Did SCO get Linux-mob justice?

By rparloff

December 6, 2007

The title reference to Linux-mob mentality is a reference to something that, in its intensity, emotion and insularity, is real and distinctive about a segment of the Linux community.

There is a portion of that community that listens only to itself, and that passes innumerable emails and postings and comments to one another to reassure each other that they are right and that SCO is evil incarnate and that anyone who says something that could be seen as useful to SCO in any remote way must also be evil incarnate, on the take, owned by MSFT or some such silly thing. Since you are exposed only to your own distortions and misunderstandings, your views harden and become progressively more adamant and angry, whether they stood originally on a sound basis or not. Any message or messenger from the outside that threatens to require reassessment throws the world into an uproar.

If you look back at the first 100 or so comments to this article you’ll see what I’m talking about ...

“... we ALL know who pays YOUR wages,” “I have never read such a load of spin-doctored bovine excrement in my entire life,” “Tim Forbes [sic] and his puppies have been anti-linux since I can remember and they obviously know so little about it,” ; “This is the most moronic coverage of SCO yet. I bet the author was buying stock”; “The author of this article has obviously been talking to Darl!”; “The author apparently skipped class the last four years”;”of all the articles that I have read about the SCO case this is probably the clearest ‘bought and paid for’ one that I have seen to date. I hope you enjoy your 30 pieces of silver and fortune.com just lost an avid reader. Absolutely unbelievable that your tripe should make it past the editors”; “I maintain that Parloff’s opinion piece is part of an orchestrated press campaign. . . . Parloff has telephone access to David Boies . . . I think it is defendable supposition that Parloff’s opinion piece on Judge Kimball decision was vetted through David Boies”; “By the way – how much is Darl paying you?”; “Oh dear Roger, trying to garner microsoft pr dept karma and a free laptop ?”; “the above article is just more FUD. That is all the feeding of this Troll I will do”; ” You just don’t care about little facts like that instead trying to spin out useless FUD”; “If you’re simply trolling for hits, then please post something on ‘Britney sucks’ or ‘my cat ate my toaster’ etc.”; “Why havn’t you read Judge Kimball’s rulings, and all the documents it was based on before blogging about it? Was it too much work?”; “I noticed that SCOX stock was up 12% today. . . . I then went looking for news that could have affected the stock price and discovered with this, um, work of journalism”; “I just want to know one thing, and I KNOW you won’t answer it… exactly how much did you get for selling your soul and your journalistic integrity?”; “Do you get paid to drive the stock price up??? There is no there other reason anyone would be so naive”; “You troll for hits with cheap, lazy, attention getting titles and you’ll be outed as an idiot who doesnt grasp basic terms in the english language.”; “I sure hope people do not rely on Forbes [sic] for accurate analysis of any topic that they bet their own personal money on. Their record in loudly backing SCO (starting at when they were worth $30 a share, till now, as they approach delisting) has been quite dismal.”; “SCO and its allies are furiously spewing out misinformation about the recent decisions in this case, and it appears that Mr. Parloff has fallen for it.”; “His emphasis on this is a good indication that this article was coached as part of a broader press campaign playing out in other forums.. . . I am most interested in learning if this press campaign is a Utah exclusive , or if Boies’ law firm has a hand in conducting it”; “I would also suggest you look at the background on the hack, Roger Parloff, that Fortune had write the latest dribble.”; “This factually inaccurate article by Fortune is incompetent”; and so forth and so on.

The refusal to read or consider seriously, let alone credit anything that might tend to support SCO’s position on any matter no matter how trivial, and, indeed, the refusal to seek comment from SCO or its lawyers before assuming the worst about any action it takes or allegedly took, leads to systematic distortion and to basic misunderstandings, like the ones I discuss in the special Addendum to Groklaw Readers in the post at http://legalpad.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2007/11/29/stay-lifted-in-sco-v-novell-case/

So there is a mob mentality. The term Linux-mob is certainly overbroad, since at this point almost everyone except Microsoft is a champion and user of Linux, including most Fortune 500 companies. Still, I think people know what I’m talking about.

Originally I called the piece “How SCO got screwed,” but an editor thought that was coarse so I looked for somethiing else. Maybe i should have stayed with the original.

Some people have asked how the Linux-mob as i have defined it could have possibly played any role in the outcome of the case. This is a fair criticism, because my train of mind on that had been, indeed, highly speculative–maybe too speculative. But when I saw an experienced judge making such clearly forbidden credibility judgments — like noting that Chatlos’s wife worked for SCO and suggesting that, therefore, he wasn’t worthy of belief — i thought something unusual had clearly happened. many federal judges are overworked and heavily reliant on clerks, who are fresh out of law school.

Law students are young and idealistic and they do know about sites like Groklaw and they know who’s working for which judge and which cases they’re working on, and they are still young enough to care about peer pressure. I was a law clerk and I remember the heady feeling, and remember the thrill of trying to do Right and single-handedly save the world. So I could see a young, idealistic law clerk saying to himself, gee, maybe i can single-handedly save the Linux community with a clever, envelopepushing, summary judgment ruling right here and now. But that would be a mistake.

It’s vital that an emotional case like this one — which has been the subject of so much misinformation and disinformation and gossip and rumor — be decided by 12 people (or maybe 6 to 8, for a civil case) who have never heard of Groklaw and, preferably, never heard of SCO or Linux.

Did anything like that thinking process really happen inside Kimball’s chambers? I have no idea. Something unusual happened. Maybe I should have kept the title “How SCO got screwed.” but there certainly is a mob mentality in a certain segment of the Linux community and it is deplorable.

 8:19 am

Copyright 2007