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Posted May 10, 2013 19:07 UTC (Fri) by BrucePerens (guest, #2510)
Parent article: Results of the Apache OpenOffice 4.0 Logo Survey

You wouldn't have an election about your memory allocation scheme, you'd have a qualified person make a proposal and develop consensus based on discussion.

But Open Source projects, even reasonably large ones, have such complete ignorance of marketing that they give one of the most critical decisions, the selection of the project's visual trademark, to a vote of amateurs. Most of the voters have no concept of the relevant factors in selecting a mark that will help to draw attention to the product and communicate its important features, and will cement an association in the user's mind of the image and the product.

This happens over and over.

The only consolation this time is that Apache OpenOffice is irrelevant except perhaps as a source of code to be folded into LibreOffice.


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Posted May 10, 2013 19:11 UTC (Fri) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

Only dumb if you can't read and think a survey is a vote. It wasn't. It was opinion gathering, which some people, but not all, think is smart.


Posted May 10, 2013 19:47 UTC (Fri) by BrucePerens (guest, #2510) [Link]

The "survey" doesn't really show any discussion of marketing principles, though. It really does look like a vote, of about 5000 amateurs selected only for being users of the software, who are selecting "favorites" and optionally can add a comment.


Posted May 10, 2013 20:21 UTC (Fri) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

No Bruce, the survey did not discuss marketing principles. I'm glad you noticed that. We discuss marketing on our marketing mailing list. It is a quaint technology, but it works well for us.

To any reasonable definition of the word, a "vote" selects the outcome. That is not what were doing here. We certainly don't use the word "vote" anywhere in the report. In fact we say quite clearly at the end that we are avoiding a vote and seeking to reach consensus in the community.

As the last paragraph of the blog says:

"We'll then review the revisions, discuss and pick the new logo. As usual at Apache we try to reach consensus by discussion wherever possible, and only vote if necessary."

The survey (or "survey" as you want call it) was seeking user user opinion. Crowd opinion. A bunch of those 50 million users who have downloaded Apache OpenOffice. This is one source of information that feeds into the branding discussion, but it is not the only source of information. And it is certainly not determinative of the outcome.

In your original post you attacked the process and said that we should: "develop consensus based on discussion".

Now that it is clear that we're doing exactly that, I assume we'll get an apology now?


Posted May 10, 2013 21:45 UTC (Fri) by rahvin (subscriber, #16953) [Link]

I believe what Bruce was arguing is that you are using the opinions and input of amateurs rather than seeking expert advice. The implication being that at the end of the day what you end up selecting will be totally the creation of amateurs, even if this is just the first stage of that selection.

I'm not saying I agree with Bruce, just that you focused on the vote comment without addressing the substance. I have no stake or even opinion on whether amateurs or professional designers do a better jobs on logo's.


Posted May 10, 2013 22:01 UTC (Fri) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

Uhhhh... but we do have professional designers involved. We're just not paying for them. They are volunteering. This is open source. You did read the blog post, right?

The survey was not to replace professional design experience, but to provide them with supplemental information from users in our actual market (or "amateurs" as you call them).

Do you think that would be OK with Bruce? Or do you think that it is better to make marketing decisions without actually consulting users at any stage?


Posted May 10, 2013 22:16 UTC (Fri) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

Oh, and I should state what should be obvious, but might not be to anyone who didn't actually read the blog post, that the logos from the professional designers rose to the top in the survey. But the comments on those logos, received from thousands of users, were still invaluable.

For example, even a talented and experienced designer might not know which logo resembled a logo of a political party, or which one had unlucky associations in Chinese. For a global brand like Apache OpenOffice, such feedback from users is not just a good idea, it is essential.

In most cases the professional designers submitted multiple or even many variations on the logo, so information on how they polled was good information even for the professionally-designed logos.

So, it just boggles the mind to think that there are some who just don't get it when it comes to open source. "Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow" applies to all aspects of the product, not just to source code. So the evident disdain for open source methods, expressed by some here is sad, very sad.

If Bruce wanted to make an constructive contribution we all know he is capable of doing this. But his choice of title and his comments show he was more interested in airing his prejudices against OpenOffice than actually contributing to the topic at hand. He is not alone, sadly. But as I've said before, that is why I pay to subscribe to -- so I can get my FUD a week early.


