Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

I'm Done With Ziff Davis, eWeek, and Microsoft Watch

It's just not Joe Wilcox's week. On Thursday, I beat him down for extremely faulty logic regarding his post on the Windows Vista Family Discount. The this morning, Ed Bott calls him out for not fact-checking his post about IE7 woes. If the comments on the stories on Microsoft Watch are any indication, the natives are not happy with the direction the site has taken. It always seemed like Joe was blatantly anti-Microsoft over at Jupiter, and IMO, not much has changed since he moved from "analyst" to "reporter". Neither one apparently requires facts.

As if that wasn't enough. (Edit: This next part has nothing to do with Joe, it's his employer that I have a problem with here.) So on Wednesday, I was doing some research for my "Longhorn Reset" post, and I was searching the net for posts about Windows "Fiji". I came across this post from Brandon LeBlanc, who links to a post from Mary Jo Foley on Microsoft Watch about the subject. To my shock, her name had been removed from the post. Don't believe me? Well, look at the article as it was published on April 13, 2006, courtesy of the Wayback Machine. After completing a search, I found that several other MJ posts we had linked to in the past had also purged her byline. In fact, I'm pretty sure they removed her name from her entire body of work.

I was completely stunned. I cannot BELIEVE that a journalistic organization would attempt to remove any trace of a writer's work just because they don't work there anymore. That's total bullsh!t. I asked MJ about the circumstances around her departure from MicrosoftWatch, and she said there wasn't any bad blood when she left... so why was that necessary? 

That's the last straw. I'm done with Ziff Davis, which means I'm not just deleting my RSS feed subscription for Microsoft-Watch (which I did after MJ left, only to try re-subscribing after Wilcox showed up)... I'm canceling my subscriptions to eWeek and, unfortunately, PC Magazine. It makes me kinda sad, since PCMag has been really good to the site in the past. It has become quite clear that the organization is no longer interested in presenting reality to its readers, and is completely devoid of journalistic integrity. Which means that I have no use for them anymore. And the only way to do that is to stop sending them my traffic and my money.

And as a side note to any Ziff Staff Writer: I'd make backup copies of all your articles, because Ziff will probably screw you someday when you leave. Thank God for the Wayback Machine.

UPDATE: This is not a dig on Joe, but I don't buy the "brand confusion" argument that was used against both Joe and MJ. A person's work is a person's work, it doesn't matter who someone currently works for. It wouldn't be any more acceptable for NBC to go back through the archives and edit out Katie Couric from any NBC broadcast because she works for CBS now... how is this any different? If editors don't think that we're smart enough to figure out which site is which and who is writing for whom, then they are dumber than they think we are. All the more reason why I don't trust Ziff Davis or JupiterResearch anymore.

And to clarify, Joe's not the reason I'm canceling my subscriptions, the byline crap is. But I put MW in there because I gave it another chance after they brought Joe in, and it hasn't got any better IMO.

UPDATE2: They resolved this situation. I blogged about it here.

Posted on Jan 21 2007, 12:19 AM by Robert McLaws
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Comments

  • sprite in my hand as i type said:

    dont forget... before joe wilcox became "unbiased" at JupiterResearch... he was a reporter with CNet. He always had the most biased reports during Microsoft's trial against the federal government.

    I've argued with Joe for years, and in private emails he is much more inviting to "alternative" views... but his writing is just packed full of *&@^!.

    Even though you didn't challenge others to boycott ziffdavis... that's what i'm going to take from your personal choice to not read from their properties. I pledge to avoid zd for the remainder of 2007.

    January 21, 2007 6:24 AM
  • JoeM said:

    I have the same feeling as well.  Ever since Mary Jo Foley left it just seems that no one over there cares any more.  I have been trying to hold out, and have even made some comments about incorrect information, but it just seems they want to run one sided information.  They don't seem like they want to work with the community.  Which is sad.

    January 21, 2007 8:45 AM
  • Joe said:

    Hi, Robert,

    I would encourage you to contact me in the future should you have questions or concerns about Microsoft Watch. You have my e-mail address, and I do respond.

