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09.30.07

Is Novell Patrolling Open Source Blogs?

Posted in Finance, GNU/Linux, Novell at 4:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The blogsphere isn’t a police state and anonymous comments make it hard to understand just how much astroturfing is really going on.

It was previously mentioned that Novell bends the arms of bloggers (also here, among other incidents). This is unacceptable. If a blogger has criticism directed at Novell, it needs to be addressed not behind the scenes and not in unpleasant ways. Arm-bending tactics do not work; neither does viral marketing or grassroots support.

“Should bloggers be bullied whenever they question Novell’s alleged ‘success’?”I’ve just spotted a new post from Dave Rosenberg, whose blog I regularly read and enjoy. He offered his interpretation of Novell’s latest figures — figures which we haven’t faith in.

There’s no concrete evidence, but only strong suspicion. Knowing what we know and having learned from past experience, however, it seems likely that Novell (or at least its community) is up to old tricks.

Have a look at this new blog item.

I’ve left two comments, but only one shows up (probably because of moderation, which limits posting to just one per IP address). The second comment (if it appears) will talk about the strange pace of responses, which consistently support Novell. This pattern can be seen despite the fact that Novell support comes from a quiet minority, based on I hear from other people. Notice how once again, a Novell critic gets immediate opposition from anonymous commenters. What is going on there? Should bloggers be bullied whenever they question Novell’s alleged ‘success’?

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9 Comments

  1. gpl1 said,

    September 30, 2007 at 4:20 am

    Gravatar

    Microsoft has to maintain that deal as well. And they are experts in this sort of thing.

  2. Maarten Kooiker said,

    September 30, 2007 at 4:50 am

    Gravatar

    I think there is little you can do about it, just leave Novell and Microsoft where they are and don’t pay attention…..

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 30, 2007 at 5:00 am

    Gravatar

    @gpl1: Heh. You’re telling me

    Meet Thomas Brooks. He’s a viral marketer for Microsoft.

    It’s unfortunate that paid blogging is becoming all the more prevalent in communities like 1UP. And it’s not just the blogs or reviews, it’s also the message boards. Microsoft, for instance, also has a person (or people?) who is paid to post on some of the popular gaming boards (and no, Jeff Bell wasn’t part of that plan). But it’s not just Microsoft — I know of a few other game publishers who pay users to blog. They don’t necessarily require bloggers to say positive things about their products, but it’s certainly implied with the paychecks.

    Malik, Arrington and Battelle: X-22, come in [to Microsoft]

    What would possess a collection of online publishers and venture capitalists to pimp a Microsoft advertising slogan?

    Valleywag today reported about a site tied to a Microsoft ad campaign where the likes of Michael Arrington, Om Malik and others seemingly lend their support to the “people-ready” catchphrase.

    Microsoft really loves Bloggers !!!

    Microsoft regularly flies customers and industry experts to its campus in Washington to listen to the feedback given by those people.The company invites dozens of key customers and partners to the event,where they spend brainstorming as a group.But as of late, Microsoft has changed it’s strategy and the company is making extensive use of blogs to get direct customer feedback.

    Within a year,more than 1000 Microsoft employee blogs featured developers and product managers talking directly to customers every day, instead of once a year.Microsoft employees read dozens of blogs every day to see how customers react to Microsoft products and services. In fact,Microsoft employees have taken a bigger leap and even contribute to other’s blogs in the expanding space of Blogosphere.

    Microsoft Traps and Hunts for Bloggers in India !!

    Microsoft has announced the “Microsoft BlogStars” contest, to Hunts for Developer Bloggers in India. After feeling the power and increase of the Bloggers community in India, Microsoft tries to trap and hunt Bloggers in India to buildup the blogging community, for writing blog posts supporting towards Microsoft Technologies.

    Bloggers meet Mr. Bill (Gates)

    That meeting is to help Web developers understand how to “unlock new revenue opportunities” through technology and content, which could include podcasts and blogs. The Microsoft sessions wraps up with a one-hour q-and-a up with Bill Gates.

