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Google is sending out blankets to open-source developers (slashdot.org)
46 points by ot on May 3, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 58 comments

I got an email like this a couple of years ago -- apparently someone liked my work on bsdiff. 175 USD of stuff from the Google Store plus a gift; in my case, the gift turned out to be a modular pocket knife (http://www.quirky.com/products/35). (Oh, and it had "Google <3s your work" printed on it -- so it wasn't just a left-over.)

I think it's great that Google has a program for recognizing open source developers; that said, they seem to be going a bit far afield with their "give people something cool they might not have yet". I think they'd do better to send people Android phones -- at least that is something people would be more likely to use.

To be fair: Not everyone lives in silicon valley. Some of us have winters to contend with. I have blankets everywhere, because I'm not about to pay the required energy bill to keep my house balmy.

I suspect that nearly everybody already has a blanket or two unless they live in Borneo or the like. It's a little like Google giving out food. A blanket is a basic necessity and aside from destitute street bums, people generally already have enough. I'm wondering if Google is subtly suggesting that open source devs can't pay their own bills?

Then again, it's also a little like Google giving out t-shirts. Maybe they're assuming that everybody could have one more?

Well, when you have blankets sitting out on couches and the like all the time, at some point they become part of the decore. So even tho I have many blankets, I really would be OK with another. Additionally the ones that get used get worn out, dirty, or even boring (like tshirts) so a rotation is nice.

My perspective comes from the corporate world.

On the one hand, it's nice to be acknowledged for work done. On the other... In my more recent full-time corporate gigs, I encountered various "reward" programs.

For example, one was for 5 years' service. The "reward" consisted of an email notification containing a link to an external web site and some authentication method, along with so many "points" of credit based on the circumstance. I could pick any item whose point count did not exceed my allocation. I think I ended up with a toaster (that's what 5 years service is worth, apparently, and since my current toaster toasted unevenly, my choice was made).

My point? This "acknowledgment" was outsourced to a firm that does this for a living. With rewards that are fairly cheesy and/or that have inflated "values" assigned to them. It felt more like an "anti-acknowledgement".

My firm either sent a list (in Excel, perhaps -- hah!) of events and corresponding email addresses, or let the third party troll some HR database for same. I'm sure that they paid some fee based upon headcount and/or events.

The third party sent your selection to fulfillment outfit (i.e. warehouse) that mailed you your selection. If your manager was not particularly paying attention, the whole thing could and did happen without their participation, at all.

So... Google appears to be assigning somewhat larger "values" to some of these rewards, and to be doing them externally. And so, they are also actively reaching out to these external contacts.

On the other hand, at a glance it has the same sort of feel. Assigning "values" (perhaps/likely at some set of pre-determined levels) in conjunction with some third party who's been contracted for fulfillment. And a typically bland and... "corporate" set of reward items.

I agree with the other commenter here who suggested just sending them a phone (or tablet?). That would seem to be more "Googlish" to me and, for all that it might represent less "choice", might represent more value from the perspective of the recipient. For those who don't need it, we almost always have friends who could use one. Sort of in line with the "sharing" perspective under which many of the external contributions that aided Google were made, in the first time.

TL;DR: I would suggest keeping the gifts more "Googlish" (branded random generic "stuff" doesn't count) and avoiding scenarios akin to my 5 year anniversary (and a few others I could mention).


P.S. I'll add that I am a formally acknowledged (publicly listed) external contributor to Google, although I didn't receive anything for it. If someone had offered, and cash weren't on the table, a phone or tablet would have been nice. If I didn't need it, I would have had several family and friends to choose from in passing it on. And -- a "free" gift from Google (via me) would have been good marketing to them, as well.

So, I'm just some random guy with his thoughts, here. But... again, stay "Google" and don't go all "corporate" (e.g. "corporate rewards and fulfillment).

(Some parts of) Amazon used to do a similar thing for new hires - use the recommendations system to make up a personalised "book bomb". Of course recs is pretty good at "give people something cool they might not have yet" but sometimes it did err on the side of quirk (I would never have bought silicone oven mitts but they actually turned out to be a big hit)

And there's some great ideas on Quirky - I wish I'd thought of Digits (http://www.quirky.com/products/37) amongst others.

I'm not sure if spreading android like fertilizer to techy users that are likely to have them already is environmentally defensible.

Some people seem to dislike the blankets.

Google (or anyone, I guess) could set up a donation system so these blankets end up somewhere useful, rather than just sitting in a cupboard.

I don't know why people don't like blankets. I freakin' love blankets.

No sleeves.

What's wrong with getting a blanket from Google? (along with $175, actually) We always keep one in our living room, handy for occasional dozing on the couch. You can give one to a homeless guy and he will be thankful for it. After the earthquake in 1999 here in my hometown in Turkey, we received thousands of them from all around the world (got one from Greece and was thankful for it). Cats love them, you can use one for the floor to make a winter home for street cats... etc.

How could Google e so callous as to reward people for their contributions. I realize polyester is a fabric of the devil, but I don't think a google is trying to convert anybody to the church of satan.

Is it so hard to say "thanks" for an unexpected gift?

(And to the mods, please remove the [sic]. Yes, it's in the original, but it's wrong and will certainly lead to clicks from people trying to figure out what was really written.)

I think the appropriate correction at this point would be

> Google is sending out blankets [sic[sic]] to open-source developers

> and will certainly lead to clicks from people trying to figure out what was really written.

raises hand, looks sheepish I couldn't figure out what word was close to "blankets".

Me too. blanket... blanks... blankety...? banker.. grah.

Well, Actually I don't think that's the intention here.

Though I DID immediately think of this when I read the story title: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_American_disease_and_epi...

Giving out blankets has a nasty connotation.

