On Mar 21, 2014, at 11:20 AM, Ian Lepore <i...@freebsd.org> wrote:

> On Fri, 2014-03-21 at 17:54 +0100, Dag-Erling Smørgrav wrote:
>> Warren Block <wbl...@wonkity.com> writes:
>>> Dag-Erling Smørgrav <d...@des.no> writes:
>>>> I mean the FreeBSD project, and the reason is as John stated: all
>>>> sentences must start with a capital letter.  I've gotten so used to
>>>> this over the past 15 years that I even do it in email and other
>>>> non-FreeBSD written material.
>>> "Because it's been that way for 15 years" is not always a
>>> justification (consider BIND in base, for example :).
>> "I don't like your answer, so I will ignore it" is not a justification
>> either.  It's kindergarden behavior and beneath the dignity of a FreeBSD
>> committer.
>> We have a rule that sentences must always start with a capital letter.
>> The fact that this rule was instituted 15 years ago does not
>> automatically invalidate it, and neither does the fact that Joe Random
>> Committer disagrees with it.
>> DES
> Just as the age of a moronic "rule" such as this doesn't in any way
> justify the idea that it could never be changed.  Especially when the
> "rule" appears to be an undocumented prejudice.

It has been the way things have been for a long time, and everybody
that has been writing man pages in the project for any length of time
knows it. Ruslan was especially good about fixing this issue back in
the day. This rule was hashed out and there’s really no compelling reason
to change it. Unlike BIND, we have had no complaints about it in the
almost two decades it has been around…

It does serve a useful purpose, though, which is why it has endured.
If you were to have a man page that said ‘Putc(3) returns …’ then the
automated tools (and web links) that find Putc.3 wouldn’t be able to since
it doesn’t exist.

> People love to throw around assertions about "rules" of the English
> language.  It doesn't have many rules (subject has to agree in number
> with the verb, that's about it for unbreakable rules), but it has as
> many opinions on proper style as there are readers and writers.

This is the proper style for FreeBSD man page, by convention. It is so
basic that it doesn’t surprise me it isn’t in the docs, but it also surprises
me that it isn’t.

There’s numerous instances of this rule being mentioned in commit messages:
or the discussions in the archives like:
or a few other places.

These discussions span the last 15 years (the oldest one is 1999, but the
convention is easily a few years older than that).


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