Talk:Eating your own dog food

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Positive phrase[edit]

My entire experience with the phrase "eat one's own dog food" has been in a positive light. Companies love to say that they eat their own dog food.

I don't understand the need to say that the phrase can be used pejoratively by saying that a company doesn't eat its own dog food. For example: if we were explaining the phrase "shoot for the stars" as an expression of putting effort into succeeding, would we need to explain that the phrase can be used disparagingly by saying that a company does not shoot for the stars? Or if we were defining the term "high quality" would we need to mention that it can be used disparagingly by saying that something is not of high quality?

Also, while I have heard the phrase used most often in the computer industry (which makes sense, because a clothing or dining company would not want to be associated with the idea of dog food), it is not true that its use in computing carries a negative connotation. Brian Kendig 03:10, 9 June 2004 (UTC)

This was a minor mistake on my part, I should have removed the "common" sentence in any case, whether it be true or not, in order to give balance.
Whilst the term is not always used negatively in computing, my experience with the use of the phrase has been used in a negative connotation.
You may want to not basically revert things also. It's not pleasant, as my changes are not completely inappropriate. I will not edit this page again for a while, you do what you think is best with it. Dysprosia 06:20, 9 June 2004 (UTC)
I edited your edits because I disagreed with your assertions that the phrase is "somewhat pejorative" or that it has "two connotations" (negating a phrase does not give it a new connotation). I have added back a mention of the negative use of the phrase. Please don't refrain from editing; go ahead and tweak the article if you feel it can be improved (or let's talk about it here if you'd rather); that's what Wikipedia is all about. By the way, I found an in-depth discussion of the phrase here; it might be useful to bring some of that information into this article. Brian Kendig 13:26, 9 June 2004 (UTC)
It's a pretty simple, straightforward metaphor: it is calling one's customers "dogs" while arrogantly putting oneself in a superior position ("the one who feeds the dogs"). To the best of my knowledge, except the black american culture, all other cultures use the term "dog" with negative connotations (and the term was being used in a predominantly white environment). It is pejorative and it's futile trying to spin the sentence around. Surely there were those who must have used the sentence without feeling it was pejorative - as it seems to be the case of the original editor on this heading - but it won't change its clear implications to the quasi-absolute majority.

Which dog-food company?[edit]

Read allegation it was FM foods, and sales reps trying to get grocery stores to carry pet-food. Since pets got table scraps, and selling pet food was an innovation. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 68.110.171.226 (talk) 23:03, 26 April 2005 (UTC)

I had heard that the phrase originated at Kal Kan pet food company. Each year the president would eat a can of dog food in front of the entire company to show the quality of the dog food and that in fact, he could eat his own dog food. SAL - 2005-12-22 —Preceding unsigned comment added by 192.138.150.249 (talk) 16:35, 22 December 2005 (UTC)

My uncle, having worked at the Tabby catfood factory in Wouburn MA around 1970, took a position as a pet food production manager at a plant on the bayou in Louisiana in 1972. Free "petfood" was a perk. But the workers there would sort the fish that came off the boats, fillet the best ones and save these fillets to make a special batch of "petfood" in the afternoon. The fillets were specially seasoned and cooked like petfood then canned. But the cans were routed specially and distributed as free "petfood". But in reality it was top quality canned seafood given away free. Yes, the workers ate their own petfood. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 15.219.169.72 (talk) 00:01, 11 April 2014 (UTC) The name is Woburn. There is no Wouburn, Massachusetts, although it is pronounced kinda like that. Actually Woo-burn. Also WHAT THE HELL DOES THIS STORY HAVE TO DO WITH A WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE!!!! Cute story, but it should be in a blog, not here!!!! Cuvtixo (talk) 05:18, 15 June 2018 (UTC)

Microsoft[edit]

Are you sure that Microsoft eats its own dogfood? I was under the impression (from the Jargon File) that the whole point was that Microsoft doesn't eat its own dogfood - hence the general opinion that its software is awful. Hence the negative connotations about not eating one's own dogfood: the bugs don't get fixed because the author's don't know what's wrong.

