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Event and merchandise handling in Debian

Hi there!

Debian, as other players in the Free Software world, is often present at
different meetings, expos or conferences around the world, in different
manners.  Beside having Debian attendees or speakers, most of the time
there is a Debian booth, where you can usually find merchandise on sale.
It can be a bit strange to read that Debian people are interested in
merchandising.  However, for a volunteer project like Debian handling
merchandise has different goals.

First, it is the easiest way to promote Debian, the best example being
some strange kilted guys [1] walking around in New York City during the
last DebConf10 [2]: every time someone asked us the reason to wear a
kilt, we jumped on the train and explained what Debian is, why it exists
and so on.

[1] <http://wiki.debconf.org/wiki/DebConf7/Tartan>
[2] <http://debconf10.debconf.org/>

Second, Debian wants to please its users: which better way to make them
happy than giving them the possibility to carry around a Debian "sign"
(the swirl being the most famous one) on their laptop or T-Shirts, for

And third, probably the most important one, merchandising is a way to
gather resources to further Debian development, sponsoring various
activities like Bug Squashing Parties [3] or Sprints [4].  Remember,
Debian is a volunteer project and thus sometime it needs to find funds
on its own.

[3] <http://wiki.debian.org/BSP>
[4] <http://wiki.debian.org/Sprints>

Past, present and future

In the past, there were two different contact points for event- and
merchandising-related activities: they were the events@d.o and
merchandise@d.o email addresses, respectively.  This setup was no more
reliable, especially if considering that most of the time the people
contacting merchandise@d.o were the same guys who were organizing a
booth, thus contacting events@d.o.

You probably know that there was also a Debian Marketing team [5], given
that in the past there were official delegations for marketing reasons
[6].  Way before that, however, the Debian Publicity team was created
with the intent to better communicate with the outside world [7].

[5] <http://wiki.debian.org/Marketing>
[6] Message-ID: <20080416223047.GA18752@zoy.org>
    URL: <http://lists.debian.org/msgid-search/%3c20080416223047.GA18752%40zoy.org%3e>
[7] Message-ID: <20060607142005.GA21054@ouaza.com>
    URL: <http://lists.debian.org/msgid-search/%3c20060607142005.GA21054%40ouaza.com%3e>

At some point during last year it was clear that this fragmentation
(events@d.o, merchandise@d.o, Marketing and Publicity teams) was
worsening the situation and thus our resources were re-organized: first,
the Marketing team was merged into the Publicity team [8] and, second,
the Publicity team sent a clear message to the world, they were still
alive and kicking [9].

[8] Message-ID: <20100810143014.GA3317@upsilon.cc>
    URL: <http://lists.debian.org/msgid-search/%3c20100810143014.GA3317%40upsilon.cc%3e>
[9] Message-ID: <20100914103636.GS12469@melusine.alphascorpii.net>
    URL: <http://lists.debian.org/msgid-search/%3c20100914103636.GS12469%40melusine.alphascorpii.net%3e>

Finally, during various (in)formal discussions at different events
(e.g. the Debian Merchandise BoF at DebConf11 [10]), we decided it was
time to deal with the last bit of publicity: merchandising.  Thus, the
event handling in Debian received two Christmas gifts [11]: the first
one is the addition of two new members (Francesca Ciceri and yours
truly) and the second one is the merging between the events@d.o and
merchandise@d.o contact points.

[10] <http://penta.debconf.org/dc10_schedule/events/683.en.html>
[11] Message-ID: <20101224144600.GA336@upsilon.cc>
     URL: <http://lists.debian.org/msgid-search/%3c20101224144600.GA336%40upsilon.cc%3e>

This announcement explains the overall infrastructure behind the event
team and how to obtain the best from its work.

Webpages on www.debian.org

The canonical webpage is at [12]: everyone can find there information
about forthcoming events (of any kind, from booth to keysigning) and
also practical information if they are the ones running the event.

[12] <http://www.debian.org/events/>

While the overall pages still reflect the current situation, they will
be reviewed and updated.  The latter will be particularly done on the
"material and merchandise" page [13], which must be connected to the
"general" merchandise page at [14].

[13] <http://www.debian.org/events/material>
[14] <http://www.debian.org/misc/merchandise>

Submitting an event

This is the easiest part: whenever you know of any event Debian is
present, simply send an email in English to <events@debian.org> [15].
We will then do all the necessary steps to find someone willing to
participate/coordinate the Debian presence and announce the event to the
appropriate debian-events-* mailing lists [16][17][18][19], if not
already done.

[15] <mailto:events@debian.org>
[16] <http://lists.debian.org/debian-events-eu/>
[17] <http://lists.debian.org/debian-events-ha/>
[18] <http://lists.debian.org/debian-events-na/>
[19] <http://lists.debian.org/debian-events-nl/>

Where to discuss what

While the events@d.o address is the main contact point, we also need a
place for wider discussions.  This because emails sent to events@d.o are
not public and it is easier to reach a bigger audience when posting to
mailing lists or wikis (e.g. event participation/coordination is mostly
done on the Debian Wiki [20]).

