01.27.08

HOWTO: Poison the World Against ODF

Posted in Deception, Formats, Free/Libre Software, FUD, Google, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument at 1:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Google Poisoning

When Microsoft got its claws around XenSource’s neck (a partnership) it seems to have also landed insiders around the company. That was before ‘acquiring’ it, by proxy. A reader of this Web site engaged in some conversations with us and for months he has been suggesting that a Google is absorbing too many former Microsoft employees. Schmidt has already warned about the differences in terms of corporate culture, but it hasn’t been much of a barrier in reality. Google is sometimes recruiting those who are leaving Microsoft in droves.

According to our reader, “there is the concrete problem with crapflooding Google and other search engines. Hence my complaints about Google News. Google News itself may be unimportant but letting MSFTers outside or inside Google bury topics is not appropriate.” A similar problem exists in Yahoo and MSN/Live and we will get to this at the end of this post.

Speaking for myself, luckily enough I have access to Google News, so I can add several FOSS or Linux items per day. Google has a list of sites to pick news from and the LinuxElectrons Webmaster kindly invited me some time ago. The site is on Google’s aggregator, but there appears to be some human moderation involved.

“Could it be gaming of the algorithm? Corporate secrecy paying its toll?”Another issue then arose. Our reader asked: “How does that work and is that how the ODF news search is spammed with anti-ODF material?” Whether there is an automated filtering algorithm or not it probably would be hard to tell (too much secrecy involved), but having tried a few queries in Google News, it’s clear that everything “ODF” or “OpenDocument” is ‘poisoned’. It’s biased beyond repair, in OOXML’s favour. Our reader was then wondering how they prioritise and how they tie search words to the articles. “Starting last summer, ODF-related documents stopped appearing in the search results,” he said. Could it be gaming of the algorithm? Corporate secrecy paying its toll? On the need to point that stuff out we were told: “It’s hard to. Since it takes time and work to collect data and somethings work fine for years. Google’s taken two hits. One in 2002 or 2003, I forget, and then another this summer with News.” The problem is not just search engines though.

Social News Poisoning

I later raised the issue of known Internet trolls, some of whom have done this since the OS/2 days. They admit trolling popular Web sites like Slashdot and Digg, but there are no access logs available for public viewing. There is more than sufficient evidence, however, including usernames and open admissions. In simple terms, this means that even the so-called ‘social news’ will be poisoned by corporate interests. It’s a fact. Everywhere you turn for information on this subject of document formats, money dominates [1, 2]. OOXML is all about the money whereas ODF is about leveraging healthy competition.

Our reader adds:

“My girlfriend once tracked down two astroturfers on some other forums. One had given up and decided to spill the beans. Another kept going, but laid low for a few weeks after his site of disinformation got shut down. Mostly they are easy to spot because they use the exact same phrases or “talking points” and logical fallacies.”

“My girlfriend once tracked down two astroturfers on some other forums. One had given up and decided to spill the beans. ”They have done this for many years, but how much searching can we do on Slashdot with/without a subscription? Is there an API for at least some of the raw data? Probably not. We thought about writing a script to automate a quick check, but I raised the problem that Internet trolls with corporate interests typically use Web proxies, at least based on observations made throughout a miserable experience (I get abused by anonymous people). About that particular issue I said: “I sometimes get so angry that it distracts me. The libel and stuff is actually effective. It makes me emotional. I write less rationally.” The response was interesting: “That’s their job to do so. PJ at Groklaw gets the treatment as well.” I am aware of the E-mail abuse that had her look away and make another address just a short while ago. These issues might be worth further attention in future posts.

“Honest people tend not to [use proxies]. Not that all proxies will be trolls, but that it can be a factor,” our reader says. He then throws an interesting example into the pool:

Congress Poisoning

“Also, once we use a method, and then they will adapt. For example with Microsoft paying people to write in to congress, they got caught and then paid proxies to write. Now, AFAIK, they just lobby, both over the table and under the table.

I notice that the Senate data is now available as XML, see
‘ClientName=”MICROSOFT.*’ :

http://www.senate.gov/legislative/Public_Disclosure/database_download.htm

Some years back, during DOJ vs Microsoft [Ed: see this], Microsoft bought up most DC lobbyists. Now they’re being put to use [Ed: see this].

