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Dvorak Admits To Trolling Mac Users 354

jalefkowit writes "Tech pundit John Dvorak has long been known for his inflammatory opinions. Many have suspected that these opinions are just a way to drive up traffic to his column. Now, we have it straight from the horse's mouth: Dave Winer has Dvorak on video describing his methodology for trolling the Mac community to pump up his stats." I have to admit I'm also guilty of posting the occasional inflammatory story, but I find it's usually best to suffix the title with a question mark, and let our ever-knowledgeable readers hash out the issue and decide for themselves.
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Dvorak Admits To Trolling Mac Users

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  • I've said it before (Score:5, Interesting)

    by thefirelane ( 586885 ) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @01:00PM (#15509522)
    Dvorak is nothing other than the worlds most successful troll. As much as everyone here complains about him, we eat it up and come back for more. We used to be able to pretend it was the editors foisting him upon us... but lo' and behold, democratic Digg comes along, and he still makes the front page! []
  • Who hasn't (Score:3, Interesting)

    by packetmon ( 977047 ) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @01:03PM (#15509546) Homepage
    ? Well? Anyone? Who hasn't trolled up an issue to some extent to get a fix on a certain group of individuals. Military does it, businesses do it, news agencies do it, and the list goes on and on...

    There's No Such Thing as Overconfidence

    The best in every business are likely to strike most people as irrationally confident, but that's how they got to the top.

    Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Michael Dell -- they first believed in themselves, utterly, and let their belief be their guide. Sure they experienced numerous obstacles and setbacks and failures. Confidence allowed them to keep getting up and looking for ways to move forward.

    Most importantly, leaders like Branson and Gates prioritized believing in the people around them. Confidence is also not arrogance, and unless your employees think that they're better human beings in general than everyone else, let them believe that they're good enough to do exceptional things.

    Legends Never Say They're Sorry

    Having a long or frequent memory for mistakes and a short or infrequent memory for successes is a guaranteed way to develop fear of failure. High achievers dwell on what they do well -- and spend very little time evaluating themselves and their performances.

    Learn from your mistakes? Of course. The road to success is full of adversity from which we can gain significant insight. The key, however, is to set aside specific, deliberate times for evaluation. Process setbacks, errors, and your performance in general only at times when you have planned to.

    The alternative is to get caught up in second-guessing, doubt, and worry whenever things look a bit gray. You excel during the tough moments by having a positive blueprint to look at -- and to have a positive blueprint, you have to spend a lot of time looking at the image of success.

  • Trolling? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by skinfitz ( 564041 ) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @01:06PM (#15509561) Journal
    The thing is though one has to understand that the Mac community is a tiered structure. At the top there are we Mac users who are experienced computer users, who understand what we are doing and how computers and operating systems work and accept the existence of things such as 'bugs' and 'vulnerabilities' etc.

    Unfortunately the thing that gives us all a bad name are the very vocal ignorant users that for example simply flat out refuse to accept any criticism of Apple or it's products whatsoever - in fact I'd go as far to say it becomes a religious issue as no matter how much evidence they are confronted with, they either are not capable of comprehending what is being presented to them or if they are, refuse to even consider it as this could mean Apple *might* be wrong and as they know, this cannot possibly happen as they consider Apple infallible.

    Very, very odd behaviour and quite annoying as for example, should I attempt to get someone to consider a Mac, all it takes is someone they know who has 'heard about those Mac zealots' to put them off.

    Consider also that any comment on apple.slashdot that however truthful, might mention a bug or vulnerability or other otherwise is perceived as a criticism gets modded as troll or flamebait (like this comment for example), tells a lot about the community.
  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @01:06PM (#15509565)
    He makes great stats for years doing this, ups the ante by admitting that he knows it's the key to his success (thereby getting a lot of people to show up again) and now, the question is, will people stop reading him? Of course not. For the same reason that the right can't ignore Ted Rall and the left, Ann Coulter. He's the Rall and Coulter rolled into one of the tech press.
  • by generic-man ( 33649 ) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @01:13PM (#15509604) Homepage Journal
    Two words: Ann Coulter [].
  • by Kelson ( 129150 ) * on Saturday June 10, 2006 @01:18PM (#15509631) Homepage Journal
    Actually, this does remind me of one of those stories where someone does a scientific study to find out something that "everyone already knows."

