If you’ve read Adam’s post ("Preparing for Slashdot",) you probably read how we worked to inform the Slashdot crowd via early entries in the discussion. Luckily, they were moderated up fairly quickly, and people were able to continue commenting with quite a bit more basis in fact than the original article provided.
Often, this is called “Astroturfing,” alluding to “fake grass” in a grass-roots movement.
Scoble brought it up, as have some internal discussions over the past few days. Scoble wrote:
Here’s one place I got uncomfortable. In the past Microsoft astroturfed its way into issues. I always told myself if I saw astroturfing going on I’d point it out and oppose its use. (…) I’m not saying Adam and Lee crossed the line here (they didn’t), but I wanted to point out what they did so that we can have a public discussion about it. I think what they did was OK simply because it was in the spirit of getting the facts out.
I personally don’t even think this even approached astroturfing. First of all, I do consider myself a member of the Slashdot community. In fact, I first heard about Monad from Slashdot before I worked at Microsoft. I’ve been at the karma cap for years, and don’t generally post about Microsoft articles. Is the MSRC team astroturfing by going to BlackHat?
Second, I was very careful to mention my connection with Monad exactly to prevent the perception of astroturfing. My first comment, “Comments from a Monad developer,” has about as obvious a title I could have given it. Of course, another option was “MOD SELF DOWN. COMMENTS FROM A BORG MICRO$$$LOTH DRONE.”
Finally, the side-bar on the blog very clearly states: “Disclaimer: I work for Microsoft.”
Let the public discussion continue, but it’s pretty clear to me that recent events shouldn’t be part of it.
[Edit: Monad has now been renamed to Windows PowerShell. This script or discussion may require slight adjustments before it applies directly to newer builds.]