[openstack-dev] [OpenStack Foundation] [tc] Take back the naming process

Lauren Sell lauren at openstack.org
Wed Jan 28 02:13:16 UTC 2015

Hey Monty,

I’d like to weigh in here, because I think there have been some misunderstandings around Lemming-gate. I’m glad you raised your concerns; it’s a good test of release naming for us all to discuss and learn from. 

To provide a little context for those new to the discussion, historically, when it’s time to name the development cycle, open suggestions are taken on a wiki page (https://wiki.openstack.org/wiki/Release_Naming) after which the Technical Committee works to create a short list that are then voted on by the entire community. Typically, Foundation staff play a role in this process to work with our trademark counsel to vet the release names. We register them to ensure our rights, and they become significant brands for the OpenStack community, as well as all of the companies who are building and marketing their products on OpenStack. One of the names that was proposed for the L development cycle was Lemming.

So little-known fact, I’m actually a huge fan of rodents (I’ve had several pet rats), but I’m afraid the name Lemming conjures up more than a small mammal. The dictionary.com definition is "a member of any large group following an unthinking course towards mass destruction," or if you prefer Urban Dictionary, “a member of a crowd with no originality or voice of his own. One who speaks or repeats only what he has been told. A tool. A cretin.”

When I heard that Lemming was a consideration, I was a bit concerned. Most of all, I care about and am protective of this community, and I think that would paint us with a pretty big / easy target. Regardless, I did the due diligence with our trademark counsel, and they provided the following feedback: “The proposed trademark LEMMING cleared our preliminary search for the usual goods/services, subject to the usual limitations.  The majority of applications/registrations that others have filed for the term are dead (no pun intended).  I take this to mean the brand generally has problems in the marketplace due to negative connotation.”

So, I reached out to Thierry and a few of the TC members to share my perspective and concern from a marketing standpoint. I have a lot of respect for you and this community, and I would hate to jeopardize the perception of your work. I am very sensitive to the fact that I do not have a magical marketing veto; I was simply providing feedback and trying to bring another perspective to the conversation. My sense from talking to them was that Lemming was kind of a joke and not a serious option. I also read the notes of the following TC meeting, and it didn’t seem like there was much of an issue...so I stopped worrying about it.

(TC meeting notes for reference, you can search Lemming in this discussion: http://eavesdrop.openstack.org/meetings/tc/2015/tc.2015-01-13-20.01.log.txt)

Anyhow, it seems like it’s boiled into a larger issue, and I’m more than happy to have the discussion and get more input. I stand by my advice and hope our community leaders will make a reasonable decision. I certainly don’t want to take the fun out of release naming, but at the end of the day we are all pretty fortunate and have quite a bit of fun as part of this community. I was just trying to protect it.


> On Jan 27, 2015, at 6:59 PM, Monty Taylor <mordred at inaugust.com> wrote:
> On 01/27/2015 06:05 PM, Jonathan Bryce wrote:
>>> On Jan 27, 2015, at 3:50 PM, Monty Taylor <mordred at inaugust.com> wrote:
>>> I do not like how we are selecting names for our releases right now.
>>> The current process is autocratic and opaque and not fun - which is the
>>> exact opposite of what a community selected name should be.
>> Autocratic? Could you elaborate?
> Right now we're starting from a set list of pre-approved names that
> there was absolutely no participation in the selection of and about
> which discussion is summarily shut down. I know it's with the best of
> intentions, but it's not ok.
>>> I propose:
>>> * As soon as development starts on release X, we open the voting for the
>>> name of release X+1 (we're working on Kilo now, we should have known the
>>> name of L at the K summit)
>>> * Anyone can nominate a name - although we do suggest that something at
>>> least related to the location of the associated summit would be nice
>>> * We condorcet vote on the entire list of nominated names
>>> * After we have the winning list, the foundation trademark checks the name
>>> * If there is a trademark issue (and only a trademark issue - not a
>>> "marketing doesn't like the name" issue) we'll move down to the next
>>> name on the list
>>> If we cannot have this process be completely open and democratic, then
>>> what the heck is the point of having our massive meritocracy in the
>>> first place? There's a lot of overhead we deal with by being a
>>> leaderless collective you know - we should occasionally get to have fun
>>> with it.
>> If your goal is to actually involve our massive meritocracy, I’d suggest expanding this thread to include at least the community marketing mailing list rather than just the -dev mailing list (possibly also the Foundation mailing list?). The release names are some of our most prominent brands, meaning choosing them is by definition a marketing activity. Not including the part of our meritocracy with experience in branding and marketing feels counterintuitive to me (again if the goal is actually to be meritocratic).
> I was under the impression that the human names were "development
> codenames" and also this was a topic of discussion at the TC meeting
> today, which is why I popped it to the dev list - no slight or exclusion
> was intended! I have cross-posted this reply to
> foundation at lists.openstack.org and marketing at lists.openstack.org.
> You'll notice that I did say in my suggestion that ANYONE should be able
> to propose a name - I believe that would include non-dev people. Since
> the people in question are marketing people, I would imagine that if any
> of them feel strongly about a name, that it should be trivial for them
> to make their case in a persuasive way.
> I'm not willing to cede that choosing the name is by definition a
> marketing activity - and in fact the sense that such a position was
> developing is precisely why I think it's time to get this sorted. I
> think the dev community feels quite a bit of ownership on this topic and
> I would like to keep it that way.
> Thanks!
> Monty
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