All I know is it seems to the average user that ffmpeg can't even make
.mp3s, a rather common format.

So they spread the word "forget ffmpeg".

So that's why your patch should at least say
***Probable causes:...

There's only a small chance that the user will be "nurd" enough to dig
out the README files and figure out what they mean.

There's a much bigger chance that they will spread the word "ffmpeg is
busted. Skip it."

So it appears your version is doing more harm than good in the world, maybe.

Therefore in order to not damage ffmpeg's reputation, there should be a
***Probable causes:...
that tells the user "all hope is not lost" because they can simply
install this other package as hinted to in the readme file...

FG> We have very good reasons to never ever recommend using packages from
FG> this repository. Furthermore, the MP3 encoder has never been actively
FG> *disabled* in Debian. ffmpeg is simply not built against LAME, because
FG> this is not available in Debian at all.

All I know is you mentioned it in the readme, so you can have the error
message mention to see the readme at least.

FG> This is a completely different issue and should get its own bug report.
OK, I made

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