    Except, of course, we didn't all know it before, we suspected it, and assumed it was true. Every once in a while you find out that something "everyone knows" isn't true after all [], so getting confirmation does have value.
  • by conner_bw ( 120497 ) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @01:22PM (#15509656) Journal
    Ever ask yourself how so many Dvorak posts end of on the front page of Slashdot? Or why any of us would even care about this guy when there is far better blog crapulence floating out there in the sea of manure we call the internet?

    It is my contention that someone, somewhere, has a vested financial interest in this guy and continues to prop up his irrelevance for all to ignore. It may even be Dvorak himself...

    Seriously, how much to run a rant on the front page?

  • Re:Trolling? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by IntlHarvester ( 11985 ) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @01:35PM (#15509706) Journal
    The thing is though one has to understand that the Mac community is a tiered structure. At the top ...

    Interesting post. If you look at the Mac Community 10 years ago, the "Top technical elite" had almost entirely bailed off the platform.

    It was the "very vocal ignorant" zealot-type users that pulled Apple through their dark days. They felt that Apple was getting a bad rap in the press (although it was deserved IMO), and formed this "Evangilista" group which involved flooding the airwaves with denials and counter-arguments to any bit of news which might be perceived as a negative to Apple. The fact that Apple rebounded just validated this behavior and mandated that it must continue.

    So, when the technical users returned for the nice UI and Unix-underpinnings of OS X, they're probably scratching their heads over why every silly little Apple lawsuit is worthy of essays worth of Brand-Loyalist attention, or even makes the papers at all. But at this point everyone in the computing press (not just Dvorak) understands that riling up Mac users = Page Hits and Attention. That is why ever little bit of minor Mac news becomes a major trade story.

    Another issue is that Apple themselves thrives off these super-loyalists. A key element of their product strategy is based on the fact that there's a large group of wealthy Appleites that will buy anything they put out for a maximum premium. I saw these stats [] recently that showed that over 40% of Omni users are already running on Intel Macs. Omni is a small developer favored by the super-loyalists, but that's an astounding level of uptake even among that crowd. So, tossing the zealots an occasional pile of red meat really only helps Apple.

    I suspect, but can't prove, that the "Evangilista" still exists (formally or infomally, sponsord by Apple or not). There's several Slashot users that one can count on only seeing when there's some bad Apple news to spin.
  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @02:06PM (#15509823) Homepage Journal
    Ann Coulter is the rightwing Anchor Troll in their "Overton Window" [] strategy.

    It's a simple way to force the public debate "spectrum window" to your end of the spectrum by trolling unthinkable statements in public. Successful trolls create only predictable responses, not any further development of the ideas. So the "unthinkable" is now part of the public conversation, without risking rejection by anyone actually thinking about it. Changing the ideas in the public window of the spectrum moves the window closer to the new idea. Now the window includes more of the thinkable ideas that were excluded or marginalized, while the window excludes or marginalizes the ideas previously more in the "center", but further away from the troll.

    The only risk with overtonning the window is that the troll discredits its entire end of the spectrum by association. Which is why it's important that the troll make as extreme, ridiculous comments as possible. And frequently defend their statements with "I was just kidding". The associates who benefit from the troll in their neighborhood must also not even repudiate the troll, as any association (positive or negative) is contagious. The troll must work alone. Though of course they can be paid by the same beneficiaries, or have their "home markets" all subsidized by the same beneficiaries.

    Now Ann Coulter actually makes sense, probably for the first time. As do her fellow trolls like Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, and most of the rightwing talkradioheads.
  • Re:Trolling? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by IntlHarvester ( 11985 ) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @02:08PM (#15509834) Journal
    There is some rational basis for Mac users defending iTunes DRM -- it runs on Macs while the others don't. After a decade of seeing Macs being cut out of one market or another, having an Apple technology ontop in one segement is small victory. I'm not saying that justifies the extermism, but it does explain it.
  • by sakusha ( 441986 ) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @02:43PM (#15509965)
    I said it before and I'll say it again: Dvorak is deliberately screwing the advertisers that pay for his web hits.

