation will be used by people not so clued in to this mindset.  
If we don't want to alienate the potential converts, I don't think we 
should perpetuate these attitudes in media intended for them.

Barry Margolin, address@hidden
Arlington, MA
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