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Sandals and Ponytails Behind Slow Linux Adoption 948

Eric Giguere writes "CNet is reporting that according to former Massachusetts CIO Peter Quinn 'the lax dress code of the open-source community is one of the reasons behind the software's slow uptake in commercial environments.' In particular, Quinn blames the 'sandal and ponytail set' for sluggish adoption of Linux by businesses and governments." From the article: "Quinn, who faced plenty of scrutiny over his support of the OpenDocument standards-based office document format, said proponents of open source in government faced formidable opposition from vested interests if they went public."
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Sandals and Ponytails Behind Slow Linux Adoption

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  • Yeah... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by irimi_00 ( 962766 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @06:02PM (#15013681)
    Its all about class and swagger.
    • Re:Yeah... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by utlemming ( 654269 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @07:12PM (#15014260) Homepage
      Not so much about class and swagger as professionalism.

      How many Slashdotters have tried to implement Open Source on an enterprise level? I have, and to be honest, it is a hell of a lot of work. Open Source is not user friendly when you have to start working off the desktop. KDE and Gnome make the desktop easy, but when you start playing with command-line stuff, things get hairy. Open Source will save acquistan(sp?) costs, but it won't save on labor.

      What I can see is if a business which has a culture of suits and ties contracts with a company to provide open source solutions, has support people which are wearing sandals and jeans, then, yes, I think there will be a problem. Why would an organization that has suits have a bunched of sandeled-footed and pony-tailed people walking around their offices? Being presentable is half the equation. Knowing your stuff is the other half. If you know a lot, but you are unpresentable, unbathed, unshaven and slovenly, then no one will accept your solution. I learned this working in a retail shop. On a number of occassions, I had to come from something or go to something after work and I would be in a suit. I discovered that it is far easier to sell something when your in a suit (mind you I was a manager at the time). Your dress goes along way for creditability.

      You can call it prejudices or whatever. But the fact remains that business has a culture. And being sucessful to your customers means dressing and playing a part of that culture. You have to sell yourself to make yourself sucessful.
      • Re:Yeah... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Lord Kano ( 13027 )
        I discovered that it is far easier to sell something when your in a suit (mind you I was a manager at the time). Your dress goes along way for creditability.

        Only if that's all you have to offer. Being a successful salesman requires that you be flexible enough to sell your wares to the customer in front of you.

        I've done both retail AND business sales. I was able to put together deals while wearing black leather work boots, a pony tail AND a full beard. If you can show a customer why product X is better than
  • chicken or egg (Score:5, Insightful)

    by yagu ( 721525 ) * <> on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @06:02PM (#15013682) Journal

    Eventually I think linux and OSS will take hold. I agree with the articles thesis: uptake of OSS (and, for the record, ANYTHING) is affected (negatively in this case) by sandals and ponytails.

    In my long career pathetically ended after 21 years by an unfortunate "right-sizing" (let's get rid of the 20% MOST expensive employees in IT, but make sure to get rid of some of the kids too so we don't get sued...), I conducted an ongoing rant/argument/rage/discussion with my best friend at work about the impact of dress. Bob (not her real name) insisted not only are others impacted by your appearance and demeanor, but your very own work and feelings about yourself change based on your dress.

    Being a long-haired sandaled techie I disagreed. It took Bob about fifteen years to win me over. I get it now, maybe a bit too late, but it does matter.

    For doubters, read Robert Malloy's book []. I love and hate this book. It's hard to dispute empirical research... you dress for your audience or risk losing them.

    Still I like to wear my rose-colored glasses and think good conquers evil eventually, and still hold hope someday linux along with OSS gains the purchase it needs to be a viable and dominant market force unto itself (it already passes the viable test...).

    As an aside: this does take an interesting turn when you consider that the "dress code" for "good tech" is oxymoronic, i.e., while it is true business leaders and decision makers like/prefer business dress and decorum from people they meet and strike deals with, at the same time it's a time-honored tradition that the most savvy and high-octane techies wear cutoffs, sandals, t-shirts (that probably say "fuck you" in some obfuscated way), and piercings. Go figure. (From my own personal experience, I would add, I found little correlation with the raggedy techie look and competence and would even submit many less competent techies cultivated the look as an offset to their less-than-great skills.)

    And, now I'm off to install the new Firefox /. extension (God Bless OSS)

    • Re:chicken or egg (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Skjellifetti ( 561341 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @06:21PM (#15013875) Journal
      but your very own work and feelings about yourself change based on your dress.

      While that can be a positive correlation for some folks, for many of us it is a negative correlation. The dressier the environment, the less relaxed I feel and the less I am able to concentrate on producing high quality product.