Anyway, could somebody please clarify this matter? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Qscomputing (talkcontribs) 08:57, 24 June 2005 (UTC)

Dave Cutler practiced it and used the term, according to Pascal Zachary's 1994 Showstopper! the Breakneck Race to Create Windows NT and the Next Generation. He was a pretty aggressive team leader with a short temper (at the time, anyways). "Dogfooding" is rather aggressive term. When would forcing your staff to "eat their own dogfood" be anything else??? (Note that I "cut the line" in this thread because the answers in the rest of the conversation are clueless. It really doesn't matter if Microsoft utilized the practice afterwards or not. It was done with Windows NT from its' inception. It has ever since been associated with Microsoft.)Cuvtixo (talk) 05:29, 15 June 2018 (UTC)
the jargon file? that's authoritive. I was under the impression that MSFT was the origination of the term. Not only does MSFT eat dogfood within its product groups but it gives dogfood builds to other product groups to encourage them to use it. Even critical corporate infrastructure gets put on major dogfood server builds of Windows, Exchange, SQL, etc. SchmuckyTheCat 14:28, 24 June 2005 (UTC)
Some groups at Microsoft definitely eat their own dogfood, although it's possible they didn't when the Jargon file was first written. See [1] and [2] for recent discussion of dogfood as far back as Windows 95 development. It's also not likely a company-wide requirement. It's hard to eat your own dogfood when you write video games, for instance. -- Plutor 17:03, 16 November 2005 (UTC)
According to rumors, Microsoft is not using their Visual SourceSafe source control program internally (for a good reason too, it's outdated and buggy). In any case, I am not sure why we would want to use a specific company here, without even providing any details; does Microsoft need promotion or something? Cema 17:15, 22 November 2005 (UTC)
Uh, because Microsoft is probably the largest proponent of the saying? And yes, SourceSafe is used within the company for projects of the size it is meant to work with. SchmuckyTheCat 17:20, 22 November 2005 (UTC)
Did Microsfot ever get Hotmail coverted over to any Windows platform? I seem to recall it got to be a big deal 2 or 3 years after buying them that that they were still running some flavor of Unix (not Microsoft's Xenix).[3] Ewlyahoocom 14:06, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

Interesting: My first reaction when I heard this saying associated with Microsoft was "Huh!?!?"---I have always (similar to the OP) been under the impression that a major reason why so many MS products are so poor, is that the developers do not have to use them themselves.

This could, of course, have other explanations, e.g. that no-one who makes decisions listens to what the developers have to say, or that it does not apply to all products. 88.77.176.194 (talk) 11:54, 20 September 2009 (UTC)

As I understand it, within MS, it's not just that the devs use it, but that other business units are encouraged to use other MS products too. For example, the OS division is more likely to moan about bad UI in MS office than the office devs are, and vice versa, because they aren't used to it. 82.41.11.155 (talk) 17:15, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

Origins[edit]

I have just reordered the page, and found that it contains 2 (mutually exclusive) indication of origin for the sentence Eat one's own dog food. Does anyone has any source indicating which one is most likely to be correct? Schutz 00:38, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

I'm pretty sure we spoke of "eating one's own dog food" in Silicon Valley and elsewhere long before the dot-com era. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 206.169.0.56 (talk) 07:26, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

I had the impression from somewhere the origin was the old practice of (this is macabre) sled dogs being fed to other sled dogs as the load lightened on very long expeditions. This was more fashionable in the early explorations of the North and South Poles, but is much less common today, not only for the bad P.R. but also good sled dogs are more valuable. No recollection where I heard/read this. Bob Stein - VisiBone (talk) 00:17, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

I don't know the first use of this term, but I do know that it was used by whoever (probably Edson de Castro) ran Data General in the late 1970s or early 1980s, when he found that the company was not using the email system that the company sold, and mandated that they should do so, invoking the EYODF phrase. This might be documented in "The Soul of a New Machine" by Tracy Kidder, which was published in 1981. If this is true, it implies that the phrase is older than that. Gar37bic (talk) 04:44, 30 November 2010 (UTC)

I always thought that this phrase came from conflating "eat our own cooking" meaning use what we produce, and "to have to eat dog food" meaning desperately poor. If that is the correct origin, its current use is ironic; it should mean "use the really poor products we produce". — Preceding unsigned comment added by Victor.Sac (talkcontribs) 03:07, 8 December 2011 (UTC)

I had always assumed the phrase was a euphemism for "eating your own dogshit" because obviously it is means that the company consumes what it produces. Macterra (talk) 15:52, 23 January 2012 (UTC)