Why is there a "[sic]" in the title? After reading the post on Slashdot, I have the impression that we are talking about actual blankets. So the word is correctly spelled.

[sic] isn't used exclusively for spelling mistakes -- it means "thus was it written", aka. "this looks wrong, but it really isn't".

In this case, I think the intention is to make explicit that yes, they really are sending blankets.

Regardless, it's an unnecessary qualifier. Most readers here can take the leap of faith that yes, the title was written correctly, as they wait about 2 seconds for the link to load. Who cares, it's just a title, but all things being equal it should be removed.

It's pretty non-standard to use [sic] when it's not a quote.

So it's being used as a substitute for the well-worn "literally." When did everyone become so incredulous?

The [sic] is in the original title on the /. submission, it was the author to use it. I think he meant "you read right, blankets".

So in other words, on HN the title should be "Google is sending out blankets [sic] [sic] to open-source developers"

The problem with quoting text that has a [sic] is a fun one.

I researched this last time the topic came up on HN. Based on some investigation in Google Books, what books actually do when quoting text containing [sic] is use a footnote: "blah blah [sic] blah"¹

¹[sic] in original.

(And keep in mind that [sic] is not shorthand for "ha ha you're stupid" even though that's how it usually gets used on the Internet.)

Just attach another "[sic]" and you are good.

Yes, that way madness lies.

nest them: [sic[sic]]

Glad I'm not alone. Maybe there's a technical misuse of grammar in there somewhere and the poster is being pedantic? Whatever the issue, I don't see it either.

I assume it's based upon the idea of sending plague-ridden blankets. The sic being there to denote that they are actually sending blankets; it's not a metaphor. That said, it's not a great usage.

Suspect it's a joke, intended to be read as "(yes, really, blankets)"

Because they average person would assume "blankets" is a typo, because it is such a stupid gift.

I've gotten this reward from Google devs twice now. First time it was tricky to find some things on the Google store: But I managed to get myself a nice medium-weight Google jacket and a Google cutting board (!). The second time was even trickier, I already had everything I wanted. I ended up getting my girlfriend a Google jacket as well - thankfully she liked it! Amusingly we get asked all the time if we work at Google, because of the jackets, which is not true. I considered lying to the strangers that asked but reconsidered and went with "I have a friend that works there and he got me the jacket." I've even had one lady on the subway start asking me questions about the Google search engine, unprompted. Tech-branded outerwear definitely results in some weird conversations.

I should mention, weird Google loot not withstanding, that I think this program is awesome. Giving Google devs an outlet for giving something back to the Open Source devs that they like is really appreciated. Obviously financial contributions are even better but that can be logistically tricky and this seems like an easy middle-ground.

It's worth recognizing that the Google Open Source Programs office absolutely makes financial contributions to open source projects as well!

(I've been a recipient of both the individual award, and projects I've worked on have been recipients of grants from the OSPO).

My take on it is that Google is trying to advertise a well-paid fulltime position in their offices: "So you're an Open Source Dev? Surely you must be poor, thus: homeless, thus: here, have a blanket."

According to this post on Slashdot, the open-source developer got "$175 to spend on the Google store" and a blanket, not just a blanket.

In an office at the HR department at Google.

The director: Someone tell me what we are going to do with the 3 thousand extra blankets we acquired for our 2012 employee bonus program?

The smart guy: Why not give them to those developers who write open source software and give them for free? Those poor people must need blankets!

People start to stand up and clap, slowly and firm.

They might be older than that. I used to participate in Google Answers (remember that?) circa 2002-2003 or so and even got certified to answer questions for cash. I got a polyester blanket embroidered with the Google logo as a christmas present for no reason.

So what's wrong with giving out blankets? I don't quite get it. It's an odd gift, but I don't see how it can be worth a polemic.

They are disease-infected, I presume.

"I say, 'You should blanket me' or 'you should blanket her', meaning like a blanket is a blessing. It's a way of showing love and caring." --Michael Jackson

Why can't this be a genuine desire from Google to send a feeling of warmth to open source developers?

I was honestly expecting an extended Jeffrey Amherst/smallpox infected blankets metaphor here.

I was baffled by the title, after some consideration I decided it was probably a metaphor relating to the diseased blankets given to native indians and that google was offering to help open source efforts while covertly killing them.

After reading and discovering that it was literally just blankets I am as baffled as before.

Doesn't seem like a very "Google" thing to do, though.

Blankets? Makes me think of a certain incident where blankets that were possibly contaminated with smallpox were given to Native Americans during the siege of Fort Pitt. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pontiac%27s_Rebellion#Siege_of_...

Not insinuating that Google is trying to kill you, it was just the first thing I thought of.

Gifting blankets... This sounds familiar. So it has begun. The war against open source. Blankets laden with smallpox.

Your work probably made someone sleep better, so now they want to offer you the same in return.

Is this a legal technique to avoid Google having to pay for open source software in any way? Does acceptance of the blanket mean anything legally?

It's a bribe !!! ;) seriously , no string attached whatsoever , it is a gift and that's great.

My first impression was that this was some joke and that Google think open source developers are poor and need help keeping warm at night.

I think the blankets mean that Google wants you to feel warm & fuzzy about what you're doing.

Why is there nobody explaining the reason to send some nearly random people blankets?

Not random. To open-source developers. The Google <3 open-source. To say thanks. A blanket is a gift. A gift says thank you. So does $175. Got it?


Looks like an open and shut case of Google being hilariously evil again. What's going to happen when they run out of blankets, huh? Are they are going to shut that down like Reader? I just don't know who to trust anymore.

Don't open the ones from Oracle, they have smallpox.

Oracle don't send gifts. Only lawyers.

Not cool. I heard about this program of awarding bonuses to devs. Turns out is was actually just marketing schwag store credit? Evil.

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