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Your Meerkat Needs You! Help Hunt down geeky app descriptions in the software centre

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When installing new applications using the Ubuntu Software Centre how many times have you actually read the software description beforehand? Did it make sense, tell you what you needed to know or was it a blur of disjointed technical jargon with meaningless versioning numbers trailing at the end?  Hell, was it even in the right category?!image[8]
These may sound like minor contrivances to those adept and learned in installing software in Ubuntu but for newcomers and those not versed in the Ubuntu method of installing application the role clear, concise and, perhaps above all else, relevant information plays can not be understated. How is a user expected to know which of two applications is better if one reads like a lexicon of nerd?

Fixing poor descriptions of Software Centre applications is listed as a papercut milestone for Ubuntu 10.10 because, as one tester during Canonicals’ user testing day put it: “Software centre descriptions are geeky.”

The Issue

Jargon. That’s the issue here. Technical, nerdy, self-indulgent jargon in application descriptions causes problems for new users. Not only are they already feeling daunted by the unfamiliar computing environment they not have to battle with a bunch of alien terms in application descriptions.

Who said Ubuntu was for Human Beings, huh?


How would you describe Pidgin? I bet my jelly babies that it wouldn’t be like this: –

  • graphical multi-protocol instant messaging client for X

Seriously. It’s there. In the Software Centre. No lie. And it has been like that for a long time. A somewhat odd choice of words when compared with the flat-out informative blurb on the Pidgin website: –

  • Pidgin is an easy to use and free chat client used by millions. Connect to AIM, MSN, Yahoo, and more chat networks all at once.

Help to find more

At the time of writing a mere 12 such issues have been reported but like fish in the sea there are plenty more out there just waiting to be caught.image
Helping is easy. Just open up the Ubuntu Software Centre and search for your favourite application. Read the description, check the category make sure everything is up-to-par.

It might help , when reading the application description in your head, to imagine your sister or nephew reading it; would they understand it? 

If it’s overly technical or badly written then file a papercut bug. You can read about how to do that correctly @ to report a bug for 100 ‘paper cuts’. Be sure to check the list of bugs currently reported.

Papercuts Hall Of Fame

We love Paper-cut patcher-uppers here on OMG! Ubuntu! – just like the following cool kids have already filed, fixed & sorted out some papercuts. Your name could easily soon be amongst them.

Marcus Carlson , Saïvann Carignan , Scott Howard , Travis Watkins , Chow Loong Jin ,  Jean-Baptiste Lallement , Scott Ritchie , Mackenzie Morgan , Andrew Higginson , Ted M Lin , Torrey Rice , Conn O Griofa , Luke Symes , Andrew Starr-Bochicchio , Iain Churcher , Alexey Fisher , Yves Kurz , Matt Perry, Alex Launi  , Andrew ,Dries Harni , Jonathan Thomas , Iain Lane , Xiegai Shan , Mirco Müller , Alexander Sack , Neil J. Patel , Chris Cheney , Chris Halse Rogers , Cody Russell , Didier Roche , Bryce Harrington , Martin Pitt, Robert Ancell, Jonathan Riddell , Michael Vogt , Sebastien Bacher , Ken VanDine , Marcel Stimberg, Jean-Louis Dupond , Dries Harnie , Luca Ferretti .