      But I have noticed a large positive correlation here in the stuffy Midwest between dress and pay. My previous job was in IT at an airline. I took a 20K/year pay cut just so I could wear blue jeans and sandles. Fuck that business casual crap.
      • Re:chicken or egg (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Queer Boy ( 451309 ) *
        Fuck that business casual crap.

        Business casual is an oxymoron if I've ever heard it. The only CEO you're going to see coming into the office without a suit is Steve Jobs. The concept of dress casual came about in the 90's as a way to immediately distinguish the management from the unwashed masses of workers. In the 80's, the president of the company didn't look any different than the receptionist. I did a paper on this in 98.

    • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @07:08PM (#15014241) Homepage
      IBM used to make their techies wear suits. Then, during the dark period in the late 80s and early 90s when they were struggling to reinvent themselves, they had a revelation: Business-type customers like to see people in "professional" business atire, but this only matters if the customer actually sees you. The rest of the time, it is fine to dress comfortably. Thus sales, marketing, and any techie who happened to be interacting with the business-type customers would wear a suit and tie, everyone else wore what they wanted. Bam! Problem solved! And since then, the "sandal and ponytail set" hasn't stopped IBM from making sales, now have they?

      So the fundamental problem, if there really is a real problem behind the article, is that the wrong people are speaking to each other. If you're trying to make an OSS business case to the business-types, then yeah you need a business-type person dressed in business-type clothing to do the talking. If you aren't a for-profit organization who can hire such a person to do the talking for you, then why do you give a fuck if the business types listen or not? The techies will listen to you, and you'll get in like most OSS has gotten in -- via the back door in the server room. If you are a for-profit, then why do you need a cnet article to tell you to "dress for success" and hire a marketing person instead of sending your be-sandled techies out into the field?

      I don't know, this whole thing smacks of misdirection. He says it's the poor dress code that's causing the slow adoption, but then makes it sound more like it's politics and "IT leadership" (interpreted to mean some kind of management, shouldn't be wearing sandals) that are to blame. It sounds to me like the real reasons for the slow adoption of OSS have nothing to do with "sandals and ponytails", and "OMG RMS dresses looks like a dirty hippy!" is just an excuse.
      • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @08:47PM (#15014810) Homepage
        Being a person that is very shortly to escape corperate america I can give some real good insight into this....

        There are Two truths to attire in the workplace if you are never seen by the customers.

        Restrictive dress codes stem from new CEO or other leadership trying to prove they can control people and getting their personal high from doing it. Dress at work has NOTHING to do with performance and "professionalism" IN fact I code best in my ratty jeans and the "SHUT UP! I'm coding." on the back T-shirt. I remember one really good IT guy from 2 years ago when we became Comcast was verbally reprimanded by a upper level exec for not being clean shaven. The man just worked all night getting the Jackass exec's equipment working... All he said was, "so fire me. do me a favor so I do not have to work with assholes like you." The exec tried to fire him, the regional VP put the exec in his place and made him apologize to the IT guy... He left 9 months later because he saw the downward drain sprial before everyone else did.. now the rest of us rats are jumping ship.

        Second, It's about percieved professionalism. Too many MBA's are programmed at college that expensive clothes make you successful and try to encourage the staff to do likewise. Which is great if the exec's will give everyone a 30% raise so they can afford to dress like him. It's a "clone" ideal. Just look at the sales department.... they look like fricking clones because they think they have to.... now look at the most sucessful sales people, they are different, get in trouble with the boss regularly but will not be fired because they out sell the other sales people 3 to 1.

        It's all about the fact that most business professionals really do not have a clue to how to really manage people. They can run numbers and repeat verbatium all the BullShit(tm) they teach them at business college but none of them have a clue how to manage people and get the most out of their workforce. It boggles the mind how clueless corperate managers really are when it comes to motivating their employees.

        (Hint: Do EVERYTHING to increase morale in any little way. if you make high 5 figures or 6 figures then you buy the office donuts every week out of your pocket will go far. You buy lunches for your people once in a while, throw them bones, etc... Either business majors are morons or the professors are morons because I can not believe they do not teach this stuff in college.)
        • As a team lead back when I was still in college, I used to buy my people donuts once a week or so (sometimes my money was too tight to do it thanks to tuition, but I usually managed). It was the ritual of the Krispy Kreme. Pick up a small box of glazed on the way to the office and have a short chat over food before starting for the day.

          The funny thing was my boss hated it, because they'd look at me if he told them to go do something, waiting for me to okay it.
        • by ivan256 ( 17499 ) * on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @02:18AM (#15016050)
          Preclaimer: I'm a semi-sloppy dressing engineer.

