07.19.08

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Microsoft on AstroTurfing in USENET Newsgroups

Posted in Deception, FUD, GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft at 4:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft’s poisoning of the literature, the press, and the World Wide Web continues to fascinate. it’s not a secret. It’s all very real and overwhelming heaps of evidence exist to support it.

This subject was dealt with several times in the past. Microsoft dubbed those involved in it “Munchkins” and none of this has ever stopped [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].

Today’s gem from Microsoft is about newsgroups and how Microsoft expressed its plan to subvert and incline them to its advantage.

Right from the horse’s mouth (Microsoft). [PDF]

Channel of Information, On-line Forums

  • Monitor the relevant Usenet groups at all times
  • Write well
  • Be exceedingly formal and polite
    • It is very easy to give offense
    • Always assume that you are wrong; ask others to explain it to you
    • Developers are impressed by clear, precise, polite communication
    • Don’t sound like a prig

This was worth bringing up in light of the personal abuse directed at several people in Linux newsgroups. Some of these discussion groups are occupied by former Microsoft employees (you have to squeeze out of them to finally admit this). In the Linux advocacy newsgroup, for example, you could find regular posters Greg Cox, Larry Qualig and John Bailo. All are former Microsoft employees who bother to pay a visit to Linux newsgroups in order to praise a former employer. Why? Might the answer lie above in Microsoft’s own literature, which leaked our to the courtroom?

At the moment, there is another class of Munchkins there and they admit extending and branching out to Slashdot and Digg (you can see their comments, but they admittedly use pseudonyms). Some are extremely rude Internet trolls that try to drive away readers using insults, libel, xenophobia, homophobia, ugly imagery and personal threats. According to one member of Groklaw, he disengaged from OS/2 advocacy after he had received death threats.

Yes, going back to OS/2 days, there are some fairly well-documented testimonies. To this date, Microsoft marketing people exist not just in fictitious blogs but also in newsgroups and in government. It is not just unethical but also illegal in the European Union. Microsoft’s political power is immense though, so it’s unlikely to be punished.

There is a lot more to be explored on this subject. Going back to the document at the top, be sure to read some of the things around page 45, including this from Microsoft:

During the mopping-up phase, ensure that the enemy technology is routed. Use the press, the Internet, etc. to heighten the impression that the enemy is desperate, demoralized, defeated, deceased.

Remember how people complained about the press taking things out of proportion when Wal-Mart said it would continue selling GNU/Linux on-line but not on store shelves? Microsoft has a lot of power over the press, some of which it owns. Literally. Big Lies are no exception here.

“Ideally, use of the competing technology becomes associated with mental deficiency, as in, “he believes in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and OS/2.” Just keep rubbing it in, via the press, analysts, newsgroups, whatever. Make the complete failure of the competition’s technology part of the mythology of the computer industry. We want to place selection pressure on those companies and individuals that show a genetic weakness for competitors’ technologies, to make the industry increasingly resistant to such unhealthy strains, over time.”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

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11 Comments

  1. Yuhong Bao said,

    November 3, 2008 at 1:44 am

    Gravatar

    Now, how MS began to criticise OS/2 after supporting it for a while are another matter (it is related to the Joint Development Agreement between IBM and MS).

  2. Yuhong Bao said,

    November 3, 2008 at 1:51 am

    Gravatar

    In fact, I’d go as far to say that there are trolls on both sides.

  3. G. Michaels said,

    November 3, 2008 at 2:01 am

    Gravatar

    You should mention that you and your cadre are using the same tactics now to slog away at any criticism of your abrasive tirades:

    http://slashdot.org/~SockDisclosure/journal/214377

    This ‘twitter’ person (Slashdot’s most prolific nymshifter and troll) has probably been tasked with flooding Slashdot with links to your articles, and I suppose any number of other websites. A little “independent” praise never hurt anyone, eh?

    Note: writer of this comment adds absolutely nothing but stalking and personal attacks against readers, as documented here.

  4. stevetheFLY said,

    November 3, 2008 at 3:40 am

    Gravatar

    The more disgusting trolls are on our side, I’m afraid. No-one is surprised by the questionable method of Microsoft, but to think that ugly shit is spread around by our own camp makes me feel a little de-motivated for the cause of GNU.

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from an incarnation of a known (eet), pseudonymous, forever-nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  5. stevetheFLY said,

    November 3, 2008 at 3:58 am

    Gravatar

    Yes; thank you Mr Schestowitzk, this really illustrates very well what I meant…

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from an incarnation of a known (eet), pseudonymous, forever-nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 3, 2008 at 4:06 am

    Gravatar

    Yuhong Bao,

    Whose side? ‘FSF trolls’? What I show here is that a /company/ coordinates trolling.

  7. Yuhong Bao said,

    November 3, 2008 at 11:03 am

    Gravatar

    “Whose side? ‘FSF trolls’? What I show here is that a /company/ coordinates trolling.”
    True.
    “You should mention that you and your cadre are using the same tactics now to slog away at any criticism of your abrasive tirades”
    Yep, I said that there are trolls, astroturfers, and things like that on BOTH sides, so always be vigilant.

  8. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 3, 2008 at 11:18 am

    Gravatar

    Whose side? There are those who care about freedom and those who care only about money, which typically comes from taking rights away.

    This is not an “Apple vs. Microsoft” style of argument. There are no two companies involved here.

  9. Yuhong Bao said,

    November 3, 2008 at 11:33 am

    Gravatar

    “Whose side? There are those who care about freedom and those who care only about money, which typically comes from taking rights away.”
    “This is not an “Apple vs. Microsoft” style of argument. There are no two companies involved here.”
    Yep, the difference is that freedom is a factor in Windows vs Linux, while it isn’t a factor in Windows vs Mac.

  10. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 3, 2008 at 11:50 am

    Gravatar

    I reject that notion that people who fight for their basis freedom are “trolls” or “extremists”. It has become an ugly pattern for dismissal of opposition to suppression — digital or otherwise.

  11. Yuhong Bao said,

    November 3, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    Gravatar

    “I reject that notion that people who fight for their basis freedom are “trolls” or “extremists”.
    I agree.
    “It has become an ugly pattern for dismissal of opposition to suppression — digital or otherwise.”
    And on BOTH sides.

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