Monday, October 26, 2009

BoycottNovell minion nymshifts again after embarassing episode

Summary: Notorious Slashdot troll and nymshifter creates yet another sockpuppet account in BoycottNovell and gets down to work for Roy Schestowitz

It was brought to my attention over the weekend that a new mysterious and rather vigorous commenter on BoycottNovell was doing the "perception management" rounds. Intrigued, I ran a few of his posts through one of my Slashdot acquaintances that have a more intimate knowledge of his posting patterns and what do you know, it seems we have a good match.

And he asked him, "What is thy name?" And he answered, saying, "My name is Legion: for we are many."

Background, of course ¶

For those who are not familiar with this unique phenomena, William Hill started out doing some rather nasty [1] "advocacy" on Slashdot many years ago using the handle "twitter" (no relation to the microblogging service). Eventually the community got fed up with him, sending his two main accounts (as in you know, you gotta have two accounts) down to the karma doldrums, which he promptly blamed on "M$" and black helicopters. His response was to organize a 16+ sockpuppet shilling feast, at which he failed completely, becoming the funniest meme since "FIRST POST" on Taco's turf, and even transcending Slashdot itself. [2] Eventually laughed out of there (and a few other places, including the Baton Rouge LUG for posting things like these), Hill then skidded — perhaps predictably — right into the only place where he could pour his grief out and find a few like-minded extremists like him, and he's been there ever since, helping Schestowitz out with perception[3] management.

He still posts to Slashdot occasionally (and trolls anonymously too), even re-activating one of the sockpuppet accounts he supposedly promised he would never use again.

Schestowitz' response to this gift from heaven was to alternatively denounce and defend and praise him, possibly unwilling to completely sever a relationship that perhaps has its advantages. [4]

One has to wonder what propels people like Hill into spiraling down this kind of self-destructive vicious cycle. Hill is apparently so far gone that he believes Microsoft threatens his life, he thinks riding on the same train as Microsoft employees must be "sickening", that people in Seattle are "confrontational" (because, you know, that's where Microsoft is at), recounts how he went into an Apple store to demand they make "GNU/Linux" run on their hardware, calls 11-year old kids "paytards" because they happen to use Microsoft software... Is this FOSS advocacy? Is this the kind of person the FSF wants out there making their points for them? I mean, seriously?

It's irritating that M$ perpetuates the "on line predator" myth after studies have conclusively show it's bullshit except for bullying, which M$ knows all about.

And this jewel:

... "all non-free software, regardless of quality, is immoral"

Hill is disliked even among Schestowitz' friends, some of whom he has repeatedly attacked for not being "pure" enough. [5] And when his shenanigans come up, he tends to get defensive — hilariously even whining when they suggest that perhaps his OCD-like use of the "M$" thing is counter-productive at best and possibly the reason his submissions to Slashdot are rarely accepted, and have to be edited when they are. In response to that Hill claims the Slashdot editors are "tamed", of all things. [6] He has "ignored" so many people so many times (isn't that funny?) there that eventually he'll end up talking to himself and Schestowitz.

All this predictably came to a head last October 15th, when during the course of a FLOSS Weekly program where Jono Bacon interviewed Schestowitz, the matter of massive spamming on behalf of BoycottNovell came up, along with poor twitter:

"... a guy with 16 accounts that used to troll Slashdot and hangs out on your IRC channel"

Four days later Hill comes into Schestowitz' IRC channel and lets it rip:

Hi, jono ... I saw where you called me a spammer ... Fuck you.

The rest of that conversation is bizarre at best. To quote a comment here:

Fascinating. "twitter" goes apeshit and demands an apology from Jono for Jono's not having accused him of what he already admitted to. The mind boggles.

In reality though, I believe (and this is just my opinion of course) that Hill was essentially engaging in damage control vis-a-vis being associated with Schestowitz. Eventually I suppose these things do come back to bite you in the ass.

And getting to the point ¶

So anyway, someone alerted me to this brand-new but seemingly well-informed poster on BoycottNovell that goes by the handle your_friend. According to my secret contact [7], the probability that Hill is behind those posts is very high. Quoting (with permission, thanks!) from the response to my email, which referred to comments I copied from here as well as this one:

    From: [edited]<[edited]>
    To: Verofakto Blog <>
    Subject: Re: Second opinion needed
    Date: Sat, 24 Oct 2009 23:33:13 -0800

    [my snippage]

    There's no science to this, really, though maybe I just think it's easy
    because [edited] also made it look easy. The "cadence" of people's comments
    rarely change. That pattern of Halting. Phraeses. Separated. By. Periods. is
    easy enough to spot, and if you add the usual hyperbole claims [snip]
    Key phrases like "intentional waste", "non-free software", "name calling",
    "big dumb companies", "malicious" and 
    consistent misspellings like "coppies", "dissasters" [snip] and the constant 
    butchering of it's/its are usually dead givaways as long as they show up 
    consistently. That's how all his [Slashdot] sockpuppets were identified.


