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  1. Request For Comments
  2. RFC-673

Proposal for new name for the LSST Science Platform

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    • RFC
    • Status: Implemented
    • Resolution: Done
    • DM
    • None

    Description

      With the observatory name change, the LSST Science Platform name is clearly going to be on the chopping block sooner or later.

      In an attempt to get ahead of a top-down edict, Wil and I are proposing to call the fairly abstract entity consisting of Science Platform services VERA - back-acronymed to V(era Rubin Observatory) E(nvironment) for R(esearch) and A(nalysis) with the top level page being exposed as vera.rubinobs.org (or whatever we ultimately are). The formal name would be VERA: The Rubin Observatory's Science Platform.

      Arguments for this:

      • Mindful of the point about showing proper credit to Vera Rubin: A lot of people are not clear who she was, and hence they will see "Rubin Observatory" and perhaps not even realise Rubin was female. Vera is an obviously female name and I think giving it prominence helps the cause.
      • The team is pretty desperate for a snappy name/URL and Vera has instant brand appeal as to opposed to something that sounds like an abstract - there's a bit of persistent moaning when other telescopes get to give cool names to their products - I feel this will be good for morale
      • This is a flagship leading-edge product for DM, and I think it and the name deserve each other

      Frequently Raised Concerns:

      While polling LSP team members and users, these are some of the concerns that were expressed, which I list with their follow-up:

      • Isn't this sexist? This suggestion has played very well with the team, but someone raised the question of whether this is part of the trend of designating assistants as female (Alexa, Siri, etc). I am personally quite sensitive to this issue (my Siri is male voiced for this reason) and I ran it past a few other female DM members and we all agree this is not the same thing at all - this is a platform of premium technical capabilities, not some breathy voice at your beck and call.
      • Too cutesy for the C-level: The directors (Steve and Bob) have responded positively, as has Communications and EPO.
      • The family might find this disrespectful: [rgill] has contacted Vera Rubin's son and I understand he was pleased at the suggestion
      • What about if the thing is flaky and Vera becomes a four-letter-word? The name will essentially be reflected in reasonably static content (like the LSP home page). Individual services that may be "down" - say the notebook service or TAP are going to be obviously identified as such.

      As with all naming RFCs, please keep in mind there is no solution that will satisfy everyone. The primary aim is to get something short, brand-like and that doesn't come across as an abstract written by committee. Remember, if you don't provide a snappy name, people will converge on their own short name because that's how language works.

      If you have objections please try and make them falsifiable rather than aesthetic.

      If you feel you have a clearly superior suggestion, post it and let's see if it generates an upswell of enthusiasm, but the point here is to avoid National Science Foundation and Department of Energy Vera C Rubin Observatory Science Platform type outcomes before they are visited upon us.

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            I support the naming. I had two concerns, and they have both been alleviated.

            • I wanted to be sure the family had been consulted, as there's something more personal about using the first name that goes beyond whatever consent they'd already be likely to have given. I understand they have been and that they are supportive.
            • I did worry, quite a bit, about the "intelligent agent female personification" issue being something that could be used against us. I didn't feel like I could take the temperature of the Twitterverse on this myself. I've since asked (under confidence) some people whose standpoint is relevant and whose judgement I trust (and who have sharp pitchforks for situations that call for them) and they have all said that they don't see a problem. One of them made the same "you can't be guilty of putting her into a servile or other insignificant corner when you are naming the whole (intensifier deleted) observatory for her" that has been made in our internal discussions. I still think it's possible that someone will poke at us along these lines, but I'm now confident that we have a good answer and that the community is likely to rally around.

            We will still need to decide whether we wish the VERA acronym to refer to the manifestation of the Science Platform that we run as a Project (i.e., at the LDF), or to the software (which might be installed and used by others, whether for an independent data center with the survey data, or mutatis mutandi to serve an entirely different project), or both. We can't ultimately control what people do in practice, but we can still provide guidance.

