Microsoft Spin Control
Interesting. Microsoft is paying a blogger to contribute to Wikipedia.
From Rick Jelliffe’s blog:
So I was a little surprised to receive email a couple of days ago from Microsoft saying they wanted to contract someone independent but friendly (me) for a couple of days to provide more balance on Wikipedia concerning ODF/OOXML. I am hardly the poster boy of Microsoft partisanship! Apparently they are frustrated at the amount of spin from some ODF stakeholders on Wikipedia and blogs.
The complete post is here.
OOXML is a Microsoft-sponsored variation of the Open Document Format electronic publishing standard. Lots of folks do not care for OOXML. Here is an example of some of the concerns on OOXML.
Information Week reported the following reaction from Wikipedia:
Wikipedia officials say they are less than impressed with Microsoft’s pay-for-play campaign. “At a minimum, it could be viewed as unethical,” says Wikipedia general counsel Brad Patrick. “This is a hot issue, and Microsoft wanting to soften the edges on an entry raises concerns about the perceived independence of both Wikipedia and Microsoft,” Patrick says.
The complete article is here.
Microsoft sees no issue with ethics. They are fine with paying bloggers to spread their point of view:
The spokesman insists the whole thing is above board because Jelliffe disclosed Microsoft’s offer of payment. “There was no effort to hide anything,” says Microsoft’s spokesman.
Financial terms were not disclosed. I wonder if Jelliffe got a free laptop?
The fundamental question at stake here is one of facts vs. bias. Any organization wishing to build an encyclopedia service in good faith should be doing its utmost to represent the facts and free itself from any bias. What we are witnessing both in the reaction to Microsoft”™s attempts to present the facts and in the overall tone of the comments in the blogosphere is the genuine bias that the open source community has toward Microsoft. Essentially what Wikipedia is saying that anyone in our “community”? can contribute to the collective truth but anyone outside our “community”? is excluded. That”™s like getting your news in a communist country. Sure, the state-owned newspaper will deliver the truth as they see it, and there may even be some facts mixed in there, but does anyone believe them when they are inherently biased? Can you trust the facts when they are filtered by the state?
What we”™re witnessing is the fundamental bias of the opensource community and the institutions they hold so dear. There better be some fundamental changes in governance over this stuff or there cannot be any trust. Intellectual freedom necessarily means ideas cannot be suppressed, even when they come from sources (such as Microsoft) that the “community”? doesn”™t agree with.
Until these “community”? run institutions support other ideas and broader contributions, nobody will believe the “information”? in Wikipedia. If that”™s the case, one must then ask, what”™s the point of its existence?
You don’t want a level playing field, cause then you won’t control things. Because your stuff is nowhere near the best.