    Here's one:

    "It is a toy at best and a malicious spy at it's worst."

    [comment is on the first link]

    It's/its as usual. You would need ideally a few more posts but I'm
    pretty sure that's [him]. Again, it's the *totality* of the thing :)


    ROFL, but you'll know for sure when he slips up and actually types "M$" inst
    ead of "Microsoft". He used to do that with new socks and eventually he
    would give it up. I think he feels personally diminished somehow whenever he 
    uses the correct name.

More importantly, if that is indeed him, he is now engaged in arguing with people who are defending themselves from attacks by Schestowitz, a pattern that has been seen many times before.

I loathe nymshifters! ¶

The question here, I think, would be whether or not this is being done with some kind of blessing by Schestowitz. I find it hard to believe that he would pay so much attention to certain accounts that are troublesome to him and must be monitored and eliminated, yet he would manage to completely miss this new and mysterious one. Is there an agreement whereby Hill adopts yet another identity now that he's managed to insult pretty much everyone in sight and embarrass Schestowitz? And if that's the case then why is he even allowed to post?

I'm not counting on Schestowitz to respond to this of course, that's not the point. But perhaps someone among his crowd of regulars can bring up the topic and ask if, since he has the IP address and email for that account, Hill, twitter and your_friend are the same person. I could even go into a formal corpus comparison between Hill's known accounts and this fresh new identity if need be.

Because, after all, Schestowitz has claimed time and time again that these "nymshifters" have damaged him beyond repair... wouldn't it make sense to apply the same moral standards to his crew?  §


I loathe people who have multiple accounts. It's cheating.

Nymshifters are not worth attention

Notes ¶

  1. ^ See also this. There are thousands more like those.
  2. ^ See this or this for example. There are a few more on that SockDisclosure article.
  3. ^ Comment by "Will Hill", look at the URL he used.
  4. ^ Not only in the sticky Uriah Heep sense, but collaboration-wise as well: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6]. Here for example we see some of his wisdom quoted, as here and here. Schestowitz even delegates some of the clever GIMP'ing to his pal.
  5. ^ It's a long and boring read, but see the threads here, here, here, here, here and many, many others. The overriding theme in all these is if you suggest that GNU/Linux and free software and Richard Stallman are anything other than perfect, you must be employed by Microsoft and you should burn.
  6. ^ In an amusing twist, Schestowitz quotes Hill's musings on IRC liberally in this article, yet also manages to replace all the instances of "M$" with "Microsoft". Should one assume then that Schestowitz has also been tamed?
  7. ^ God, I'm so funny (see crossed-out text there).
Saturday, October 17, 2009

FLOSS Weekly interviews Roy Schestowitz: The Transcript

Summary: aaahhhh... ummmm... eeeeehhh... ummmm.... uh.... aaaahhh... sniff


This is an unofficial, fragmented, selectively quoted and smarmy transcript of Jono Bacon and Leo Laporte's FLOSS Weekly interview with Roy Schestowitz, proprietor of BoycottNovell. With some fact checking thrown in.

Note that the times below are for the MP3-format podcast, not the video.