    I would encourage you not to penalize all of Ziff Davis Media because of Microsoft Watch. Also, I would discourage you from making accusations without getting the facts, as you have claimed I do not present.

    You are correct that Mary Jo Foley's name no longer appears on Microsoft Watch posts. Her name was removed before I came on as editor, and I am to privy the reasons for that decision--although I can guess, which I will do in the next paragraph. However, you are mistaken that "they removed her name from her entire body of work." A simple search finds Mary Jo's byline on eWeek news stories. Her news story bylines remain.

    I haven't consulted Ziff Davis editors why Mary Jo's name was removed from Microsoft Watch posts. But I'll speculate this: Brand confusion. Mary Jo continues to blog, but now for ZDNet. There is some confusion among people about Ziff Davis Media and ZDNet being the same operations, which they are not. I got a sense of the confusion a few weeks ago, when Mary Jo asked her readers to respond to a question and one reader responded to the Microsoft Watch Tips mailbox.

    For all I know--and I don't--ZDNet could have asked for the byline's removal, because the brand confusion could cut both ways. Did you consider that possibility before rashly drawing conclusions, particularly after consulting Mary Jo and her telling you there "wasn't any bad blood when she left?" I don't know why her name was removed.

    Mary Jo isn't the only one stripped. JupiterResearch removed my name from all Microsoft Monitor blog posts. I assume that Jupiter wants to protect itself against brand confusion, too. Another: When I left CNET News.com for JupiterResearch in 2003, CNET placed a moratorium on reporters quoting me as an analyst. Because I had worked there as a journalist and my byline remained on four years of stories, editors had concern about brand confusion and also any appearance of conflict of interest. I left both companies on good terms, and I understand the position both organizations took.

    As for anti-Microsoft bias. I laughed when I read your accusation. Robert. Robert. Maybe you are too pro-Microsoft, which would be one plausible explanation for your reaction. My job isn't to defend or bash Microsoft. Microsoft Watch readers tend to be more technical and enterprise folks, who face tough decisions concerning Microsoft's massive 2007 release of new products. If you read carefully, you will find many posts are driven by reader comment or contain reader feedback. Microsoft gets its fair share perceptually positive stories. For example, when one of my colleagues recently took an anti-Vista position in opinion, "<a href="http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,2072976,00.asp">Vista: Why Bother</a>," I proactively responded in favor of the new operating system in blog, "http://www.microsoft-watch.com/content/vista/vista_yes_bother.html">Vista, Yes  Bother</a>."

    Yes, I read your rebuttal of my story on the family discount, which is one reason why I consulted analysts and updated the blog with comments from three analysts--all of which had been able to read my post. Sorry, but they didn't share the overly optimistic view that you presented.  I also read Ed Bott's response to "<a href="http://www.microsoft-watch.com/content/web_services_browser/how_you_see_internet_explorer_7.html">Is Internet Explorer 7 Too Locked Down for You?</a>" Ed didn't attack the blog post's premise, merely the response of one reader. Ed's rebuttal to that response misses the larger point: The guy felt like he had no choice. That's why I let the whole comment stand, rather than truncating it. As an analyst, I observed that in developing and marketing products perception is as important as reality.

    Perception is hugely important to companies like Microsoft. A few years ago, one of Jupiter's surveys revealed that one third of Windows XP users had no firewall protection. Technically, this is false, because Windows XP has a built-in firewall. I didn't discount the finding simply because the people were wrong. The data revealed a larger problem: That these users didn't know that Windows XP had no installed firewall. Likewise, the reader's response about Microsoft forcing IE 7 on him is significant, because that's what he believes. By the way, many other IE 7 made similar claims. If I were anti-Microsoft, as you claim, I could have written a lengthy story just on those kind of comments. Instead, I tried to be fair by including comments on both sides, even though there were many more anti- than pro-IE 7 reader comments.

