On 11/27/2012 11:32 AM, "Jóhann B. Guðmundsson" wrote:
"Subject: Red Hat Releases Fedora 18 Beta"

What the hell is going on here last time I checked it was Fedora's community that released Fedora.

It's time for the board to come clean with the community on what's going on here...

Okay, first off: There's nothing for the Board to "come clean" on.  There are people on the board - who I count as some of my awesome friends, mind you, with whom I have in the past done my very fair share of conspiracy theorizing - who would absolutely call that kind of thing out in an INSTANT if the Board was involved.

Here is the deal:

Red Hat PR folks have always helped with spreading the word, whether for Alpha/Beta/Final or otherwise.  In this particular case, an article *similar* to a press release was posted regarding the Beta to the Red Hat news blog (http://www.redhat.com/about/news/archive/2012/11/fedora-beta-release-for-version-18-now-available) but was not an actual press release.  I work with them directly to assist  them in writing these; in this case, I saw the headline, which reads " Fedora Beta Release for Version 18, "Spherical Cow", Now Available," as well as the body of the article, which fairly clearly states that "The Fedora Project" is doing the release, not Red Hat.

In addition to that, one of the lovely people in the PR department, Anna, contacts the list of reporters and news outlets to ensure that the news is picked up and spread, as well as arranges for yours truly to speak with any members of the press who would like an interview.  They receive a copy of the news blog posting (or press release, if that is what is going out).  In this case, it appears that the mail she sent to that press list had the subject of "Red Hat releases Fedora 18," but I wasn't aware that it was being sent out with that particular subject line.

Anna is fairly new in this position; however, I have to give her a universe of credit for being the only PR person we've ever had at Red Hat that has worked with Fedora who has invested herself in the community to the ends of showing up for Board meetings on IRC, Marketing meetings on IRC, or participating on/reading mailing lists.  If I had known the mail was going to go out with that subject line, it's something I would have explained to her, but I didn't know, she certainly wasn't aware that those types of subject lines are somewhat unkosher, not to mention something that certainly elevates the "tinfoil hat" meter on mailing lists, etc.  I honestly think a lot of people don't realize it, unless they've been on this particular list for a long time and have seen the drama unfold before. It was not all that long ago that I was also in the conspiracy theory corner and this type of thing absolutely infuriated me, and in this case, had it been done with malice or ill intent I would be raising absolute hell right now; that said, there's nothing going on behind the curtain, it was a simple, rather easy-to-make mistake (simply from the perspective of "most of the emails PR folks send are short subject lines saying Red Hat does $whatever"), by someone who actually cares about our community, and I'm sure that it will be a lesson well-learned for her that won't be repeated. 

As a side note to this conversation - one of the things that I try to do as part of my job *inside* of the Hat is to continually try to educate people about the dynamics - and differences from "traditional products" - of working with the community.  Primarily the Fedora Project community, but others as well.  It's certainly to our credit that Fedora is one of the most, if not the most, prominent projects that Red Hat helps to support; this also means that, a lot of the time, the ground laid inside of Red Hat to support any type of community activity often is mimicked after us, as we have some years behind us now, and that we are often times the first ones to be doing something. 

I think we've made great strides with the PR and marketing folks, both in terms of the fact that we see *nowhere near* as many of these types of mistakes as we saw a number of years ago, as well as the fact that they are willing to share some of their time to support us, arrange interviews, etc.; it's also evident in areas like working with the Finance department, where I have spent a LOT of time working to improve things for Fedora, and continue to do so (note bruise on my forehead, heh), things like having a community presence at Red Hat Summit, and other areas as well.  It doesn't mean that it always goes right; I have sent my fair share of pissed-off "this is BS" emails to people, all the way up to the C*O offices, in the pursuit of fixing things.

I do my best to share those lessons learned, and even point to "how we do it," as far as "how Fedora's interactions with internal Red Hat departments" go.  Perhaps in this case it would be worthwhile for marketing to document some tips and "things to remember" as far as working with the Fedora community for the Red Hat PR folks - in conjunction with Anna - so that it isn't something that is known by "just one person."  Things like - where you can always find Fedora's mission statement, the schedule, etc., as well as "please don't do this" type of stuff - such as the case that instigated this mail. :)

All that said - and in spite of my "tinfoil hat" comments - I do appreciate your calling out of things like this, Johann, as well as anyone else who sees things like this - there is always opportunity for further education and refining of processes, and really, it just keeps things honest and frank. 

-robyn

JBG

1. https://lwn.net/Articles/527130/