In my opinion CTAN misses two important features:
- version control, automatic uploads, author's identity verification (this would simplify a lot of work for both package authors and CTAN maintainers)
- rating of package quality
The first issue would need some heavy reorganization at CTAN end and quite some coding to do it right. Martin's ctanhg solves the problem of archiving (it doesn't solve the original problem, but at least points to the right direction).
But I'm writing because of the second issue. It seems to me that TeX.SX reputation scheme could easily be used for tagging and rating TeX packages in the same way as questions are rated. I'm not trying to say that coding it would be trivial, but it would probably be the first useful attempt in history trying to rate packages. I would like to see a new subdomain packages.tex.stackexchange.com, listing all of CTAN packages, with the following functionality:
Each user with sufficient rights may vote up or down. Maybe number of stars is more appropriate, but then it is difficult to tell what exactly two stars mean. I would like the number of votes to reflect popularity on one hand. If two people give five stars, this only tells you that the package is not really popular. Maybe 1 point for "useful", 5 points for "excellent", -1 for "bad" and -10 for "very very bad". If package authors have an account on TeX.SX and if the association is made, they should be granted points from their packages to their reputation on SX.
Maybe more than a single category for voting is needed. I would like to vote on:
- Is package maintained? Is it up-to-date? (Does it work with XeLaTeX for example?)
- How buggy is it? What is the overall code quality and documentation?
- How important is it? (TikZ or babel are highly important, but babel is not maintaned.)
- Ability for adding "See Also" with comments/reasons why.
- For example: even though PSTricks is still an excellent package, one could suggest users to take TikZ instead if starting from scratch.
- bib package for ConTeXt and biblatex (& friends) for LaTeX: each one serving a different purpose (one is not a replacement for the other), but still tightly related.
- Space for general comments. (With high reputation users being able to edit, as usual.)
- Some kind of wiki to enable community-driven descriptions of packages. Some packages on CTAN miss descriptions.
Why all that? TeX Live gains a few hundreds of megabytes of extra packages each year with basically zero feedback about their usefulness and popularity. Packages are taken into distribution with zero quality control and once they are in, everyone is afraid to remove them since somebody might be already using that package. With some honest feedback, this would help us make a clear picture of current package status. It would also make it easier for new users to find the packages they are looking for. CTAN offers catalogue with categories, but doesn't show you feedback: for example why some particular package did or did not solve a particular problem.
If all package descriptions would be hosted on SX, this would also answer the questions of Automatic links to the CTAN catalogue.
(Feel free to edit my post.)