Bribing Bloggers

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Print this article Print


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Opinion: So, that's why people are saying nice things about Vista.

Want to know why Microsoft has so many people saying good things about it, despite endless security problems, high prices, product lock-in and a big brother attitude toward using their products? Microsoft bribes people.

Microsoft blogger Long Zheng tells us that he, and many other bloggers, from the "A list to Z list" received an early Christmas present: Acer's Ferrari laptops.

Zheng's Ferrari 5000 comes with an AMD Turion 64 x2 dual-core 2GHz CPU, 2GB of DDR2-667 RAM, AMD-ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 on a 15.4-inch widescreen. It also has a 160GB SATA drive, HD-DVD reader and burner as well as a 1.3mp camera. It was, of course, preloaded with Vista. Not bad, eh, for $2,299, or, if you're a blogger that Microsoft wants to influence, free!

As Zheng says, it's not like the Free Software Foundation is handing out goodies like this. Nor, might I add, is Red Hat, Novell, Ubuntu or any of the rest of the Linux companies. All they have to offer is a great operating system.

It wasn't just Zheng. While not every blogger has spoken up, at least six others have fessed up to getting their "presents." Of course, the bloggers could send the laptop back ... and pigs could fly.

It's a bribe. Period. You say nice things about us, you get nice things from us. Heck, just say neutral things about us–we'll give you a killer new laptop and we know that you'll be inclined to say better things about us.

There is an illusion out there that bloggers are somehow better, more honest, closer to what's real than traditional journalists. Oh, please.

In my business, if you accept "gifts" like this, you'd shortly be looking for another job, far, far away from journalism.

We're not saints, and I'm sure some of us break the rules. But, at least we have rules!

For the record, I own no stock in any Linux or any other technology company. No one pays my way on press trips except myself or my publisher, and the only tech toy goodies that I've got, I've paid for myself.

You may think that I'm dead wrong about some things, but at least I'm honestly wrong. If I like a business deal or a product, it's because I like it, not because someone's given me a bribe.

When you read any blog saying how wonderful Vista is, or how to make Vista do something really special, just keep in mind that the person might be writing it on a brand-spanking-new Acer Ferrari supplied by their new best friend, Microsoft.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor of eWEEK.com's Linux & Open Source Center and Ziff Davis Channel Zone. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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