Paying people to post on Slashdot?

Was scanning through the slashdot comments on the RIM/NTP
settlement. Scanning through the comments I noticed that the people trying to defend the NTP patent litigation where strangely repetetive in the arguments. Like bringing up the same points in the same order in various posts. Hard to prove, but the postings seemed to alike to purely coincidental. So the question is if companies and groups trying to preserve the current patent regime (and probably other groupings) are now paying PR people to advocate their views on Slashdot and similar forums? Or maybe my own feelings on the subject made me see a conspirancy where there was none. Time to put on the tin foil hat :).
But I think the free/open source software community have become enough of a financial and political force for such things to start occuring, no matter if they actually did happen in this case.


#1 Jeff on 03.05.06 at 02:18

Why, to sway the hordes of teenagers who live in their rooms that the patent system is good?

I’m exaggerating, but there are few people in the audience of slashdot that might be worth convincing. Odds are, these are the kind of people who want a new patent system as well. So why would a company waste money like this?

(disclaimer: I haven’t actually read through the comments, but alterslash only showed one in the form of a list supporting RIM like you said)

#2 [idkfa] on 03.05.06 at 02:29

Yeah, Companies pay people to post for them in forums.
Nvidia is accused of doing the same, read

#3 Christian on 03.05.06 at 03:00

Jeff, I think you are mistaken about the width of people reading Slashdot. Everytime Fluendo is mentioned in conjuction with some Slashdot stories for instance I tend to get business inquiries from both small and large corporations. The Slashdot crowd might not be manager heavy, but many of the people reading it are the kind of people in the organisation managers ask for advice on technical issues for instance.

Remember that while many in the community feel that Slashsdot have turned rabbid it is still is considered the primary newsorgan for the free and open source communities by ‘outsiders’.

#4 error27 on 03.05.06 at 04:33

It definitely happens. There was a guy from sys-con who used to astroturf for Maureen O’Gara articles. He eventually got caught on the yahoo SCOX board. I’ve forgotten his name now…

Look at their posting history. You can tell based on the slashdot id if their loggin was created that same day.

#5 TopDown on 03.05.06 at 04:55

Yes, imagine people spouting particular views just because they were paid money by some big corporation.

Oh wait… that would be Fluendo and you, wouldn’t it?

Maybe you are really criticising them for selling themselves too cheaply, because you sure as hell couldn’t criticise them for selling out at all… not without it looking like a startling act of hypocrisy.

#6 jc-denton on 03.05.06 at 04:58

How can a lot of people be soo dumb?

Your theory is interesting, but I think it’s not easy to figure out if they are paied or not..

#7 Pecisk on 03.05.06 at 05:45

TopDown, please provide details how Christian or Fluendo has tried to influence some attitude in forums like slashdot? And please state it clearly, because otherwise you sound like tipical troll.

Chris has a point here – it is very standard pratice for PR companies to try to influence board thinking with such people. Even more – they don’t care about influence, they just want you to google ‘ntp patent’ and vola – you got post from slashdot who wholeheartly says “patents are future of innovation!”.

#8 J.B. Nicholson-Owens on 03.05.06 at 07:17

People do this in many walks of life, according to one of the participants in the movie “The Corporation”. He said that many things, including conversations you overhear on the street, are actually planted to create the appearance of grassroots popularity where none actually exists. It’s not hard to imagine that this would go on online as well and certainly on popular websites like Slashdot. Posting articles online takes considerably less effort than setting up shills in the physical world.

Right now, people who do this are probably doing it fairly poorly: posting repetitively, getting an account and posting on that topic then never reading anything else from them, posting the same thing as other people (who also might be paid shills as well).

When I was younger I had an experience in school that was interesting along the line of being an inadvertant shill: a friend of mine at the same school and I had recently bought copies of Infocom’s text adventure version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Among the objects that came with the game there was an orange (if I recall correctly) button with large simple print that had some catchphrase on it (“Don’t Panic!”). Independently we thought it would be a neat thing to wear the button to school. We each wore our respective buttons as we went to classes and a number of other kids came up to me telling me that they were seeing this button “everywhere” and wanted to know more about it (perhaps so they wouldn’t miss an upcoming trend). I learned first-hand the power of shills, even though I wasn’t trying to coordinate or sell anything to anyone.

#9 TopDown on 03.05.06 at 07:43

TopDown, please provide details how Christian or Fluendo has tried to influence some attitude in forums like slashdot? And please state it clearly, because otherwise you sound like tipical troll.

Who said they’ve done that? I said they’ve sold themselves out… and now spout the corporate line. Check Schaller’s previous blog posts (and the comments section) for examples and evidence — including such gems as THEN:”open source” is a terrible term… NOW: We are going to use Sun’s Open Source DRM to implement DRM in Gstreamer.

Schaller’s a hypocritical sellout and is defended by deluded fan boys who would rather believe a lie than do a bit of digging themselves.

#10 Sean Neakums on 03.05.06 at 09:39

Trust no-one! Except me. I’m your friend.

#11 error27 on 03.05.06 at 21:18

TopDown: 1) Don’t post negative things about your employer. Resign first if you feel that strongly about it. 2) If you want to say something positive about your company be upfront about where you work. Don’t create an anonymous account to do it.

#12 nate on 03.06.06 at 01:22

I doubt it’s being paid for..

Although it does happen quite a bit other places on the Internet. For instance in Yahoo/AOL-style chat rooms and such it’s very common for people to get paid to hang out on financial related-rooms and mailinglists and try to pump up interest in certain stocks.

Also now that you have this ‘blog-o-sphere’ stuff going on you now have people paid to post stuff and it is turning astroturfing into a higher art form.

Also in online forums and such it’s common to find Microsoft employees going around and defending windows and such. Although I don’t think that they are getting paid to do this, but it is very likely that this sort of behavior is encouraged. (it’s most likely they are doing it on their own initiative.)

But in the case of slashdot it’s probably just trolls.

People are realy realy realy realy pathetic sad creatures sometimes.

People like these folks posting at

Apparently you have people whose life ambition is to ruin any sort of informational value that remains left in slashdot. There are actually websites that keep track of posts that get modded up then analize them, turn them into something that is almost scriptable and then people create accounts and go around posting them in hopes of “showing how slashdot’s moderation system is broken” or some BS like that. It’s like a sport.

So although I haven’t seen this paticular case it’s likely that the pro-patent posters are simply trolls that are trying to lure ‘fanboys’ into pointless arguments and discussions. They found a formulatic post that seems to work (can’t appear too trollish, has to be from a ‘smart, but confused’ person) and are simply copying and pasting elements again and again.

What sad, pointless lives some people lead!

#13 BottomsUp on 03.18.06 at 23:23

error27 : LOL :) You’ve finally figured out that TopDown is Christian’s evil side.

Christian, time for your coming out !

#14 bilboed on 03.20.06 at 19:15

TopDown, please, please, PLEASE ! Get your facts right about how drm is going to be used with gstreamer. You haven’t got a FRIGGIN CLUE !

Dig out information, check out who’s working at Fluendo, what’s their past commitment to the open source community, find out how drm is going to be implemented (the information and source code is available FREELY on fluendo’s repositories).

THEN, if you still have something to say that can be backed up by fact, tell us about it, or even better, come and tell the gstreamer/fluendo developers on #gstreamer and #fluendo on

If not… you will stay a big laugh to all of us and your rants will be plainly and simply.. IGNORED !