            That means running a thought experiment like "how do we feel about VERA being used to serve the WFIRST, or Subaru PFS data?" At first glance this seems to me to add to the tribute, but it does take VERA out of the context of "Rubin", so it merits thought.

            gpdf Gregory Dubois-Felsmann added a comment - I support the naming. I had two concerns, and they have both been alleviated. I wanted to be sure the family had been consulted, as there's something more personal about using the first name that goes beyond whatever consent they'd already be likely to have given. I understand they have been and that they are supportive. I did worry, quite a bit, about the "intelligent agent female personification" issue being something that could be used against us. I didn't feel like I could take the temperature of the Twitterverse on this myself. I've since asked (under confidence) some people whose standpoint is relevant and whose judgement I trust (and who have sharp pitchforks for situations that call for them) and they have all said that they don't see a problem. One of them made the same "you can't be guilty of putting her into a servile or other insignificant corner when you are naming the whole (intensifier deleted) observatory for her" that has been made in our internal discussions. I still think it's possible that someone will poke at us along these lines, but I'm now confident that we have a good answer and that the community is likely to rally around. We will still need to decide whether we wish the VERA acronym to refer to the manifestation of the Science Platform that we run as a Project (i.e., at the LDF), or to the software (which might be installed and used by others, whether for an independent data center with the survey data, or mutatis mutandi to serve an entirely different project), or both. We can't ultimately control what people do in practice, but we can still provide guidance. That means running a thought experiment like "how do we feel about VERA being used to serve the WFIRST, or Subaru PFS data?" At first glance this seems to me to add to the tribute, but it does take VERA out of the context of "Rubin", so it merits thought.

            It seems we are ready for LCR - it should capture the discussion here.

             

            womullan Wil O'Mullane added a comment - It seems we are ready for LCR - it should capture the discussion here.  

            I think that if this goes ahead it should always be presented as the VERA or even the V.E.R.A. and not Vera, to further avoid female personification of an electronic service (like EB's & GPDF's comments). I also thought it was a bit too cutesy (boardering on kitschy as the use of a first name is more sentimental) which has maybe a danger of minimizing both Rubin's legacy and the Science Platform's authority as world leaders in their class. Mostly, I'm wary that discussions of aspects of the Science Platform using the first name of the person we intended to honor will not sound appropriate, e.g., "You can do this in Vera", "You can't do that with Vera", "The data is served by Vera", and so forth.

            mgraham Melissa Graham added a comment - I think that if this goes ahead it should always be presented as the VERA or even the V.E.R.A. and not Vera, to further avoid female personification of an electronic service (like EB's & GPDF's comments). I also thought it was a bit too cutesy (boardering on kitschy as the use of a first name is more sentimental) which has maybe a danger of minimizing both Rubin's legacy and the Science Platform's authority as world leaders in their class. Mostly, I'm wary that discussions of aspects of the Science Platform using the first name of the person we intended to honor will not sound appropriate, e.g., "You can do this in Vera", "You can't do that with Vera", "The data is served by Vera", and so forth.

            Hey mgraham and others —

            This discussion has now migrated to the project-level change control process at https://project.lsst.org/groups/ccb/node/3997.

            Melissa, perhaps you'd like to repost your comment there? I'll get this RFC properly closed off.

            swinbank John Swinbank added a comment - Hey mgraham and others — This discussion has now migrated to the project-level change control process at https://project.lsst.org/groups/ccb/node/3997 . Melissa, perhaps you'd like to repost your comment there? I'll get this RFC properly closed off.
            swinbank John Swinbank added a comment - - edited

            Marked as implemented, since DM-23865 (the triggered ticket) is complete.

            To avoid future confusion, note that the outcome of this RFC was a decision to submit the LCR, not a decision to rename the LSP.

            swinbank John Swinbank added a comment - - edited Marked as implemented, since DM-23865 (the triggered ticket) is complete. To avoid future confusion, note that the outcome of this RFC was a decision to submit the LCR , not a decision to rename the LSP.

            People

              frossie Frossie Economou
              frossie Frossie Economou
              Amanda Bauer [X] (Inactive), Angelo Fausti, Daniel Calabrese, Dan Taranu, Eric Bellm, Fred Moolekamp, Frossie Economou, Gregory Dubois-Felsmann, John Parejko, John Swinbank, Keith Bechtol, Kian-Tat Lim, Leanne Guy, Melissa Graham, Meredith Rawls, Merlin Fisher-Levine, Michael Wood-Vasey, Ranpal Gill, Robert Blum, Robert Lupton, Simon Krughoff (Inactive), Tim Jenness, Wil O'Mullane
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