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How Microsoft/Proprietary Software Bullies Ruined Digg for GNU/Linux

Digg screenshot



Summary: Digg is shown to be abused by "cabals" of users with agenda, which Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols (SJVN) claims are also responsible for burying GNU/Linux news in the Web site

OVER THE PAST couple of days we've posted links (in the daily "Links" posts) about a Conservative cabal being exposed after manipulating Digg -- a Web site that passes through many eyeballs and does not preach to any one 'choir' in particular, assuming a given story is promoted to the front page based on popularity. I have been on Digg since the beginning of 2006 and at one time I was ranked 17th in that site (for submitting only news which advocated GNU/Linux).



Earlier today the Linux-oriented journalist Sean Kerner told me: "i gave up on digg about 18 mos ago myself - i'm a big fan of Reddit now

“It's a "slog" (Microsoft term) against GNU/Linux, trying to remove it from public awareness.”Another Linux-oriented journalist, SJVN, claims that Microsoft is manipulating the GNU/Linux section in Digg. I talked to him about it in order to make this post accurate [1, 2]. I asked him if he too was harassed on the site as a regular story submitter who staunchly favours GNU/Linux. "No I haven't seen much overt hostility towards me on Digg," he said, "just comments on stories I'd written." The reason I asked this question is that I had some sort of bot activity used against my account there (documented here in Update #4).

SJVN previously alleged that Microsoft was fighting against GNU/Linux stories in Digg and now that a Conservative cabal got exposed, SJVN has more beefy evidence. It is not unusual for Microsoft to send agents to forums which advocate Microsoft's competition. Consider the Barkto incident for example. Over the years we have collected a lot of verified evidence of Microsoft bullying in social networking sites (e.g. anonymous Microsoft employees threatening writers in CNET and threats against Slashdot regulars who happen to like software freedom). We actually learned from former Slashdot staff (who asked not to be named) that the site was being gamed by PR agencies and people who suppress GNU/Linux, for example. When it comes to Reddit and Digg, a lot of anecdotal evidence exists, but 'smoking guns' are fewer. Basically, based on other blunders, we do know that Microsoft uses infiltrators/thugs to drown out the signal, intimidate people, ruin the targeted forum and once done, move on to the next target and ruin that too (Groklaw explained this better). For instance, the same people who ruined the Linux advocacy newsgroup in USENET moved on to social networking sites (with the same nicknames sometimes) and tried to ruin those too, specifically for GNU/Linux proponents. Going further back we have examples of Microsoft rigging polls, which is the equivalent of mod-spamming/mod abuse. Nothing is more serious than bullying of the regulars (and sometimes their families) who promote GNU/Linux. Bullying them is sometimes done by libeling them (defamation) and systematically thumb-downing them. Microsoft's peripheral AstroTurfing groups are a reality and here is a memorable example from 2008 (LawMedia).

Those who used to hang out in Digg for GNU/Linux news probably know that the site was abandoned by GNU/Linux proponents. I left it in 2008 because the sabotage distinctly happened at one stage, probably starting around late 2007 when I was stalked, modded down systematically by four accounts within few hours, slandered, and even had my identity stolen several times by abusive accounts which all got terminated by Digg at the end. What is this whole bullying frenzy intended to achieve? It's a "slog" (Microsoft term) against GNU/Linux, trying to remove it from public awareness. That's the type of thing which Microsoft's internal documents too help reveal that Microsoft aspires to achieve. To quote:

"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]



Anyway, for those who want to know what SJVN has to say about the demise of Digg (for GNU/Linux at least), read this:

In early 2009, new popular Linux stories would pop up every day or two on Digg. By mid-2010, Linux stories on Digg became popular only once every week or so. Why? Has everyone who once interested in Linux suddenly vanished? Have people stopped writing about Linux? I don't think so.

The only explanation I can come up with is that Linux stories are getting down-voted on a regular basis on Digg these days. Who's doing this? In whose best interest is it to make it appear that there's little interest in Linux? Might it be a company named Microsoft?

Microsoft's FUD war against Linux never ended. Microsoft's long-discredited patent claims against Linux still appear from time to time. Most recently, they've shown up in attacks against Android.

I doubt that Microsoft is doing this directly. But Microsoft has fans who are happy to attack Linux every chance they get.


Einfeldt has told SJVN: "I wonder how many of those Microsoft "fans" [are] employees of MSFT's PR agencies?"

Yes, Microsoft always summons its agitators through one of its PR agencies. This way, when the bullies get exposed Microsoft will just point the finger at the "bad, naughty PR agencies" and pretend this has nothing to do with Microsoft (which funds those agencies to do exactly that). Those who get exposed can honestly say that they don't work for Microsoft (not directly anyway). It's a loophole.

"It could be argued that Microsoft’s unethical Technology Evangelism (TE) practices are “old news”—i.e., that Microsoft stopped using these questionable TE practices long ago. This is very unlikely to be the case, for at least three reasons."

--James Plamondon, former Microsoft shill (aka 'Technology Evangelist')

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