So, Debian is still trying to decide if it likes upstream developers including debian directories in their source. Unlike the rpm world, where including a spec file in the tarball is expected, there has historically been some dislike about this being done on the deb side, mostly because of tool limitations.
In the meantime, an interesting thing is happening in the wider world.
Developing "apps" for mobile phones is appealing to lots of developers.
And in an inversion of the linux distro status quo, part of making such an
"app" is packaging it. Typically, for linux-based phones, into a
package, or something very close to it.
- For Android, there is apparently a
aapttool that is used to generate
.apkfiles. These are a zip file with some metadata.
- For the Palm Pre, there is a
command that is run in Windows, and generates a
control file and builds a '.ipk' that is really just a (limited)
- For the Nokia N900,
debian/changelogfiles to build a standard
Since N900 apps can fairly easily be ported to/from desktop linux, I won't be suprised if debian directories start popping up in lots more upstream sources. Like it or not.