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marketing: master or servant?

On 4 Mar 1998 bruce@va.debian.org wrote:

> My concerns are increasingly with Debian's marketing.  I've done well
> in issues like the Official CD and the DFSG, but I find that asking
> hackers to do marketing is like asking cats to swim. I think it's
> time for us to assemble a marketing group that can speak with some
> authority on these issues and collaborate with the technical group to
> increase our user community.

bruce, i think you will find that this is the source of what is annoying
so many people.

ask any hacker about marketing's role and they will say something like
"[mktg] should be subservient to tech." (note i've removed all the
expletives).  Most of us feel that marketing types are like a dangerous
weapon - keep 'em unloaded and locked up in a cupboard, and only bring
them out when you need them to do a job.

the tail shouldn't wag the dog.  

You are trying to change the project from a tech-driven one to a
marketing-driven one....that is anathema to most of us. is it any wonder
that our reaction to that is similar to our reaction to MS etc? it
smells like a tiny bit of the evil empire entering OUR project.

yes, marketing does have it's uses. it makes a great servant. don't try
to make it our master.

to bring this back to your suggestion, a marketing group for debian
*could* be a good thing.  However, their role should be to look at all the
cool things being done by the debian developers (and other free software
projects) and figure out ways of marketing them that don't conflict with
the hacker ethic.  marketing shouldn't be telling tech what to do...they
get away with that sort of behaviour in paid work, but they won't get away
with it in a voluntary project like debian. 


PS: not all of us are as completely hopeless at marketing as you like to
make out.  some of us have a damn good understanding of how people tick
and how to manipulate them using traditional (and non-trad.) marketing
methods. there are even a few of us who don't find that too distasteful. 

craig sanders

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