    Dvorak publishes on PC-centric websites, but he trolls Mac users for hits. The PC advertisers are getting screwed, they pay for advertising to PC buyers, Mac users aren't the target audience. The trolling articles draw a massive influx of Mac users, the PC advertisers pay for all those hits from people that will never buy their products.

    The only way Dvorak is going to stop trolling is if the PC advertisers wake up and realize their money is being wasted by a maniac that values his own ego more than he provides value for advertisers.
  • by david.emery ( 127135 ) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @02:51PM (#15509996)
    If you look at the Mac Community 10 years ago, the "Top technical elite" had almost entirely bailed off the platform.

    There's some truth to this, but only some truth..

    Of the senior people I work with who were on Macs 10 years ago, at least 50% are still there, and recently some that moved on to Windows are seriously considering moving back. And I'm talking about people like chief engineers, tech directors, etc; not just "old farts" who were unwilling to learn new technologies. Where I used to work, on a "pay scale" of 3..7, with 3.5 being the average paygrade of staff, the self-supporting Mac Users list had an average paygrade of about 5.5. (And that's with a typical pyramid distribution, there were very few paygrade 7s in the company, but I'll bet 10%-15% of those were die-hard Mac users.)

    The primary reason for moving away was usually "Software I wanted wasn't available on the Mac." However, the continued problems with Windows viruses, spyware, malware, etc, plus the strength of the OS X underpinnings of Unix, have been a big part of the re-connection. Most of these same people have substantial Unix backgrounds, so coming back to OS X and popping up a terminal shell, is like 'coming home'. We'll see how much effect MacTel has on the availability of software for the Mac platform.

    But I count myself as a super-loyalist, and that belief was strongly reinforced by the 18 months I spent being forced to use Windows NT (versus MacOS 8 at the time), and my continued attempts to try to maintain a Windows (98->2k->now XP Pro) machine in my home environment (alongside 1 old Mac running OS 9, and 4 Macs running X.4). My informal estimate was that being on Windows cost me between 10 and 30 minutes lost productivity each day at work on the Windows box. Multiplied by 250 days in a year, times my billing rate at the tme, and that's a fair amount of money (enough to buy me a new Mac every 30 months...) And that doesn't include the cost of all the tech support that was provided on the Windows box, that didn't come out of my productivity measure.

    So when I switched jobs (in part because my employer was discontinuing all support for Macs, don't get me started on that situation and the company's unwillingness to back up assertions of life-cycle cost savings with the data we all knew they had collected...), I made it a condition of employment with my new company that they'd provide me with a Mac and make sure their core business systems (e.g. web-based timecards) would be standards-conformant to support not just my Mac, but anyone who wanted to remain on Linux.

    When something better comes along, I'll try it. But I'll point out I bought my first personal computer in Oct 1978, and I've tried just about everything except Windows 3, BoB and Windows ME. Pretty much consistently, at each point in time, the Apple offering was markedly better than the WinTel offering, enough to justify the price (and performance) differential. Linux systems have some significant price/performance advantages over Mac OS X (and certainly over WinTel), but not strong enough usability for the 90% of the stuff I spend my time doing (and that's the stuff that cost me the productivity hit on Windows.)


  • Mac trolls windows users with their ads.

    "Mac" is the brand name of a product line (of computers) made by Apple. Products do not troll. Apple is a company, so if trolling is being done, it is Apple (or more specifically Apple Marketing) that is doing it. Choose your nouns carefully!

    Apple's OS X v. Windows XP ads are hardly trolling. It is not trolling when a company compares their product line against their competitor's in a non-subjective way.

    When I pull up the terminal window and type 'uptime' my Mac will return a date figure which is in months (and for a while there in years + months!) I have owned a PC running Windows XP and this was never the case. So memory fragmentation and frequency of rebooting are a legitimate comparison between the two platforms.