And off we go ¶

03:54  Leo Laporte: "[Schestowitz] is not on video because he doesn't have a webcam... have we known we would have sent him a camera but he probably would have rejected it because it probably came from some closed source thing"
As this was recorded after the interview, Schestowitz didn't hear it in real time... but it's funny because it's true.
04:10  LL: "... you don't sound very British .. are you an expat?" Roy Schestowitz: (some unintelligible thing about education) "it's a personal story" LL: "My deepest apologies" (laughs)
Schestowitz is actually German [1]. Not sure what the big secret is supposed to be.
09:20  RS: "...people are tied to these illusions... in the case of Novell they want to say /we're an exciting company, good results/, ummm they want people to recite this"
I have a juicy post lined up about the illusions that Schestowitz ties to Novell.
09:59  Jono Bacon: "...[negativity about BN] do you think it's a personal bias/an axe to grind?" RS: "I think there is the possibility of misinterpretation ... employees of certain companies who try to poison against the site ... it's just me and myself [sic]"
Another (large) post coming up about how this negativity is freely mapped to "certain companies". I also have to chuckle at the "me and myself" part. Schestowitz fancies himself the leader of a community because there are five people logged into his IRC channel and uses the Royal We to refer to himself, but when the going gets tough he starts channeling De La Soul
10:46  "'s easier to attack the person"
Miguel de Icaza, Nat Friedman, Bruce Byfield, Matt Asay [2], Ted Haeger, Jeff Waugh (and Waugh's wife), Thom Holwerda, Shane O'Neill, Tim O'Reilly, Jo Shields [3], Bryan Lunduke (from the Linux Action Show) [4], Greg Kroah-Hartman, Matt Zimmerman, Window Snyder, Albert Zonneveld, a random Wikipedia user... they all should have called in and said hi.
11:07  JB: " people have a grudge against you or the project?" RS follows with a completely unhinged monologue that answered nothing.
17:40  JB questions RS about Shane Coyle leaving BoycottNovell, and RS goes into the old story about a "misunderstanding"
Coyle didn't leave because of a misunderstanding, he left because of things like these, these and these and these. To suggest otherwise is nothing more than clever spin.
26:27  RS says Novell has 4,000 employees but only a few hundred work on Linux, JB says "surely you have the same objection to IBM" RS answers with "I don't attack developers", JB brings up the attacks on de Icaza and his GIMPE'd image holding a windows box (among many), RS starts to mumble a bit more.
28:53  JB argues that Novell is probably not as evil as RS paints them, they hire FOSS developers, they invest real money producing real software, great software is being produced with Mono, etc. RS: "I think you're steering towards the issues that are more convenient for you to talk about"
Getting a bit uppity here now, because he's getting cornered.
30:55  JB: "...give me a specific example of how Microsoft is advancing their interests" RS: "their patches are beneficial to Windows" (duh) JB: "does it matter?"
Here Schestowitz actually says "GNU/Linux", and it sounds extremely weird.
35:07  RS says "SuSE", in case anyone wondered if he's German or not.
36:10  JB: " thousand tweets in three months" RS: "...misconception that people think I focus on the negative"
Schestowitz brings up that claim (which he uses constantly) about his daily grind being "80% GNU/Linux advocacy". I suspect he's conveniently measuring volume of linkage he puts out vs. the time investment.
36:43  JB: "...are you spammers?"
38:00  JB: "... a guy with 16 accounts that used to troll Slashdot and hangs out on your IRC channel"
The valued partnership that keeps on giving. I LOL'ed.
38:41  RS: "'s difficult to denounce people who are trying to help" re: spamming on his behalf.
Yeah, "it's difficult to attack someone who puts you alongside RMS" [5]
39:00  RS: "...I don't choose my friends, I don't actually invite people..."
Nope, never happened
39:38  JB: "can you see that many people are doing this (spamming BoycottNovell content), do you see how people might draw a link to you?"
Naaah, it's all just a coincidence.
40:20  RS: "[people are] posting a link to [his blog], they must [not] be associated with the website"
Except that it's not just one link, it's thousands and thousands.
42:19  JB: "do you feel you have a responsibility to tell these spammers to stop?"
Schestowitz mentions he denounced Fink, which would be all well and good except for the "I like what you did" part.
48:50  After discussing spam, RS petulantly asks what JB thinks he should do about it, JB says maybe he should write a post specifically saying he has nothing to do with them.
Yeah, I can see that happening.
50:13  JB makes the point that there's an overbearing sense of negativity towards RS out there, so why do it? "...surely your life is unpleasant?" RS: "That's more of a convenient delusion you're trying to pass here"
Oh my.
50:31  "... the attacks come from Microsoft"
I wish Jono had had more time and stopped here to ask "Oh really? Can you provide factual proof of that?" That would have been an awesome three hours.
52:20  re: why he does what he does "[I was picking flowers in a field one day] and I started being attacked so I decided to explore these things ... looking into the PR agencies that are associated with Microsoft ... certain connections in government ... companies are not happy because they are criticized"
As time goes by I think Schestowitz is starting to sound more and more like a 9/11 truther.
54:28  JB says OK, "..[but] a lot of the people who criticize you are part of the FOSS community"
Obviously fully cornered now, RS then goes into a complete non-answer for three minutes, and discusses how he changed the front page of his website to avoid giving the "wrong impression" or something like that.
55:34  "...people who are associated with certain companies who are seeding information" ... "technical evangelists" ... "discrediting the website as a source of information" ... "I'm fine with that because i understand why it happens"
Translation: The abuse I get is only proof that I'm right. And it's all Microsoft's fault.
56:30  JB: "do you not think that BoycottNovell is damaging to FOSS, based on all this negative feedback?" Another three minutes of mumbling non-answers.
58:18  JB again: " haven't answered my question" RS: "[damaging to] free software... no, it might be damaging to other movements"
Yes, the Open Source movement. [6]
59:28  RS: "...the reason you approached me for this was because you disagree ... it's not as though you're presenting a very objective look [sic] here"
Oh dear god.
60:10  JB: "yes, I disagree [with BoycottNovell], I think it's damaging, but that doesn't mean I can't give you a platform, because you deserve to have that platform to put your message across"
60:35  RS: "...the questions the way they were posed tell one side of the story ... as long as the conversation is being guided by one side"
The meaning of the word "conversation" is apparently lost on our hero.
61:53  LL: "This is your chance to say whatever you want to say..." RS: "I don't have anything prepared" LL: "...OK, I just want to make sure that you feel that you've been heard"
He didn't have anything prepared, for great justice.

