[Haskell-cafe] A Mascot

Gábor Lehel illissius at gmail.com
Tue Nov 22 14:12:48 CET 2011

On Tue, Nov 22, 2011 at 6:22 AM, Jeremy Shaw <jeremy at n-heptane.com> wrote:
> I think the artwork is nice, but I am not sure that a lamb is an
> appropriate mascot for Haskell.
> A mascot is supposed to represent characteristics, emotions, or
> desires that a particular group of people aspire to have, be like,
> etc. To outsiders, it provides a quick way to see if it might be a
> group they would like to belong to, and for insiders, it helps
> strengthen the bond and group identity by reminding them what they
> stand for.
> So far, the only justification I have noticed for why a lamb would
> represent Haskell users is that there is a pun about lambda's -- which
> only makes sense if you know English. Sheep are generally thought of
> as:
>  - weak and needing protection
>  - easily lead astray
>  - being lead to the slaughter
>  - dumb and easily lost
> Not sure those are traits that Haskeller's generally aspire to have.
> I think Haskeller's like Haskell because it is:
>  - elegant
>  - sophisticated
>  - reliable
>  - robust
> Haskeller's tend to be people who are curious. Pioneers who are
> willing to go off the beaten path in search of something better.
> People who are willing to evaluate something based on its merits
> rather than the mere approval of the mainstream. People who aspire to
> create elegant, beautiful code. People looking to better their skills,
> even if they don't use Haskell for most of their coding. And there is
> definitely a pragmatic aspect. Part of the appeal of Haskell is that
> it can actually be used for many real world applications and can often
> do the job better. The fact that you can use it to deliver more
> reliable and robust code in less time, is a very real and tangible
> benefit.
> Here are some suggestions of my own. I am not really excited about any
> of them either -- but they give some examples of how I think a mascot
> might work:
>  - owl: traditionally thought of as 'wise'. Known for their keen
> (in)sight. Of course, some cultures believe they are a bad omen and a
> sign of impending death..
>  - honey badger - can't beat that for 'robust' and 'fearless',
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPKlryXwmXk
>  - james bond - he's sophisticated, reliable, and he does it with
> 'class'. hahah, more silly puns :p Of course, he is also not public
> domain :) Plus, it is too male oriented.
> In summary, a mascot is supposed to elicit an emotional response from
> people and help create a bond. To do that, it needs to provide
> emotional leadership and say that, "if you use Haskell, you can be
> like X". That doesn't it mean it can't be cute. People do tend to bond
> easily to cute things (like kittens!). But I don't think cute is
> enough. I also don't think that representing 'features' of Haskell,
> like 'laziness' or 'higher order' is the right core appeal either.
> That is too mental -- not enough emotion. Those things can, of course,
> be represented in the depiction of the mascot. Nothing wrong with
> cleverly hiding lamba's and _|_ in the picture. But, for example,
> saying that Haskell is 'lazy' so we should pick a sloth, is not really
> a good choice, IMO.
> - jeremy

I disagree. I think cuteness is very nearly enough by its own. Tux has
been an incredibly successful mascot - I can't think of any other
technology-related (non-game) mascot who even comes close. What
positive qualities does he convey, apart from being cute? Not many.
He's fat and happy. That's good - it's a positive association and it
attracts people. The drawings of Lamb Da so far have tended more
towards "cheerful and happy", and I think that's great; it has the
same qualities. I think it works.

I feel like getting stuck up on requiring the mascot to be
sophisticated and non-mainstream and elegant and intelligent would
just send the signal that we're stuck up. (And, I suppose, that there
might be a kernel of truth there, but it's not a positive.)

I do agree completely that focusing on specific features like laziness
or what have you is the wrong path, and that they are more appropriate
as an 'easter egg' sort of thing.

And all of that said, I would also submit that there's a big
difference in perception between "lamb" and "sheep": Sheep, in common
perception, are big and docile and stupid, whereas lambs are mainly
just cute and adorable.

I wasn't initially thrilled with the idea - a mascot? really? why? -
but over the course of this discussion I've grown fond of Lamb Da.
She's cute!

(The pun is a very nice plus, and a great excuse. Sure, it's English,
but lambs are cute in any language, and Haskell itself, when it uses
language, is English. I don't think it's a huge deal.)

> On Tue, Nov 15, 2011 at 7:01 PM, heathmatlock <heathmatlock at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I liked Go's mascot, and I figure it couldn't hurt to have our own. I spent
>> the past hour making this:
>> http://i.imgur.com/Mib6Q.png
>> What do you think?
>> --
>> Heath Matlock
>> +1 256 274 4225
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