Charles Arthur says he tried to post a comment here in defense of The Register’s Andrew Orlowski and his trash-talking about IE7 and Robert Scoble and “got denied for having ‘questionable content’ by the comments filter on Ed Bott’s blog.”
Sorry, Charles. I just checked, and apparently in the process of cleaning out comment spam yesterday (I get hundreds or thousands of attempts per day), I added a blank filter to the MT-Blacklist database, which means that anything posted by anyone was considered questionable. It made for a very enjoyable day for me, from an administrative standpoint, but that was probably a little too aggressive. It should be fixed now. For everyone else, here’s what Charles wanted to say in response to this post:
In fairness – or perhaps, better, precision – the top sentence says “some users”. Not all. So to say, Ed, that because you’re seeing it means that everyone is seeing it falls into what one might call “observer’s syllogism” (if it’s true here, it must be true everywhere).
Also, Robert Scoble saw this problem himself. And the story has been updated, twice, once with a link to Scoble’s blog.
(Disclosure: I write sometimes for The Register; I’ve worked with Andrew Orlowski on some stories, notably about online music stores’ cut of business: his figures were correct.)
Also, I’m never sure if “hack” is such a powerful insult for a journalist. It’s got a long and proud history in the UK.
First of all, Charles, IE7 is a developer’s beta. Of course it’s going to have bugs. (I’ve got a list of a dozen so far and I haven’t even been running it for 24 hours.) But it is disingenuous to claim that Andrew’s story simply mentioned “some users.” Go back and read it. Allow me to quote the part after that first sentence, with liberal use of emphasis to point out the really hackish parts:
Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 7 went on a limited beta release today and contains a nasty surprise for some users.
Users with search toolbars from Yahoo! and arch-rival Google have discovered that these vanish. [No qualifiers. Not "some users" - all of them. As Jeremy Mazner points out, "his implication is that the 'some users' who experience the nasty surprise == all users with search toolbars." - Ed] Other third-party toolbars designed to block pop-ups or aid with form filling appear to be working normally, according to reports from Reg readers.
The default search engine is MSN Search.
There are sound compatibility reasons for Microsoft disabling third-party toolbars in an early cut of the software. [That evil Microsoft disabled these features deliberately! - Ed]
The implication of Andrew’s story is that Microsoft deliberately or negligently blocked IE7 from working with software from two rivals. It’s the modern equivalent of the old “DOS ain’t done till Lotus won’t run” canard. Which also wasn’t true.
Finally, Andrew makes the bizarre assertion that Scoble saw this bug himself and then removed traces of his “confession.” I read every post in this exchange and never saw that. In a classic Orlowski move, when someone accuses you of making shit up, the response is … to make more shit up! Andrew claims to have seen this admission (no actual quote, mind you, just a bald assertion), and a decent journalist like Charles Arthur picks it up and amplifies it.
As for the observer’s syllogism… The fact that Charles once saw Andrew Orlowski write a story containing actual facts doesn’t mean that he does that regularly. Quite the contrary.
Oh, and on this side of the pond, a hack is “a mediocre and disdained writer .” Exactly.
Updated to fix some typos and add some context for anyone coming to the story late.