[20] <http://wiki.debian.org/CategoryEvents>

During the last years, the Debian Publicity team [21] has done a huge
amount of work in promoting Debian.  Its already established community
and position within the Debian world is an invaluable resource that
should be used as much as possible.  We (the people behind events@d.o)
thus decided to direct any general discussion about event/merchandise
there [22].

[21] <http://wiki.debian.org/Teams/Publicity>
[22] <http://lists.debian.org/debian-publicity/>

For anything strictly related to the website, the Webmaster team [23]
still remains the major contact point.  If you find any error there,
feel free to contact the mailing list [24] or, better, submit a bug to
the virtual pseudo-package 'www.debian.org' [25].

[23] <http://wiki.debian.org/Teams/Webmaster>
[24] <http://lists.debian.org/debian-www>
[25] <http://bugs.debian.org/www.debian.org>


In the previous years, merchandise for Debian events has always been
dealt by local Debian sister association (e.g. Debian Brasil [26],
Debian UK [27] or debian.ch [28]) or companies that extensively work on
Debian (e.g. credativ [29]).

[26] <http://www.debianbrasil.org/>
[27] <http://www.einval.com/~steve/DebianT/>
[28] <http://debian.ch/merchandise/>
[29] <http://www.credativ.de/>

While this situation has worked so far, it is far from being optimal and
it is difficult to know who has what, a fact that has two results:
end-users do not have a single list of what is available and booth
organizers do not know who should be contacted.  Again, the merging
between the events@d.o and merchandise@d.o contact points seemed natural
in this respect as well.

But our plan is not restricted to that: the main idea is to have two
official liaisons taking care of the merchandise handling, one in Europe
and one in the Americas (the continents where most of the events occur).
Our aim is to go even further, with the creation of a standard "event
box" to be sent to booth organizers, containing some material
(e.g. flyers and posters) and merchandise (e.g. stickers and T-Shirts).
For this reason we are looking at volunteers within Debian Developers
willing to take care of this task.  Future applicants should send an
email in English to <events@debian.org> [15].  One nice side effect of
this position is that sometime you are more involved in participating at
a particular event you have never been before.

For the future, there are already some ideas for new merchandise: the
debian.ch folks [28] is looking into a Debian version of one of the
symbol of Switzerland itself, the Swiss Army Knife, and in the
production of a Debian-branded USB stick pre-loaded with the Debian
Installer [30] or Debian Live [31].  Without forgetting a black version
of the well-known Debian Umbrella after so many fans requested at
different events.

[30] <http://www.debian.org/devel/debian-installer/>
[31] <http://live.debian.net/>

We are looking for new and fun ideas of any kind, T-Shirt designs being
the simplest to realize: have you ever being tired of buying yet another
Debian T-Shirt?  Feel free to discuss your ideas on the Debian Publicity
mailing list [22]!  We did that just a bit less than two weeks ago.
Following the lenny Valentine T-Shirt [27] we had two years ago at
FOSDEM 2009 [32] to celebrate the lenny 5.0.0 release [33], we repeated
ourselves for the squeeze 6.0.0 release [34]: at FOSDEM this year there
were rocketed swirls on the back of proud owners of the squeeze Space
Fun T-Shirts [28], the default overall theme for that release [35].

[32] <http://www.fosdem.org/>
[33] <http://www.debian.org/releases/lenny/>
[34] <http://www.debian.org/releases/squeeze/>
[35] <http://wiki.debian.org/DebianArt/Themes/SpaceFun>

Where to find merchandise

All the material available will be present in both webpages on the
Debian website [14] and on the Debian wiki [36]: while the latter
contains a more detailed list of what is available, with direct links to
the producers, the former will still continue to act as a favor to our
loyal users, listing companies selling Debian merchandise, most of them
in any way affiliated with the Debian project.

[36] <http://wiki.debian.org/Merchandise>

Should any company want to be enlisted on the "general" merchandise page
[14], please follow the instructions at the end of that page, which
summary in sending an email in English to <events@debian.org> [15] with
the following information: the company name, the URL for your main page,
the URL where Debian merchandise can be found and the list of Debian
merchandise sold.  Please be aware that we are only interested in
advertising Debian related gear.

Since we are protective of our reputation, we take customer service
seriously and with the same high standards we deserve for our
distribution.  Lately, it has come to our attention that some online
merchands listed on the Debian website [14] are free-riding on the good
name of the Debian project, and are taking orders without delivering
goods.  People are strogly advised to contact <events@debian.org> [16]
if this happens, so that the Debian project can take measures.

On behalf of the event team.

Thx, bye,
Gismo / Luca

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