          Second, It's about percieved professionalism

          There are so many bullshit posts in this thread from anti-dressup types that I decided to pick one near the top. Don't take it personally, I just picked the first self-important, self-proclaimed geek who was full of crap.

          It's not about 'professionalism' at all. It's as much about professionalism from the busniess side as it is about comfort from the geek side (t-shirts and cutoffs aren't very comfortable compared to well-made, ironed clothing). It's about laziness. They see you as too lazy to make yourself look good, and let's face it you (and I) are too lazy to do the work. Business clothes aren't any more expensive than jeans, and if you don't count trade show handouts, button down shirts can be had for the same price as a printed tee. But you have to iron, and wash properly, and button, and groom. You'd rather pull on whatever is lying around and go about your day. That speaks to your attitude. There are things you are going to decide aren't worth your time, and your clothes show it. Subconsionsly, everybody else knows it too.

          Ok, so it pisses your off when you have a dress code. Dress codes *are* stupid for grown adults. Choosing to dress nicer does make a difference though. I still can't get myself to do it every day, but it's obvious the way people's attitudes change towards you when you put in the effort. It also makes you feel better about yourself once you get over the rightous rebel bullshit. Also, a nice cotton button down with a color (even if it's plaid) and some ironed pants are more comfortable than jeans and a crappy big-seamed tee with huge silk-screening any day.
          Semi-related, since hair matters a bit less as long as it's washed and combed... Also only a subset of techies are culprits: Cut off the damned pony tail when the hair has fallen out on top already. You look like an idiot, and combined with the smell of your t-shirt, it's why you never get laid.
          • You'd rather pull on whatever is lying around and go about your day. That speaks to your attitude. There are things you are going to decide aren't worth your time, and your clothes show it. Subconsionsly, everybody else knows it too.

            When I hire someone (I'm a software engineer / team lead), I want him or her to have things that they consider to not be worth their time! I want them to spend their effort on what is worth their (and my) time. I want them to be studied, creative, productive, committed to qual

          • Actually, I (a student) am wearing £10 cargo pants, a £3 t-shirt, and about £3 worth of underwear.

            I had to wear "smart office-wear" for my sixth-form college a couple of years back, and that came out over £100. Fucking elitist school, but the best in the area. Worth the sacrifice, but for the rest of my life I'll always look back on it with an element of shame because of the sheer elitism of it. Not that that's applicable to business and IT jobs, but the prices are, at least over her

          • All I can say is that one of the 'self-important' geek says, you're full of shit.

            Programmers/geeks ARE SUPPOSED TO BE lazy, by definition. Otherwise why would we write programs at all to do things for us?

            Dressing is not about 'look formal' rather than 'comfort' and 'practicality'. I'd never employ a programmer who prefers to wear a suit, because it gives one sign: "this guy prefers to do things the less practical and efficient way".
    • Re:chicken or egg (Score:3, Insightful)

      by maize ( 201636 )
      The entire reason the OSS movement started was to bypass the "suits". The frustration and aggravation of letting the "suits" make architectural design decisions, nerf a product so that it could meet some artificial deadline or sabotage a dependent competitors product (often focusing on changing the tech to erect barriers of entry). OSS frees software development from the whimsical vagaries of corporate politics and lets us focus on the technical merits of a design decision.
      • Re:chicken or egg (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Queer Boy ( 451309 ) * <dragon@76.mac@com> on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @08:15PM (#15014642)
        Similarly, the OSS culture needs to integrate more artists to help polish clipart and GUI's, and writers to flesh out documentation and instruction manuals.

        Yeah, it does. However, trying to say to a Firefox coder that it would take up less space on a tab and be more useful if the Favicon of a tab would alternate with the close tab control when you hovered over the tab. AdiumX on Mac OS X already does this for tabbed chatting. Well, I got a screenful of how the way the close tab control disappears when the tabs get crowded (except the current tab) is somehow better because of consistency.

        That's just one real life example. When people with a sense of aesthetic try to get involved in most OSS projects, you get drowned out by the guys who think there's nothing wrong with their code if it doesn't have bugs.

        I hope everyone remember Firefox only exists because someone on the Mozilla team thought the interface for Mozilla looked like ass.

        The whole argument about suits vs. sandals really is that people without a sense of aesthetic refuse to admit it.

