FAQ wording (was: Re: Desolate Condition)

Joshua Root jmr at macports.org
Mon Apr 5 06:25:05 UTC 2021

On 2021-4-4 11:20 , Kevin Reid wrote:
> On Sat, Apr 3, 2021 at 5:22 PM Wowfunhappy at gmail.com 
> <mailto:Wowfunhappy at gmail.com> <wowfunhappy at gmail.com 
> <mailto:wowfunhappy at gmail.com>> wrote:
>     I know it's just one data point, but I thought the replies I got on
>     this Hacker News comment today were interesting. I can understand
>     why he/she got confused, and I wonder if there's anything MacPorts
>     could do to make it clearer.
>     https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26678498
>     <https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26678498>
> As worded, the FAQ text "the ports you install will be compiled only for 
> the architecture you're currently running on" implies (in the linguistic 
> rather than logical sense) that the compilation happens after you 
> request installation. The minimal patch would be to change the tense to 
> "will *have been* compiled only for", but an even better rewording might 
> be something like
>     "…the ports' installed binaries will have been compiled for your
>     computer's architecture…"
> to avoid putting the user's computer in any active role in that sentence 
> and to make it clear we're talking about the binaries and not the 
> compilation process per se. Perhaps "will contain machine code for" 
> would be even more rigorous, but it might be less familiar.
> Of course, this sentence may not be the whole problem, but it's what I 
> saw in that thread, it's likely /part/ of the problem, and it made a 
> good example of the kind of sentence that can be read differently by a 
> reader not already familiar with the subjet.

It's a tricky thing to state both concisely and accurately because the 
compilation may indeed happen on the user's computer after installation 
is requested. Or it may not. The ambiguity of whether "be compiled" is a 
verb in the passive voice ("the code is being compiled") or a 
description of a state ("this is code compiled for x86_64") may reflect 
the author's awareness of the undecidedness of which one will actually 

Improvements to the text's clarity are very welcome, of course.

- Josh

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