04.16.11

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Articles of ZDNet UK

Posted in Site News at 3:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Book session

Summary: How my comments were removed from ZDNet UK and my attempt to have them reinstated

We have always been somewhat cynical about ZDNet. Its business model had a lot to do with it, but it was not just that. We are still not sure why Carla lost her job, but we can only guess based on her vague explanation. This post is not about ZDNet the global site, which is a liability that the UK site does not deserve to justify. And to be fair, ZDNet UK has some talented writers whom I like and have praised before, e.g. Rupert and Jamie (the occasional blogger). I must be forgetting some. Ingrid Marson was also very good and we mentioned her before.

This post is not intended to dismiss ZDNet UK but rather to explain what I have gone through since someone there published an article about me (an article I had not known about until Microsoft Florian and Microsoft Jack started joking about it with each other, insulting me in the process and asking for my attention in Twitter). Some people tried to imply some kind of collusion or even insinuate that I was the blogger over there. It’s all nonsense. The only person there whose name I recognise is “The Mad Hatter” and that’s because he occasionally comments in Techrights as well. Yes, these are the small things that happen and Techrights does not cover because it would rather cover issues, not gossip. Florian and his Microsoft groupies (he mostly talks to Microsoft people these days) are just busy heckling people and lying about them too; that would harm their future career, which is counter-productive and immature at best.

Anyway, one thing we do notice is that David Meyer (of ZDNet UK, he is generally a good journalist even though he focuses on pro-OpenSUSE and Novell news sometimes — surely a scarcity these days [1, 2]) has been quoting Microsoft Florian recently (and vice versa), which may suggest that Florian’s flood of identical E-mails — bar cosmetic personalisation — that are sent to heaps of journalists, is having an effect on him (assuming he too is on Florian’s massive list of recipients). He deserves to at least know how Florian is gaming the press, quietly, behind the scenes. That’s why he is seen quoted sometimes. He asks people to embed quotes of him, which he supplies in several forms for embedment (prepared inaccurate statements). Having been a lobbyist for Real Madrid and others, he sure knows how to play this game. It’s his job. Journalists hopefully are immune to these tactics, which simply de-legimise otherwise-decent publications.

Anyway, the latest article from Meyer talks about CPTN. Is is cited by Florian, who celebrates/anticipates Novell’s passage of patents to Microsoft. The report is based on the SEC filing and it says:

Novell’s sale of hundreds of open-source patents to a consortium featuring Microsoft, Apple, Oracle and EMC has become more likely to go through, as the US Department of Justice has failed to block the sale.

The antitrust division of the Department of Justice (DoJ) had made Novell and the consortium, CPTN Holdings, agree to not carry the sale through until 12 April, so the DoJ could review the sale. In a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Tuesday, Novell said that date had arrived “without action from the DOJ to enjoin the sale”.

For a little bit of background also see:

The thing about writers in ZDNet UK is that in formal “articles” they usually lack linkage. No burden of proof on authors (they rarely, if ever, provide links) means that they can make claims without them being backed by links. Even some of the blogs on the site are better than the “articles” based on this criterion. But that’s just why journalism (in the old sense) is dying. My response to the blog post about me was a rarity; I mentioned it a couple of timed before [1, 2], just because I need to clarify if I comment in other sites. Well, even though I have heard from pro-GNU/Linux people that ZDNet bans account and deletes comments in an unfair way which suits the editors’ judgment/convictions (this does not occur in other sites where karma and comment scoring are used instead), I decided to get involved. I saw commenters spreading false information about me and without rebutting it, there is greater likelihood that it would spread. Later in the same conversation it came up that something in ZDNet’s site looked like a paid endorsement, so I asked a question. That’s where it went downhill and they deleted many comments of mine. I then decided to check with local/remote cache and see/verify if I can retrieve the deleted comments, which were polite and not problematic at all (by most people’s standards). Eventually, after some further discussion with the community and news editor I received some more polite response which also provided copies of the deleted comments, asking me to justify the claims off-site, in order for the comments to be reinstated. So I shall do this here where ZDNet UK has no liability for the appearance of these sincere comments. Quoted below is my respond to Karen, in full:

Dear,

Please find below the comment posts you made on ZDNet UK that were
removed as containing allegations against specific companies that need
to be verified.