    • by monopole ( 44023 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @08:21PM (#15014670)
      While I follow the dress code of my California based company (beard, polo shirt, chinos, dress shoes), I am well known as someone who "cleans up well" and can readily give a good impression at a goverment or business presentation. I have no problem with this and rather much enjoy having an excuse to dress to the nines. On the other hand, when I'm back to the lab I'm casual again. This works for me.

      The key point is respect, by dressing up I'm showing in a rather painless way that I can meet managers or business types halfway and can effectively interface with them. If I'm dressed sharper than they are I've beaten them at their own game and have a point in may favor immediately. It makes them considerably more receptive to my non-negotable issues.

      On the other hand folks who made a point of not being able to "clean up well" tend to be rubbing their arrogance in peoples faces. They do it because they assume that they can get away with it because of their awesome skills. Problem is, skills change, and everybody loves to undermine an arrogant bastard, especially when they hand you shovels. Worse yet, they don't see it coming because they aren't able to collect intelligence dressed like that.

      Haberdashery is a form of legal social engineering which is fun and easy to practice.
  • What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kunwon1 ( 795332 ) <> on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @06:02PM (#15013683) Homepage
    Does -anyone- wear sandals and a ponytail anymore? That's kind of cliche.
  • Erm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by setirw ( 854029 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @06:05PM (#15013702) Homepage soft_old_small.jpg []

    How did Microsoft become so successful, then? ;)
  • by DavidNWelton ( 142216 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @06:05PM (#15013706) Homepage
    People who are too shallow to see past how some dork dresses get what they deserve, sheez..

    On the other hand, people who don't care whether you wear sandles, have a ponytail, are black, white, asian, a woman, or whatever, will come out ahead, because they'll pick stuff that is best, rather than looking to see if it wears Armani suits.
    • pick stuff that is best, rather than looking to see if it wears Armani suits.

      Let's not forget that all of those C-level types currently on trial were very well dressed . . .

    • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @06:54PM (#15014145)
      On the other hand, people who don't care whether you wear sandles, have a ponytail, are black, white, asian, a woman, or whatever, will come out ahead, because they'll pick stuff that is best, rather than looking to see if it wears Armani suits.

      If only people were that objective.

      The truth is that, as a salesman, you have to play to your audience and different audiences have different requirements - in essence you sell yourself along with a product. This doesn't always mean a suit, but you are conforming yourself to your audience.

      If a business suit might level the playing field where your potential clients take you that much more seriously, while someone who shows up in stained T-shirk and slack will have to have a product that is that much more better to be taken seriously, why even risk it?

      You see it everyday, in how consumers pick products. Usually, lets say in electronics, the more polished products get more serious consideration. Something that looks slapped together or superficialy cheap/chintzy is either not taken seriously or has to be sold cheaper - even if the functionality is better.

      If you really like to believe that people are so objective to look past the superficial, I suggest you put some research into "packaging..."
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If they think *that's* bad, wait 'till they see 'em naked!

  • Never judge a book by its cover. Didn't these guys pay attention to their grandmas?

  • We ought to switch to the teddy and pointy bra model. Madonna seems to be shipping lots of product. :-)
  • by b00m3rang ( 682108 ) * on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @06:07PM (#15013728)
    The problem is with idiots who believe that they can judge the quality of a product by the shoes of it's creator. Noone ever complains about my t-shirt, Dickies shorts, and piercings when I'm done fixing their shit... in fact, I'm the one they ask for by name.

    Some of us feel that being proficient at your job and being comfortable are much more important than being a shortsighted, uninformed asshole in a fancy monkey suit.

    The problem is on THEIR side.
    • by Queer Boy ( 451309 ) * <dragon@76.mac@com> on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @08:25PM (#15014690)
      Noone ever complains about my t-shirt, Dickies shorts, and piercings when I'm done fixing their shit.

      That's because you're a blue collar worker. You're hired help. You're not viewed any differently by companies than the guy that comes to fix the garbage disposal or the guy that brings the water coolers.

      You deal with the "little people" of a company. The ones whose job is going to India tomorrow. What president of a company cares if they like what you're wearing? He's never going to see you.

      You're not an executive so your point is moot. The article is about executives at companies having to deal with the pony tail and sandals crowd. NOT Charlie Cubicle.

  • by ScottCooperDotNet ( 929575 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @06:07PM (#15013736)
    Could Richard Stallman be part of the problem?

    Messiah figures don't work for software. []

    Linux + Business Suits = Success.

  • Funny.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Red_Chaos1 ( 95148 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @06:07PM (#15013740)
    ..we raise our children to "not judge books by their cover", and then turn around and do just that.

