This post is actually about true zealots and asstroturfers, but to get to that point, I have to throw a boomerang around a couple of trees. The thread of this post is going to weave around like a Quentin Tarantino movie. Bear with me.
I was really sickened the other day to see an investigative blogger whom I respect and admire get attacked so unfairly. I am speaking of Roy Schestowitz, of BoycottNovell fame. Far beyond the original purpose described by the URL, Roy has focused with laser-beam intensity on all of the dirty dealings of proprietary technology. I have often been amazed to check a Boycott Novell article and discover hard evidence, before my very eyes, of things I'd only half-guessed and suspected before.
The attack was from Open Source to Go!, so it seems to be from a source within the community. Beside the point of who's right on that one, David Schlesinger, in the post on Open Source to Go!, uses the little spat as an example of zealotry.
"Zealotry" is another one of those words that makes me reach to unbuckle my holster. Invariably, it is a term of derision hurled at every user of every system that doesn't have a Microsoft logo stamped on it. In this case, it's even used as an accusation within the community. In this case, Schlesinger thinks Mono's just fine, Schestowitz takes the side of RMS in being anti-Mono.
Now for the wide-picture view: Um, apathy appears to be a virtue in the modern United States. What is put down as "zealotry" here, is the same kind of thing another culture might describe as "giving a damn about something."
Anyway: This isn't about the little spat between those two or a stance on Mono. I really don't go either way on Mono. I agree that it should not be forced down our throats. I would sooner have icepicks jammed in my temple than code one line of .NET, C#, or anything else that started at Redmond. But if that's other people's kink, I wouldn't stand in their way of having an open source way of doing it. I consider Powerpoint to be the tool of Satan, but you don't see me screaming for OpenOffice to drop Impress. Also, I use SWFTools, an open-source Flash compiler, which some might say has the same things wrong with it - Flash being a proprietary technology controlled by Adobe. I spit on Adobe, but now that Flash is being calved away from them, I say 'Yay for Flash!'. They had no business buying it in the first place.
Now, in the above paragraph, I probably came off as moderate overall. But, along with my laissez faire approach to "run whatever you want", I also have a staunch defense of anyone in the open source community accused of zealotry. Accusing a FOSS advocate of zealotry is like ignoring a massacre to stop the one person minding their own business and give them a ticket for jaywalking.
REALITY: Linux is at war. Linux is under attack. Do you, dear reader, have any enemies? Who, pray tell? Your mother-in-law? That one manager at work? An ex-partner?
You know who Linux's enemy is? Oh, nobody much. Just the most powerful corporation in the known universe, founded by the richest human being in the universe. Not that big a bother, is it? When that company bribes half the world's governments to stand against you, manipulates most of the supporting hardware and software markets to refuse to work with you, and takes every opportunity to call you everything from a communist to a criminal, and whose influence permeates every tiny, possible corner of all forms of media, yeah, you might have to defend yourself sometimes.
That's not being a zealot. If somebody puts a gun to your head, and you do everything in your power to survive the confrontation, does that make you a zealot?
Well, that's what's going on in Linux and the FOSS community. Pardon us, but we're fighting for our freaking LIVES! And everybody else's freedom too, even if they don't care about it themselves much. We just... want to compute the way we want to compute. We just want to mind our own business and be left alone.
Unfortunately, we have the zealots of Microsoft to contend with.
Now, at last, the point: Boycott Novell has intercepted real, actual, hard evidence of asstroturfing by a Microsoft employee. What pisses me off the most is that, without the Roy Schestowitzes of this world, if I try to say that Microsoft asstroturfs, I get called "paranoid."
But check the rest of Armchair Theorist. If you didn't know, you'd think it was a personal blog just like mine, wouldn't you? But it's not! It's a soapbox for a corporation. A corporation that hires... "evangelists." Definition of "evangelism" courtesy of Wikipedia:
"Evangelism is the practice of attempting to convert people to a religion. The term is used most often in reference to Christianity and Islam, since those two religions mandate that their followers make efforts to recruit as many people as possible into their faith..."
How many of these "Microsoft evangelists" are there, anyway? To take Microsoft's own word for it, we can visit the MSDN page with the folksy-sounding title of "Meet Your Local Microsoft Evangelists." With a map of the USA. I just clicked on my home-state of Iowa, and counted nine profiles. For Iowa. Which isn't exactly saturated with computers to begin with. It's that important that the fly-over state of Iowa, home to more hogs and cornfields than computers, has nine "evangelists."
How many are there in your state? And remember, these are just the ones in the USA. That they admit to.
Who are the real zealots?
Search Google for "Microsoft evangelist." There's an amazing lot of it out there, isn't there? The Crusades should have been so fired with passion!
Now, besides religion, you know what else makes a zealot out of a person? Money. Lots of money. With revenues of US$ 60.420 billion split between 89,809 employees in 105 countries, that's a lot of money. And you have to fight to defend it after you get it, too.
Never forget, never never never for one solitary second, that every penny made by Microsoft is at the expense of technology freedom. We are at two mutually opposed ends. On the one hand, freedom means everyone owns technology. On the other, one company monopolizing all of technology makes us all slaves. The more freedom of technology we have, the less money Microsoft makes. It's zero-sum.
Linux has zealots? Oh, no no no, my dears. Linux does not have nearly ENOUGH zealots! The company with the most zealots is of course the one that can afford to buy the most. And we widdle peoples in Linux just happen to be the target of that.
If you need a name for Linux users... why don't you just call us "infidels"?
Bonus buck: Since one of the commenters below launched into the typical spiel about how professional coders at proprietary software companies produce superior output compared to the hobbyists of open source who are all wearing sandals, etc., blah, blah, blah...
I found this amusing, assuming it isn't a parody site (crossing fingers). Here is the principle developer for Microsoft Internet Explorer. He's a dropout, self-educated, and has prior job experience at at McDonalds, coffee shops, and a hotdog stand - and that's not even the most embarrassing thing he says about himself.
What was that superior difference between FOSS and proprietary software again?
Update: Just to make it clear, I'm deleting/ blocking/ banning any more of David "Lefty" Schlesinger's static. He's a troll. He's picking a fight with Roy, he's picking a fight with RMS, he's picking a fight with me, he's picking a fight with other people, a quick skim through the archive on his blog shows that he's even picking fights with the Apple community and Google... that's all he does is pick fights. That's a troll.
He has nothing to do with his time but fight. I've been checking him out in a few searches, he posts a lot of important-sounding things he's a member of which mean nothing, beats his chest about how many conferences he attends like that canonizes him as a saint, and that's it. I can't see where he's anything to FOSS but disposable.
It didn't work, Dave! Your attempt to get the whole FOSS community divided and working against each other backfired. We all just hate you. Back under your bridge, go wait for some other billy goats. The rest of us have important work to do.