Sparse working copies can easily cause user confusion. E.g. they can cause skipped subtrees during merges and it might not be immediately apparent to users why the subtree is skipped (see issue #3618). Users can easily forget about shallow subtrees because, currently, the only way to know if a working copy is shallow is parsing the output of svn info -R. If svn status clearly marked directories that are roots of shallow subtrees as such this problem would be mitigated. For example, we could use a notation similar to how tree conflicts are presented to show ambient depths smaller than 'infinity' in the status output: $ svn status D gamma/delta epsilon > depth 'empty' M alpha $ In the above example, epsilon has depth 'empty'.