    Bribing Bloggers [Joel Spolsky on Microsoft]

    This is the most frustrating thing about the practice of giving bloggers free stuff: it pisses in the well, reducing the credibility of all blogs. I’m upset that people trust me less because of the behavior of other bloggers. Don’t even get me started about PayPerPost.

    Microsoft’s Laptop Giveaway Becoming PR Disaster?

    This thing is starting to feel like a PR disaster. Bloggers are starting to smell blood and this thing very well may begin to turn into yet another episode of bloggers gone wild.

    Bribing Bloggerss [SJVN on Microsoft]

    It’s a bribe. Period. You say nice things about us, you get nice things from us. Heck, just say neutral things about us-we’ll give you a killer new laptop and we know that you’ll be inclined to say better things about us.

    INQhack survives Vistability test in Volesville

    The Vole (Microsoft) supposedly invited The INQ over for tea because we are notorious “Microsoft doubters” – and we were accompanied by other supposed Vole doubters such as the folk from lifehacker and a very nice man from Slashdot, as well as some Microsoft MvPs.

    Microsoft desperately wants my love — and yours

    I spent December seventh, eighth, and ninth in Seattle as Microsoft’s guest. Microsoft flew me there from Florida at its expense, put me up in a nice hotel, provided decent food, and comped me and four other invitees to this “special conference” with presentations about the marvels of Vista and other recent or upcoming Microsoft products. They didn’t quite play the old Beatles song “Love Me Do” in the background, but it was the event’s unstated theme.

    Wikipedia on Astroturfing

    In 2001, the Los Angeles Times accused Microsoft of astroturfing when hundreds of similar letters were sent to newspapers voicing disagreement with the United States Department of Justice and its antitrust suit against Microsoft. The letters, prepared by Americans for Technology Leadership, had in some cases been mailed from deceased citizens or nonexistent addresses.

    Back to OS/2 Days…

    Some years back, Microsoft practiced a lot of dirty tricks using online mavens to go into forums and create Web sites extolling the virtues of Windows over OS/2. They were dubbed the Microsoft Munchkins, and it was obvious who they were and what they were up to. But their numbers and energy (and they way they joined forces with nonaligned dummies who liked to pile on) proved too much for IBM marketers, and Windows won the operating-system war through fifth-column tactics.

    Bill Gates lends cash to buy newspapers — $350 million to MediaNews

    Gates involvement has been very behind the scenes. In fact many of those involved in the deal didn’teven know he was one of the investors. It was carried out through the Gates Foundation, the world’s largest philanthropy outfit.

    [Linux FUD] The envelope, please . . .

    The overtime that some computer publications and industry pundits have been clocking to propagate FUD around GNU/Linux has grown geometrically over the last several weeks.

    Bloggers’ choice: Free agents, or infomercials?

    Microsoft’s publicity ploy highlighted the growing influence of blogs (as well as other forms of digital self-expression, like audio podcasts and video clips), and a choice now facing bloggers: Do they intend to be a trusted source of insight and information for their readers, or merely the Internet’s version of an infomercial?

    A Wake-Up Call to Microsoft’s PR Team

    In 1998, the Los Angeles Times reported that Microsoft, during its antitrust trials, hired PR companies to flood newspapers with fake letters of support, bearing ordinary individuals’ names but actually written by Microsoft PR staff.

    Later, during the antitrust trials, Microsoft attempted to prove the inseparability of Windows and Internet Explorer by playing a video for the judge. But the government?s lawyer noticed that as the tape rolled on, the number of icons on the desktop kept changing. Microsoft had spliced together footage from different computers to make its point.

    Then in 2002, Microsoft’s Web site featured a testimonial called “Confessions of a Mac to PC Convert,” a first-person account by an attractive brunette “freelance writer” about how she had fallen in love with Windows XP.

    Unfortunately, a Slashdot member discovered that the identical photo was available for rent from the stock-photo libraries of GettyImages.com. Sure enough: Microsoft had hired a PR firm to write the testimonial. The “switcher” did not actually exist.

    Daniel=Eran’s take:

    Instead of inspiring actual interest in a grassroots fashion, Microsoft has resorted to spreading fake grass, crafting each site to suggest the appearance of something other than the advertisement it is.

