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Florian Mueller Outs Himself As Oracle Employee 285

Posted by timothy
from the hey-it-beats-not-saying-it dept.
eldavojohn writes "So you're commenting on your highly visible blog about patent case after patent case that deal with corporations battling over open source stuff, what does it matter if you're taking money from one and not the other? If you don't see any ethical problems with that, you might be Florian Mueller. Groklaw's PJ (who has been suspicious of Florian's ties to other giants like Microsoft for quite sometime) has noticed that Florian Mueller has decided to go full disclosure and admit that all his commentary on the Oracle v Google case might be tainted by his employment by Oracle. It seems he's got a bunch of consulting money coming his way from Oracle but I'm sure that won't undermine any of his assessments like Android licenses violate the GPL or that Oracle will win $6 billion from Google and Google was "at risk" of not settling despite the outcome that the charges later dropped to a small fraction of the $6 billion. Like so many other times, PJ's hunch was right."
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Florian Mueller Outs Himself As Oracle Employee

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  • All those people accusing half the internet of being paid shills have finally actually caught one. Even if it's a "stopped clock" moment, it fuels the fire.
    • by Elbereth (58257)

      I've noticed this, too. As soon as you take what might be considered a controversial stance on some issue, you get hounded by people calling you a shill, because they can't conceive of how anyone could disagree with them without having been paid. I think this happens most often in highly insular communities with a strong degree of conformism (ie, groupthink). Unsurprisingly, Slashdot is quite prone to angry (and sometimes paranoid) howls of, "Shill! Shill!" I hate when conversations get derailed like t

      • For one thing, it's a logical fallacy. For another, it's an incredibly lazy way to silence dissent.

        The problem is that these shills are often doing the Slashdot equivalent of the Gish Gallop [rationalwiki.org]. Sometimes it's best to just shut them down by outing them as shills.

        (Not that I'm particularly fond of this either, but sometimes it's necessary as a matter of pragmatism.)

      • That's not always true. I've played devil's advocate many times without ever been called a shill, at least that I remember. A big part of avoiding the accusation is being able to justify controversial positions in a thoughtful manner. Good: "Microsoft might have a point this time, because of [such and such legal case] and [the other party did something notably stupid]." Bad: "For the eleventieth time today: Liinux owes teh SCO some serious cash."

        In my experience, Slashdot is remarkably tolerant of unpopular

        • by Elbereth (58257)

          It depends. If you're a persuasive writer, you can probably get modded up by saying anything. I've done quite a few experiments, to see how my comments would get modded. In most cases, I found that repeating the Slashdot groupthink will get you modded up, regardless of content. Simply being disagreeable tends to get you modded down quickly. Using reverse psychology works so well, that it's almost like cheating. All you need to do is preface your comment with, "I know I'll get modded down for this, but

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2012 @09:27AM (#39733679)

    Have you all so quickly forgotten when he got caught out in the bald-faced lies about secret requests to the EU competition commission to force Oracle to allow him & friends to take a fork of MySQL proprietary? He is not an honest person, and has demonstrated this clearly.

    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @09:55AM (#39733997) Homepage

      The reason why people might trust him is because he provided ammunition to those who believe that computer software should be proprietary products created by major corporations. Some people really think that, so they'd believe him because he confirmed their own biases which helped them prove to themselves how smart they are.

      It would be sort of like believing somebody who claims (with no proof whatsoever) that Microsoft is using GPL'd code in its proprietary products and should be sued into oblivion - If I think that already, somebody else saying it gives me the feeling of "Hey, I'm right, and I'm smart!" (even though really I'm not necessarily right, and not smart about believing that person)

    • Back in 2004 Florian Muller was very active in protesting against the proposed EU directive to require all member states to recognize software patents. There are some people that gained a positive impression of him based on that, and continue to quote him despite the fact that his recent "patent analysis" is heavily biased and legally unfounded more often than not. As an example, Ryan Paul, the writer and editor of the Open Source section of Arstechnica, continues to cite of Muller, and refuses to accept ar

  • by voss (52565) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @09:29AM (#39733695)

    He would be fired and escorted out of the building right about now. Since he's a "consultant" he will probably survive although I suspect his value as a shill for oracle has plummeted. Im wondering if the Cigarette industry needs a new spokesman or maybe OJ simpson?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2012 @09:36AM (#39733763)

    Mueller is _not_ an employee of Oracle. His post says "...Oracle has very recently become a consulting client of mine." He has many clients, of which Oracle is one. And saying that one consulting client amongst many is equivalent to employment is completely bogus.

