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Florian Mueller Outs Himself As Oracle Employee 285

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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2012 @10:19AM (#39733583)

    Huh? Doesn't this news actually *confirm* what these 'paranoid FOSS fanatics' have been saying all along?

  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @10:23AM (#39733635) Homepage

    "paid by" versus "employed by" is a pretty irrelevant semantic distinction in this case.

  • by voss ( 52565 ) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @10:29AM (#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 Spad ( 470073 ) <> on Thursday April 19, 2012 @10:30AM (#39733713) Homepage

    Everyone has biases, as long as we know what they are and why they are we're able to make informed decisions about the information they provide us. The problem comes when people don't disclose things like employment by somebody they're biased in favour of because then we lack the information we need to make our decisions.

  • by voss ( 52565 ) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @10:31AM (#39733721)

    Anyone can have an opinion. Muellers problem is he was getting paid for his opinions and didnt disclose that to his readers.

  • by poetmatt ( 793785 ) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @10:40AM (#39733805) Journal

    There's nothing wrong with commenting and working in the industry.

    there's plenty wrong with 100% of your comments having a clear bias (as your does) and quoting misleading or incomplete information, while at the same time denying that you have any connection to them. This is like when the counter to "google doesn't lose in court" is mentioning a case where google only lost before an appeal happened in which case they consequently won. That is the same sort of misleading FUD that you among others are known for - aka lawyering around providing a false answer.

    Which, again, you have done here. Why can't you just get the cancer you act like (not unlike Florian) and pass away?

    Florian basically admitted he's on the payroll for microsoft and oracle, the two parties of which he magically has posted explicitly positive comments about and explicitly negative comments about their competitors. We've always known this.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2012 @10:43AM (#39733851)
    All consultants are employees by definition of employee []:

    An individual who provides labor to a company or another person.

    FFS, people, just because you're a "consultant" in title doesn't make you above the definition of words.

  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @10:55AM (#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)

  • by Rakishi ( 759894 ) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @10:58AM (#39734019)

    It doesn't matter, if he says bad stuff about Oracle then likely Oracle won't keep paying him. It doesn't matter what they were paying him for. It could have been to walk the company dogs. You don't pay people who are hurting you unless you really need them.

    In that same vein, you're more likely to get paid even more if you report favorably on Oracle even if you're not paid to do so.

    All of this is basic human nature and companies are in the end run by humans.

    So the very fact that Oracle was giving him money means he now has a monetary incentive to report favorably for Oracle.

  • by dell623 ( 2021586 ) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @11:07AM (#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 MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @11:27AM (#39734337) Journal

    By giving Mueller a free pass and attacking PJ instead. PJ's done a helluva lot of good, and what the fuck has Mueller ever done other than be an apologist for companies that should taken out back and beaten for their conduct.

  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @11:33AM (#39734417) Journal

    And PJ has never hid her bias towards open source. That's why Groklaw was founded, for goodness sake. Sadly, she is also the favorite whipping boy (girl, sorry PJ) of every shill and astroturfer, particularly when they're outed. She's been honest from the beginning, but these guys, well, they're paid liars.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2012 @11:37AM (#39734475)

    Bias and having an undisclosed conflict of interest are not remotely the same thing. All journalists have bias; hell all people have bias on all subjects, it's simply unavoidable. Good journalists try to minimize the effect of their personal bias on their reporting, and I think most people would freely admit that PJ is often lacking in this area. Although you could also make the case that most Groklaw articles are mix of commentary and reporting, and that it's not that hard to distinguish one from the other. However, having a blatant conflict of interest and not disclosing it is a massive breach of journalistic ethics that frankly completely destroys all credibility of the journalist. Conflicts of interest happen, and they don't necessarily preclude one from reporting and commenting on a given issue, but failure to disclose sends the message that the conflict did in fact taint his view, and he was deliberately trying to hide it. It is literally one of the worst things a journalist can do.

  • by mister_playboy ( 1474163 ) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @11:40AM (#39734507)

    He's just openly admitting what many have claimed all along, that these shill accounts are all run by the same small group of people.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2012 @11:41AM (#39734523)

    As always, Slashdot considers earning money to be the equivalent of being evil.

    The fact that Mueller is earning money is not the issue.

    The fact that Mueller is taking money from Oracle is also not the issue. It's also not the sole reason he's being accused of bias. It's just the latest nail in the coffin.

    The issue is that Mueller has been called on his "impartial analysis" several times already. Not by random people off the street, by his fellow techies. What started as suspicions was later proven right as the facts unfolded. And might just be shown once more as Oracle v Google progresses.

    He's being called biased because he is, demonstrably. His front as an "impartial analyst" among techies is shot. I hope Oracle is getting their moneys worth peddling him to the non-techie crowd, because from this point on that's the best he's good for.

  • Can't say as I have had that problem specifically, but... its definitely an odd issue. Some of us are damned if we do, and damned if we don't.

    I tend to not say (or at least dance around saying) exactly who I work for because, well, I tend to say things that they might find offensive and I figure the least I can do is try to keep my online persona from reflecting on them.

    That said... if you read many of my comments, you might be surprized at who I work for... I certainly don't shill.... but there is a fine line to walk between disclosure of interests and inviting problems.

    If I say "Well i work for X" then... I have to be extra careful because I am not authorized to speak for them in public. In fact, I believe I would then be required to add disclaimers and all just adds to the visibility and draws more attention on me... meaning...I can't comment as freely as I would like.

    Sometimes its a hard balance to strike between speaking your mind, and inviting trouble, especially since I tend to complain rather than shill, and I do feel its a bit of a violation (not just to the explicit agreements but, even without them) to wantonly air dirty laundry even when I am a less than satisfied employee.

    So I prefer to err on the side of speaking in general terms and leaving the who, what, and where specifics out. Though, thats easier when the specific topic is things like "boneheaded management" than when its about the actions of specific companies. In cases like this... I can see why it gets a lot murkier and credibility requires disclosure.

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