FeedDemon: What’s in a Name?

Every now and then I’ll receive an email from someone stating that they really like FeedDemon, but they won’t buy it because of the word “demon” in its name. The majority of these comments come from reasonable, sincere people whose beliefs cause them to be turned off by the demon imagery, and while my personal beliefs don’t include angels or demons, I do take these comments seriously and I certainly don’t want my choice of name to be a stumbling block.

For the record, the name “FeedDemon” originated as a play on the phrase “speed demon,” simply because I worked so hard to make sure FeedDemon was faster than the competition. Of course, the FeedDemon logo does include a demonic-looking hand catching a fireball, but I never even considered that it would offend people, any more than I would think the logo for Dirt Devil vacuum cleaners would cause controversy.

I hesitated to make this post because any mention of religion usually brings out the wackos on both sides (believers and non-believers alike), but I am curious whether many people feel this way. If you’re among those who can’t comment about religion without being intolerant to those who believe differently, this isn’t the place for you to vent. But if you have a respectful comment, I’d love to hear it regardless of whether I agree.

86 thoughts on “FeedDemon: What’s in a Name?

  1. I have to admit that I was a little embarrased showing the product to my christian friends with the word demon in it. But hey what can you do.

  2. I think the people that are so offended by the word demon are in such a small minority that it wont affect your sales numbers. I imagine that many hard core Christians wouldn’t have a problem, much like the DirtDevil you referred to.
    At this point, you’ve gotten such good branding out of the name FeedDemon that I cannot imagine throwing that all in reverse to change the name. As for marketing, you would be shooting yourself in the foot to change.
    I also believe that anything you can name a product will offend someone. If it was FeedKitten you would get people mad that hate cats. You cannot cater to everyone. FeedDemon is widely known now, and to chance course would be detrimental to the product.
    Keep it as is, and for those intolerant enough of “words” to object can do without.

  3. First off, I have been a registered user since 1.1 was released and couldn’t live without it.
    Second, I respect everyone’s right to believe as they see fit. However, it saddens me that people can’t overcome a simple name to use a good product. Saying FeedDemon outloud 10 times will not invoke the wrath of anyone’s God, nor will it cause your computer to spontaneously combust. A name is just that, a name.
    Third, as for your reason for selecting the name, I always figured it was a play on the unix “daemon”, i.e. “feed daemon”. Cool.
    — lonejack

  4. I remember there was quite a controversy over the NJ Devils NHL team when they selected their name nearly 30 years ago. The name is a play on the legend of the “Jersey Devil” that supposedly inhabits the pine forests in the southeast of the state, but there were a number of people displeased with the choice.
    Back when Doom 2 was popular, I had a co-worker who wouldn’t partake of the tournaments because he was uncomfortable with the game, not because of the violence, but because of the demonic symbology. He’d play other shooters that were equally violent but Doom 2 made him uncomfortable.

  5. As a christian myself, I wasn’t very comfortable with the name of your product but it was the best product out there so I bought it.
    These days, I use bloglines, but I didn’t switch because of the name of your product, I switched because bloglines was more convenient for me (plus I also switched operating systems).
    Besides, there are one (or more) processes on Linux (my os these days), with the name daemon somewhere embedded in them anyway. Though, depending on who you ask (google, webopedia, wikipedia, answers.com), you get conflicting meanings of that word…

  6. I never “got” the FeedDemon ~ SpeedDemon connection until I read this post. Very cool.
    Am I a hard-core christian? Sorta. I’m not a fundamentalist per se, but my faith is very important to me. School prayer, gay marriage, abortion are the most important issues for many christians, but they seem quite minor when I read scripture. I find the bible to be much more concerned about justice, peace, mercy, and equity… helping the poor, the powerless, the oppressed, etc.
    So… I’ve got no problem with the name FeedDemon because its there are much bigger things to worry about. Why waste my passion on something so incidental? I’ll come back to it after fundamental human rights are secure to eveyone on the planet, when everyone can get health care and no one starves or dies from an easily preventable diseases.
    – Adam (NetCaptor) Stiles

  7. I’m reminded by a quote from I believe Bill Cosby…. ‘I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.’

  8. Nick,
    I fall in the Christian camp, but love the product. I don’t have an issue at all with the ‘demon’ imagry, and love the play on ‘speed demon’; makes for a good story.
    Keep up the good work,