    I disagree with lots of the stuff he writes. But this headline is just intellectually dishonest slander. And for the record his writings are certainly no more slanted - or frankly bogus - than PJs.

    • You think the headline is slandering him because it says he's 'an employee' instead of a 'contractor?' I think the real negative thing there is that he gets paid by Oracle. And Microsoft, according to the article.

      In either case, he is certainly employed by Oracle. Is that intellectually dishonest slander as well?
  • I don't know why this surprises anybody. And that bias leaks into their news reports, even if the bias is as simple as not covering a candidate (showing images of Gingrich, Santorum, Romney, but not Ron Paul (who?)) or not covering an issue (repeal of right to trial under the NDAA if you are suspected terrorist*). FOX, NBC, CNN, radio news, online blogs... all have bias. It's just a matter of uncovering that bias. FOX=republican; NBC/CNN/CBS/ABC/PBS/NPR=democrat; talk radio=conservative; blogs reflect t

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      FOX=republican; NBC/CNN/CBS/ABC/PBS/NPR=democrat; talk radio=conservative; blogs reflect the views of the owner.

      Actually, those don't seem to be quite right. Here are the biases I generally find in mainstream media:
      Fox - Republicans
      NBC, particularly MSNBC - Democrats
      CNN - Horse race: "Romney is polling at 48% and Obama is polling at 43%" "Romney has raised $X, Obama has raised $Y", etc without ever actually saying anything about why this might be true
      CBS, ABC - the Please Pay Attention To Us bias
      PBS, NPR - the Please Give us Money bias
      talk radio - conservative / libertarian
      Comedy Central - Somewhat liberal, but mostl

    • by Asic Eng (193332)

      Bias means to have a specific world view, and then consciously or consciously interpreting what you see according to that world view. That can make you miss certain things, it can make you overemphasize something which might not actually as important as you think etc. While nobody can be completely free of bias, we can strive to report things as objectively as we can and minimize the effect. That might not be perfect but it's honest and ethical.

      Being paid to write something is not bias. If you are honest

  • There really is not much difference in ethics or morals of McNealy, Ellison, Gates, Balmer, etc.. They are all scum.
    • There really is not much difference in ethics or morals of McNealy, Ellison, Gates, Balmer, etc.. They are all scum.

      You left "Steve Jobs" out of that list. Oh wait, maybe I know why.

  • by bigmo (181402)

    FM has also been extremely vocal about vp8/webm. While I'm the format certainly has its problems, both technical and legal, I can't help but believe the slow advance of the project is at least partly because a supposed expert on open source spent a lot of his time ranting about it.

    I am far from unbiased on the situation since the I feel an unencumbered video codec would make the world a better place. Even knowing my bias, I can't help but be really upset at this revelation. On the other hand all's fair i

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      On the other hand all's fair in love & war

      Why do people believe shit just because it's and old saying? If everything is fair in love then why would you go to prison for murdering your object of affection's lover? If all's fair in war why are there such things as war crimes?

      BTW, there is such a thing as a free lunch and silence isn't golden, too. Don't take stuff for granted, give it some thought.

    • I can't help but believe the slow advance of the project is at least partly because a supposed expert on open source spent a lot of his time ranting about it.

      What slow advance? For a major technology project like that, reaching a usable state was practically instantaneous. One thing you can be sure of: Forian Mueller had zero effect on it. Strengthened people's resolve, if anything.

  • Rob Enderle, he may be a weenie but someone can be a weenie without being a shill. Enderle was never paid by SCO for his opinions he was given bogus information and based his flawed opinions on that infomation, and he admits that some of his opinions about open source were wrong. He actually likes BSD...who knew?

    http://www.tgdaily.com/software-opinion/34004-sco-linux-and-rob-enderle-a-conclusion [tgdaily.com]

  • The fact that he works for Oracle doesn't prove his arguments are wrong. Attacking the person, not the logic, is a well-known logical fallacy: argumentum ad hominem [wikipedia.org]. All his employment provides us is some additional perspective on where he's coming from. We still need to listen to what he actually has to say.