    You're right to go read elsewhere, if you don't like Microsoft watch content. But you are wrong to penalize other Ziff Davis Media publications because of Mary Jo's name being removed from blog posts. I can understand why her name might have been removed, and the same thing happened to me--so, I'm fairly sympathetic to May Jo's position.

    Thanks,

    Joe

    January 21, 2007 1:17 PM
  • Joe,

    I appreciate your comments. First off, I did get more information from MJ than I decided to post. She said it was Ziff who initiated the removal, not C|NET. Any way you slice it, the politics of any of the situations that I described is pure crap. The NYT doesn't reissue old copies of tehir paper to scrub reporters that don't work their any more, and it shouldn't be any more tolerated just because it's published online. removing a person's body of work because it doesn't fit the "brand' is total crap, and if it happened to you, I'm very sorry. I would have screamed bloody murder if it had happened to me. But both of you have a lot more class than I do.

    As for the MW stuff, I read through a lot of the reader comments on your site before making this post, and it seems to me like most of your readers are unhappy with the coverage since MJ left. So I don't think I'm just speaking for myself. Having said that, I've heard you are a great guy, and I have no personal beef with you. The only person in the industry I can't stand is Paul Thurrott, because he's taken cheap, personal shots at me.

    But the problem with your interpretation of Ed's post is that YOU missed HIS point. It's fantastic that this guy feels that he didn't have a choice. So maybe the problem isn't that IE7 sucks or that it's too locked down, maybe it's that not enough people have been educated about what it is and how it affects them. They've been so engrained in the "click 'yes' to everything" mindset that users don't have a frickin clue what they're saying yes to, which is a bigger problem in and of itself.

    But instead, you took the low road and wrote another piece which was designed to turn users off to Microsoft, which has been a consistent theme in your writing for some time.

    I'm unabashedly pro-Microsoft. I've moved on from drinking the kool-aid, and now I'm snorting the powder. Everyone knows that. But I'll call them out any and every time I feel it is appropriate. More often than not, it seems like the goal of your posts is to keep people from choosing Microsoft products. That may not be your choice, you're just towing the party line... I don't know.

    I would challenge you to go back and take a look at your work from an outside perspective. One of the reasons so many people like Mary Jo is because she spent an equal amount of time probing the pros and cons of most of the stories she writes. She may highlight more cons than pros sometimes, but you get an overwhelming sense that she wants to see MS succeed. I don't get that sense when i read your stuff.

    Joe, at the end of the day, please understand that all of this is just my oen pwesonal opinion, and it's no more important than anyone else's. That's why I didn't call on others to boycott your site or Ziff. People need to read my experiences and weigh that against their own and make their own decision. And if I'm proven wrong, I'll be the first to admit it.

    Anyways Joe, take it easy, and I hope we bump into each other at the next MS conference.

    -Robert

    January 21, 2007 3:44 PM
  • Joe said:

    Thanks, Robert,

    Next MS event is just 8 days (and a bit more) away according to your timer.

    My Best,

    Joe

    January 21, 2007 5:08 PM
  • Neil said:

    Robert

    I warned you about the amount of bias on "Microsoft Watch" months ago, in fact ever since MJF left, it was "EXTEMELY" obvious to us long time readers of MS Watch that something wrong when "Scot Peterson" did a piece on "Vista" which he tested .... oh yeah ... sure ... it was RC1 and Vista had already gone to "RTM" !!!

    And he knew that RC1 had "heaps of bugs in it ! ! ! ! ! !

    And it was headed "Vista Ready? Not for me !" and this guy is the editor of "eweek" what do expect from Ziff Davis.... well .... one thing is for sure, it ain't impartial anymore !

    As you say, you are not, but you are probably like me and expect people in MSWatch to be impartial .... THEY"RE NOT ANYMORE ! ! !

    Anyhting that can be brought up against Micorsoft they will, you only have to look at their "Linux Watch" website to see what I mean, the spill over from that site to MSW is unreal !

    A lot of the people who comment of MSW are people who do not LIKE micorsoft at all, and are either Linux or Apple users, just wanting to "BAG" microsoft anyway they can !