    The iLife suite of applications, like iPhoto, iTunes, iEtc, is far better integrated, reliable and functional than any of the lifestyle applications that Microsoft bundles with Windows. So again, the point that Apple is making is legitimate. Just because you don't like the comparisons being drawn does not make the act of doing so flaming any more than my debate with you is flaming. Too often people call out others for flaming simply based on the fact that they don't like what the other party is saying.

    This is not the case with Dvorak. I've been reading him since the late 80s/early 90s. While not being as overtly ridiculous a buffoon as someone like Bill O'Reilly, Dvorak's idea of "fair and balanced" is about as legitimate as that of Fox News. He often chooses which facts to include in a story to give it the slant he wants. He is consitently anti-Apple and makes little attempt to hide the fact. He reminds me of 60-Minutes' Andy Rooney or that idiot on ABC News, John Stossel. (Note: That bit about John Stossel was flaming. The man has the epistemological skills of a turnip and regularly makes an ass of himself on national television.)

    The point isn't to hate Dvorak or harbor any emotion toward him whatsoever. The point is that he exists and has the right to voice his opinion, just like when skinheads march or Rupert Murdoch distorts the news. The only way to make people like them go away is to stop listening to them. How many times is a guy like Dvorak going to cry wolf (or inferior product) before people learn to roll their eyes at him? How many people in this country listen to writers like him because they're simply looking for someone they perceive to be in a position of authority (paid writer) to legitimize the things they already want to believe? It is not about facts, truth, or knowledge, it's all about spin.

  • by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @03:47PM (#15510182)
    You missed one requirement (actually, two) that makes Ann Coulter successful in that area. The requirement is that speech that appears in books, on television or radio has inherently more value and more weight than what your neighbor says. Once that goes out the window, there is no way to move the debate in a particular direction by simply having "anchor trolls". The second requirement is that people don't actually recoil in horror at the statements. The sad truth is that the US is a country with fascist undertones, and has more in common with some fascist dictatorships than it has with a lot of democracies. This means that there is no way to have a left-leaning anchor troll - that would have to be a communist, and we all know what happens to communists here.

    I wouldn't so much say that Coulter is shifting the debate to the right - I'd say she is merely exposing sentiments that are already part of the national undercurrent. Which is far scarier.
  • by wkcole ( 644783 ) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @04:06PM (#15510253)

    It was only about 20 years ago that Z-D tasked Dvorak with trolling Mac users as the inside back cover columnist for the old MacUser, where he openly admitted to writing things to inflame Mac users enough that they'd have to buy the magazine just to have reference for their 10-page crayon screeds to the editors against him. And if ancient history and paper is too hard, he has said what he said to Winer oon at least a half-dozen TWiT podcasts over the past year. This is not news, it is Dvorak stating an obvious truth for the umpteenth time. He is apparently still getting a chuckle from the fact that some people who take everything too seriously (e.g. Dave Winer) still don't get the joke after having it explained to them repeatedly over decades. If Winer really thinks this is some great revelation of sin, he's got his head further inserted than ever.

    It is the job of anyone who writes for ad-supported media to attract eyeballs, and Dvorak has never been ashamed of doing that job. Being scandalized by his honesty says a lot more about the intelligence (or maybe integrity) of those who are scandalized than it says about Dvorak.

  • by Lactoso ( 853587 ) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @04:09PM (#15510255) Homepage
    My favorite part about this video is how even in his 'coming clean', he's really only correcting the people who have incorrectly 'deconstructed' his trolling methodology before.

    He mentions that in the first five seconds of the vid.

    If Dvorak was a serial killer, he'd be the one that's caught because he's just so damn proud of his body of work and smug enough to want to get caught so that he could explain to the great unwashed masses how brilliant he really is (not that it would help, because there's only so much the great unwashed can comprehend...).

  • by DRM_is_Stupid ( 954094 ) on Monday June 12, 2006 @06:59AM (#15515895)
    Hmm, that's rather interesting. The Ginza Apple Store elevator has zero buttons to push. It just continuously stops at every floor in a loop.
    I just assumed it would be the same for other stores as well..

The other line moves faster.