An act of "eating one's own dog food" was illustrated in a scene in the 1939 P.G. Wodehouse story The Go-getter, in which a character acting as representative of a particular brand of dog food eats a dog biscuits in order to demonstrate its wholesomeness. I'm adding it - if anyone has objections please let me know.--Philologia (talk) 03:25, 4 December 2017 (UTC)
Nice find. That's much more consistent with the first explanation I ever heard of the term. I'm also concerned that the page conflates "eating your own dog food" with "dogfooding." I assume dogfooding is an evolution of "eating your own dog food", but, as commonly used they've grown quite different. "Eating your own dog food" means using your own products to run your business. "Dogfooding" refers to a final testing phase just before a product release.Aidtopia (talk) 21:31, 22 July 2020 (UTC)

Too much geek[edit]

This whole page seems much too highly focused on computers and the software industry. While dot-com businessmen may have helped popularize the phrase in recent years, it's already noted in the page that it was likely in use long before most people knew what a comupter was.

Moreover, the concept is a common principle that is applicable to almost any business. I, for one, was surprised not to see a mention or cross reference to Sy Sperling of the Hair Club For Men and his unavoidable TV sales pitch: "I'm not only the President, I'm also a client". (I'd add it myself, but given the page's current geek-centric nature, I can't seem to find a place where it fits.) I'm sure there are many other examples of the principle in action outside the technology field that could be listed here as well. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.126.122.4 (talk) 23:45, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

Thank you, excellent points. Moreover, inasmuch as the word has caught on in the tech world, the meaning has evolved. It is used (and by Maritz and people who worked for him at Microsoft) to mean something more like "internal beta release". A version that is considered good enough to start using by end users (or even just by the developers, but used not for testing but for its intended purpose) is called a "dogfood release" and emails get sent out that say "it's dogfood, please start using it". This is a different meaning than the original as it does not imply the product is even marketed yet. 68.174.97.122 (talk) 19:56, 10 January 2013 (UTC)

Not a blogger neologism[edit]

I heard this phrase used often while I was a computer science grad student at a major university. This was before blogs even existed. Take it to AFD if you want, and the article certainly could use improvement and better citations, but it's a notable phrase/concept. Let's improve the article instead of deleting it. I removed the PROD tag. SparsityProblem 21:23, 19 February 2007 (UTC)

I entered university in 1988 when my school did computer science with VAX machines that students could access through 'dumb terminals'. 3.5 inch "floppies" were a big new deal, replacing the 5.25 ones. I used an Apple IIe for all my papers. I have no idea where tech was when you were in grad school. Before blogs existed? I had one professor touting the greatness of email at my school, trying to get other people to use it. One. I took a class in Banyan Vines Networks in '94, and my teachers were telling me that TCP/IP was soon going to be replaced by much better protocols. Zachary G. Pascal came out with Showstopper! The Breakneck Race to Create Windows NT and the Next Generation at Microsoft that year, where he describes Dave Cutler as utilizing the practice and using the phrase. Now, this might sound like bragging about how old I am, but take another look at "while I was a computer grad student at a major university... before blogs even existed." This could be any university before 2000. I don't believe anyone actually preserved this article with that kind of claim! It's as bad as the claim that it's a blogger neologism. At least that person knew what a fancy word like neologism means! Cuvtixo (talk) 05:59, 15 June 2018 (UTC)

No POV problem[edit]

The dispute seems to be over tech vs. non-tech usage.

  1. There's lots of non-tech content here
  2. There's no evident history of disputes over tech/non-tech content
  3. The term probably sees genuinely more usage in tech settings.

The article needs cleaning, but not a POV scrub. Can we change tags? I will if nobody vouches for the {{pov}} tag. --- tqbf 22:18, 12 November 2007 (UTC)

Term[edit]

This appears to be simply defining a neologism that may be specifically used in Microsoft. The only three sources which are usable and appear to use the term as defined in the article are both microsoft sources. There is no evidence given to the origin of the term or anything else. In the interview where MS is asked about where it came from they make no mention of the commercial.--Crossmr (talk) 01:29, 23 December 2008 (UTC)

Microsoft, really?[edit]

Well, I've come across the word "dogfood" used approximately as defined here but never for a Microsoft product. I suppose that the reason is that Microsoft products are closed-source, that anyone having access to the source is under strict non-disclosure contractual agreements, and that since I'm not a Microsoft employee I don't have access to their programmers' slang.

