Re: Disappointment about the appearance of our CLT booth

From: Andreas Tille <>
Date: Mon, 23 Mar 2009 09:15:06 +0100 (CET)

On Mon, 23 Mar 2009, Julien BLACHE wrote:

> Not everybody will come forward and make the first step, because
> they're shy, don't know their stuff and are afraid of asking something
> stupid or bothering you, because they know you're an expert and
> they're not, etc, etc.

That's why I wrote that I actively speak to people who were coming
close to the booth. Anything wrong with this approach?

> You shouldn't be sitting on a booth, unless you're doing a demo (and
> your audience is sitting next to you); it's uncomfortable for your
> visitors.

Says who? Yes I have heard this opinion and I'd happily discuss this
issue. I decided that interupting my work *because* a visitor enters
the booth and ask whether I might help might be better. As Jan said
in his mail I did not really made the impression as if I would ignore
people because I was hacking.

> And then they go away because, obviously, you have better things to do
> than talking to them.

I asked them about there issues before they were able to go away.

> The answer to "I'm just looking" is "Do you know our Project?"

Well, my wife for instance is afraid entering an empty shop because
he is afraid of instantly beeing interviewed by the shop assistant. There
are people who really only want to have a look. I also hate those
peoples at fairs where you aren't able to pass a booth without finding
an excuse why you only want to have a quick look and than pass by.

Please trust me that I try to find out whether somebody wants to get
more information or not. And you are perfectly welcome to come to
Chemnitz next year and observe whether we do it right or wrong.

> and then you can have a quick chat about Debian, free
> software, and things get interesting. Or they're really not interested
> and both of you leave it at that.

Yes, that's exactly what we did.

> I've read it all, twice, before replying the first time, because I
> wanted to be sure that the two lines I was quoting were summing it up
> as good as I felt they did.

When I reread my mail and your reply to it I've thought that exactly
these two lines were not the best because they are a to short and thus
missleading about what I tried to say and that they are written in a
tenor I should have prevented to use.

> You also wrote, about selling tshirts, that you are a computer
> expert. While this is true without a doubt, on an exhibition we are
> not computer experts. We are members of the Debian Project, and that's
> very different. We happen to be computer experts, too, but that's not
> the primary reason why we're here.

Well, if I try to solve a problem with a visitor and people are
interupting me by handing over T-Shirts, exchanging non fitting sizes
handling money and I always have to keep an eye at the cashbox instead
of beeing able to fully concentrate to the visitors problem. So my
opinion is that it is more important to concentrate on things I'm good
in and this is solving computer problems and not selling T-Shirts
(which is as I said done at other places perfectly fine). I'm fine
if somebody volunteers to care exclusively for the T-Shirts at a booth
and he gets a separate corner of the booth.

> You are also reluctant to giving away CDs if you don't feel the person
> is interested enough. While it's obviously OK not to give away CDs and
> other stuff to people that just collect it and go from booth to booth
> for that purpose, it can be a bit rude to test the motivation past
> that point.

As obove you are wild guessing about my handling of visitors. I do
not think that I crossed the borderline of rudeness. We as the Debian
team are in a good situation: Our income does not depend directly
from the number of Debian installations all over the world. So we are
free to educate people about Free Software without a real need to
push our product on them. IMHO this leaves some space to be serios
to the user. For instance I advise visitors always to use "his best
friend / near sitting colleague" distribution. For an newcomer it
is possibly much better to use the distribution were he might get
direct help from a person close by than just fighting on its own.

> Bottom line is, I think I wouldn't be comfortable either as a visitor
> on your booth or as a fellow DD on the booth.

Why not joining Chemnitzer Linuxtage next year and test whether you
are thinking right here? I doubt that you are able to draw this
conclusion out of this thread.

> But then I'm for the "professional booth" thing and I've been trying
> hard to do just that.
> (In case there's any doubt, no finger pointing intended)

I don't take it personal. I just wanted to trigger a discussion and
was aware that it will be conflicting. My thesis was that the style
of booth presentation depends from the event and there is no rule of
thumb. We should not blindly copy what professional fairs are defining
as a standard - especially if the event is not primarily targeting
at professionals. I perfectly agree that the style of presentation
would not work for instance at Cebit or LinuxTag Berlin. But especially
if we rather talk about a more community related event than about
attracting decision makers I was not able to find a point against my
arguing in your postings:

Kind regards


To UNSUBSCRIBE, email to
with a subject of "unsubscribe". Trouble? Contact
Received on Mon Mar 23 2009 - 09:15:50 CET

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0 : Mon Mar 23 2009 - 09:15:50 CET