Yahoo! Answers and the Deleted Answer, a resurgence of interest

Ok, there seems to be a renewal of interest over my posts regarding a deleted answer from Yahoo! Answers I blogged about over half a year ago.

As far as I can see this whole thing was a domino effect of:

  1. Someone didn’t like my answer and flagged it. Either someone with a high rank, or several people with medium ranks. Or it could have been the person who asked the question.
  2. Someone at Yahoo (who is probably ignorant about open source) made a quick decision and moved on.
  3. Someone got an e-mail reply from me regarding the letter saying my answer was deleted, but they didn’t respond immediately.
  4. Someone found out about my blog posts and contacted me, further explaining Yahoo’s reasoning.
  5. Someone got my official dispute and forwarded it onto the person in #4, who restated the same reasoning.
  6. Someone from #3 looked over the situation and decided to reverse the deduction of points.

All in all, do I think it’s a systematic bias against open source? No, I don’t see firm proof of this. Do I think it was malevolent / a conspiracy? No.

[edit] But, do I think that Yahoo’s without it’s biases? No, it’s guaranteed to have it’s priorities in some areas that would lend it to being biased. It’s logically impossible to not be biased in some way.

I think it was a culmination of a few people with not enough info and not enough time. It happens.

So why did I blog about this? Like I’ve said before, I wanted to see if this was a one-off or if it was a systematic policy that no one talked about. I also wanted to see if making a small fuss about something I disagree with would make a difference. It did, but not in the ways I was aiming for – I wanted to provoke a change in Yahoo, not be a tipping point for people to boycott Yahoo.

Don’t get me wrong, Yahoo’s got a lot of issues; for example their chat has a nasty habit of kicking people off for no reason or just not working properly. I personally object to the blending of the Yahoo and MSN chat networks, but they’re not my companies, not my choice. I’d just use Pidgin for this “problem”.

Looking back, I think the things that still annoy me are:

  1. The person who originally asked the question didn’t get to see my answer, even after the decision about it’s “violating the rules” was overturned
  2. I didn’t get an apology from anyone
  3. The person in #5 came across as quite abrupt and dismissive
  4. Nothing changed, except a few people’s perception of Yahoo

So what’s the result? A few people are ticked off at Yahoo, a few people are ticked off at me. People are now discussing whether open source should be censored, people are talking about whether open source is a viable replacement for Windows. I got my little bit of time in the spotlight.

Beyond that, I can’t see the ripples that my pebble caused in the lake of the world, but I flatter myself that the ripples will continue in their own way for a while.

On a tangent: a few people have said I’m too patient, too idealistic and too forgiving. What do you think?

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Repost – run greasemonkey scripts in all browsers

run greasemonkey scripts in all browsers

* Greasemonkey, an extension for Firefox. Make sure to restart the browser before trying to add the script.
* Trixie, one of the best Greasemonkey-like plug-ins for Internet Explorer
* SIMBL and GreaseKit for Safari
* no additional software for Opera, but you need to enable the feature from Opera’s interface
* Konqueror Userscript for Konqueror
I mentioned my doubts on Greasemonkey scripts working in all these browsers as GM scripts use GM-only commands. The Trixie looks promising (but don’t say I said that)

Yahoo + Open Source Censorship. Yahoo’s reason and the question in… question.

Ok, recap:

I’m a regular contributer to Yahoo! Answers. I’m at level 4 – that’s over 4000 points; they’re gained 2 and 10 at a time. For 31% of the answers I give, I’m awarded “Best Answer”.

So imagine my suprise when I get a “Violation Notice Email” from Yahoo saying:

“You have posted content to Yahoo! Answers in violation of our Community Guidelines or Terms of Service. As a result, your content has been deleted. Community Guidelines help to keep Yahoo! Answers a safe and useful community, so we appreciate your consideration of its rules.”

This is the “violating” Answer:

If you buy the XP disks you just get that – XP. No MS office, no other programs other than the very basics.

If you’re starting over anyways, grab a blank CD and use imgburn ( http://imgburn.com/ ) to burn an Ubuntu ( http://ubuntu.com/ ) or Kubuntu ( http://kubuntu.com/ ) .iso on there. Put the burned CD in the CD tray and restart the computer. It doesn’t need a hard drive at all to run – it loads into the computer’s RAM (temporary memory).

K/ubuntu comes fully loaded and thousands of other programs are just a few clicks away – you just look them up in a built in installer, it grabs the stuff needed and installs it all. It’s free in both senses of the word – free of cost and free of obligations.

Read the rest of this entry »

Yahoo Answers Censorship? Follow-up #3

{Multi-post navigation}
Yahoo! Answers is rejecting Open-Source options in answers (the original post that started it all)

Follow-up: Yahoo Answers censoring Open-source options (a response to the first site to pick up my story)

Yahoo + Open Source Censorship. A second follow-up (responses to comments)

Yahoo Answers Censorship? Follow-up #3 (more responses to comments)

Yahoo Answers + Open Source Censorship. Yahoo’s reason and the question in… question.
Summary: A full recap with Yahoo’s official reason and the question at the center of this issue.

