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could `git merge --no-ff origin/master` be made more useful?

The first time I tried to use --no-ff I tried to do something like this:

  git checkout master
  git commit -a -m'whatever'
  git commit -a -m'whatever2'
  git merge --no-ff origin/master

and was disappointed when "it didn't work" and git told me there was
nothing to do as the branch was up to date. (Which I found a bit

I realize now my expectations were incorrect, and that the argument to
merge needs to resolve to a commit that is ahead of the current
commit, and in the above sequence it is the other way around. So to do
what I want I can do:

  git checkout master
  git checkout -b topic
  git commit -a -m'whatever'
  git commit -a -m'whatever2'
  git checkout master
  git merge --no-ff topic

and iiuir this works because 'master' would be behind 'topic' in this case.

But I have a few questions, 1) is there is an argument to feed to git
merge to make the first recipe work like the second? And 2) is this
asymmetry necessary with --no-ff?

More specifically would something horrible break if --no-ff
origin/trunk detected that the current branch was ahead of the named
branch and "swapped"  the implicit order of the two so that the first
recipe could behave like the second?

Anyway, even if the above makes no sense, would it be hard to make the
message provided by git merge in the first recipe a bit more
suggestive of what is going on? For instance if it had said "Cannot
--no-ff merge, origin/master is behind master" it would have been much
more clear what was going on.


perl -Mre=debug -e "/just|another|perl|hacker/"