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Disappointment about the appearance of our CLT booth


I thought very hard about this mail, and believe me, that it is not
intended as a personal attack, but as a call for action / rethought / or
whatever. It's just that I don't think Debian should continue as it has
done at the Chemnitzer Linux-Tage. Debian has done, can do and must do

So, what am I talking about? Well, it's just that I don't think, that we
did a very good job. Look for example at [1], where someone mistook the
booth of the sidux project for our own. Or look at [2], where you can
read: "[..] The many booths needed to be visited as well, especially at
the sidux-booth I spend some time. Other distributions where present,
two: Gentoo, Fedora, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Skole Linux, openSuse, Communtu.
But not only Linux OSes where there, but also the complete BSD-familie
NetBSD, OpenBSD and FreeBSD as well as the BeOS based HAIKU." Note that
the author doesn't mention Debian, although he was standing in front of
our booth for a longer time (the sidux booth was right opposite of the
Debian one). Considering, that he has written several blog posts about
Debian, one would think he would notice us as well. But he didn't.

Okay, so we had problems getting stuff to Chemnitz and had only a booth
with one poster provided by the organizers and some CDs we got to the
best of my knowledge from the Sidux project. No flyers to give away, no
real posters showing what project can be found here, no demo machine. If
you came to the booth it often looked like [5] or [6] or was even
completely abandoned!

It happened several times, that users approached me or Meike (both of us
being busy with giving talks, interviews, doing session moderation and
keeping a couple of other appointments) in order to ask questions,
because they didn't want to go to the Debian booth, having the feeling
to disturb there, and instead asked the questions to us directly.
That is already a bad sign. If we are even approached by journalists
about the state of our booth, it's a very bad sign. But if the
organizers themselves approach us about the booth and they inform us,
that they regularly take pictures of all booths and decide based on
these pictures where and if to place a project the next year and how
much space to grant it, we've really blown it!
I really got the feeling, that if it wasn't the Debian project they
would have considered droping us from the exhibition next year. And you
know what?  I can't really say anything against it; I agree with them,
that booths should either be done adhering to a minimum standard or not all.

Think about it... You go an exhibition, and there is someone siting at a
booth, turning his back to you while hacking or watching a video, even
with headphones covering his ears so he can hear better. Would you ask
this person a question or step closer to see what the booth is showing?

So, the question is now, what can we do to prevent things like that from
happening again. We already have the old booth checklist [9], a
requirements page[8] and the more recent Events Howto[7], and there
where enough Debian related people present to have enough manpower for a
really good booth. What went wrong? How do we ensure it doesn't happen
again next year? The Chemnitzer Linux-Tage are one of Germany's biggest
and most popular Linux events and I really don't think we can afford
leaving such a bad impression with all the people there!

Best regards,

5: http://www.schmehl.info/tmp/debian-booth-1.jpg
6: http://www.schmehl.info/tmp/debian-booth-2.jpg
7: http://wiki.debian.org/DebianEventsHowto
8: http://www.debian.org/events/requirements
9: http://www.debian.org/events/checklist

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