  9. I don’t use FeedDemon myself, since there is no Linux version, I only tried it for a couple of days, and it made me wish for a Linux version.
    Personally, I don’t think the word “demon” in the name is offending, doesn’t matter if I’m a religious person or not, since it’s more of an expression. You always hear things like “he’s a programming god” (note the small G), as well as “he’s a programming demon”, “he drives like a speed demon”, etc.
    For those who refuse to buy FeedDemon because of its name, I say please, try the dictionary, you’ll be amazed:
    “Demon” doesn’t necessarily imply “evil”, it can mean “An attendant spirit; a genius.” or “One who is extremely zealous, skillful, or diligent”. I’m pretty sure that when Nick was trying to find a name for FeedDemon, he wasn’t trying to start a (literally) religious war.
    I hope the name doesn’t stop you from buying the product, and read RSS like a “demon” =)

  10. “Demon” or “Deamon” doesn’t have its origin in te christian religion and certainly has other meanings in other cultures. I don’t think personal religious considerations should prevail when designing or branding a product.

  11. Don’t worry about the Demon in the applications name, afterall it is fast eh?! :), no matter what you choose someone will find something to pick at..
    As for the dirt devil, those little vacuumcleaners clean like hell (‘xcuse the pun), up to the point that the backdoor rug got stuck in it :)

  12. As someone who was a member of the newsgroups when the name was being discussed, I think it’s important to note the intentions you have behind the name. That’s more important than the word itself.
    We threw out hundreds of names back then, and this one stuck. None of us ever thought that we could celebrate a love of Satan by naming your product if any of us even did that at all.

  13. I’m pretty religious and I didn’t have a problem with the logo or name. However, if I was giving your program to my young kids (all < 10) I would have a problem. For instance I used to use a script program called DemonScript or something like that. After a while I realized that we were uncomfortable with the image for the icon and stopped using it. For me, the images are much worse than the name and FD's image isn't that bad.

  14. Oh forgot, not that it matters, buti’m more a Buddist when it comes to the approach of life, I think you have to carry your own conscience of what you did right or wrong in life, not a greater entity who forgives you all your sins whenever you feel like you need forgiving..
    And it seems most of the churches are filled with people who seek forgiveness from whatever sins they (think) they have commited, or about to commit. All the times i got taken to the cleaner and was frauded out of money it was done by so called christians.
    I’m not saying all christians are bad, but there’s something coherently wrong in the phrase “brothers in God” and then go off frauding people, can’t recall anything in the bible that specicially says that that’s a proper christian thing to do. Then again a lot of major (and minor) wars where fought in the name of religion.
    Well thats my rant, back to Delphi now, bills need to be paid, and no religion in the world will do that for me ;)

  15. I took it from Unix days as well, and that it was a fast “‘lil devil”, in all the good sense of the usage as far as geekdom plays on the Inter-Web.
    If you changed the name, I doubt it would matter since we RSS your blog, and know your high acclaim of your software.

  16. I’m one of the most religious people I know and really have never had a single problem with it. The link with “speed demon” should be virtually instantaneous and is obviously isn’t meant to imply any truly evil or dark connotation. I don’t have a problem with it at all; in fact, it’s one of my very favorite product names ever.

  17. I never made the “speed demon”/FeedDemon connection until you explained it (which is probably more of a reflection on me than on you). And while the name by itself wouldn’t keep me from buying the product, it DOES make it harder for me to LOVE the product –in the same way that it would take some effort for me to get excited about having a snake or a rat for a pet — even if it were a really smart rat.

  18. FeedDemon is my reader of choice and the one I recommend to others, but I always rename the destop icon to Reader– so I guess the name causes me some problems.

  19. What an opprotunity you’re missing, just sell the FeedAngel upgrade for an additional $4.95

  20. Well, I would classify myself as a Christian, though not a bible banger, I consider my faith to be the most important factor in my life, and the most important factor in defining me. I have no problems with the name. Also, I never made the Speed Demon / Feed Demon connection. (as a side note, I find it interesting from a marketing perspective, that there are many others who did not as well)
    But whenever I try to convince someone who is a Christian who doesn’t have a background in computers I would explain the idea in Unix of a Daemon and say that was what you are meaning (which is also facinating becuase I am marking your products for you in a completly different way that you intended). Some would get it, others would look at me strange (which I’m use to).
    If you could consider a new way to market the program with more of a connection to speed demon, that might help you sell more products, especially to the fundamentalist branchs of Christians.
    I think honestly though, that asking this group about the name isn’t exactly a qualified market sampling, most of us are faithful customers and love your programming skills.

