Thursday, February 10, 2005

Save the FreeBSD Mascot and Create a Logo

I learned of the furor over the upcoming FreeBSD logo contest by reading the recent Slashdot thread bearing the unfortunate title "FreeBSD Announces Contest To Replace Daemon Logo." There is no replacement going on. As I've written previously, FreeBSD has no logo. FreeBSD has a mascot, "Beastie" the daemon. Core team member Robert Watson has affirmed this, and I believe the forthcoming announcement at FreeBSD logo contest willl make this point crystal clear. The new contest is designing a logo to complement the Beastie mascot, not replace or remove him.

A few people (here, here, and here) demonstrate an understanding of the difference between a logo and a mascot and have been brave enough to speak up.

Unfortunately, the FUD is already flying. Kon Wilms started the Help Save the FreeBSD Mascot online petition and has enjoyed a healthy number of sign-ups. I've started a Save the FreeBSD Mascot and Create a Logo petition to counter Mr. Wilms' effort. I'm not sure if it will be able to offset his call to "send a message to the FreeBSD Project administrators that they keep our mascot," even when we know the mascot will not change. According to the PetitionOnline FAQ, I might not see my petition posted until tomorrow or later.

My petition text says the following:

"The FreeBSD Project will soon officially release details of a contest to design the group's first-ever logo:

FreeBSD does not currently have a logo; it only has a mascot, the popular "daemon" named Beastie.

The logo will complement -- not replace or remove -- the existing "Beastie" FreeBSD mascot. Further, having a logo independent of the mascot will allow wider, unencumbered promotion of FreeBSD. The Beastie creator, Marshall Kirk McKusick, asserts copyright over the BSD Daemon:

This petition calls on FreeBSD users to express their support for the creation of an official FreeBSD logo. We make this call to counter the "Help Save the FreeBSD Mascot" petition, which has confused users by implying that they need to "send a message to the FreeBSD Project administrators that they keep our mascot." People signing that petition are being mislead. They rightly fear the removal of Beastie the mascot -- which won't happen -- but are sending the wrong message.

Beastie fans have nothing to fear! By signing this petition, you show the FreeBSD Project your support for the FreeBSD logo contest and recognize Beastie is not going to disappear."

When the petition is active, I'll update this site with a link to it.


Thurston said...

Richard, maybe you should not be so quick to criticize the petition and/or jump to conclusions.

Read the email/statement that started this carefully - it is ambiguous and leading to say the least. The FreeBSD logo has always been 'FreeBSD' + beastie plastered on the homepage, distro CDs, posters, SWAG, whatever. Be that official or not, it doesn't matter -- it's what people associate the 'product' with.

Beastie needs to stay a part of that logo. And yes the petition serves its intended purpose, namely - 1. the users want Beastie in the logo and 2. they could care less about being politically correct.

Indeed the current 'logo candidates' are a reworking of the FreeBSD typeface combined with a reworking (dumbing-down more like) of the mascot. So, same difference, just more politically correct.

Its not FUD if 2000+ people read a statement and come to the same conclusion that I did.


Richard Bejtlich said...

Hi Kon,

You are certainly entitled to your opinion, as are the people who are signing your petition. Unfortunately, a good number of those signers believe that the FreeBSD project intends to remove Beastie as the mascot, thanks to your request to "send a message to the FreeBSD Project administrators that they keep our mascot."

You spread more FUD by saying blaming the "whims of a few selfish people with vested religious interests." Where is your proof?

People who want to associate Beastie with FreeBSD will still be able to do so. There is no replacement occurring. There is an addition taking place -- the creation of a logo to complement the Beastie mascot. People will have a choice to promote FreeBSD with any combination of the following:

1. FreeBSD's new logo
2. FreeBSD's old mascot
3. FreeBSD's new logo and old mascot

How is this bad, or why does it require you to "Help Save the FreeBSD Mascot?"

"2000+ people" can be easily misinformed if they do not pay attention to what is happening.

alias420 said...

Hi Richard,

Here's the original announcement (no googlecache, so I found someone else's reprint of it):
"Historically, the FreeBSD Project have used a characterized daemon as a mascot, and displayed it on our web site with the text "FreeBSD" as our logo. This character sometimes treated with misinterpreted in the religious and cultural context.

And this daemon character seems cute from somebody's point of view, but somebody may think which does not suit for the professional products to indicate that are using the FreeBSD inside.

So, we decide to call for a new logo design which is identifiable as the Project's logo, can be used on the professional products, and is very cool :-)"

I'd call that pretty pre-emptive and politically correct.

Here's the current one (its been changed - gee I wonder why):

Here's what Rob Watson wrote after the fact:

"- The announcement text was an early draft, and the contest hasn't been announced yet.
- One of the immediate pieces of feedback we got was that we need to make it more clear: this is not about replacing the beastie!
- We're looking to create a new logo that can be used with the Beastie, or by itself. One of the specific concerns we have is that the daemon renders poorly in print using one-color, two-color, etc, and we need a vector logo, not just a mascot. Another was finding a logo that could be conveniently and easily printed by vendors on packaging for products that support FreeBSD. Not all vendors are willing to stick a Daemon on their packaging!
- We anticipate releasing the real announcement in the near future, at the URL. When it's ready, we'll send out e-mail to freebsd-announce, and we'll drop you a direct e-mail.
- Once again we've been reminded of an important lesson: don't put something on the web site if it's not ready to be seen. After at least three premature postings of FreeBSD releases on slashdot due to files starting to appear on the FTP mirrors even though the announcement hadn't been sent, you'd think we'd have learned."

I'd say this is a issue of someone shooting from the hip too quickly and not realizing that FBSD users take this seriously.

Also, as I said -
1. "The FreeBSD Project recently announced a public competition to design a new Project logo."
2. "The goal of this petition is to collect enough votes to send a message to the FreeBSD Project administrators that they keep our mascot -- modernize the image, change it, update it, but do not replace it.".

Nuf said! Hopefully they listen and pay attention, and make the mascot an integral part of the 'new logo'.


Richard Bejtlich said...


The draft announcement you reproduce does not reflect the FreeBSD Core team's position. It was a draft written by a non-native English speaker, e.g. "And this daemon character seems cute from somebody's point of view, but somebody may think which does not suit for the professional products to indicate that are using the FreeBSD inside." This is clearly a raw document, written by one person, that was not meant to be publicized as representing the Core team's position. You are tilting at windmills.

The only official word on the subject is on the current site: "This is the future site for the FreeBSD logo competition which is meant to create a new logo for the FreeBSD Project to supplement the current Beastie mascot." (emphasis added) In plain English: Beastie does not need to be "saved" since he's not going anywhere.

After reading most of the postings to freebsd-advocacy and elsewhere, it is clear that your position, that of your petition signers, and that of other "save Beastie!" advocates is this: the only symbol you want to associate with FreeBSD is Beastie. You don't care about any of the arguments regarding copyright, difficulty of reproduction, political or religious sensitivities, sharing of the mascot with other projects, professionalism, etc. You don't care about the difference between a logo and a mascot, and you don't care that the Core team has said no one is trying to remove Beastie's association with FreeBSD. You don't want to support giving FreeBSD users an alternative graphical means to represent the project, period.

There is no place to take this discussion. I will delete all future replies. Please take your arguments to freebsd-advocacy.