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full capitals and font styles in man page headers

From: G. Branden Robinson
Subject: full capitals and font styles in man page headers
Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2022 13:38:23 -0500

In light of the recent charges of regression and deviation laid against
me by Ingo and Ralph, I was amused to stumble across the following words
by James Clark from this 1991 commit to our (historically reconstructed)
Git repository.

  diff --git a/PROBLEMS b/PROBLEMS
  new file mode 100644
  index 000000000..b6e86dc92
  --- /dev/null
  +++ b/PROBLEMS
  @@ -0,0 +1,248 @@
  +* I don't like the page headers and footers produced by groff -man.
  +There seem to be many different styles of page header and footer
  +produced by different versions of the -man macros.  You will need to
  +modify macros/ to suit your personal taste.  For example, if
  +you want the center of the page header to say
  +  UNIX Programmer's Manual
  +you will need to change the line
  +  .el .ds an-extra3 \"UNIX Programmer's Manual
  +  .el .ds an-extra3 UNIX Programmer's Manual

(Perhaps recognizing that modifying a macro package is challenging for
the novice, later revisions of "PROBLEMS" steered the user toward the
"man.local" file instead.  And Larry Kollar contributed `PT` and `BT`
hooks to groff man(7) in 1.19, released in 2004.)

Consider why this item would even be present in the first place.

Consider further the implications of Clark's advice, to modify an.tmac
ad libitium.

Evidently this is not the first time, and surely not the last, that
people have mistaken a familiar convention with which they are
comfortable as some globally mandated gold standard.

This in spite of the fact that we know how well gold standards turn out.
(See, e.g., Robert Kuttner, _The End of Laissez-Faire_, Knopf, 1991.)

Like goldbug Libertarians, it is not enough that they have the means to
manifest their preferences in their own business--they have to impose it
on all their counterparties, actual or potential, as well.  This
practice is popularly termed "freedom".

At 2022-06-18T21:05:09+0200, Ingo Schwarze wrote:
> G. Branden Robinson wrote on Sat, Jun 18, 2022 at 10:40:46AM -0500:
> > At 2022-06-17T20:53:13+0200, Ingo Schwarze wrote:
> >>  * In the top left corner of manual pages written in man(7),
> >>    the page name in the header line was set in italic instead
> >>    of in the correct roman font.
> > This was a deliberate change;
> Oh; thanks for pointing to that commit.
> But even as it turns out to be a deliberate change,
> i still think it is better considered to be a regression.

(I responded to the foregoing in detail, but that message has not yet
been rebutted.)

At 2022-07-24T11:25:33+0100, Ralph Corderoy wrote:
> Hi Branden,
> > Do you think I should go further and warn man page authors away from
> > attempting to redefine these macros in their pages?
> No, I think you should go less and not change the headers and footers
> so as to inspire the man-page author to correct the deviancy.  :-)


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