> the fact that things are in contrib/supported is no real indication at
> all -- people ask for their stuff to go there, and then disappear (for
> example, the author of booktabs, an excellent package, is uncontactable),
The original idea of the supported area (and described in a document of
Joachim's which I am not sure was ever really public) was that there
would be some kind of `robot' sitting at ctan that
a) checked that the package would unpack and produce own documentation
2) would mail the author every six months with a `are you there' message
If the author didn't reply within a certain timescale the package
would automatically be ejected from `supported' back to `other'.
There was some resistance amongst package authors to the suggestion of
getting automatic mail. Also there are some problems with the idea of
automatic demotion. If a distribution just has the `supported' stuff
this means that from year to year you never know which packages are
going to get thrown out, and so which of your documents will break.
This latter fear tends to mean that distributions tend to just get
larger without ever throwing out stuff. This means that they will
inevitably end up with packages written by someone who used tex for a
while while writing up a thesis several years before and is now
uncontactable (at least via the student email address in the file).
You either just freeze the package and leave it in unchanged, for ever.
or you throw it out and break any documents that have used it. Or
perhaps you take a `pragmatic' approach to any copyright and
distribution notice on the file, and let some new user who wants to
develop or fix the package take up control. None of these options is
necessarily desirable or legal.
> To sum up, get rid of contrib/supported. If it's supported, it should
> go into the core.
No, there must always be a distinction between the core latex
distribution as coming from the latex project, and contributed
stuff. Even if contrib is split between a `must have' minimal
base latex distribution and an `optional extra' contributed package
section. If stuff is in the core then people can mail latex-bugs@mainz
and moan if it doesn't work, and then I (or Frank or Chris) is supposed
to fix it.