[In the news] Fedora and GNOME branding drama: Missing the big picture

inode0 inode0 at gmail.com
Thu Apr 21 20:09:14 UTC 2011

On Thu, Apr 21, 2011 at 2:10 PM, Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier
<xonker at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Thu, Apr 21, 2011 at 1:51 PM, inode0 <inode0 at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Thu, Apr 21, 2011 at 12:57 PM, Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier
>> <xonker at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> On Tue, Apr 19, 2011 at 11:57 PM, Frankie Mangoa
>>> <frankiemangoa at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> Why? Because the end user wouldn't know otherwise?
>> It seems to me watching this drama from the outside that the reason
>> for branding has little to do with the end user although even with the
>> end user it might promote brand loyalty. Virtually everything I use is
>> branded. My pocket knife has a Chris Reeve logo on it. My cell phone
>> has Motorola, Verizon, and Google on it. The monitor I am staring at
>> now has Dell on it. And on and on and on. Oh, the desktop I am using
>> has a little Shadowman logo in the upper left corner too. I know who
>> made all these things as the end user and it seems all these marketing
>> people are out to lunch if you are right?! The only difference I can
>> think of between all these other things that take such interest in
>> branding is that they make money from their brands while Fedora itself
>> doesn't (although I imagine the Fedora brand could conceivably have
>> economic value of some sort to Red Hat).
> The reasons that your cell phone has a Verizon / Google and whatever
> logo on it are not particularly relevant to whether Fedora should or
> shouldn't ship stock GNOME wallpaper.

Wait, I wasn't talking about wallpaper. I was talking about Fedora
having some Fedora branding on its default desktop. Perhaps similar to
the little shadowman I see on my default RHEL desktop, perhaps
something else.

> Are the marketing people out to lunch? That's a whole 'nother
> discussion. The reasons I've seen put forward for inclusion of Fedora
> branding, however, are tenuous at best. I seem to recall one going on
> about users not knowing they're running Fedora - which is highly
> unlikely.

Yes, that is idiotic. I think it is more likely that Fedora as a
project might expect that on a default desktop people passing by would
recognize it as Fedora though. The history of the Fedora desktop
really promoted that through the efforts of the design and art teams.
While non-linux people wouldn't recognize it or associate it with
Fedora other linux users would.

> Google, et al, want their logos on phones because there's a lot of
> people who really won't know that they're using Android without a big
> green guy on the phone. So building awareness there is relevant. But
> very, very few people wind up with Fedora on their desktop without
> knowing what it is and how it got there - and that it's Fedora.

Could be in that case. No one buys a Chris Reeve knife without knowing
what it is though. Branding is pretty ubiquitous and so is branding
desktops. It may or may not really be useful to build loyalty and
catch the eye of those passing by curious enough to look. As a
non-marketer though I do have to wonder how it can be so unimportant
for Fedora but important enough that everyone else seems to care about

>>> When there are too few hands to do the available work, it seems to me
>>> a massive waste to argue over the amount of pixels given to $distro
>>> vs. $desktop branding when millions of people still haven't even heard
>>> of Linux -- so effort *could* go towards making marketing materials
>>> and such to promote Fedora *externally* rather than reinforcing pride
>>> on behalf of people who are already converted.
>> Don't sell reinforcing pride among the "converted" too short. Pride in
>> Fedora, the project and the distribution is a strong glue bonding a
>> community largely composed of volunteers together. Without it, why
>> would we even want to promote Fedora externally?
> If you really need a pre-shipped logo to validate or enforce your
> community bond... I don't know what to say.

Stop trivializing everything. It is not about a pre-shipped logo.
People are proud of Fedora and people are proud as Fedora contributors
when they walk through a conference and see others running Fedora.
While people may change desktops into things one can't recognize, many
use basically the default desktop and it makes Fedora contributors
happy to see people using the result of their work. If a trivial, and
meaningless by your estimation, pre-shipped logo does that then I see
one thing in the plus column for including it and zero things in the
minus column.

>>> Sure, internal drama that distracts team members from working together
>>> and making forward progress is *always* healthy. </sarcasm>
>> If this is trivial, then the debranding/rebranding push could be
>> dropped just as easily as the debranding/rebranding backlash could be
>> dropped. Community frustration tends to evidence itself in response to
>> some particular trigger event, in this case the desktop changes for
>> F15 but I think the frustration runs a little deeper and you are
>> missing something if you think this is just about an icon on a
>> desktop.
> No - I get that this is about a deeper issue, but I think it's damn
> silly to debate this particular issue - so why not just have it out
> and state the issue up-front?
> As I alluded to in a previous post, I suspect this is a reaction to
> what appears to be RHAT making a decision by fiat and people feeling
> upset about that. This may be legitimate, but at the same time, RHAT
> puts in ridiculous amounts of resources into Fedora so maybe it'd be
> equally valid to get over it and do something positive instead of
> people digging in heels over something that is really, deeply trivial.

I really don't think it has much to do with this either. There might
be a few people who think Red Hat cares what the Fedora wallpaper is
and has internal meetings to decide such things by fiat but that must
be a very tiny minority. I don't believe Red Hat cares in the least
what the Fedora wallpaper is or whether a Fedora logo is visible in a
panel although some individuals care about these things on both sides.

> My, flawed, analogy would be this:
> Every six months, RHAT throws a big community party. It asks for help
> from the community, and usually the community gets to pick the
> decorations and food served at the party. Red Hat pays to throw the
> party, does much of the prep work, and hires people to coordinate the
> party.
> On this occasion, Red Hat's coordinators have a special event they
> want to celebrate - so they pick out the decorations and want to
> provide the food.
> Some of the other contributors who usually help are pissed because
> their usual decisions/contributions are being passed over. So there's
> a fair amount of tension and drama leading up to the event.
> Neither RHAT or the contributors want to back down. Meanwhile, outside
> observers are 1) put off by the drama and 2) really don't care if the
> party has pizza or Thai food, so long as it's good. And there's
> Guinness. (This is my analogy, so I'm going to pick a good beer.)

I think it is sad that this is the public impression of what is going
on inside of Fedora. I guess we owe you a thank you for expressing it
to us.

> My suggestion? Remember that what you're trying to do here is throw a
> party, and who's ponying up the biggest contribution. Maybe what's
> more important is having more people at the party and getting the
> invites out, than whether the decorations are red or blue.

The flaw in the analogy is that it isn't Red Hat issuing by fiat a
decision about the wallpaper or anything else. If Red Hat came and
asked Fedora to do just about anything I imagine Fedora would accept
their request using the logic you use in your analogy. That isn't at
all what happened though.

I'm tempted to go on about what I think are the fundamental problems
within Fedora, but they are not related to marketing and can't be
solved on the marketing list. Perhaps the upcoming elections will
provide a better venue for that discussion.


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