Anyone who has spent some time in Linux space will have come across the "distro b*tch" phenomenon. These are individuals and cliques who for whatever reason, over-identify with their particular GNU Linux OS of choice, to the point where they feel compelled to insult - subtly or otherwise - anyone stupid enough to choose a different operating system. The attitude of this sub-species of homo sapien ranges from the crass, unthinking troll, to the most anally retentive intellectual elitist, looking down his (usually) or her nose at those of us are too un-enlightened to see their particular distro of choice for what it is.
(Oh yes my brothers and sisters, hear ye, hear ye...)
In the minds of such people or groups, one's choice of an alternate Linux flavour appears to offend them more deeply than the existence of starving people in the third world or greedy corporations poisoning the beautiful planet we all share. This sad loss of perspective reflects a related loss of gratitude for the wonderfully diverse range of exceptional operating systems GNU Linux has blessed us with - a plethora of options that Windows & OSX users will never see. Whether you are an 80 year old retiree or a lentel eating heavy metal head - in fact, pretty much whatever your sub-culture or user requirements - there exists one or more distro's catering to your tastes. This diversity acts like a thorn-in-the-side of distro dogmatists, who one must logically assume, secretly believe that GNU Linux would finally conquer the desktop if only every other distro except The One were eradicated.
Having clearly stated my complete contempt for distro elitism in any form whatsoever, let me move on to the question I pose in the title. Having used Manjaro as my primary OS for the last 10 or so months, I have come across a multiplicity of views about this young Arch-based upstart, that elicits a range of emotions and points of view. The two perspectives that I find most interesting are "Arch done right!" and "Arch for idiots and lazy people!!" The "Arch done right!" viewpoint bases itself on the fact that the Manjaro Way takes Arch Linux and says to users, "You can have your cake and eat it. You can enjoy the speed, simplicity and minimalist essentialism of Arch, along with a newbie friendly installation process and a reduced risk of system breakages". In short, an Arch-based system, minus the knowledge and time requirements demanded by Arch proper. Some people call this "Arch done right".
In opposition to this point of view is the one that sees Manjaro as breaking one of the cardinal rules of The Arch Way, opting for "user-friendly over "user-centric". To clarify these terms, a relevant quote from the esteemed Arch Wiki serves us well: "Whereas many GNU/Linux distributions attempt to be more user-friendly, Arch Linux has always been, and shall always remain user-centric. Arch Linux targets and accommodates competent GNU/Linux users by giving them complete control and responsibility over the system."
For some Arch users therefore - thankfully a small minority - Manjaro equates to "Arch for complete idiots and/or lazy people". It is the ultimate blasphemy made manifest, standing in the temple. Within this belief system, the fact that it simplifies (dumbs down?) the installation and day-to-day running of Arch, is unacceptable and at the very least, casts significant doubt on the users credibility. Few would disagree that this subtle yet significant difference in guiding values and principles, has been the source of some heated debate in the wider Arch community, between a small coterie of insecure Arch and Manjaro users.
Thankfully the majority of Arch and Manjaro users can see the small-mindedness of both of these positions. Manjaro can only ever be judged subjectively, as "Arch done right or wrong FOR ME", and not for humanity as a whole. For those users who like myself, don't want to invest the time required to achieve the level of competency needed for "complete control and responsibility over the system", but still want an Arch-based system, Manjaro offers a lot. Likewise, for users with the necessary knowledge, time and will to maintain their own system, Arch is an extremely compelling option.
That Manjaro is based on Arch and owes a debt of appreciation to it, few in the Manjaro community would, or should argue - Manjaro's technical relationship to Arch is a subjective fact. However, claiming that Manjaro is superior to Arch or vice versa, in an objective "true for all" sense, lacks any kind of logical/intellectual credibility. In certain respects, Manjaro stands in relation to Arch in a similar way to that of Ubuntu in relation to Debian, or Mint in relation to Ubuntu. Debian, Ubuntu, Mint, Arch, Manjaro. These are all excellent distros, in their own right. I tried Mint before settling on Manjaro and enjoyed it. I will never be seen dead running Ubuntu, but I might try my hand at Debian or Arch (again) in the future.
Manjaro isn't "Arch Done Right!" or "Arch For Complete Idiots!!"?
It's occupies it's own space.
Manjaro is Manjaro.