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bug#33383: 26; `count-words-region'

From: Drew Adams
Subject: bug#33383: 26; `count-words-region'
Date: Wed, 10 Jul 2019 07:28:32 -0700 (PDT)

> > Please consider a minor enhancement: Change the message from this:
> >
> > (count-words--message "Region" start end) to this:
> >
> > (count-words--message
> >   (if (use-region-p) "Active region" "Inactive region")
> >   start
> >   end)
> >
> > It's not so obvious that the report is for the region even when
> > inactive, and many Emacs users will nowadays think of the region only as
> > the active region.  So if the region is inactive and they see a non-zero
> > number they might wonder (and need to consult the doc string to
> > understand).
> I think this command is the wrong place to teach people about what a
> region is, and how it pertains to the "active region mode" (which I
> think uses unfortunate terminology, but that's a different matter).
> So I'm closing this bug report.

It's unfortunate that you feel that way.

1. The doc string explicitly calls this out:
   "(whether or not the region is active)".
   Why, if this is not the place to talk about it?

   That was added to the doc string because it was
   not obvious to many/most users what was going on
   when they saw no region highlighting.

   The same thing is true for `count-lines-region'.
   When `transient-mark-mode' came along, with the
   notion of "active" region and highlighting the
   region, its doc string added that text because
   of such confusion.

2. How many users these days even know that there
   is such a thing as an inactive region, i.e.,
   that the region exists even when they see no
   highlighting of selected text?  Few.

   Many/most users will wonder why this command
   tells them about a word count in "the region"
   when it is inactive, and they will wonder why
   the doc string mentions this.

   Fixing the message clarifies things.  Do you
   think it confuses things?  If not, what reason
   is there _not_ to make this minor change?

   Does your region make you want to also remove
   that text that was added to the doc string?
   If it makes sense to point this out in the doc
   string then it makes even more sense to put it
   in the message - which many more users will see
   than will see the doc string.

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