(Draft) Style Guidelines for Debian Project News
When writing for the Debian Project News you represent the Debian Project to the entire world. So please keep in mind that when adding articles, our readers expect a high level of quality, as they are accustomed from everything carrying the name "Debian".
To be more exact, the Debian Project News should follow the spirit of the social contract; Debian Project News articles should be unbiased, objective and truthful. For example, this means that when writing about an ongoing discussion, both points of views should be reported.
The target audience of the Debian Project News are average users, which might only have a general overview about the project and technical aspects. Debian Project News should be understandable by these kind of users.
Often Debian Project News will only be able to point to a specific discussion without having the space to write a complete summary. At the very least an article in Debian Project News should allow the average user to determine whether or not it is useful to follow the link to read more about the topic.
See the section in HowToContribute for now.
Ideally an article suitable for the Debian Project News should be one at most two paragraph long. They should just be a short summary of the topic with possible links (e.g. mailing list archive) for further reading for interested people.
As outlined in the audience section the Debian Project News should be understandable by average users. For the time being, since there are no translations sent out, we should keep in mind that many of our readers may not be native English speakers. So currently a simple, and concise English style is preferred.
So far British English is preferred over American English, as is done with the Debian web page (where news will end up, too).
The date format follows the MHRA Style Guide, as described at http://lists.debian.org/debian-publicity/2008/05/msg00050.html, as per example, 12 April 2008.
Style guidelines for different kinds of situations
Different situations may require different styles when reporting about them. Here are some ideas:
Reporting ongoing discussions
When writing an article about an ongoing discussion keep in mind when the next issue will be released! Perhaps the discussion will have ended by then? We should point to the exact place where the discussion is taking place. That is don't mention just the mailing list, or that the discussion is currently in progress, but link to the precise email that started the discussion in our mail archive.
Additionally (and if the length restrictions described previously allow it), the major arguments of each party in the discussion should be summarized as well.
Reporting finished discussions
When a discussion has already finished by the time the next issue is sent out, it is more important to report the conclusion. So you may omit the main arguments (which where requested when reporting about ongoing discussions).
However if the discussion was quite long, it would be preferable to mention (and link to) the major arguments, too, so readers don't need to crawl through the whole discussion themselves.
When reporting about an interview with relevance to Debian (e.g. Release Master interviewed by LWN; HP representative interviewed and mentioning Debian) it should not only be noted that an interview took place and where to find it, but also try to summarize the key points of the interview.
Reporting upcoming events
It must be clear to our readers what they can expect when visiting the Debian Project related event. Will there be a booth or only Debian related talks? How many and what audience they are targeting? Is there an entry fee for the event? Where can Debian be found on that event? Is there anything one can do to volunteer or help out at the event?