Analyst/CIO Poisoning

Have a look at this new good piece:

Dear Microsoft,

For years, I have watched and admired you from afar, playing witness to your unshakable dominance of office productivity suites, wept when it seemed the world spoke coldly of Office 2007, and protested with great vehemence against your blisteringly unfair convictions as an evil monopolist. Why does the world misunderstand you? Why does it question your intentions?

I hope that next month, when the International Organization for Standardization reviews the 3,500 technical issues raised regarding your proposed OOXML standard, that beautiful standard it so cruelly rejected last year, justice will prevail and you will go on to succeed in yet another proprietary vendor lock-in.

Deepest affections,

The Burton Group

Ok, so the recent report issued by Burton Group, a research firm specializing network and applications infrastructure technologies, doesn’t come right out and profess its love to the Redmond-based software company, but it might as well.

The report reads more like a love letter than a critical study aimed at taking a hard look at whether the Open Document Format realistically stands a chance against Microsoft’s everpresent Office Open XML file format. Had it done that, it could’ve been incredibly interesting.

Instead, the lengthy report, when boiled down, not only disses the long-term relevance of the Open Document Format, but then goes and blames Sun Microsystems for the format’s downfall (if and when a downfall is to occur).

We previously discussed and showed how the Microsoft-partnered Burton Group hypnotises the press, shaking up careless news outlets for attention.

Press and Pundit Poisoning

Then there are the pundits, on which Penguin Pete has had something very new to say:

By co-incidence, Ziff-Davis (aka ZD-NET) is the company behind something like 50% of what the media has to say about computers, through various tentacles. CNET was the Pepsi to ZD-NET’s Coke (or Coke to Pepsi?), but now they merged. But of course this list applies to the bloggage of corporate A-listers, no matter who they work for.

Sadly enough, Ziff-Davis owns eWeek, which spits out a lot of the FUD against Linux and against ODF. CNET is apparently owned by Paul Allen, the co-foudner of Microsoft. So there you have it. Fair coverage, eh?

Yahoo/Live Poisoning

We previously discussed irregularities in search results, Microsoft’s spamming against against search engines and other bizarre exclusions of pro-ODF stories. And a few days ago there was this from the Microsoft Blog:

Is Microsoft tinkering with Live Search results?

Is Microsoft filtering out from its Live Search results those it considers “undesirable” for the company?

Similar types of concerns or accusations were raised by the BadVista writers several months ago. It seems as though self-promotional censorship is more than likely. This isn’t the same as political censorship in China because herein it’s all just a matter of money and corporate interests. Mind Yahoo’s possible role that we covered and explored further in the past.

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2 Comments

  1. twitter said,

    July 24, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Gravatar

    Astroturf at Slashdot is really bad now. Members of the Baton Rouge LUG quit reading the comments years ago. Lately, it has become more brazenly abusive and there is way more of it. The favorite technique is to crapflood a first comment with name calling and spin. I can’t imagine a normal person taking the time to read through it, much less join the conversation. That, of course, is their goal.

    Over the years, I’ve tracked and identified a few of the more obvious ones. I recently collected that work into a Slashdot journal article, the url link above. The M$ people give themselves away when they talk about microsoft, so Google searches for the user name and things like “XP”, “Vista” “Office” turn up the Steve Barkto pattern. The classic troll also has plenty of venom for Slashdot itself as well as everything related to free software and M$ competitors. It is not as easy to pull the M$ people out of the crowd as you might think because they use hundreds of accounts and many hundreds of others are genuinely deceived by M$’s marketing.

    Scripts would be nice for proving sockpuppets. Once again, Google is your friend for dredging up comments by username.

    The problem is sustainability. Mistakes and inconveniences push away people who’s cooperation you need to build the site. Trolls using TOR and botnets can sign themselves up for an infinite number of user accounts, so elimination of false positives will eventually eliminate all of your legitimate users.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    July 24, 2008 at 11:19 am

    Gravatar

    I’m aware Slashdot accounts that are used for Linux bashing and/or Microsoft marketing (in other sites and USENET too). I even have it confirmed by them.

    If you search this site, you’ll find more evidence and analysis of Slashdot. The editorial team is a problem also.

    I personally got attacked there in the comments before, even just for having articles of mine in the front page. Those who attacked are Munchkins and stalkers.

    The site is, in general, being poisoned.

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