Ask Humorix: Polite Flaming

Feature written by James Baughn on Monday, April 26, 1999

from the a-kinder-gentler-flame-thrower dept.

Anonymous Linux Longhair writes, "Today's edition of my local newspaper, the Toledo Tattler, features a column by a so-called computer expert titled 'Bashing the People Who Bash the People Who Don't Bash Microsoft'. This column was a Linux-roast-a-thon, with a higher FUD-per-sentence ratio than any other article I've ever read. I'd like to respond politely to the author via e-mail, but the only message I can compose is a long string of expletives. Oh mighty Oracle, can you provide me with enlightenment in how to write a response that doesn't sound like it came from a crazy Linux longhair bent on world domination?"

The Humorix Oracle responds:

Dear Anonymous Linuxer Bent On World Domination:

Indeed. The following is a letter I composed a few weeks ago to a clueless "columnist" who wrote a Microsoft-praising editorial for "The Oracle Journal: The News Source for Non-Corporeal Beings". With a few modifications this letter could be made appropriate for your situation.

Dear Columnist,

This letter is in response to your article in the Oracle Journal, dated March 25, 1999, entitled "Why I Like Microsoft, and Why Any Omnipotent Being With Half a Brain Should Too". I and my collegues were quite offended by your editorial and have decided to cancel our subscriptions to the Journal.

Attached with this letter are two items, a book titled "Linux For Pundits" and a clue stick. The book, published by IDG, the same people who produced "Windows 95 for Dummies" and "Windows 95 OSR 2 for Extreme Dummies", is an invaluable resource for clueless pundits such as yourself. The purpose of the clue stick should be self-explanatory.

I would like to take this opportunity to point out a selection of the many flaws in your column:

  • Bill Gates did not invent the Internet. (Neither did Al Gore.) I didn't invent the Internet either. If I had invented it, I would have designed the TCP/IP protocol to contain restrictions preventing packets originating from mindless pundits such are yourself from being propogated.

  • Your characterization of Linux as "that flightless bird operating system" based on the Tux Penguin mascot is interesting, but flawed. The truth is that NT is the flightless OS. After all, the letters NT stand for No Takeoff. (You thought they stood for "New Technology"? You're an idiot.)

  • Linux Torvalds (sic) is not an "ego-maniacal control freak who only developed the Linux kernel as part of a master plan to appear on the cover of Forbes Magazine", as you so elegantly put it. When -- not if -- the publication you write for is acquired by Microsoft and renamed to the "Bill Gates Omnipotent Journal", it will be interesting to see how your opinion is affected.

  • The Linux/Open Source community is NOT populated by geeks who, as you claim, "spend five hours a day surfing Slashdot and reading the unfunny 'jokes' at various Linux 'humor' websites." Studies have shown that the average Linuxer spends only two hours a day at Slashdot, not the exaggerated five that you misleadingly claim. I don't know how to respond to your unwarranted attacks on Linux humor sites; I assume the only thing you'll ever find funny is a fake news article like "Ten People Die After Mission-Critical Linux Computer Coredumps".

  • Your TANSTAAFL (There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch) argument against free software is quite ironic. Your editorial was available to the public for free on The Oracle Journal's website. I assume that your argument that "free software is only free if your time is worthless" applies to your free editorials. The fact that I actually read your editorial and am now wasting my time responding to it is a clear indication that my time is worthless.

  • Contrary that what you imply, NO columnists or publications who have praised Linux in recent months are on the payroll of Red Hat or another Linux company. Speaking of payrolls, I'm quite amazed that you're still on the payroll of The Oracle Journal after all the negative criticism your article, "Why Intellectual Property Law Violations Should Be Punishable By Death", received last year.

I have other complaints, but the above list will have to suffice.


John Q. Oracle

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