    I understand that by dressing like the stuffed suits would make me more appealing to them, but I don't care about them. They need me more than I need them. I'll always be able to find tech work somewhere. They won't always be able to find a lot of techies to work for them. The sooner they get over themselves and their dress code ideas, the better, for realities sake.
    • Re:Funny.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TeknoHog ( 164938 )
      ..we raise our children to "not judge books by their cover", and then turn around and do just that.

      Excellent point. I also think we need to look more deeply into the reasons why opensource people refuse to wear suits and the like. We tend to like openness and honesty, and therefore we have a problem with those who hide behind buzzwords and attire.

  • That's funny (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @06:08PM (#15013745) Homepage
    Quinn blames the 'sandal and ponytail set' for sluggish adoption of Linux by businesses and governments.

    I thought it was the companies thinking they could replace their technical management with bean counters responsible for the slow uptake. Managers that think if IT gets on their nerves enough they can simply outsource them to India. Or the fact that many company IT departments are staffed with MCSE's who see every IT problem as a nail for the MSFT hammer.

    And here all this time it was sandals and ponytails. Missed it by that much!

  • haha (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bloosqr ( 33593 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @06:12PM (#15013784) Homepage
    So sad but its obvious Quinn is talking about Stallman in sandles. Quinn is the MA open source guy and Stallman is unequivocally the most idealistic, free software guru that has come out of the MA area and the go to guy for all things free software. Who would I listen to, Quinn or Stallman.. Stallman of course. Who has a habit of rubbing "open source" people the wrong way, Stallman of course. Who do you think Quinn is talking about as being a thorn in "open sources" business friendly side? Stallman of course. What a cheap "ad hominem" shot.
  • oddly enough (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stoolpigeon ( 454276 ) * <bittercode@gmail> on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @06:12PM (#15013788) Homepage Journal
    the real reason, right there in the article, has little to do with dress and more to do with the incredible political influence (money) wielded by those who want to keep OSS down. the 'image' of OSS developers is not the problem. it is that the political process has been hijacked from seeking public good to seeking personal good.
    there are plenty of suits involved in the OSS movement. but as he says at the end of the article, what got him to drop out of the fight was not the image of OSS but the constant barrage of attacks brought against him by those with the wherewhithal to do so - big business.
  • Oh, Give Me A Break! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GeekBird ( 187825 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @06:12PM (#15013792) Homepage Journal
    Since when does a developer's alleged mode of dress influence the decisions of those who never meet him? It's yet another excuse: "Oh, those open source guys are hippy dippy slobs with pony tails and sandals! Let's buy from MicroSoft who makes their (sales) people dress up nice!!"

    It's bullshit.

    Besides, microsofties wear west coast developer attire too, just they don't let them make sales calls. Also, I know damn well what the Apple geeks wear, and it isn't suit and tie. I see them whenever I drive down the DeAnza Blvd in Cupertino. They are definitely ponytail compliant - although some of them their *only* hair is their ponytail, with nothing on top!
  • by phorm ( 591458 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @06:13PM (#15013795) Journal
    In the last job and some others I've worked, the ones with ponytails were generally the big-boys in admin. Really, one generally didn't notice it, as their attitudes were still professional. Sandals I'm not so keen on (who wears those, anyways), but a ponytail is hardly as damaging as the lack of professionalism some people have. Moreover, I've met quite a few geeks that had rather unpleasant hygiene (see: body odor), which is far worse than the ponytail and sandals.

    As for myself, I'm hardly a shirt-and-tie person. I'm not sitting here with a kokanee shirt and shorts, but when your job often involves crawling under desks and in other various recesses where computer parts dwell, a white shirt and tie are hardly functional for the position at hand.
  • by WidescreenFreak ( 830043 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @06:13PM (#15013801) Homepage Journal
    .. that only people in a shirt and tie or similar "professional" dress are capable of performing their assigned duties to which they agreed when they signed the employment contract. After all, how many of us completely lose the mental faculties (alcohol not withstanding) to do our jobs as soon as we get home and get the jeans and t-shirt on? Come on, raise your hands! { watching tumbleweed blow by }

    So, basicaly what the author of the original article is saying is the following:

    open source + casual dress = no credibility regardless of the quality of work

    open source + "professional" dress = complete credibility regardless of the quality of work

    Someone needs to do a study on this. I'm fascinated by the attitiude that some people have that the design of the cotton on the outside of our skin somehow has a direct correlation on the ability for us to maintain our servers through open source. It must be some kind of intellectually stimulating chemical that is weaved into the fibers of "professional" clothing that we absorb through our skin whereas casual dress does the opposite.
  • by Prien715 ( 251944 ) <> on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @06:15PM (#15013813) Journal
    There was this religion started by some guy with sandals and a ponytail about peace and goodwill. Suits really didn't like him, nailed him to a tree. Don't remember if it caught on or not....