If you can provide first-hand or independent substantiation of the
allegations you make, we will be happy to consider re-instating the
comments. I have pasted the removed comments below for you as
reference.

I hope you understand why we have taken this step. When you signed up
for your account on ZDNet UK, you agreed to abide by the terms and
conditions and code of conduct on the site. This includes:

Be legal
Don’t use unlawful language (for instance, language that is libellous
or obscene) or participate in other unlawful activities in the
community – if you do, we will remove the posting without warning and
are likely to close your account. You are responsible for all the
content you post on the site, which includes making sure you don’t
break any applicable law.

Please let me know if you have any questions about why we have taken this step.

Regards,

Karen Friar
Community and news editor

Thank you for allowing me to solidify my points. I will do so inline because it seems like the most convenient form. Because of copyrights, I will quote just my own comments from your site (could not be extracted from Google cache after the deletion) and highlight/quote those parts which editors (whether ZDNet agrees with them or not I do not know) removed.

Comments listed below have been removed as they make allegations that
need substantiating:

1) Well, while we’re at it, Techrights also published leaked E-mails
from Waggener Edstrom — E-mails that very clearly show how Microsoft
coordinated with ‘reporters’ the planting (their term, not mine) of
news which was hostile towards Linux, which is why my suspicion of the
likes of Jack is not unfounded.

The evidence can be seen in the following court exhibit from the Comes vs Microsoft case. Microsoft paid to settle the case and Groklaw had grabbed a copy of the exhibit (it has the full download logs to verify authenticity)

http://www.groklaw.net/pdf/PX04081.pdf

Microsoft is not just a normal technology company, it’s more like a
marketing company. And I can’t help but feel baffled by the account
summary of http://twitter.com/zdnetuk_News because it says “All the
latest business technology news, covering security, mobile, Microsoft
and much more”.

Why is Microsoft the only brand mentioned? It’s not even the most
highly valued technology company anymore. Let’s talk about the real
issues, not about people. You’re steering the debate towards ad
hominem.

This is a question that ZDNet UK can hopefully answer. I see that in some ways the commenters addressed the question.

2) Microsoft’s Public Relations department, Waggener Edstrom, edits
Wikipedia. It’s well documented.

http://techrights.org/2008/12/05/waggener-edstrom-wikipedia/

As the above post shows (links therein), IP addressed from Waggener Edstrom are editing Microsoft-related articles in Wikipedia. Waggener Edstrom has roots in Microsoft and it is listed as the media contact at Microsoft.com. It is common knowledge to those who research Microsoft.

3) [continued]

[quote]
There was (possibly) malware on a computer owned by Spanair. That
computer was at headquarters, hundreds of miles from the plane and
crash, and was used to file maintenance reports. Its connection to the
crashed flight was that if all had gone well, a day or two *AFTER* the
crash, a maintenance report on that plane was due to be filed, and the
computer was supposed to then notice that the plane had had the same
problem three times in a short period (a problem unrelated to the
crash), and flag for further investigation. There is speculation that
this flagging would have perhaps failed due to the malware.
[/quote]

That’s beside the point. There was malware there. The context in which
I wrote this post was a claim from Microsoft Florian (the lobbyist)
that IBM was to blame for the crash — a lie which he repeated several
times.

Florian used different medium types to claim that IBM’s mainframes caused the crash. The matter of fact is, Windows-based systems were supposed to produce alerts that would have prevented the incident, but they were infected. The same thing happened in the Deepwater Horizon debacle, as reported by the New York Times last year (given testimony about blue screens of death affecting the monitoring systems).

[quote]
I’ll stop with the examples now, although I have dozens more (some
hilarious, like a fairly recent one claiming that the iPad–excuse me,
hypePad–has been a big failure commercially).
[/quote]

Got more example? Go ahead. Don’t entertain the audience with mythical
ones. SCO said it had “mountains of evidence” that Linux was a ripoff
of ‘its’ UNIX. Did it show these “mountains of evidence”?

Transcripts and record of that are at Groklaw by the way.

4) [continued]

[quote]
Next time he writes about Clinton and Gates and their “special
relationship”, he’ll cite the second article, so you’ll have to click
through twice to see original sources and find out his claim is not
supported.
[/quote]

There are many examples which you could find. Search Techrights to
find external links, too.

