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Is Usenet advocacy too polluted to be relevant any more?

by Mark Dodel, © July 2008

Mark Dodel is the founding editor of the VOICE Newsletter and is the current moderator of the VOICE News mailing list http://www.os2voice.org. Mark is a past president of Warpstock, the annual OS/2-eComStation user conference in North America and continues as an advisor to the board of directors of Warpstock, Inc. He has worked for many years as a computer comsultant for clinical hospital systems development.

It is getting to the point when OS/2 users on Usenet are lamenting the old trolls who use to haunt the comp.os.os2 USENET groups. comp.os.os2.advocacy has degraded to the point where it is amazing if there is a single on-topic post. At least the old trolls we knew and hated attacked on topic. The latest batch of scumbags just post meaningless nonsense that has no real meaning to anyone. It's gotten so bad that the resident anti-OS/2 psycho-troll has even stopped posting in c.o.o.advocacy and instead posts in other groups.

Actually, it's kind of funny that Tim Martin now posts in c.o.o.ecomstation considering how hard he opposed the group's creation a couple years ago. He went as far as creating a sock puppet just to campaign to have the group defeated. Even he seems to have been put off by the endless nonsense postings that now deluge c.o.o.advocacy. But is this unique to the OS/2 group?

The extent of senseless spamming seems to be worse in the c.o.o.a than in the other advocacy groups I monitor. One truly bizarre episode was when one of the trolls who has helped destroy c.o.o.advocacy actually petitioned the USENET Big8 board to remove the group. His premise was that the group was now only full of off-topic posts. The fact that he was one of those whose incessant posts drove people away from the group was ignored. The Big8 board seems to have let that request die, so c.o.o.advocacy lives on.

But other than as a magnet for the loonies, is there any point in advocating OS/2 any longer? IBM has officially abandoned any public OS/2 development for a year now. All development has now moved to Serenity System's eComStation. At least that product has new features and new issues to discuss. So now the ecomstation groups are more active than the longtime OS/2 groups. I guess it was bound to happen eventually.

Interesting that there never seem to be anywhere near the same volume and insane intensity of trolling in the Windows groups as there is in the OS/2, Linux and Mac groups. In fact there doesn't seem to be much activity in any the Windows groups at all. Yes, they get some drive-by attacks, but nothing like the relentless attacks in the non-Windows groups.

Looking at comp.os.linux.advocacy and comp.sys.mac.advocacy I see those groups polluted with endless threads by Windows trolls. They seem to be using the same Microsoft FUD handbook that has been played out since the time of Steve Barkto. Steve Bartko: the Microsoft employee who spread anti-OS/2 lies on CompuServe while pretending to be an OS/2 user. These modern day Barktos are all anonymous and appear out of nowhere as experts on the very platform they spend all day attacking. They spread lies and attack the users of the platform they attack, and never add anything meaningful or useful. They are downright nasty to anyone that questions their motives. But with time it becomes apparent to the group regulars what these creeps are up to. Do a search on their latest persona and it almost always is confined to one or two USENET groups. Do these people have a life beyond trolling USENET advocacy groups? The volume of their drivel would tell us that this must be close to their full time job. Perhaps they have no job and this is their only outlet for attention. Has anyone seen any research on why they do this?

So the other advocacy groups have their own pollution to deal with, but not yet quite as bad as the c.o.o.advocacy group. I have noticed though a huge spike in FUD postings in the Linux and Mac groups just before any major new announcements. They are similar to the attacks by the anti-eCS trolls just before and after a new release of eComStation.

Could Microsoft be behind these attacks? My feeling is that they are not directly employing the creeps that do this, but I would not be surprised to find they orchestrate their legions of MCSEs to do the dirty work for them. It's unfortunate that people will lie just because they can make money off of supporting really bad software, rather than promote variety and quality software platforms. But as OS/2 users we have seen this behavior for over a decade.

Despite the pollution there is some benefit to leaving the advocacy groups alone: they act as garbage collectors. So relevance aside, I say leave the dirty dogs to their mindless business.

Formatting: Christian Hennecke
Editing: James Moe

Info about Steve Barkto: http://lists.essential.org/1998/am-info/msg01529.html