IBPhoenix Calls For More Focussed and Courteous Protest Campaign

Thursday April 17th, 2003

IBPhoenix, the FirebirdSQL Foundation sponsor who yesterday called for a mass forum posting and emailing campaign in opposition of Phoenix's renaming to Firebird, have reconsidered the scale of their protest. In an update posted on the IBPhoenix front page, the group says: "Yesterday, your voice was heard on their forums and in broadly targetted email. We've got their attention. Now, we should make our argument, simply, cogently, and with the respect owed by one open source group to another."

In a new article published today, Firebird Admin Ann Harrison asks fellow members of the Firebird database community to "stop broadcasting our dismay widely and focus instead on those people who can actually affect the decision." Adding that "the point is not to smother them in accuratory (sic) or derogatory messages", Harrison calls for future emails to be sent only to Mitchell Baker,'s Chief Lizard Wrangler, and Asa Dotzler, who announced Phoenix's new name on Monday.

The statement also includes a plea for civility: "When writing to the Mozilla forum or MozillaZine, use the same courtesy we use with each other in our discussions. Better yet, use the courtesy that we often use when we haven't forgotten ourselves and jumped on a soap-box." As one of the sites affected by this protest, we at MozillaZine welcome this move as a step in the right direction.

Update! Benman writes: "Slashdot has an article on the Mozilla Firebird name debate."

Another Update! The Firebird database project's front page article in protest of the renaming has been updated to remove the list of Mozilla developers' contact details. The announcement now requests that the Firebird database community only post to their own Firebird-general mailing list (which was known as IBDI until it was renamed on Wednesday). IBPhoenix have also modified their original statement to purge many Mozilla email addresses.

#125 Re: Firebird is already taken.

by sab39

Monday April 21st, 2003 2:40 PM

You are replying to this message

I don't understand what you're suggesting.

Surely if mozilla is going to be split up into standalone parts, one of which is "firebird", then the *last* thing you want is to have to *always* stick the word "mozilla" in front of it to disambiguate.

For the same reason that I don't say "mozilla chatzilla" to refer to my IRC client of choice, and why I find it annoying to refer to "mozilla mailnews" or "mozilla browser" to refer to my mail client and browser. I'd much rather refer to just "chatzilla", "thunderbird", and "firebird". Especially when these are distributed as standalone packages and not one monolithic source tarball.

I don't say "KDE Konqueror" or "OpenOffice OpenWriter" or "Microsoft Internet Explorer" (usually) or "Sun Java". Why force me to use an unnatural way of speaking when I want to refer to Mozilla's browser?

My problem with firebird isn't to do with trademarks or the theory that it will confuse users of either product. My problem is that it creates a naming conflict in my own brain and forces me to always have to be explicit about which one I mean, whether in my own thoughts or when I'm talking or writing to others. And it's *not* always obvious from context: I write database-driven server-side web applications, and if I'm asking in a public forum about a particular problem I'm having and they say "are you using Firebird?", the question could legitimately refer to either product. I can certainly think of situations where it's not obvious whether a problem is on the server or client side (eg if the page load simply hangs on a particular operation). I don't use either of those products for development now, but I do use mozilla as my primary browser and I guess I'll be moving to "firebird" when it becomes the main recommendation of the mozilla project, and it's not inconceivable that I'd move to an open source database in the future.

I'm not saying Mozilla doesn't have a legal right to use the name. I'm not even saying that Mozilla doesn't have a moral "right" to use the name, although I think that's questionable, and I'd hoped when the name was first mentioned that the existence of a conflict would cause Mozilla developers to take the common sense approach of just picking another name. I just think that the Mozilla project should be more courteous to another open source project and take community feelings into consideration when picking a name. That's all.

(As I said before, I have a longtime involvement with mozilla and some code checked into it, and have never even USED the FireBird database. So my natural bias goes towards Mozilla, not the other firebird project. Historically I've usually watched (and occasionally, by advocacy, helped) mozilla make the "right" decisions, technically, ethically, and otherwise. I'm just disappointed that this time they appear not to be doing so, and I hope they'll still change their minds.)