    There was also some strange government of people with ponytails and almost-sandals with the idea of "liberty or death" and "all men created equal".....

    I can't remember if either of these things exist anymore, but if they do, I bet the people in them are OK with ponytails and sandals.
  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @06:22PM (#15013882) Homepage Journal
    Some of the vested interests [] are, in fact, hippies. When the government rejects valuable technology because it's not offered by the required jock or yuppie, whose own tech isn't good enough, the government has to change style, not the hippies. Or the government by, for and of the yuppies gets left behind.
  • ...sometimes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @06:22PM (#15013887)

    Sometimes dressing in less "professional" apparel can lose you a sale. Sometimes, it can gain you a sale. I know a lot of the sales guys are somewhat leery of dragging along scruffy looking geeks to business meetings, but from what I've seen it often works to convince businessmen of the credibility of tech. "Wow look at all those piercings, if the company lets him get away with that he must be brilliant!" This works well in smaller, more technical markets I imagine.

    I also notice that the work environment at a company is one of the most important aspects in attracting really talented people. Smart people, who love what they do would rather dress like slobs, have free beer, and a ping-pong table than make an extra $20K a year. The environment is worth a lot to a person's quality of life. Now that does not mean just because a company is relaxed it has talented people, but if you are looking for extraordinary people, that is one very visible sign.

    I also notice that given a relaxed or absent dress code, the clothing of choice widely varies. Some people prefer to wear a suit every day, even if they are just going to sit at a desk and code for 12 hours. Others will be wearing shirts with fake boobs attached. I have not noticed that either type tends to be more or less proficient.

    I know I'm not the only one to have noticed this trend and I know it is something in some businessmen's minds when they are meeting with new partners, suppliers, or customers. The rule that a dress code will get you more sales is not universal and does not apply to all market segments. A dress code might get you more sales, right up till all your talent moves on and your more relaxed competitor starts to clobber you in head-to-head comparisons.

    • Re:...sometimes (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RembrandtX ( 240864 )
      I've been on both sides of the fence with the 'perception' issue. And I agree, it all depends on the market and the perception.

      a lifetime or two ago I was in Sales. Not only Sales, but selling from an anglo country into Japan. Not only selling into Japan, but selling toy SOLDIERS into japan.

      Games Workshop makes a table top war game / hobby product line. A very large english company that sells multinationally [including here in the USA]

      Selling into a foreign country, like Japan (this was just around the tim
  • by radiotyler ( 819474 ) <tyler@dappergee[ ]om ['k.c' in gap]> on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @06:24PM (#15013899) Homepage
    Open source has an unprofessional appearance, and the community needs to be more business-savvy in order to start to make inroads in areas traditionally dominated by commercial software vendors. (Having) a face on a project or agenda makes it attractive for politicians (to consider open source).
    That is so true it's scary. Right or wrong, confidence in a product is instilled by the person presenting the product - but probably even more so in the software business. What the community as a whole seems to miss sometimes is that the people that are making the major software decisions are at best technically inept, and at worst blissfully clueless.

    Given a choice between a guy in a suit with a mediocre piece of software, and the guy in jeans that hasn't shaved for two days and smells of pizza with an amazing array of programs - they're going to take the suit. The marketdroids want to see success oozing from the vendor, not an air of dishevelment.

    All in all, it's sad to see decisions based on quality of presentation as opposed to quality of product, but with few exceptions, that's the way it's always been - and probably always will be.

    Shower. Shave. Buy some button up shirts and a pair of slacks. From my experience, this makes all the difference in the world. Like it or not - it's the way the game is played.
    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @06:43PM (#15014043)

      Shower. Shave. Buy some button up shirts and a pair of slacks. From my experience, this makes all the difference in the world. Like it or not - it's the way the game is played.

      Funny, having worked at several successful software companies I've heard the phrase, "he wore a suit to the interview," used in a negative way more than once. Often your appearance does matter, but you need to tailor it to your audience. In some markets bringing along a sloppily dressed geek will instill in your potential customers a belief that your product must be advanced. In others, it is seen as a sign of a small player, not worth dealing with. Most customers expect a somewhat professional looking salesman, but in many cases they are happy to see "those geeky guys" if they tour the facilities or if someone comes out to install a few million dollars of high-tech gear for them.