  21. No particular comment other than to say that I love the product (and am a registered user) and that I do not have any problems/issues with your choice of name.

  22. I particularly didn’t care for the name “FeedDemon,” and given just that to go on, I would have been hesitant to buy the product. It was primarily because of being an avid fan of HomeSite and then TopStyle (i.e. – having a familiarity with your company through those products) that I wasn’t bothered too much by the name to avoid FeedDemon. Because of the familiarity with your other products from before, it was easy to give the benefit of the doubt (even though the icon is a “demonic” hand and fire). I actually did assume that the name was a take-off on “Speed Demon” rather than something more malevolent.

  23. This is great – 23 comments so far on a post involving religion, and not a flame among them! Nice to see that this is still possible.

  24. For the record, I’m a Christian, and I don’t take any offense whatsoever. For me, the word demon brings to mind services/daemons, as in httpd, sshd, dhcpd, etc.
    I went to a high school where the mascot was the Red Devils, and we had parents and people in the community complaining about that, too. You can never please everyone.

  25. This discussion brings to mind an old tool to secure networks, called “Security Administrator Tool for Analyzing Networks”, aka SATAN. The name was controversial enough so they included a little tool that would rename all references to the acronymn in the program, changing it to SANTA.

  26. I’ve been using FeedDemon for a few weeks. I love it. I don’t quite see a “demon hand” in its logo or icon. Until you pointed out that it was a demon hand, I thought it was just a firey globe. Anyway, I am a devout Christian, very conservative politically but very liberal socially. I certainly don’t classify myself as a “fundamentalist” (tho others would).
    I see no problems with either the name of the product or the icon. In fact, I paid for a license for the product. Not because of its marketing or icons, but because of its usefullness. I’ve been mostly a Usenet reader and contributor for many years, and it seems that the world is going for RSS and XML in a big way. Anyway, my 2 cents…

  27. All I have to say is never introduce any of the people who were upset (?) by the name FeedDemon to linux, not with all them daemons running ;)

  28. It didn’t even cross my mind that “demon” could cause any controversy in this case. It’s a quite common word, quite watered down by now in my opinion. So I certainly didn’t get offended :P

  29. I too never got the FeedDemon – Speed Demon link until you mentioned it. I bought the product for features rather than speed.
    I took another look at the FeedDemon logo and I think it would work without the demonic hand/claw in it. Just keep the fireball.
    Bottom-line: I don’t have any issues with the name but I can see why others would.

  30. Here in New Zealand there’s an excellent rock band who were once named Shihad. In their attempts to make it big in USA they changed their name to Pacifier as Shihad sounded like Jihad and they didn’t want to offend anyone. Well anyway they have since changed back to Shihad regretting the whole trying not to offend thing as just silly and didn’t work for them, admitting it was a big mistake. There may be a message in there somewhere…

  31. Nah, not offended at all. I’m moderately Christian…not strict or anything, but FeedDemon is just a name – the software is what counts, and that’s great. :)
    Rename it if you wish…that may be a good idea and draw more sales. Look at Firefox…they renamed it how many times, and continued to grow in market share.
    Keep up the good work, and to those who don’t use Nick’s product because of the name, just think of it as FeedAngel. ;)

  32. I love the name. There are always some people who are going to take offense at something, if you are a UT fan you might take offense at the name NewsGator… doesn’t mean they should change it. :)
    Just look at the book Angels and Demons, if you can sell as many copies as that book you should be set. :)

  33. Links from all over

    The Pig of Death: TQTJ Talks to Harlan Ellison (Part II of III)Harlan Ellison writes science fiction, fantasy, TV, essays, crime fiction, etc. He’s also a tough Jew. Part 2 of a 3-part interview. Vintage Ellison.The Pig of Death: Tough…

  34. To add to the tally, I didn’t see the Speed Demon/FeedDemon connection. But, I also never thought for one minute Nick had any hint of an evil intention when he named this product. Anyone who reads Nick’s blogs and uses his products knows he cares to give his customers VERY good value and support (and is a very good family man).
    I am a very devout Christian and a registered user of both TopStyle and FeedDemon. I will continue to use FeedDemon, but I must say I would feel a lot better showing my wife and kids and recommending my software to others if it didn’t have a demonic tone to it.
    All this discussion (and I’m very happy it’s calm too) might suggest a change should be made. I’ve never heard of anyone who complained about the names Macromedia Fireworks or Microsoft Visual Studio.
    If you really believe changing the name of a software product will hurt sales, just think about how many times Microsoft changes product names and how huge they are.

