[Mageia-discuss] Mageia logo proposals and selection

Graham Lauder yorick_ at openoffice.org
Mon Oct 18 22:06:07 CEST 2010

On Tuesday 19 Oct 2010 04:27:29 Frank Griffin wrote:
> Gustavo Giampaoli wrote:
> > So, I'm sorry but I agree with the people who want to target this
> > "ordinary people". Because I don't think that making Mageia easier and
> > friendly hurt or damage advanced users. Linux will be always powerful,
> > with the right packages. And any advanced user can make "urpmi
> > my-advanced-packages" whenever he/she needs.
> > 
> > We need to attract more non-linux users.
> This is getting very repetitive.  Your argument, and the arguments of
> those who argue your point of view all make perfect sense and flow
> logically, *IF* you accept the premise that the mission of Mageia is to
> entice computer-ignorant or computer-antagonistic people, or even just
> non-linux newbies, to use Mageia.
> This *might* be a given if Mageia was a company organized to make a
> profit.  But it's not.  It's a group of primarily technical people who
> decided to fork Mandriva because they felt that the technical excellence
> of the distro was being compromised by Mandriva's corporate goals.
> In a perfect world, where volunteer labor was in infinite supply, and
> was paid solely in terms of satisfaction that what they achieved met
> their own goals, a community distro would be built up of layers, each
> building on the ones below it.
> Developers would not need to care about appealing to users on any level
> other than providing needed function.  They would produce non-GUI
> components which had enough configurable options to satisfy anyone from
> your grandma to Linus Torvalds.
> Other developers who were so inclined would write GUI interfaces to
> these services which exposed all of this flexibility, or most of it, or
> some of it, or very little of it, depending on whether they were
> producing a UI aimed at Linus or grandma or someone in between.
> The same would go for installs: the base install would be componentized
> and configurable and open, and interested parties would customize this
> for a variety of target audiences.
> The FOSS world isn't perfect, but only in the sense that the volunteer
> labor supply isn't infinite.  Without an infinite supply, the activities
> that don't get performed for resource reasons will be determined by the
> satisfaction metric - if the target audience isn't important enough to
> some group of technical people to impel them to customize a UI and an
> install (and documentation) for that target audience, then that audience
> won't see their needs addressed.
> In the corporate world, you have to make a profit.  Because you have
> limited resources, and because you can't risk basing your enterprise on
> packages you don't control, you have to address all of the above tasks
> with a finite pool of resources.
> Because of that, you can't afford to design your distro to be
> configurable and flexible enough to even *potentially* please every set
> of target users.  Since the number of target user groups determines the
> amount of resource you need to satisfy them, it follows that you have to
> limit that number in order to satisfy your chosen group or groups with
> the resources you can afford.
> This is where marketing becomes invaluable; it uses quantitative
> analyses to determine which target group(s) represent the greatest
> potential for profit, and the result of those analyses will determine
> what development works on, what the tools look like, and what the
> install looks like.
> If you accept that the marketing results must be correct, then it makes
> no sense for development to build flexibility into software that will
> never be used, or for the install team to allow for any install paradigm
> that isn't directly oriented to your target user groups.  Basically,
> marketing drives the truck, and every group associated with production
> centers their activity on marketing's objectives.
> This minimizes development costs, and will produce the greatest profit
> from the number of sales made.  Developers are hired to do only that
> work that supports marketing's directives, and the theory is that they
> work primarily for the money.  They are controlled by Marketing, which
> derives its authority from the owners or shareholders ("stakeholders" to
> use the fashionable economics term).
> ***That said***,,,
> Mageia is not a company.  We have no shareholders, and no financial hold
> over the developers.  No marketing group has directorial authority over
> the developers, because there is no "stakeholder" group which can grant
> that authority.  No number of users suborned from Windows or Mac or
> Ubuntu puts a penny into the pockets of anyone involved in Mageia.
> Saying "we believe that a large number of users will switch to Mageia if
> we limit our focus to such-and-such" is interesting and may even be
> accurate.  It is also immaterial, unless the validity of the statement
> somehow gives you the authority to direct the actions of the others
> involved in Mageia.
> In FOSS, it doesn't.  If enough people agree with your objective, you
> may find that you have enough critical mass to produce a derived distro
> with a face and personality which matches your objectives.

This is one of the interesting elements of FOSS marketing that I've talked 
about in the past.  That Marketing department, which in a corporate world 
always has the ear of management more so than the Development people simply 
because of human interaction capabilities, has to turn it's focus inward.  The 
problem is, an one I've been trying to avoid here, is that it becomes insular 
to the exclusion of all else and then the community stagnates and spirals into 
irrelevancy.  For the community to grow there has to be a dynamism, (and I'm 
talking grow in terms of the community of contributors)  Userland is the big 
billboard of that dynamism.  Ubuntu for all it's faults and annoyances has 
taught us one thing, high visibility in Userland attracts contributors.

Now our problem in terms of a marketing group is to communicate that 
particular thing to the core startup contributors and I don't mean the 
Founders here, I mean that community that surrounded them at the start and who 
shared the vision.  

Heh I was hoping to get the Values, Vision and mission sorted before having to 
tackle that mission and on reflection I should have simply not have opened the 
Target Markets discussion, but hey, in FOSS projects the thing you do is write 
a to-do list, then throw it in the trash.       

> But to say that the entire community has to direct and/or limit their
> efforts to your target group just because you can demonstrate that you
> can wean them away from some other product ignores the fact that such a
> goal may give no or even negative satisfaction to those expected to do
> the technical work.  That's not to say that they dispute your skills in
> determining a target market, but simply that they derive no satisfaction
> in doing or limiting their work to address that market.
> Graham is fond of saying that "you can't be all things to all people",
> but that's only true in the area of the spectrum where his skills come
> into play.

True indeed

> In development, the entire concept of Software Architecture and
> Component-Driven design is directed towards producing components with
> enough flexibility to be configured for any possible use of the
> functionality represented by that component.  When not constrained by
> the profit motive, development will produce flexible and adaptable
> components, and rely on upstream integrators to tailor or limit their
> function to a particular market.
> In reality, this often aligns with the profit motive, since (oh horrors)
> it actually may happen that Marketing is wrong,

Ahem *cough* never yer honour... no really.  ;)

> in which case the
> company is at least left with saleable software assets as opposed to
> software locked into a vision which didn't work.
> The significant costs of trying to be all things to all people, both in
> resource cost and opportunity cost, come much further up the product
> development chain, in QA, documentation, marketing, sales focus, and
> other such non-development areas.  That's where you have to decide which
> way(s) to go, to the exclusion of others, not at the development layer.

That's all an excellent analyses Frank. The question, regarding this last 
statement had occurred to me and I'd wondered out loud about when considering 
the multiple focused markets concept, this adds clarity, thanks .  

The decision has already been made that the initial target market will be new 
code contributors.

Your analysis is sound and I suspect that any research would simply confirm 
that, so looking at that, the marketing focus that gradually expands outward 
would seem to be the path that works best to achieve longevity of the project.

I am mindful, however that many of those you talk about up the chain in the 
"desperately needed" categories: Docs and QA will come from user space.  So 
there will be a need to market here in any case.

Thanks and

Graham Lauder,
OpenOffice.org MarCon (Marketing Contact) NZ

OpenOffice.org Migration and training Consultant.

INGOTs Assessor Trainer
(International Grades in Open Technologies)

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