9 comments on “Sensationalism Isn’t Helping Linux

  1. Pingback: Sensationalism | Toxic Shock

  2. A known sensationalist who claims to be an Open Source Advocate, but is well known as an Internet Spammer is Roy Schestowitz. He post more negative about Microsoft than actually discussing the benefits of the platform he advocates. If he could spend at least 0.05 percent of the time he does bashing Microsoft on discussing and helping users with Linux, there would be some interest in it. But when you have an individual who is more rolling barrel making nothing but noise, it tends to turn away interested parties. The idea of for Linux to win Microsoft has to lose is alive and well and its probably why we will always see Linux sitting at less than 1% market share for a very, very, very long time.

    • I’ve written on the subject of Roy Schestowitz and his stories on Boycott Novell in the past. I believe that such an attitude against Microsoft and business ultimately hurts Linux instead of “protecting” it, which I assume is Roy’s mission. There is certainly a benefit to having a watchdog to look out for potential problems with business practices if they are going to hurt Linux advocates’ efforts, however when that turns to absolute paranoia and spreading fear, then it is just ineffective and damaging to the rest of the community.

      You can view my previous statements on Boycott Novell and Roy here:


      Thanks for the comment! 🙂

  3. I read with interest your article and whilst I agree, there are some outlandish claims out there re: linux (and sensationalist headlines) the thing is, everyone is doing it. You get this in every walk of life and not just IT.

    Look at football teams and their supporters….look at car enthusiasts…infact anywhere where people make a decision to use/facilitate a product, you can often find them championing it.

    Does Linux advocacy hamper Linux adoption? In my opinion no. The people who agree (and are advocating themselves) will simply take comfort in another user sharing the same point of view…..and the rest?

    Well I think its time people admitted the fact, Who reads IT blogs? Whilst those with an interest/hobby in IT do (and already have their opinions) the massive majority of users really don’t care. They don’t care about the politics in IT, they don’t care about patents, they merely want to use their PC to get a job done and providing it does what they want, they really don’t care. These people look for alternatives when their products repeatedly let them down or are led by trends/fashion….I could cite so many examples here.

    I think you have to keep in mind that Linux is also battling the PR machine of Microsoft and Apple. Theres no ad budget and no way of drawing the attention of millions of TV viewers during a comercial break (at the moment) So the sensationalist headlines are often to attract readers to look at the article in the first place.

    One could argue that you yourself have engaged in “Sensationalism” with your title here and just by the implication that people with an honest held (if somewhat over enthusiastic) view of Linux in someway hurts it, will (IMO) certainly have the readers flocking in. – Thats not a problem in itself since the article is well written and makes some valid points, but I would like you to consider that maybe your view of the written IT word, is in itself giving far to much power to it…eg:

    Did the bad press of Vista stop it selling millions of units?

    Did the bad press of the rings of death, hamper sales of the 360?

    What about the Plurk/Juku incident, did the reporting of that switch people from Microsoft products?

    And when Microsoft and its advocates were claiming at the time there was nothing wrong with Vista, only to make admitions (of sorts) later, did that harm Windows deployment?

    What about when Ballmer likened Linux to cancer? Did that harm the Microsoft cause?

    I think you give far too little credit to the internet community. Either they are not interested in the subject at hand or they can quite easily see through sensationalism, just as you have.

    And finally, if you were correct, then surely now we should be seeing a decline in Linux deployment? Whatever the market penetration figures for Linux really are, I don’t think anyone can argue that not only is it more known/popular than it was two years ago, but that interest in Linux and FOSS in general seems to be growing rather quickly.


  4. Goblin, thanks for the comment! 🙂

    I would say that if one were to argue that my title is sensationalist, I would say simply that it does not make any outlandish sort of claim like “Sensationalist articles are killing Linux.” Of course, that’s an extreme example but I think you get the idea. Of course, titles are also expected to grab a reader’s attention. I really just couldn’t think of a better way to summarize what I wanted to say.

    I never said these articles are hurting Linux, but they are not causing any progress for the system. I also never claimed that such articles have so much power that they could change the entire public opinion. They just don’t help anything, and I’m really about efficiency and management of resources – I’d much rather encourage people to go out and actually get involved with an open source project instead of spending time and energy writing such an article.

    Like I said, I was guilty of this kind of writing too, and I try not to fall into that sort of writing.

    • mmm…..”Isnt helping” to me would suggest that an implication is being made to a detrimental effect….

      I wouldn’t suggest that you sought to imply that in any way there was “hurt” involved to Linux. However “Sensationalism – Whats the point?” may have better portrayed.

      Anyway, I think we are both singing from the same hymn sheet and you choice of words are yours, as are mine.