However, contrary to Microsoft, Mozilla products are open-source, and anyone can be a beta tester, or even an alpha tester, without even asking. That's where I've come across the term: in Mozilla's bug-tracking system, aptly named Bugzilla and used (as a software product) by many other software companies, there is (in Mozilla's own implementation for tracking bugs in its own products) a "keyword" named dogfood, and defined as follows: The keyword is used to mark a bug which prevents use of the product by Mozilla developers (breaks bugzilla, for example, or crashes on reading bugmail). If you are not a Mozilla developer, you should not set this keyword. If you don't know whether or not you're a Mozilla developer, you should not set this keyword. (from https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/describekeywords.cgi). Quite clearly, the keyword means (in Mozilla slang) that the bug makes the product "not dogfoodable", i.e., that with that bug, the product becomes useless for its own developers. This use explicitly excludes most of the beta testers (and possibly quite a lot of the alpha testers too), because, in the Mozilla world, most beta testers are people from "the world at large", who are willing to use test versions of the product with the knowledge that all bugs haven't yet been found, in order to get in exchange the luxury of using the latest enhancements and novelties before (and in some cases even years before) they are officially released. Most of these testers, I think (and certainly I) would be totally at a loss if they had to do any programming task anywhere in the source of any Mozilla product. —Tonymec (talk) 02:18, 21 December 2009 (UTC)

'Dogfood' tag in bug trackers[edit]

For instance at [Mozilla.org]. AIUI the 'dogfood' tag means that the bug in question hinders or prevents internal use of the product. Is this application worth a mention? – Regregex (talk) 10:37, 30 July 2009 (UTC)

IMO, no. --Gwern (contribs) 15:29 2 August 2009 (GMT)
IMO, mention of its use, in bug trackers or elsewhere, but specifically outside the Microsoft world, would help give this article a more Neutral Point Of View. See above (the sub-section I added in the preceding section before reading this one) for details. —Tonymec (talk) 02:22, 21 December 2009 (UTC)

IPS, Inc[edit]

This reminds me that IPS (IP.Board creators) use their own Software that they wrote: IP.Content is for their own website, and IP.Board if for the forum,

Get the idea? ECat200 (talk) 09:46, 9 December 2010 (UTC)


What about anti-dogfooding ?[edit]

People who work for ad companies and have ad-blockers installed, or those who wouldn't be seen dead using products made by the company they work for. Plenty of people that work in sausage-making places wouldn't eat one, knowing how they're made. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 188.174.211.145 (talk) 14:08, 20 August 2013 (UTC)

Google and Microsoft Outlook[edit]

In the introductions, it says this, "Compare this to fictional cases where Google employees used Microsoft Outlook to execute the functional task of sending emails, or Microsoft employees writing documents with WordPerfect."

It should be noted that Gmail does allow for POP3, SMTP and IMAP, which means it's entirely relevent for Google to be using Microsoft Outlook, even if they're dogfooding their own product (although they may not be accessing every single feature of Gmail that way, but they won't be accessing all the features if they don't use POP3 and/or IMAP, too). 63.155.34.117 (talk) 04:30, 22 October 2013 (UTC)

A couple of possible examples?[edit]

I heard something about how in ancient times, to prevent shoddy workmanship, the person in charge of building a bridge had to be the first person to cross it as well to make sure the bridge is sturdy enough to use. Would that be a case of this?

In addition, I read somewhere (I might look for it later) that everyone who works at Stern Electronics, a pinball manufacturer, has to play pinball at least 15 minutes per day, regardless of department. The idea seems to be a combination of making sure everyone understands the experience of playing, playtesting on a decent-sized scale, and weeding out anyone who does not actually like to play pinball. Ron Stoppable (talk) 02:21, 8 March 2014 (UTC)

Live commercial: Alpo Dog Food Rejected[edit]

I had heard once that this term was brought forth when there was a live-dog-food commercial where the dog actually rejected the food. I have found one here, from the Johnny Carson show. It is actually hilarious what Johnny does, after the dog is clearly not interested.

Johnny Carson Bloopers: Johnny Helps with the Alpo Dog Food Ad on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show

Macetw (talk) 20:05, 9 April 2014 (UTC)

"Your"?[edit]

Should it really be "Eating your own dog food", featuring a use of generic you? This article title seems slightly unencyclopedic to me. 142.162.190.34 (talk) 10:59, 1 June 2015 (UTC)

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Mozilla and "catfood"[edit]

Dunno if they still do it, but in the leadup to Mozilla 1.0, Mozilla also used the term "catfood" for final polishing bugs as a variation on "dogfood", the idea being that cats are fussier. If I could find a good reference I'd add it to "other terms" - David Gerard (talk) 22:08, 13 March 2016 (UTC)

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Dogs breakfast[edit]