    I myself am not "PRO" microsoft although I really can't wait to have a look at Vista myself, this is due to my experience with "Windows Me" what a shocker that was !

    Windows XP is good and I look forward to Vista.

    Getting back to MSW ..... from some of the comment their a lot of people are not happy with the "one sided" views expressed their, together with the LACK of research and UP TO DATE reporting.

    I will finish this by saying that I believe that MSW should change their name to something else as they no longer do what they used to do, it is more like "Microsoft Bash" now !

    Neil Cocks

    January 21, 2007 7:10 PM
  • Joe,

    Yeah, although I have an invite, I won't be going to that one. CES broke my bank, so i won't be able to make it.

    -Robert

    January 22, 2007 12:45 AM
  • HenryH said:

    Lets just peruse the articles at Microsoft Watch (that JoeW authored) that currently appear in largest print on the homepage.

    Title: Way Too ActiveX

    My Comment: So, JoeW suggests a conspiracy theory against Microsoft, implying complete deceit.

    Title: Windows Vista Family Discount Is No Ultimate Bargain

    My Comment: the byline slips in a nice qualifier "maybe", but regardless the article is biased. For example, as the first REASON why the family pack isn't a good deal, JoeW says because "Appeal is Limited". How does that make it a bad deal? If I have a choice to pay 1) $10 for something, or 2) pay $5 for the same thing. Thats a pretty good deal. And JoeW couldn't help but praise Apple with "It's a good deal" but doesn't give any REASONS why he came to that conclusion. He said it, therefore it is just FACT.

    Title: Allchin's Windows Media Device Lament

    My Comment: Another opportunity to criticize Microsoft using someone else's words. That's a common technique by JoeW. The "I didn't say it, he did" appears in virtually all of JoeW's articles. And in many cases, such as this article... its the PREMISE for the entire article.

    Title: The Anti-Virus Question Answered

    My Comment: Another article based on an article which employed the "I didn't say it, he did" technique (see above).

    Title: Open Source Advice from a Former Microsoft Employee

    My Comment: "I didn't say it, he did". Anyone see a trend here? Ok, this wasn't JoeW, but the use of JoeW's template was just too obvious to ignore.

    Well, i wasted too much time with this. I'm with Sprite boy (first post). I'm taking a timeout from eweek, etc for awhile.

    January 22, 2007 1:17 AM
  • JoeM said:

    I plan to wait until after the Vista and Office Consumer launch to see what comments MSwatch gives.  If it is bias, not balanced I will most likly be leaving them.   Keep up the good work.  I like to know both sides so I can make a better decision.  I already moved over to Vista and Office.

    January 22, 2007 4:57 PM
  • Neil said:

    Joe Wilcox even now still continues to "rubbish" IE7, and now he is asking the question "Will IE7 hurt Vista sales?".

    He is just so biased against Microsoft it is unreal !

    Plenty of commenters are saying that they have had no problems, and yet he still continues to say that there are !

    Robert you were right to give him the benefit of the doubt (so did I) but enough is enough !

    Microsoft Watch is now not worth "watching" anymore (unless you like seeing microsoft denegrated for no real reason that is) !

    January 23, 2007 9:08 PM
  • HenryH said:

    joew can't change. he's been blindly bashing on microsoft since ~1998 (when the gov went after microsoft).

    January 23, 2007 10:40 PM
  • January 24, 2007 8:54 PM
  • Corrine said:

    Its my turn to complain about poor reporting, but my complaint is with InformationWeek and a Symantec spokesman.  See http://securitygarden.blogspot.com/2007/01/sensationalism-irresponsible-journalism.html

    and repeated at http://www.tomcoyote.org/security/sensationalism-irresponsible-journalism-or-microsoft-bashing/60/

    January 24, 2007 8:55 PM
  • Maybe I won't have to cancel my subscription to PC Magazine after all. Apparently my post last week raised

    January 28, 2007 1:14 PM