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Tech journalist comment-mobbed by IBM Lotus Notes, er, fans...(?)



Image: One of the ridiculously pro-IBM comments on a rather mildly critical blog post about IBM...

Computer Weekly stalwart, Cliff Saran wrote a post that was mildly critical of IBM's inability to answer a question about running Lotus Notes on Windows Vista (that sort of thing has to be purely theoretical research or some kind of penance, right?).

Anyway, what he got was a good dozen or more comments from people angry at his position on this - here are four examples:

"please tell me who your boss is, I would like to complain about your lack of real content."

You make one simple request, to which you already know the answer. You don't get a response to your "duh" question. Then you, due to your position as the owner of the IT FUD blog, totally insult with malice, a company that continues to drive IT into the future.

Do you have any idea how difficult it is for ANY vendor to support an infinite number of versions of their software, just because a handful of customers are too lazy or too tight-fisted to upgrade? Especially in a Microsoft environment!

This is truly pathetic. With our shop heavily invested in IBM, I came across this headline and thought it'd be of interest. It's clear this loser has a beef because IBM won't kow-tow to trivial demands from a whacko journalist to completely revise their certification paths.

Cliff pops up in the comments section himself to point out the pathetically, bleeding obvious:

I've put my name to this blog posting, unlike some of the people here, hiding their comments to my posting behind private email addresses, who clearly have a vested interest in IBM.

Is there really a happy band of Lotus Notes users out there? Was Cliff Saran's post really so poor that it incited a torrent of invective from independent readers who couldn't stand to see an IT journalist take a pop at Big Blue or other big technology companies (which is basically a big part of what tech journos do in the UK)?

It's clear that person or persons unknown with an interest in IBM have taken it upon themselves to mob Cliff in his comments. You expect this kind of thing from the more rabid members of the Church of Apple - but Lotus Notes?

Or - if you want a really piquant conspiracy theory with your afternoon tea - could it be that someone has mounted a commenting barrage on Cliff Saran's blog in order to make IBM look like its playing silly games with social media?

Anyhow, anyone outside of religion/Macs/politics seen this sort of shameful comment-mobbing?


Totally - take a look at any games industry related forum.

By way of an example, consider this quite reasonable post from a developer, examining fact and myth about developing for the PlayStation 3:


528 comments, around 450 of which appeared within a week of the post going up.

Oof! Incredible - harder to see with games whether it is allies or fanboys, such are the passions of gamers... But I've yet to meet a passionate Lotus Notes user - well not passionate in a way that would defend the software anyhow...

(that sort of thing has to be purely theoretical research or some kind of penance, right?)

No. We're just strangely cruel and arbitrary in what we make our journalists do...



Yes, actually, there are quite some rabid fans of Lotus Notes out in the marketplace, including hundreds of bloggers (you can see them at planetlotus.org). I was surprised by the veracity of some of the comments on the CW site, but Cliff Saran's deductive reasoning doesn't mesh with how software updates work generally. I wish the comments had not been anonymous, that might have made the tone of the whole thing a bit more professional (though the point would have been the same).

As for the community overall, they were called "sickos" in "Attack of the Blogs" in Forbes, because of the way an industry analyst's astroturfing was deconstructed publicly a few years back. Some still wear that term as a badge of pride. I don't think anyone mounted an attack -- if there was such a thing going on, it would have appeared on one of those Lotus blogs first.

Imagine that you are using the web, and you see this article with this title "Poor service from IBM: Big Blue shows its true colours".
WOW!! IBM did something really wrong!!!

You rush to read it, and ... Surprise, Surprise!!!

All this big scandal was because a well informed writer asked IBM to give him information about installing an unsupported version of Notes in windows Vista! And in the article he recognizes that he knew that the Notes 6.5(?) was not supported?!
Logically, IBM didn't answer him!

The rage isn't against attacking IBM or Lotus Notes. The rage is against the misuse of freedom of speech and against defamation.

The next time try to understand things before writing about them.

Fernando Sousa

PS - Sorry about the bad english.

Ed - That's very interesting: thanks for telling us about sickos and Lotis fans - I had no idea. And I can definitely understand your POV...

Fernando - your English is fine. Your logic isn't quite as robust.

I tried to understand before I posted why IBM didn't reply - I still don't understand completely.

Thanks for your comment all the same!

There is a clear difference in my mind between a blog posting and a news article in a newspaper or on a website. A blog can be used to explore ideas, raise questions and express opinions; a news story needs impartiality, balance and is obviously legally tight. I use my blog to explore story ideas that we normally cannot publish. If these IBM/Lotus people are baying for my blood, maybe they have something to hide.

Well in the UK, at least we have a free press and my publisher does not pressurise me in any way if a story I write happens to criticise one of our biggest advertisers. I'd like to think we live in an open and tolerant society where conspiracy theories surrounding the monarchy's involvement in Diana's death can be aired.

Hear hear...

Ed Brill wrote: "Yes, actually, there are quite some rabid fans of Lotus Notes out in the marketplace, including hundreds of bloggers"

True, Ed, and the intriguing thing is that they always show up when there's something that appears critical of Notes on a site. Look at the Guardian's Tech blog not so long ago: http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/01/24/fight_fight_its_fake_steve_versus_the_lotustards.html
which went completely ballistic.

What I find is that the people rabidly in support of Notes are always the admins, never the users. (Same on this thread too. It's never end-users madly in love with using Notes.) In this respect, it's not like the Apple fans, who are almost always users, barely ever admins.

Cliff's question was interesting, but I'd have thought the easy way to find out is test it. Find a friend in the IT department, find a Windows Vista PC, have a go. Much more fun.

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