Surely this should read "Dogs Dinner" — Preceding unsigned comment added by 167.98.66.68 (talk) 10:26, 24 May 2018 (UTC)

Disaster! This article has so many problems! I'm not sure where to start![edit]

The first time I read the phrase was in Pascal Zachary's Showstopper! the Breakneck Race to Create Windows NT and the Next Generation which here is cited from 2009. That might have been the publication date of the ebook, but the original book was published in 1994, which makes a world of difference in the tech field. If there is a method of citing the exact page of the ebook, AND including the date of the original dead tree book and it's ISBN, please make this change. Apparently Dave Cutler was fond of the term (and the concept) and is quoted using it in the 1994 book. I suspect Cutler picked it up at Digital Equipment Corporation, and I think histories, biographies or published material about DEC would be a good place to start looking for its' origin in tech. Warren Harrison's recollections of 1970s television advertisements with Lorne Greene and Alpo dog food and the president of Kal Kan Pet Food are at least cited, but the IEEE editor's article is from 2006, over 10 years after Showstopper!'s publication and probably 30 or more years after Lorne Green's commercials. It's not a reliable recollection as an origin of the phrase, and the jump from 70's ads to 1990's computer programming is utterly unexplained. The examples in the Examples section are ridiculous because there's no reference to the term "dogfooding" in them! Although it became popular in the programming field (at least after Zachary's book); giving examples that do not include, and may predate the term, is bogus. You might as well cite medieval or Biblical references. I'm sure there are examples of it (perhaps religious leaders following their own scripture?) but it's nonsensical. Dave Cutler, according to Showstopper!, was a pretty aggressive team leader with a short temper. He in fact admitted utilizing his reputation as having a short temper to Pascal Zachary as a motivation tool when creating Windows NT. "Dogfooding" fits this image, as it is rather aggressive term. When would forcing your staff to "eat their own dogfood" be anything else??? Another example cited: "When Time Warner merged with AOL..." is an example of dogfooding NOT working, without any reference to the phrase. If the author wants to write an analysis and put it in paragraph form under Criticism and alternative terms (uuhg! Note the lack of capitalization of "alternative terms" in the section header) or better yet create a separate "Criticism" section, please do. Otherwise it's unencyclopedic, a series of statements that might belong in Wiktionary or another dictionary, not an encyclopedia article. Note the mother of all English dictionaries, the Oxford English Dictionary takes great pains to find the very first use of a word in printed text. I almost wish the proposed for deletion by Nydas in 2007 went through, because this article just desecrates the concept of a Wikipedia article on one of my favorite subjects, personal computer history! Cuvtixo (talk) 05:38, 15 June 2018 (UTC) PS I suspect this phrase and the term "dogfooding" ONLY applies to software development. I can't think of any examples where people working on a half-done, or even not-quite-finished product can use that product (perhaps software/firmware heavy products like cell phones). For some reason, this article emphasizes the marketing aspect of using a company's own finished products. Certainly in Dave Cutler's Window NT case, a barebones OS, basically the kernel, text editor, and compiler were used to build the rest of the product. But a company wouldn't ask it's staff to drive to work everyday in a car frame with a motor and seat. The article does quote InfoWorld, "watered-down examples, such as auto dealers' policy of making salespeople drive the brands they sell, or Coca-Cola allowing no Pepsi products in corporate offices ... are irrelevant" That's because the employees and salespeople are not in position to give feedback and make suggestions about changes in the product. Not in a major way, at least. They might contribute to changes in advertising or marketing, but "dogfooding" suggests using the product and making essential changes future versions of the product itself. That requires a level of abstraction and complexity and an expectation by the consumers that the product will undergo changes over time, something few products have been in a position to do before software. Cola drinkers expect their product will taste and feel the same throughout time. Only the wealthiest clients will buy the next year's model car, hoping for improvements over the previous year. Software buyers have learned and essentially been "trained" to expect updates and upgrades. They may even pay for an upgrade, with the expectation that it will be less than the original purchase. Or that a subscription model will be offered from the start. Perhaps cable TV offerings? Again that's awfully close, if not specifically software related. And having employees watch programs and movies on cable stations is hardly like "eating your own dogfood." This should probably be emphasized in the article. As it is some weird reference to a green government program is cited here as an example, and I'm not even clear what is being referred to there. Cuvtixo (talk) 07:01, 15 June 2018 (UTC)

FYI, the Wikipedia manual of style says that headings are only capitalised at the the first word. --Escape Orbit (Talk) 12:17, 15 June 2018 (UTC)