    And, by the way, EVERYBODY who works "gets paid", that doesn't make us all "biased".

    • by horza (87255)

      *Your* logic is faulty. Florian paints himself out to be an independent expert on patents. It is his character he is pimping out to all the news outlets as credible. The fact is that whilst blogging posing as an independent expert, he reveals in his latest post that behinds the scenes he has been negotiating with Oracle for cash. Now take a look at that post to see if it is strongly in favour of Oracle in its current case against Google. Coincidence? No.

      I'm guessing outlets like the BBC must be feeling pret

    • No but his pro Oracle and pro MS opinions are put in a different light. Also were reporters who solicited his opinions aware that he was paid by certain companies? If not, wasn't that a failure to disclose on his part?
    • The fact that he works for Oracle doesn't prove his arguments are wrong. Attacking the person, not the logic, is a well-known logical fallacy: argumentum ad hominem [wikipedia.org]. All his employment provides us is some additional perspective on where he's coming from. We still need to listen to what he actually has to say.

      I'll assume you haven't been paying attention to this for the past few years and didn't bother to catch up before posting to this article. Florian has long been accused of being a mole of sorts - a paid shill on the inside, claiming to be for OSS and presenting himself a patent expert while writing everything with a pro-Microsoft and anti-Google slant. His comments on the countless Apple v. World lawsuits have been consistently against Google and anyone using Android. Same for the Google/Oracle spat. He

      • He recently had to disclose that he is paid by Microsoft (something long claimed by those who distrusted him) and now we see that he is also paid by Oracle.

        Larry Ellison and Steve Ballmer as bedfellows, what a thought.

    • by forkfail (228161)

      That might be true if one were arguing, say, the existance of God.

      However, in the case where there is a dispute between two parties, when the person arguing has a vested interest in one side, that absolutely impacts the validity of the argument, and colors its interpretation.

  • There is some difference between a contractor and an employee. I don't think it makes any difference ethically, but it makes a bit of a difference in the quality of a slashdot story.

  • by dell623 (2021586) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @10:07AM (#39734099)

    The disturbing thing is not this revelation itself, which would not surprise anyone who regularly reads his blog. It is the most logical thing that a paid consultant/analyst is being paid by the two companies he just happens to favour enormously in his posts.
    The disturbing thing is how his comments are reproduced verbatim by the big shots of the tech-news industry like ZDNet, PC Magazine etc, but also mainstream sources which are normally known as the last bastions of real journalism like the BBC, LA Times, Reuters etc.

    Thankfully now sites like Ars Technica and The Verge have stepped up their coverage of patent disputes, so he is not the only voice.

    At first it may seem that Florian Mueller doesn't pretend to be a journalist or unbiased and it's everyone else's fault for assuming he is. However, not only does he make repeated claims of being unbiased and neutral in his writing, he routinely emails his blog articles to all news sources he can think of (which is why he is so widely quoted and Groklaw is not).

    Don't believe me? Just search for Florian+Oracle or Florian+Google on Google News and see the who's who of journalism pop up with his quotes.

    • by mounthood (993037)

      The disturbing thing is how his comments are reproduced verbatim by the big shots of the tech-news industry like ZDNet, PC Magazine etc, but also mainstream sources which are normally known as the last bastions of real journalism like the BBC, LA Times, Reuters etc.

      This is business-as-usual for manipulating the media ^H^H^H uhm... marketing, PR and advocacy. Money makes people available to the media, along with quotes, theories, photos, videos, statistics, etc... The media love this system because it's a ready-made source of material, easy to access, and the people are (or pretend to be) experts who are dispassionately explaining an issue.

      If you're really disturbed by Florian Muellers success, I've got some bad news for you about "Think Tanks" and lot's of other organ

  • What do you mean, the big boys shell out a lot of bucks for astroturfing and posting under false premises? Tell me it ain't so!

  • Confirmation makes the comments in this [slashdot.org] thread from January of last year a lot more entertaining.
  • PJ's hunch about Mueller carried as much weight as SCO's hunch about PJ. Now that there's proof, it sounds a little less like smearing.

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