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Microsoft on AstroTurfing in USENET Newsgroups

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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