      As for the game, that isn't half of it. Knowing where the good strip clubs/bars/hookers/drugs are is more likely to get you sales than your dress, from what I've seen. I've seen us lose sales to people we were pounding into the ground in head-to-head comparisons, because the competition spent a week taking the purchaser out to strip clubs. The point is, sales is more than dress code, and lack of dress code may actually get you more sales in some markets.

  • by MythMoth ( 73648 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @06:25PM (#15013909) Homepage
    Having read the damned article, I'd like to point out something that a lot of posters seem to be missing.

    Nowhere that I've seen in that article does he say that ponytails and sandals signify anything about the skills, attitude, or professionalism of the people in question.

    He is talking about peoples' perceptions, and the need to be politically savvy when selling OSS to those same people.
  • Missing the point (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bull999999 ( 652264 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @06:53PM (#15014130) Journal
    I may get flamed for this but it seems that many of the posters are missing the point Peter Quinn is trying to get across. He used the "sandal and ponytail set" as a figure of speech, trying to point out that many of the open source advocates need have a more professional appearance AND be business-savvy. He wasn't really talking about some programmers locked up in an office somewhere programming, as this applies more to people who are visible. For example, if there's a sales meeting full of suits and the presenter is in a t-shirt, jeans, and "sandal and ponytail set", do you honestly think the suits will take the presenter seriously? Sure, in an idea world, no one will "judge a book my its cover" but this is not really different that a good looking jerk having better chances with the girls than no-go-gook looking nice guy.

    Quinn also blamed the leaders of technology departments for not communicating the benefits of open-source software to their businesses effectively.

    He has another valid point here. Just look at the posts on Slashdot. It seems that many here think that posting insults and profanities makes them look smarter than they really are. Picture this in your head:

    Slashdotter (S): Dude, you really should switch to Linux.
    Business Guy (BG): Why should we need to do that? Every Dell we buy already comes with a copy of Windows.
    S: M$ is an evil empire and they kick puppies.
    BG: That MS sales guy sure seemed nice to me.
    S: Only morons like you fall for their shit. I know this because I'm so smart.
    BG: I don't see why I need to listen to someone that's insulting me but Windows run fine and all of my clients use Office.
    S: OMG! It's motherfuckers like you and your idiot clients that enabled M$ to retain its power. You guys all need to fucking die because to are just too stupid. In fact, the sheer number of cuss words that I used just proves how smart I am.
  • by Desert Raven ( 52125 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @07:12PM (#15014266)
    Here's a completely different point of view.

    Yes, the corporate suits are not comfortable with OSS companies, because the folks in the OSS companies don't wear suits. But it's not actually because of the clothing, it's what the clothing implies. The lack of suits tells them that these are technical people in charge, not business people. The suits don't like dealing with technical people, because they don't really understand us. They feel more comfortable with people wearing suits, because people who wear suits are their kind of people.

    I just love hearing from our C_Os about how we in development should do whatever the sales/marketing folks tell us, because "if it weren't for them, we wouldn't have jobs". Meanwhile, I'm sitting here thinking, well, what the heck would they sell if we weren't creating products?

    Never mind the fact that the sales department has a very regular turnover, and the sales people themselves aren't anything special, just your average ex-fratboy business major who made it through four years of college with an average 0.8 BAC. Nobody blinks twice when they leave, they just replace them. Yet, the company is horrified that I ride a motorcycle, because of the possibility that I may get injured/killed and thus leave them with a serious hole to fill that requires very specialized knowledge.

    Truth? They fear us. They know that they are a dime a dozen. Our entire sales department could get hit by a bus tomorrow, and it would set the company back a month at worst. If the engineering department walked out, the company would fold up like a wet kleenex, and would *never* recover.
  • Toscanini... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ktakki ( 64573 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @08:19PM (#15014661) Homepage Journal
    One of my old trumpet teachers used to tell me stories from when he played in the NBC Radio Symphony Orchestra, led by the maestro Arturo Toscanini, back in the Thirties and Forties.

    The orchestra played in the space in Rockefeller Center currently used by Saturday Night Live. However, there was no audience present during the radio broadcasts, save for a handful of people not in the orchestra (radio engineers, NBC executives, perhaps a representative from the sponsors or two).

    Despite this fact, every member of the orchestra wore a tuxedo, and Maestro Toscanini wore tails.

    Radio. No audience. Formal dress.

    The story has stuck with me ever since, and I'd often pondered the reason for this. Remember, this was back when even street dress for a professional musician was a suit, tie, and snazzy shoes. No "business casual" back then.