Posted May 11, 2013 3:18 UTC (Sat) by Trelane (subscriber, #56877) [Link]

Interesting point. I'd not thought to apply the bugs concept to such things.

(Amusingly, i'm wearing my IBM shirt I got from the OU Supercomputing symposium, and worked on software for z/OS. Seems to be an IBM day. :-)


Posted May 11, 2013 3:58 UTC (Sat) by BrucePerens (guest, #2510) [Link]

The entire point of "given enough eyeballs" is that the eyeballs belong to competent programmers who are engaged in modifying the code, or at least developing an understanding of the code with the intent of modifying it.

The equivalent would be having a great many qualified marketers work collaboratively. I'm sure you have some, but no so many that "many eyes" applies.

Many eyes with no concept of marketing principles would work on a marketing problem about as well as a roomful of monkeys do at typing out Shakespeare.


Posted May 11, 2013 11:34 UTC (Sat) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

I suppose you are opposed to beta testing software, because that puts the bugs in front of the unwashed masses rather than an elite group of programmers?

Of course the people filling out the survey are not the competent designers. They represent the target market for the logo, the end users. The people looking at the feedback from the survey are the competent designers. They appreciate the feedback and the comments they received from users in our target market. It is one source of information that feeds into the process, but not the only one.

Of course your analogy is flawed since we're not asking your "monkeys" or (whatever you want to compare open source users to today) to design a logo, or write play. We're only looking for feedback from the very group of people to whom the logo is targeted. Think of it as feedback and part of iterative design. Those familiar with User Centered Design would understand this best. But the concept is not difficult.


Posted May 12, 2013 18:00 UTC (Sun) by shmget (subscriber, #58347) [Link]

" A bunch of those 50 million users who have downloaded Apache OpenOffice."

Btw: to quote yourself, schooling a aoo volunteer:
"But it does mean that we need to be careful
that what we say is accurate and described correctly. It is like how
we're careful to talk about "50 million downloads" and not "50 million
users'. Other projects don't take that care and conflate downloads
and users. I seek a higher standard."

so... Do as I say not as I do ?


Posted May 12, 2013 18:35 UTC (Sun) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

What I said is accurate. 50 million users have downloaded AOO from SourceForge. I did not claim we have 50 million users. This is a subtle distinction, so I'm not surprised you are confused about this. We know millions more users have downloaded AOO from other websites like or filehippo or even And we know that not all users who download AOO remain users, though I do know that around 70% of those who try OpenOffice remain with it. I also know that this number is far lower for users who try LibreOffice.


Posted May 12, 2013 18:46 UTC (Sun) by shmget (subscriber, #58347) [Link]

"What I said is accurate. 50 million users have downloaded AOO from SourceForge. I did not claim we have 50 million users. "

oh really? so your users never upgrade, ever ?
none of you users downloaded 3.3 then 3.4 then 3.4.1 ? interesting...

" This is a subtle distinction, so I'm not surprised you are confused about this. "
So subtle that it is in fact complete bull.


Posted May 12, 2013 18:55 UTC (Sun) by rcweir (guest, #48888) [Link]

Look at the context of what I was saying. I was discussing the logo survey and how it was a survey of our users. Since the survey was advertised on our download page, it is perfectly correct and consistent, in that context, to refer to the those who took the survey as "a bunch of those 50 million users who have downloaded Apache OpenOffice."

You're better than this, Norbert. If you have a point to make, why don't you try making it, rather than just trying to score cheap points? A word of advice: When you treat your opponent as if he has no intelligence and just go for cheap rhetorical points you also insult the reader. Try to rebut your opponent's strongest arguments, not attack their typographical errors. Otherwise you look petty, and the reader will think that you have no arguments, or ideas, of your own.


Posted May 12, 2013 19:25 UTC (Sun) by shmget (subscriber, #58347) [Link]

"Look at the context of what I was saying."

You did not argue the context, you argued that I was too dumb to grasp the subtlety of the English language.

"You're better than this, Norbert."
I appreciate the condescending compliment, Robert, but it is not like we've met or anything...

"When you treat your opponent as if he has no intelligence and just go for cheap rhetorical points you also insult the reader. "
Hear, Hear.... if only you would heed your own advice...

But rest assured, I do not, by any means, think you lack intelligence; I am merely offended by the amount of bull you think you can get away with.

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