  35. I’m christian, using registered copy of FeedDemon – I have no problem with the name (and the logo) – maybe the UI has lots of balls – reminds me of pokemon balls, rather than any demons.

  36. I am a follower of Jesus Christ, and a registered user of FeedDemon for almost a year. I really enjoy using the product, and I don’t have any negative impressions from the name.
    Instead, I rejoice in the kind, thoughtful, caring way you communicate with your customers and the blogosphere. Your style models the way of Christ for me. Thank you.

  37. You know, until you mentioned it I never thought of it in a religious context. I guess I always assumed “demon” had to do with sorta a spin off of server daemons …you know, back when things that ran on workstation desktops that ran like a server were called “daemon” like “FTP daemon”, “IRC daemon” or “HTTP daemon” etc.

  38. ‘Sincere’ these people may be, Nick, but ‘reasonable’? ‘Mediaeval’ is a better description of this kind of deluded guilt-laden non-thinking.

  39. I find it kind of surprising that none of the commentors seem to fall into that anti-demon group.
    That aside, after reading Thomas Hobbes I´m quite convinced that demons & devils don´t belong to the christian faith at all (or, shouldn´t) (which, in return, means that any name with a mention of demon shouldn´t be a problem). Suites the whole concept a lot better anyway.
    [That aside I´ve run into similar issues in a browser game, where I wanted to join an alliance that turned out to be christians only, and they took offense in my players´ description (which also had the little d-word)]

  40. As a chrisitian (and a fan of the Red Devils – Manchester United, who have a pic of satan on their team crest) myself i simply can’t believe that people are making an issue of this.
    This is an American issue NOT a christian issue.
    I would love to be offended by it as that would mean that i have LOTS of spare time on my hands to waste on such nonsense. Jeez get a freakin life people!!!!!!!!

  41. Strange, I always thought it was a pun on Feed Daemon.
    “Daemon (Computer Science). A program or process that sits idly in the background until it is invoked to perform its task.”

  42. So is this a moral question or a sales question?
    The name obviously does offend some people and makes others uncomfortable. I know my spouse would not buy it simply because of the name. And because of that, I will probably not buy it. However, if it had another name, I might buy it.
    It is also obvious that the name was chosen because of computer history and not religous history. It is unfortunate when the two collide like this.
    So again, is this a moral question? If so, how many poeople need to be offended before you decide to do something?
    Is this a sales question? If so, how many poeople need to be offended before you decide to do something?
    Just curious what you are expecting here.

  43. It’s not like you called it Lucifer (leader of the demons), or something. :) In molecular biology, there is actually an enzyme called Firefly Luciferase. Fireflies (the bugs), among others, use it to regulate light production. The -ase on the end indicates it’s an enzyme.

  44. I connected the name with the *NIX terminology (daemon) for their equivalent to what Windows calls “Services” as others here have mentioned. To be honest I was a bit disappointed when I found out it was just a user space app and not a service or “daemon” but I can’t say that I was ever offended by the name.

  45. I live in Louisville, CO and most phone numbers go something like this: (303) 666-NNNN. When talking to some people not from this area they think I’m making up the number and I’ve even heard of certain companies refusing to do buisness with others that have the 666 prefix. Which is all rather funny when you consider they just discovered that the real “number of the beast” is 616 and is probably in reference to Nero (not the software).
    You can’t please all the people all of the time and it sounds like there is a very low percentage of people that have an inmutable association with the word “Demon” so I’d not worry about it. There are some products I don’t buy simply because the name sounds silly, like anything with an “Ez” prefix.
    I know quite a few hard-core Christians and Catholics that use FeedDemon without bating an eyelash. To them context is more important than a word. Saying “Jesus” by itself doesn’t really mean much because there is obviously a big difference between “Jesus is a tosser” or “Jesus is camping out in my heart” or even “My friend Jesus from Mexico taught me how to play this amazing flamico-style riff on guitar.”

  46. I think your logo would be much stronger and better if you remove the hand and just keep the ball.

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