    The best reasons I could determine for this were:
    • Dress uniform, play uniform: having everyone in tuxedoes fostered cohesion among the members of the orchestra, cohesion that would affect the performance.
    • Respect: formal dress would be considered a sign of respect for the repertoire and, by extension, the composers.
    • Tradition: back then, broadcasting and recording took a back seat to live performance. Orchestras wore formal dress onstage; why should a closed session be any different?
    • Professionalism: according to my old teacher, Toscanini was a stickler about things like this, and his sense of professionalism extended to how the orchestra looked, as well as their performance.
    • Attitude: street dress was acceptable for rehearsals, but wearing the tuxedo sent a signal that this was a performance, even if you couldn't see the millions of people listening nationwide.

    Personally, I'm inclined to judge a person's performance rather than their appearance. But even I can't help but think about appearance sometimes: if a vendor showed up to pitch my company while wearing shorts and a UCSC Banana Slugs t-shirt, my first thought would be "Jeez, he just doesn't care, does he?". The product or service would live or die on its merits, but my opinion of the salesman would be tainted by that first thought.

    I think the bottom line is finding the appropriate level of casual/formal dress for the situation. The owner of the surf/skate shop might not mind if I showed up in shorts and sandals to install a POS system, but the funeral director probably would.

  • by Hairy1 ( 180056 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @08:29PM (#15014723) Homepage
    The point Mr Quinn is making isn't that the Linux crowd in general should wear suits. The average programmer isn't going to be doing sales. I personally think the issue is a lack of open source advocates who are business friendly at all. When a organisation wants to move to open source they want to know the company doing it is professional. Having someone turn up in a T Shirt and jandels doesn't do much for their confidence.

    Appearance is important, we cannot possibly invest the effort to get to know 'the real person' for everyone we meet. In order to function we need our sterotypes. Its a bit like justice - justice not only must be done, it must be seen to be done. Similarly, quality in service must be seen. Thats not to say everyone needs to be in a suit; but certainly if you are making a open source presentation to a large organisation you should have appropriate attire; or not bother at all.

    Not bothering is fine of course - nobody is forcing you to advocate and sell OSS solutions, but if you are in that game, and you do care about getting that contract, then perhaps how you dress will impact your chances.
  • by zotz ( 3951 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2006 @08:36PM (#15014748) Homepage Journal
    'the lax dress code of the open-source community is one of the reasons behind the software's slow uptake in commercial environments.'

    Assuming for the sake of argument that this is true, my response would be that if the clean cut, three piece suit set did more of the actual important work on the big projects, then they would be more visible and this would not be such a big problem.

    Therefore, it is the clean cut, three piece suit set who are really holding back the uptake of Free Software in commercial environments.

    Assuming what we did, what is wrong with the reasoning that followed?

    all the best,

    -- []
    Record a song and you might win $1,000.00 []
  • by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @01:16AM (#15015877)
    What is with this dress for success bullshit? Will society EVER outgrow it? Fuck, this archaic crap dates back thousands of years.

    Shady car salesmen wear suits. Drug kingpins wear suits. The heads of Enron wore suits.

    A man in nice suits sent our military into Iraq after WMDs that weren't there.

    The former thug leader of Iraq wore suits.

    So what does a suit prove again?

  • by TractorBarry ( 788340 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2006 @08:29AM (#15016994) Homepage
    In most "advanced" human cultures it's illegal to discriminate on the grounds of:

    1 Race.
    2 Skin Colour.
    3 Sex.
    4 Sexual orientation.
    5 Physical Disability.
    7 Age.

    However personal choice of attire seems to be amongst the last bastions of acceptable discrimination.

    And just why is it that the "acceptable standard" is always based around the preferred attire of a fat, middle aged, white man with no discernible dress sense and who's probably spent one half of his life being dressed by his mother and the other half being dressed by his wife ?

    (And now I'm off on a good rant) Have you seen the fat fools in their golf wear ? or in the utterly embarassing "casual wear" they occasionally wear on the rare "team building" events in the pub ? The mind simply boggles... but hey it that's what floats their boat more power to 'em. (yeah I know I'm sterotyping heavily here but this is the mindset we're dealing with...)

    Personally I look forward to the day when the mindless majority wake up to the idea that the packaging is not the contents, that people are all different, and that this is a GOOD THING. Diversity breeds innovation. Conformity breeds stagnation. We need suit wearing, small minded, twits as much as we need poinytailed, sandal wearing geeks. The two should just learn to see the good points in each other and get along... Or have a war when us geeks will seriously kick the suits asses (after all who invents all the good weaponry ?)

    And people wonder why aliens never bother landing... when most humans can't even cope with members of our own species who have a different taste in haircut or pants.


"Never give in. Never give in. Never. Never. Never." -- Winston Churchill