Penguins, we're at 20% ground force operational status.

Tux500 Team Gets Story Forced Into Slashdot

Date/Time Permalink: 05/21/07 01:41:41 pm
Category: LINKS and Lists

They managed not to get caught rigging the site this time.

But just to take the good along with the bad, the comments are a living gem. First post is by yet another Tux500 asstroturfer alias slamming Rob Malda (aka, CmdrTaco, OWNER of Slashdot) for not running the story earlier - sort of the way I was getting comment spam and email harassing me for not posting the story and supporting the project on my own site, all those long weeks ago when I barely knew it existed.

Since some people would have you believe that I'm the only one who doesn't like Tux500, I will today allow the indignant response of the Slashdot community to speak for me in the following blockquoted sections, because their words are every bit as good as mine:

It would never have occurred to me to advertise Linux by plastering Tux onto the front of a race car, and I'm not surprised that this project didn't reach its fiscal goal: I'm sure I'm not the only Linux enthusiast nerd to think, "Why, exactly, does this cost a quarter of a million dollars?"

Because we're paying an Andretti price for a Chastain product.

It is clear that the submitter is not familiar with racing. 5.5MPH in a race is a HUGE gap, it is a 500 mile race on a 2 mile track. IF he stays at a constant 5.5 MPH behind the leader, he will be give or take 8 laps back at the end of the race. Unfortunately the more likely scenario is that he will lose speed throughout the race.

All the way through this, I have not seen one person who actually KNOWS SOMETHING about racing who also supported Tux500. The people who disagree with us, to the last voice, know computers very well, and auto racing or sports in general very little. Which shows how far the marketers had to go to find people naive enough to fall for it.

Here's another community project that /. could support, with the goal of bringing cheap telephones to the masses in under-developed countries: http://rowetel.com/ucasterisk/index.html [rowetel.com]. It's David Rowe's Free Telephony Project.

Yeah, and it, like DOES SOMETHING.

Various incarnations of the story got as far as the Firehose a few times, but didn't really progress from there, so it wasn't just Rob Malda that wasn't interested. I had the chance to vote for it several times, and didn't. The "product X gets advertising in place Y" didn't seem to merit discussion to me.

And any other of the hundreds of stories that don't make it out of Slashdot's firehose have the same effect. But only with Tux500 do you have to defend yourself for not supporting it.

I guess it's pretty clear from all of the comments about this story that Taco's opinion pretty well matches the opinion of the community. I have read a bunch of comments and not a single one I have read shows any support for this whole endeavor. I'm sure there's one or two, but I haven't seen any.

Energize the community? To me it sounds like an unbelievably pointless waste of money. The failure to raise 250k probably reflects the community thinking much the same thing. Even assuming 250k were raised, I can think of dozens far more worthwhile open source projects that it could go towards.

"Energize the community"... where, amongst the Tux500 New Age phrases have I heard that from?

Leaving aside your bizarre arithmetic (a "$1 contribution" barely covers the costs of collecting it), why this one though? What the hell does Linux have to do with rednecks watching cars drive in an oval for a couple of hours? Wouldn't a quarter of a million dollars be better spent on handing out Ubuntu DVDs to the hillbillys?

God, the words feel dirty even as I type them, but I'm with Malda on this. It's a silly folly, and I'm glad that not many people wasted their money on it.

A bit more acidulous than I'd put it, but I get the drift. Seriously, corner your nearest auto-racing fan and find out if they even own a computer. I personally know five who don't, and none that do.

I could have sworn this had already made it to the front page a few times in the last month or so. At any rate, I know there was a smear campaign going around saying that the tux500 project was a scam, but there was really nothing conclusive....

[*snip*] That'd be me? [*snip*]

In the end, I really didn't care. I don't think the Indianapolis 500 is the ideal place to be promoting Linux, especially in the form of a tiny sticker on a car (or even if they had raised all the money, for an entire Tux500 car). I doubt anyone at the Indianapolis 500 is going to care about the fact that tux is represented on a car, beyond "hay look thar's a penguin on that thar car!"

Just because you believe in the project so adamantly does not mean that so many other people would believe in it just because it got posted on slashdot. It got plenty of publicity, anyone who visits any kind of linux forum can tell you that. But as I said before, the status quo seems to think that it is absolutely absurd, and the idea that they even raised $1000, let alone $12000 is even more absurd.

How excited would the linux community be about a project to put tux on a billboard at the Super Bowl, or better yet, a commercial during the event? I'm sure there are lots more dumb ideas, most of them just don't end up with the financial backing of Tux500. You can't place the blame on the linux "leaders" for not wanting to get behind an idea of advertising linux in a highly commercial environment. It could send the wrong signal. GNU/Linux isnt about commercialism, it's about the community, which is where this argument fails.

Well, that's the conclusiveness I was aiming for... Remember, folks: a scam to sell time shares in swampland is still a scam even if there is a real house in a real swamp, a scam to sell snake oil is still a scam even if the bottle has oil from real snakes in it, a scam to sell pump-and-dump stock is still a scam even if there is an actual stock. Tux500 is still a scam, even if there's an actual race car - hell, even if it wins! You were *STILL* charged an exorbitant price for something of no real value, on the false pretense that it was more valuable than even supporting an open source project that makes Linux better in the first place!

Talk such as "all it took was $1 from each person in just 1% of the community," etc. is nonsense since few people outside of the US would have the slightest interest in Indianapolis 500. Even within the US, I bet the community can think of better things to do with their money (including keep it) than pay to have a penguin sticker on some nondescript racing car.

I don't think it would be a bad idea for there to be fund raisers but this idea is just lame and I think the funds raised so far reflect that.

I'm just going to chime in here and say that what likely happened here is that the nine trillion horribly crap story submissions about the tux500 poisoned our minds against the idea. In the last few days, properly-written story submissions with properly constructed links and the like started rolling out and I started voting them up, but I'd say about 90% of the tux500 submissions that crossed the firehose looked like they were constructed by a complete idiot.

Also, many of us feel that putting a penguin on a race car just isn't a useful expenditure of money, and so we felt the entire thing was a non-starter and a waste of effort from the beginning. We're talking about advertising here, not substance. You could pay three to six developers of note (depending on where they live and how much goodwill counts to them at the end of the week when they are picking up their paycheck) to take on projects that actually require attention. Let's let the businesses market Linux. We can instead spend our effort to make it better.

Now for a piece of good news: the Indianapolis 500 is over in ONE MORE WEEK!

The bad news is, the same people who brought us Tux500 already have a new scam in the chute: remember, Ken Starks said "Boy, if people are upset by this campaign, wait till they see what's next."

And more good news: I won't be covering the next scam. It will be somebody else's turn. This has been the most disgusting task I have ever undertaken, but I would like to thank those of you who commented in support of my effort, even those who were tepid about it. Even the people who don't agree!

Of course, if the next one gets shoved in my face like this one did (hardly seems likely seeing how that turned out), I will next time be interested in what I can do with lawyers, as we would with any other spammer and online fraud, rather than blog posts.

Ta ta.

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