I gave a link to the Wall Street Journal. It helps substantiate my claim of overlap (same staff in both sides, similar agenda).

[quote]
Here’s another good example of poor research:
http://techrights.org/2011/01/12/kinect-vs-move-and-truth/. He praises
Sony for selling 4.1 million Moves in 2 months, and says it is beating
Kinect. I invite you to do the research that Roy either didn’t do, or
purposefully ignored. You’ll find Kinect did 4 million in ONE MONTH,
and by two months was at something like 8 million. (Oh, Sony’s numbers
were “sell in”, and Microsoft’s were “sell through”. The former is how
many have been pushed into the sales channel, the latter is how many
have sold to consumers. I.e., Sony’s numbers included stock sitting on
shelves).
[/quote]

Sony seems to have gamed numbers by channel-stuffing, much in the same
way that Microsoft always done (and Techrights kept good record of
that). If the Sony ‘numbers game’ fooled us, then we may have an error
there, one error in a pile of 13,000+ posts (which may make the above
nitpicking on being deceived by Sony, makers of rootkits and lawsuits
against PS3 enthusiasts).

I do not see anything specific needing a defence of my response to the anonymous person confronting me.

[quote]
A final example:
http://techrights.org/2010/08/26/aviation-and-windows-2/. He claims
the crash of a Spanair plane was caused by malware. This is an
outright lie. The crash was caused by the flaps being in an incorrect
position at takeoff, because the pilots did not go through the
preflight checklist. There was a warning system that should have
warned them of this–but it was not a computerized warning system.
[/quote]

That seems like revisionism from you. It has been well established
that malware caused it.

The crash was caused by a combination of factors, including those which failed to prevent it by alerting as they should. Aviation systems are complex beasts.

5) [...cont]

More people deserve to be aware of the shady industry which calls
itself PR and is sometimes the creation of companies which become its
clients (it is proxifying). One company which Microsoft uses (and was
created by a former Microsoft employee) brags about methods of
auto-finding critics and auto-generating blog comments from templates
in order to rapidly respond to criticism, so it’s semi-automated. If
the message cannot be shot down, the messenger gets disgraced; if
that’s not enough, this sometimes escalates to intimidation and harm
(not physical harm).

I have assembled evidence in posts which are summarised in the wiki:

http://techrights.org/wiki/index.php/Visible_Technologies

I should add that Microsoft employees have publicly compared me to
Unabomber, a serial killer. Those who accuse me of “libel”
conveniently take a one-side, double-standard approach. If they have
an issue with something I wrote they should speak out as we have a
good track record of correcting errors (we amended about 20 blog posts
among 13,000+). Just because someone does not like an opinion does not
make this opinion “libel”. Blogs provide opinions a lot of the time
and Techrights is carefully worded.

The abusive claims from the Microsoft employees (a technical evangelist) were posted in his blog. He is based in Asia there the laws regarding marketing vary and his name is Jonathan Wong. I reported the incident to the FTC, which replied to me with a letter.

If someone wishes to ask questions, issue a correction, and also find
out that we are amicable people can join us at the IRC channels. We
are not of the stereotype our detractors claim us to be.

NB – it appears as though the ZDNet comment component just devoured
links that I put in my previous comments, e.g. the one from Wired Mag.

———

This comment has been removed as it suggests another reader is
attacking you – if you are prepared to remove the part about ‘Beck’,
it can be reposted:

I referred to the reader’s use of the term “Glenn Schestowitz”. Yes, amending the semantics would help remove ambiguities that may otherwise seem like a non-existent allegation.

[continued]

[quote]
I challenge you to actually SERIOUSLY read Techrights for a couple of
weeks. By “seriously” I mean read each article and do a good fact
checking on it. Follow the links until you get to original sources.
Check those sources and see if (1) they actually support what
Schestowitz is citing them for, and (2) if they seem to be legitimate
sources.
[/quote]

Thanks for urging people to read it from the source rather than by
hearsay about the site.

[quote]
I guarantee that if you do this, you’ll be posting another blog entry,
retracting this one.
[/quote]

This does not seem to be the case, does it? And I’ll tell you why.
Over the years we’ve had people who entered the IRC channels only to
troll us. And you know where these people are today? They are on the
channel defending us. They defected. They realised that they have been
incited against a site which actually *does* defend their interests.
You can go ahead and try comparing me to Beck all you want, but people
who actually spend a day reading me on Twitter/Identi.ca will see a
stereotype mismatch.

