Friday March 29th, 2002
The mozilla.org Status Reports was updated, and included some information on what email@example.com are up to, and what's coming up:
#5 Is calling it RC1 a big and unnecessary PR risk?
Friday March 29th, 2002 5:54 PM
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From the above it appears that the current plan is to cut, within the next week or so, a branch that will be called "RC1". But it seems pretty clear that it won't really be a "Release Candidate" in the normal sense of the term, ie it won't be nearly good enough to be renamed as the unqualified 1.0. I was struck by this, and I began to reflect on what it might mean.
First, I'll note that I have jumped to the conclusion that the "release candidate" label is intended mostly to get people to take the release more seriously than might otherwise be the case. I certianly agree that it would be smart to emphasize the significance of this upcoming 1.0 cut to users/testers. I could also understand that for internal reasons, there needs to be a release candidate in the stated timeframe, even if everyone knows it probably won't cut it.
However, I think the public label "Release Candidate" will have at least as big an impact on the press as it would on users, and I wonder if this has been carefully considered. I would expect the tech press to treat it as a genuine "Release Candidate", which means that A) they will review this rather than a release a couple weeks later and B) they will argue (despite any disclaimer text Mozilla might write) that it is more representative of Mozilla's self-defined standard for quality than it really is. Unless RC1 is more stable than one can reasonably expect, this twin effect could very likely result in a lot of unnecessary negative press. Perhaps this is a good thing; there might then be another round of press once a much better RC2 or RC3 comes along. But maybe not. My point here is to ask, "has mozilla.org thought about the press coverage consequences of an inappropriate RC1 label?"