Project Name Change

Hi all,

Discussions around the project name and changing it has been brought up in separate threads here in Discord and also at Github. Common rationale for changing the name is distancing the project from Roam Research as they might have interest in the word “Roam”

I suggest moving the discussion to this thread. Everyone should suggest their ideas 2020-05-17T21:00:00Z2020-05-30T21:00:00Z afterwards we could organise a poll.

One possibility is an acronym. @nv-discourse proposed ERGO: Emacs Roam Graphing + Org.

I’m wondering about a name or acronym that points, subtly, to zettelkasten, though I don’t have any ideas ATM.

IMHO, unless they send a cease and desist order forbidding the use of the name it is a moot point and we should move on. If it was called org-zettle or the org-luhmann or you claim to implement the Zettle method then folks would complain that it was not exactly to the letter of the law because all notes were not named in the format 1a2k3z, and were not restricted to 8 lines long (roughly the size of those flashcards).

Having said that, I am not a copyright lawyer. So maybe the first course of action is to ask Roam Research if they mind, you may find that they do not because the learning curve of emacs is too great for most of their userbase - hence no colflict.

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I think the concern is not that the people in charge of Roam care now, but that some future investors might. I have no idea how plausible that scenario is. Naively it seems unlikely enough that I don’t think it’s a strong argument for changing the name.

The better argument may be that although this may have been inspired by Roam, it is not a strict copy of Roam, and therefore the name might throw some people off. Personally I don’t think the differences are so great that it warrants a name change, but that’ just my opinion.

It’s not exactly Zettel, it’s not exactly Roam… maybe org-strolchen :wink: :


I agree the name should not imply that it strictly adheres to any method. That’s part of why I think it’s smart to move away from “org-roam” because it implies more feature/philosophy parity with Roam than is necessary.

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The differences will likely widen with time. We’re talking about two different platforms with different goals. If Roam Research is purchased, that gap will widen. Will the name “org-roam” make sense in two years? Or will it give a false impression of what the project represents?

Not sure if you were referring to my suggestion, but just to clarify, I’m not at all in favor of any kind of direct or literal reference; I was more suggesting referring to it subtly and in spirit, since it is the core of the inspiration for it.

But in being subtle, would also be free to not be bound by that either.

I agree with the idea of changing the name so that it does not appear to be derivative of roamresearch.

I would like a name that is short, googlable, and at least somewhat says what it does.

just tossing out a few ideas…

zettel, slipbox, mundaneum, flat-notes, linked-notes

org-zk (similar to naming scheme of sublime-zk)

just to add some stepping stones…

  • Notework-org? (A network of notes based in orgmode),
  • hypernotes-org (a hypertext of notes?, too much 80’s),
  • hyperthoughts-org or hyperthink-org because of the hyperlinked thoughts?
  • Thinknotes-org,

(Took out some obvious that are used already).

Including that suggestion directly here:

And to add:

There’s plenty of wiggle room for interpretation: “Ergo => Ergonomic Thinking”. It doesn’t tie us explicitly to any methodology.
It’s short and unique.

Agreed that org-roam is misleading.

I propose: org-backlinks.

I think org-backlinks would describe this project perfectly, as the core identity of this project is backlinks and the parts/features associated with backlinks within the org-mode ecosystem. Org-backlinks communicates clearly exactly what a user should expect, without claiming to be something it is not. It tells new users that it is flexible enough for to use under any framework/use-case they want (note backlinks won’t and currently aren’t used just for zettles!). But still attracts people looking to implement something like PKM and zettles if they wish — without making false promises that they will have the exact UX found in other software.

I like the idea of acronyms, but it can be confusing.

I dunno; backlinks are a fairly technical term and a means to an end. What is that end?

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Fair point. But I wonder for how long? A “link” is a technical term but it’s in the common vernacular now. If backlinks really takes off, even in the knowledge-worker circles, I don’t think it will be an esoteric term.

What is the end? Depends on what the user decides or comes up with.

Just to be clear, I’m not proposing “Ergo” as an acronym for anything. Just pointing out that one could claim it’s a backronym for whatever they want. I’m proposing it more as a description of the benefit of organizing one’s knowledge in a linked manner. New ideas are a consequence of old ideas. “This ergo that” is the spirit I was aiming for with the name.

Hard to say. Perhaps soon; perhaps never. So why tie the name to the implementation?

I agree. That’s why I feel the name should be general and open to some interpretation.

Roam is used for more than PKM, despite less features I think O-R could also be used for more than just knowledge management.

Clever, I like it. But that sounds more like a link, rather than a backlink. To me anyway.

Agreed. And “Roam” is a great name for that project. It has the qualities I’m after (short, unique, expressive, open to interpretation but also suggesting the spirit of the project) except it’s already tied to that project.

Doesn’t sound like either to me, but that’s the beauty. It’s open to interpretation.

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I’m not sure if I understand your point. I assume open to interpretation to mean you want the user to have the flexibility to use the project as they see fit. Or do you want the name to be open to interpretation.

If it is the former, I don’t see how backlinks limits use-case flexibility. If it is the latter, I think vauge names can be confusing for new users (including me). Even though ergo does sound nice. A project of this size should have a name that clearly communicate what the software does, but also set the right expectation. E.g. any new user can very easily say what org-ref basically does. If O-R had a wider range of core features I could see it being called ergo for sure. But it seems to me like the focus is on backlinks. Features like transclusions, header linking, etc weren’t on the roadmap the last time I check. I could be wrong, of course.

That’s my two cents anyway. I wonder if we should use some sort of poll, rendering all this just idle talk :smiley:.

Edit: Looks like there is a poll!

Links enabled a distributed web of documents.

Backlinks in this context enable … (I’m still thinking about this) evolving idea production and discovery.

I would also say backlinks enable a flat heirarchy for sensible and effective file/note organization. Although that is the combination of links and backlinks (but then there is no backlinks without links).


I don’t use it, but by the name alone I’m guessing it acts as a way for referees to use Org, right? :slight_smile:

Joking aside, I think for some projects a literal name is appropriate. Packages that “do exactly what it says on the tin” are a great fit for this. For example, org-timer (assuming the user is familiar with Org) or any package that adds support for a specific language (markdown-mode, go-mode, etc). But many packages aren’t quite as clear cut. How descriptive is “Org” as a name? Had they called it “outline-mode-2” or “plain-text-hierarchical-notes-mode” it may have been easier to guess part of what the package did, but I think it would have stifled adoption and development.