————–

This comment has been removed as it is part of the series that makes
allegations that need verifying. I am happy to reinstate this on its
own if you like, but it makes little sense without the others:

I would appreciate followup questions in case something is unclear or a link is needed. I did try to embed links in my first ZDNet UK comment, but it got minced by the content management system.

[continued]

[quote]
Here’s a good example. In this article,
http://techrights.org/2010/03/17/rich-uncle-bill-explored/, he writes
about Bill Gates and Bill Clinton. They both testified before Congress
on the same day urging an increase in US spending on global health. He
also notes that there are photos of Bill Gates and Bill Clinton
sitting next to each other.
[/quote]

There is far more than that. If one follows the links and does further
digging, it will become apparent. Did you know, for example, that the
new speech writer of Bill and Melinda is Clinton’s? I wrote a lot more
about it than the above, but it takes patience to learn. I could
provide links here, but ZDNet devours links that I put with the
hypertext.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303362404575580340735524682.html

[quote]
Then, about nine months later, he writes this article:

http://techrights.org/2011/01/02/vietnam-with-proprietary-software/.

In that article, he cites the first article as showing “the special
relationship between Clinton and Gates”. Testifying on the same day in
Congress and being seen sitting next to each other is a special
relationship?
[/quote]

No. What you say is akin to claiming that just because Biden sat next
to Geffen/other on some arbitrary date we can suddenly deduce that
Biden is in Hollywood’s pocket (with copyright policy). You use an
anecdote to infer that it is an *isolated* example. It’s not.

I wish to thank Karen for her polite responses, which were nowhere as childish and rude as those from Jack Schofield, who keeps using the chilling effect to threaten opposition or at least to gently gag it (preventing it from criticising — politely — his points of view). Before Karen contacted me I had attempted to explain why it would be counter-productive to remove my comments rather than address points inside them and carry on publicly. I wrote:

Karen Friar,

I find the removal of about 7 of my comments rather insulting as they contained no obscenity and did not contain any improper material (you can unmask these comments for readers to judge). It is a form of censorship, which is why I was reluctant to comment in ZDNet to begin with, but I was polite and all my claims have verifiable sources to back them. So again, I’m very disappointed that you removed comments and then suggested that there was something unlawful in them. This is exactly the type of thing which makes Techrights necessary.

And also:

Karen,

The insinuation that discussion like this needs to be done privately is counter-productive as I don’t even have the comments you deleted (I will try Google cache). I think the action taken by the editorial team only serves to validate the original poster’s point, which is about the targeting of a messenger for merely expressing an opinion (with sources) that others may find objectionable even though it’s true. I don’t want to start a whole debate about what’s bad about censorship as there is plenty of literature about it. We take great pride in the fact that we never deleted any comments from Techrights (in over 4 years of running the site), not even those with vile language in them.

In my field of research (image analysis), if we had suppressed work which does not conform to the mainstream methods, do you know what would happen to scientific progress?

Respectfully,

Dr. Roy Schestowitz

So basically, this has been my experience participating in ZDNet UK (full thread can be found here). I won’t throw the baby out with the bathwater because the site does have some decent coverage sometimes. I was hoping for my opinions to be treated respectfully in the sense that they should not be removed; instead, they can be rebutted, even stomped upon using an adult debate which does not gag the opposition but provides counterpoints or evidence to the contrary.

It ought to be known that removing what one does not want others to see just leads to the Barbara Streisand effect. Moreover, trying to keep secret an unethical activity is always bound to backfire, as Wikileaks and Comes vs Microsoft help show. Transparency breeds trust.

‘The author of the email, posted on ZDNet in a Talkback forum on the Microsoft antitrust trial, claimed her name was Michelle Bradley and that she had “retired” from Microsoft last week.

‘”A verbal memo [no email allowed] was passed around the MS campus encouraging MS employee’s to post to ZDNet articles like this one,” the email said.

‘”The theme is ‘Microsoft is responsible for all good things in computerdom.’ The government has no right to prevent MS from doing anything. Period. The ‘memo’ suggests we use fictional names and state and to identify ourselves as students,” the author claimed.’

Wired Magazine

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