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

Monty Taylor mordred at inaugust.com
Wed Jan 28 12:50:32 UTC 2015

On 01/27/2015 10:35 PM, James E. Blair wrote:
> Lauren Sell <lauren at openstack.org> writes:
>> 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.
> I said "lemming" three times in that meeting, (which is three times more
> than anyone else), so I should probably respond here.
> That meeting was the first time I heard about the disappearance of
> Lemming from the list.  I did not feel that the way in which it happened
> was in accordance with the way we expected the process to operate.
> Nonetheless, due to the vagaries of the current process and out of a
> desire to avoid further delay in naming the Lemming release, I chose not
> to argue for the inclusion of Lemming in the poll.  I continue to hold
> that position, and I am not advocating that we include it now.

I would like to echo Jim's sentiments that this is largely about the way
a decision was made, and not about the decision itself. The below
defense of lemmings notwithstanding - I agree that I do not think that
lemming is a good name. However, I think there is a very interesting
latent conversation available about the nature of choice and also about
the media's ability to fabricate complete falsehoods and have them
become part of the vernacular. If anyone can't find modern and relevant
analogues to the one-sided destruction of the popular image of the
lemming in the tech world, they're simply not paying attention.

We may not chose to pick up that particular topic as a fight we want to
have right now - but I ardently want to be able to have the discussion
about it.

We have chosen to have an unprecedented amount of corporate involvement
in our project - and I think it's proven to be extremely valuable. One
of the things it does bring with it though are a bunch of people who
come from the culture of having ad-hoc private meetings over cubical
walls, and of important decisions made as part of walk-and-talks. While
that may work for corporate environments where everyone is in the same
office (I actually would argue that it's toxic and counterproductive
even there, but that's a whole other topic) - it quite simple is
untenable in our environment.

Backroom _conversations_ are fine and in fact quite necessary. Jim and I
regularly chat on the phone. At conferences we all sit around in various
restaurants, cafes and bars digging in to hard topics. Ultimately though
- those conversations have to bubble back up to the place where everyone
has the ability to participate, and the decisions have to be made
through the processes we've put in place to ensure that voices have been
heard. Democracy is the worst form of government except for all of the
others and all of that.

I know that it can be frustrating at times to have to go through a
community conversation about everything - but the respect you have for
us is mutual, and we really value your contributions, so it seems that
there is no real reason to not have the discussions about your concerns
in the TC meeting itself. Given that you have a load of excellent
insight in to these topics, I imagine that we'd come out of the meeting
having learned something ... which is not always the case.

So please don't take this as any sort of condemnation on my part of
either intent or decision. From time to time we find places where some
of the things that we do in a more ad-hoc manner need a bit more
explicit definition to prevent them from accidentally falling down into
a weird place. This is one of them - and luckily the solution is SUPER
easy given that we already know how to run massive multiple choice
elections and will actually likely involve the Foundation needing to do
_LESS_ legal pre-vetting than the current ad-hoc process allows for.

> I think the best way to move forward and prevent future
> misunderstandings is to clarify the process in the way that Monty
> suggested and begin using it starting with the Miyazaki release.
> -Jim
> P.S.
> I will, however, vociferously defend Lemmings themselves.  They are the
> subject of widely-held misconceptions which have resulted in contempt
> and outright animal cruelty.  Please see
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemming#Misconceptions and particularly the
> passage:
>   A Canadian Broadcasting Corporation documentary, 'Cruel Camera', found
>   the lemmings used for 'White Wilderness' were flown from Hudson Bay to
>   Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where they did not jump off the cliff, but
>   were in fact forced off the cliff by the camera crew.
> _______________________________________________
> Foundation mailing list
> Foundation at lists.openstack.org
> http://lists.openstack.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/foundation

More information about the OpenStack-dev mailing list