      Quote “I’d much rather encourage people to go out and actually get involved with an open source project instead of spending time and energy writing such an article.”

      But this is the problem. The getting involved. Lets look at the “average user” who isn’t a coder, uses the packages they like and wants to tell others about them. Sure they can file bugs – if they find them, sure they can donate or buy merchandise…..but how can people get involved otherwise? Advocacy? – thats what they are doing everytime they write about a FOSS package. There’s alot of people with alot of enthusiasm and unless projects are to be swamped with thousands of offers of help then I can’t see how they can. Maybe in some of the bigger projects you would have positions in forums which need filing, but if you are an “average user” with an honest held belief in what you say, then I say good on them.

      Quote “like I said, I was guilty of this kind of writing too, and I try not to fall into that sort of writing.”

      I don’t think anyone is guilty of anything and quite reverse, the more articles that are written sensational or not, I think spreads the word about alternatives far better than any TV advert.

      Quote “grab a reader’s attention.”

      No problem, you do it to bring attention to your article as I do mine. A few of my classics spring to mind “Facebook of Ballmer” is one and theres nothing wrong with doing it.

      Its funny, you have your first comment (adacosta) who is a Microsoft MVP, saying:
      “A known sensationalist who claims to be an Open Source Advocate, but is well known as an Internet Spammer is Roy Schestowitz. ”

      When I exposed him (adacosta) on my own site as promoting Microsoft under more than one handle….(by his IP address being logged in my stats)

      Of course these are the people who don’t like “sensationalist” advocacy…Mr Da Costa (or adacosta) said himself on his Twitter account “…its a shame Michael Jackson didn’t live to see Windows 7” ….now agree with Roy or not, I don’t think Roy has ever used a dead celebrity to promote any product or ethos.

      But then adacosta has been promoting his Microsoft views in a far more sensationalist way that Ive ever seen even the most devout FOSS advocate do.

      I’ll leave it there. – “Both sides” do sensationalist. I think we are all clever enough to work out fact from enthusiasm….or in Andre’s case merely disrespectful of a dead celebrity who cannot respond from the grave.

  5. Honestly “Sensationalism Isn’t Helping Linux” does a better job of communicating my purpose for this article. I want to show why the articles are not only pointless, but how they do not help promote Linux because they are 1) not aimed at the right people, and 2) why they are not productive. I wanted to connect Linux and the effect of the articles at the beginning. Same hymn sheet as you say, and different words.

    Since I am a non coder, I have a bit to say about contribution…

    When it comes to the individual, non-coder’s ability to contribute, there are several areas. Obviously filing bugs is one, but I never leave that to beginners because they must know how to use the system to tell if it is literally a “bug and not a feature.” Advocacy is a BIG area, and that includes writing articles (as I mentioned in my post), but the articles need to be informative and not preaching to the choir. Documentation and artwork are two areas non-coders can help out. Even if a non-coder does not understand all the technical details of what is being written in the documentation, they can work as a reviewer and help make the writing more “average joe” friendly. I don’t have the space here to get into all the things non-coders can do in local community teams and LUGs..

    On your last point, I was simply saying that I was guilty of the “everybody is moving to Linux” article type in the past. This guilt is not necessarily wrong, it just shows a weakness in the logic, and perhaps a more “zealous” attitude. That’s definitely not a bad thing, we need energetic people in the community. Let’s not loose our focus, this post was specifically about the articles that claim some major shift is occurring when it’s really not.

    Regardless to how many articles there are like the one I gave as an example, it is only helpful if the article finds its way beyond the Linux tech circles, which in most cases with individual bloggers is not very often. Also the content must be friendly to non-Linux users, which usually means not a whole lot of bashing Microsoft and unexplained internal lingo with terms such as “distro’s.”

    By the way, let’s not attack Mr. DaCosta on my blog too much ok? I won’t tolerate bashing anyone personally here. Remember, he’s human just like the rest of us and is entitled to his opinions, just as you are, which was so clearly demonstrated with your long comments ;-). As the benevolent dictator of this blog, I will moderate if I have to. Just sayin’.

  6. Ill end with our different views clearly on display for readers to decide on and respect your wishes on your blog. I would now merely point out that adacosta came here provoked and started an attack on another, does he get asked kindly to stop or are the rules different for an MVP? I would also say that I did not attack him since he confessed to his behaviour on my site. Thanks for the discussion.

  7. Thanks openbytes. The rules aren’t any different for an MVP. The only reason I jumped so quickly on telling people not to bash others is because both of you posted on this article. I don’t any flamewars to start here. Likewise, thanks for the discussion.

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