In search of a new name for Puppet Community

update: We’ve settled on the name Vox Pupuli. It’s a play on the Latin “vox populi”, voice of the people, but in our case ends up meaning “voice of the puppets”.

As quite a few of you know at PuppetConf 2014 we started a community collaboration effort on the maintenance of modules and tooling in the Puppet ecosystem. In our enthusiasm we baptised it Puppet Community.

20/20 hindsight

The term Puppet Community (puppet-community) clashes in all kinds of ways with just the community around Puppet, the Puppet community. I’m sure you can see where I am going with this. As such we’ve started to refer to this as the “Puppet Community effort” but that doesn’t help much to clear up the constant confusion.

Because of what we’re doing with the Puppet Community effort we’ve sunk some money into the project. Some have bought our domain and services from Cloudflare, others maintain our CI on their own hardware/budget. Though this is how this usually starts it’s not fair on those members and not sustainable either. It also poses the question of what happens when one of us goes AWOL and suddenly we can’t get access to our DNS configuration panel anymore.

In order to be able to accept donations (which some companies have expressed interest in doing), for copyright assignment purposes and to be able to centralise the (access) control of our assets we need a legal entity or legal person to hold these assets and so forth.

However, Puppetlabs owns a trademark around the use of the term ‘puppet’ in this space. This means that if we were to register a legal entity with the name ‘puppet’ in it we would be infringing on their trademark. Puppetlabs being the company that they are have already indicated that they would grant us a trademark exception. If the ownership of Puppetlabs ever transfered that trademark exception could be rescinded for no reason at all putting us in a bind. As such we need to rename this collective and it can’t be marionette collective either because guess who own a trademark on that one too?

A confusion that has arisen as a consequence of this is “but then can we even use the name puppet anywhere, like in our repository module names or on the Forge.” Yes we can. Just registering a username on a forum that contains the word ‘puppet’ or mentioning it in a blog or a repository name does not consist of a trademark infringement. You can use the world Coca-Cola just fine but watch what happens if you try to register a legal entity with the name Coca-Cola in it, or Ubuntu, or Apache.

Note: I am not a lawyer so the previous paragraph might not be a 100% accurate but it seems to pretty much boil down to this.

Next steps

So, we need to find a new name, and we need your help in doing so because frankly we’re just out of ideas. All the obvious fun ones are too close to puppet or marionette collective to keep us “safe”.

Think along the lines of what Fedora is to Red Hat and add your suggestion here We’ll have a vote on them once we’ve collected a bunch of them.

Thank you to everyone who has participated in this effort so far. It’s been heartwarming and incredibly encouraging to see how this has all taken off and the support we’ve gotten from everyone, including Puppetlabs. We’re off to new heights as a community but we need a better name for this merry bunch of Puppeteers.