Ambush at high noon ¶

Iz Annoyed

Predictably enough, once in the familiar warm safety of his IRC channel and surrounded by his psychofans sycophants friends, Schestowitz declares the whole experience overrated and a disaster. It's always someone else's fault, he didn't prepare (even though he had almost two weeks advance notice). His institutional negativity is a false allegation, it's all the evil doings of Microsoft and Novell employees, who "ridicule" him. He starts pulling out his self-referential non sequiturs which will surely help everyone understand him better, if only we could just take the time to read them.

We have. They don't.

Schestowitz then gets slightly hysterical (in that same log) and plows into Jono Bacon, claiming he was "incited" with "libel from detractors" and so on. It's the same old story.

Some people (e.g., his friends) were quick to offer up the usual excuses about how Schestowitz should be cut some slack because he has made enemies detractors in USENET, a phenomenon he tends to project back to Microsoft without offering any factual proof. I have a hard time believing that Schestowitz was naive enough to think that he was being invited to FLOSS Weekly because of his vast and tangible contributions to free software, the bulk of which I lack the time and space to properly address here. I think he expected to be treated like the celebrity he thinks he is, with the proper deference afforded to him by his cadre. Unfortunately reality is a bit different from the bubble he lives in. Even then, apparently he knew what he was there for:

Hey guys ... As expected, jono aligned accusations against me

He knows it's all a conspiracy:

Where the boradcaster and hosts are all aligned against the guest. I know Leo is a fan of Miguel; he said so.

This debacle is just coincidence, really:

By making the guest uncomfortable they make it harder for him/her to speak clearly and make coherent arguments ... shows I get invited to are always like that

I wonder why they're always like that. Like Jono said during the interview, are you sure you're right and the people who criticize you are wrong? And also, just how many "shows" has he done? I count exactly two (see below).

What possible preconception could Jono Bacon have had about the BoycottBoys, after all? On this log Jono has a back and forth with Schestowitz' best friend, where he's actually accused of working for Novell (not making this up here). Here's a taste of what goes on in there:

<twitter>the "rights holder" in mono [Microsoft] is not interested in dealing, and you can see the pile of corpses from those who tried before
<jono>twitter, pile of corpses? dude, this is not From Dusk Till Dawn

Then twitter subsequently posts a comment here claiming he was "attacked". Is it any wonder that Bruce Byfield called it a den of paranoia?

Finally, Schestowitz posts a copy of the video, with the expected editorial cleverness:

That's me interrogated by Jono Bacon ... I was very uncomfortable on this show, and it probably shows. I knew it would be rather hostile.

If he knew that it would be a "hostile interrogation", why in the world would he even agree to it at all?

One last note here. Most people who heard the interview will probably wonder why Schestowitz sounded so weird. It's not the accent but rather that mumbling style of his. He heads this off at the pass by saying he sounded terrible, that he is "a lot more coherent in person". Really? This is also a coincidence then?  §


Those who oppose us are usually the very same people whose interests they know are harmful to the advancement of Freedom

Revisions ¶

  • [2009-10-18] Corrected the first item in the transcript and added a mention about the postscript, per comments (thanks!). Minor grammar fixes.
  • [2009-10-25] Reworded a paragraph, per a BoycottBoy below. His constant flattering attention is always welcome, even if it makes him throw up a little in his mouth.

Notes ¶

  1. ^
  2. ^ "The Asay idiot is again attacking Linux", "Novell stooge", "useful idiot", "Apple tool". Just a sampling. I can keep this up all night, really.
  3. ^ Another tiny but representative sample.
  4. ^ See this, this and this jewel: "Lund is a Microsoft shill"
  5. ^
  6. ^ One of Schestowitz' goals is to erradicate the impurity that is "open source" (as opposed to Free Software). See some of the quotes here. One of his favorite targets is Linus Torvalds.