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[groff] gratitude for man pages (was: mom manpage)

From: Colin Watson
Subject: [groff] gratitude for man pages (was: mom manpage)
Date: Tue, 4 Dec 2018 22:32:00 +0000
User-agent: NeoMutt/20170113 (1.7.2)

I've been staying out of this because I don't really have a position on
it either way; I don't share the apparent position that all
documentation should come in the form of man pages, but I also don't
know enough about mom to have any real idea about what might be best for
it.  But I couldn't resist replying to this bit:

On Tue, Dec 04, 2018 at 03:16:50PM -0500, Peter Schaffter wrote:
> How much a part has the documentation played in her adoption?  Again,
> hard to judge, but users actually thank me for it from time to time.
> (I leave open the question of why mom's documentation inspires
> gratitude where manpages do not.)

I reasonably often get emails from users who have the idea that, because
I happen to maintain an implementation of man(1) that's in some popular
distributions, I'm a good contact point for all the man pages they read.
(I generally try to redirect them as appropriate and as time permits, of

One pleasant side-effect of this mild confusion is that I get thank-you
letters about man pages in general from time to time.  Here are a few
samples, shorn of any personal information:

  "I've recently started using Ubuntu and I simply wanted to say thank
  you for your continued work on the 'man' pages... they're so helpful
  with getting me up and running with bash commands."

  "I recently switched to linux and my favorite thing so far is the
  vastly informative database of man pages. These man pages have been
  invaluable in my journey to learn more about Linux."

  "Thanks for up-keeping the man page database! I bet you dont get that
  alot so I just wanted to say THANKS!"

(I think most of the gratitude is not really deservedly directed at me,
so I don't feel bad about sharing emails like this in some form.)

I don't wish to set up any kind of competitiveness with mom here; if you
get unsolicited thank-you mails about it, it sounds like it's doing OK!
But my inbox suggests that man pages do in fact inspire quite a bit of
gratitude too, enough that I get a sense of it from just its misdirected

Colin Watson                                       address@hidden

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