    From the Register:

    Long before it employed bloggers to do the job for it, Microsoft hired sympathetic members of the public to make its case in online forums, posing as disinterested citizens.

    Microsoft’s mystery game is Vista promo

    A mysterious online countdown. USB drives containing cipher keys. Notes and videos from a woman who calls herself Loki. Bloggers’ reports of extravagant gifts, marked with a return address for Microsoft’s headquarters.

    And all trails leading to a Web site for something called Vanishing Point.

    After weeks of sifting through clues, bloggers, gamers and technology enthusiasts got some relief this week when Microsoft Corp. revealed that Vanishing Point is part of a viral-marketing campaign for Vista, the new PC operating system set for a consumer launch later this month.

    Also related to this: List of fictitious company names used by Microsoft

    Another perspective from C|Net blogs:

    “The main thing I’m pissed off about right now is that they pulled all the ads, which mean we’re taking a revenue hit. We’re running a business here, and have payroll to make. We run ads to make that payroll. Those ads have now been pulled.”

    Microsoft once again corrupts confidence in the blogsphere. They turn ‘citizen journalists’ to marketing people in disguise.

    How’s the Reception at [Microsoft's] Channel 9?

    Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates emphasized the importance of blogging in a May 2004 speech during the company’s annual CEO summit. But Gates doesn’t blog; same for Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

    [...]

    Many Microsoft employees do blog, reportedly more than 4,000 of them. The number of employee bloggers was comparatively quite small, about 300, before the launch of Channel 9 and the success of Scoble’s blog.

    Last year could be called year of the blog at Microsoft. Employee blogrolls swelled and Microsoft bloggers disseminated lots of vital information about the company. Increasingly, employee bloggers are becoming Microsoft’s primary evangelists. They are certainly a group over which the company can exact some control and which can spin information to Microsoft’s advantage.

    Has Demetri Martin Jumped the Shark by Getting Into Bed with Microsoft?

    When I first saw the Clearification website, I just thought it was Demetri’s new project. But I did wonder why the videos were of such high production value. Turns out that Microsoft is footing the bill to not only this site, but are also underwritting his current tour.

  4. Ian said,

    September 30, 2007 at 10:18 pm

    Gravatar

    You’re using post times and the general tone of those posts as evidence that Novell is pushing bloggers? Regardless of where anyone comes down on the whole Novell/Microsoft deal, that’s a weak claim with very shoddy evidence. You often like to hold Groklaw and PJ up was an example of what you’d like this site to be, but I don’t think that site would make a claim like that with so little to back it up.

    I’m not trying to be a jerk. I can’t even tell you you’re wrong. What I’m trying to say though, is that you need more than hearsay and conspiracy theories if you’re going to make claims like that.

  5. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 30, 2007 at 10:25 pm

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    The IP addresses were checked and I know what I read (by E-mail).

  6. Serenitude said,

    October 1, 2007 at 12:56 am

    Gravatar

    The wiki link to the “Fictitious names used by Microsoft” points to a deleted article ;)

  7. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 1, 2007 at 1:15 am

    Gravatar

    It’s hardly surprising. Wealth and power enable you to rewrite history.

    I am especially amused by all the bits in red font since they are either borderline libel or just straight up hilarious.

    Yes, I’m sure that Microsoft’s corruption of Wikipedia with paid contribution hasn’t anything to do with this. *rolls eyes*

  8. Adam said,

    October 1, 2007 at 8:51 am

    Gravatar

    I’ve gotta say I’ve been reading posts from this blog off and on and I find most of the complaints to be rather petty. I do not work for Novell, but I work with many Novell products and they are good stuff. I get Google updates of posting on the keyword “Novell” to check what’s going on and there is plenty of balance on the Internet of Novell negative/positive posting. From the previous comments, I get it, Microsoft strong arms, but what does that have to do with Novell besides the fact that they are dealing with them now?

  9. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 1, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    Gravatar

    A lot of Novell’s actions support Microsoft’s interests, at the expense of other Microsoft rivals and Linux as a whole.

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