Christopher Blizzard of mozilla.org Speaks on the Firebird Naming Conflict
Wednesday May 14th, 2003
Last week, CNET News.com published another report on the Firebird naming conflict. Claiming that the application of the Mozilla branding guidelines is tantamount to a back down on the part of mozilla.org, the article credits Jonathan Walther with resolving the disagreement. Walther was asked to mediate by Ann Harrison, one of the administrators of the Firebird database project. The article also reiterates the database project's claims of legal righteousness, which have since been challenged by Mitchell Baker. The open-source advocacy magazine Open has also printed an article about the dispute, featuring interviews with Harrison and Walther. The piece appears to fully support the position of the Firebird database project and lavishes praise on Walther. Neither article contains any statements from mozilla.org.
More recently, the Australian LinuxWorld also awarded victory to the Firebird database project. While the article is decidedly in favour of the database group, it does at least quote sixteen words from mozilla.org's Christopher Blizzard (compared to 478 from representatives of the Firebird database community). The report makes several bizzare statements (including a claim that MozillaZine is run by Asa Dotzler), mentions an open letter allegedly sent by Walther to Harrison and MozillaZine (we've never seen it) and finishes off with an advert for the next week's Firebird database conference. It looks like you'll have to go to sites like MozillaNews if you want to read any remotely pro-Mozilla coverage. Thanks to everyone who sent us links to articles.
We at MozillaZine weren't satisfied with the rather one-sided reporting from the mainstream tech news sites, so we got in touch with mozilla.org to find out their real position. As a result, we're pleased to present an exclusive interview with Christopher Blizzard, the Red Hat employee and mozilla.org staff member who authored the Mozilla branding guidelines.
Update! LWN.net have a report on the interview. The first reader comment on their article is from Jonathan Walther. It makes it very clear where he stands on the issue.
#12 Re: Easy to start a dispute...
Wednesday May 14th, 2003 12:45 PM
You are replying to this message
"It is easy to start a dispute but hard to end it" and "Never start a dispute unless you have a plan for ending it before it begins".
Mozilla didn't start the dispute, it was FirebirdSQL that did. Mozilla thought it was innocent doing the name change, it wasn't until FirebirdSQL started mailbombing did Mozilla realize there was a problem.
Mozilla definitely could of done a better job with press releases and such. I think all Mozilla users can testify to that, since there always seems to be confusion about an announcement. The arrogance you speak of I believe resulted from the mail bombing, which pretty much killed any efforts by either party to negotate since the particular e-mails that were seeking negotation were lost in the noise.
A quote from the interview: " If I remember correctly, they went from zero to mail bombing in less than 60 seconds. I don't remember there being very many, if any, cordial messages at the beginning and those were quickly lost in the cacophony of form letters and unreasonable demands. It's interesting to point out that our biggest problem at the beginning was telling who was in charge over there. We certainly couldn't tell from the incoming email. I would also flip that question on its head. Would mozilla.org have responded better if they hadn't engaged in a mail bombing campaign? I know we would have. But what's done is done."
Negotation: "Did any negotiations with the Firebird database community take place, officially or otherwise? Sure, there has been some official back and forth, mostly between Mitchell and some of the database folks."
As for admiting a mistake, Chris said he wasn't sure if the naming was a good idea, but it was a learning experience. We all learn from our past mistakes, so hopefully in the future any product names will go under a better review processes.
I my dealings with the people at Mozilla.org, they are a class act during disputes and problems. But as Chris Blizzard says, hindsight is 20/20.