{The actual post}

  1. jj Says:
    June 22nd, 2007 at 8:49 am emaybe it’s a question about advertising… (Me)
    A vague possiblility, but unlikely. All programs are free to use and I get nothing out of it (financially)
  1. melchior Says:
    June 22nd, 2007 at 8:50 am e
    Looks like a number of people (possibly Microsoft employees or otherwise shills) clicked the “report abuse” link. The comment deletion system may have be automated or the moderator wasn’t feeling particularly liberated. Granted, there’s room for the censorship argument, but there’s always the possibility that some pro-Microsoft guy got a posse together to report the comment to death.(Devil’s advocate suggestions brought to you by Hanlon’s razor: “Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”)(Me)
    That quote always makes me laugh… and think of the gov’t.
    I think it was a combo of some people reporting the comment and the reviewer not being that well educated (or maybe just tired?)… The part that ended up frustrating me the most was the lack of any human response when I tried to contact them.
  2. Michael Wexler Says:
    June 22nd, 2007 at 9:11 am e
    John D hit it on the head. You weren’t on topic. The person clearly wanted to get back to where they were. Your suggestion was really not helpful. You could have acheived your desired result with more info and then slipped in your Ubuntu plug:
    “One option is to either reinstall windows, or install on anothr “part” of your hard drive. There are many sources for XP (or Vista) these days if you need to buy it again, but they do cost money. Each software product that you don’t have disks for would have to be purchased, including MS Office. While one can sometimes buy these things used on eBay, MS does not support this and frowns upon it. If you don’t necessarily need windows itself, you can copy your files to a floppy, cd, or flash drive and then try one of the free Linux systems like Ubuntu which provides an office solution and can read most of your files and documents.”I don’t think they would have killed that one… yet it gets your point across. I don’t think Y! has anything against open source (they use tons of it in house) but they are clearly cracking down on comments which aren’t really on topic.(Me)
    As far as I was and am concerned, the other posters covered this quite well… why repeat it?
    That’s why I pointed out what I considered the others missed – that Windows doesn’t have everything included like some people think, and that IF she was going to wipe her computer anyways (have you seen an installation of Windows that didn’t? I haven’t.) she might as well try something low cost.
    Besides… you don’t have to install Ubuntu to use it. *wink*
  3. Read the rest of this entry »

Yahoo + Open Source Censorship. A second follow-up.

{Multi-post navigation}
Yahoo! Answers is rejecting Open-Source options in answers (the original post that started it all)

Follow-up: Yahoo Answers censoring Open-source options (a response to the first site to pick up my story)

Yahoo + Open Source Censorship. A second follow-up (responses to comments)

Yahoo Answers Censorship? Follow-up #3 (more responses to comments)

Yahoo Answers + Open Source Censorship. Yahoo’s reason and the question in… question.
Summary: A full recap with Yahoo’s official reason and the question at the center of this issue.

{The actual post}

  1. Malician Says:
    June 22nd, 2007 at 1:37 am e
    Well – I hate to allege shady dealings with Microsoft, though Yahoo has tight dealings with them. Normally, I could see Yahoo annoyed at what might look as a recommendation for another product – but Linux Live CDs are free, and – it’s not like you can get a free Windows Live CD, is it?I don’t see what serious qualm they could possibly have.(Me)
    I don’t know what the issue was either – her computer was toast. She was asking where she could get a restore CD or how much XP CD’s / DVD’s were. Hence my wording – “If you’re going to wipe it anyways…”
  2. Niklas Says:
    June 22nd, 2007 at 3:46 am e
    Now I’m 100% sure that I’ll never use any Yahoo services (not because I do anyway). This just isn’t democratic. What about freedom of speech?! Even though I’m not the big open source fan, I think this is very wrong and shouldn’t have happened. But normal people can’t do anything about it, but stop using Yahoo’s services(Me)
    I think what happened was that some MS fans didn’t like my suggestions and flagged me. It happens…
  3. Read the rest of this entry »

A Mac User’s View of Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty Fawn)

After my less-than-thrilling experience with Windows Vista I decided to take the plunge and download the latest release of Ubuntu with the intent to see just how far Linux has come in the last year or so. Last time I used Linux was for a server setup which worked very well but I was not all that impressed with the desktop implementation back then, which was about a year ago. Since then Ubuntu has emerged as a major force on the Linux desktop front with several solid releases that have much of the internet buzzing about how Linux might be finally ready to give the folks in Redmond a run for their money. So what does a die hard Mac fanboy have to say about the latest release of Ubuntu (Ubuntu 7.04) Feisty Fawn? Quite a bit actually… Read the rest of this entry »

Ubuntu / Linux myths

There seem to be a few things that people believe about Ubuntu, here’s some of the ones I used to think myself:

  1. Leaving Windows means leaving updates.
    1. Ubuntu has a lot of updates over time – possible more than Windows. The difference is that Ubuntu updates EVERYTHING. All programs, all underlying stuff… everything. In one window!
  2. Using Linux means using a command line / terminal
    1. It is entirely possible to use Ubuntu and NEVER know where the terminal is, nevermind using it.
    2. Using the terminal is NOT hard. Most of the time it’s just literally copying and pasting. Nothing hard about that, right?

    To be continued…