Bribery Watch! part 2 The Red Mark of the Beast

by Rick Jelliffe

Over the last month I have been collecting examples for fun from the web where scuttlebutt on the websites of well-known commentators has claimed procedural or other irregularities at standards bodies or participants. I started this off on the luridly titled "Bribery Watch page, but it is more "Innuendo Watch."

Here is a little map (drawn dynamically) with the countries mentioned in red.






Some of the claims have a French farce aspect. For example a mistranslation of "seat" and "chair" caused a great flurry.

However, one persistent theme is the idea that the industry people who actually want a standard should not participate in the standards process. Sometimes there seems to be some idea of neutrality floated, sometimes some idea that people who come late have less legitimate opinions than people who come early, othertimes that the process is flawed unless people are allowed late. But the basic idea is that if you agree with MS on anything or have had any business connection with them, they own you, perhaps even bribed you, and your every opinion is inappropriate. But never an acknowledgment that standards are community self-help efforts participated in, for the most part, by the parties who want to use the standard; and that the standards process is not a tool for cartelization.

13 Comments

Alex Brown
2007-08-15 04:13:30
Rick hi


There's nothing fishy going down in the UK, that I've noticed (and as I've blogged).


I think somehow the BBC's deployment of a Windows-specific media player has been intepreted in some quarters and meaning MS p0wns the UK. There's some pretty silly stuff about in the blogosphere ...


- Alex.


Rick Jelliffe
2007-08-15 06:55:27
Alex: Very fetching purdah, Alex!


I was glad to read you will be the convenor of the Ballot Resolution Meeting on DIS29500, congratulations. It will be a meaty gig.

J David Eisenberg
2007-08-15 11:27:14
One can only wonder how Microsoft got its reputation for not being the most honest, fair, and ethical company on the planet. It's not as if there were any facts to back up such a negative opinion of Microsoft's sterling corporate character.
db
2007-08-15 11:55:33
Yikes, remember when the SOAP spec (under MS auspices) first came out?
It reminded of the ambiguous language a sleazy salesman would use to put one over you.
db
2007-08-15 12:01:05
Siemens bribery scandal exceeds 1 billion euros
http://www.eetimes.com/rss/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=201500005&cid=RSSfeed_eetimes_newsRSS
Rick Jelliffe
2007-08-15 19:02:05
David: And since the courts and governments have failed to do almost anything to rectify the monopoly, almost the only thing we can do that is any practical effect is to make sure that their precious formats are open and standardized. ODF doesn't do that; it has its own advantages but because it is incapable of being the native save format for Office, it doesn't open up their proprietary format.


But I don't get your logic. MS must have bribed etc because of a court ruling about their market position and contractual techniques?


db: I dont get you logic. MS must have bribed etc because you don't like way that the SOAP spec was worded?


I don't get your logic. MS must have bribed etc because Siemens had a bribery scandal unrelated to orders?


Interesting that you bring up an article on bribery that doesn't even mention MS. What was the reason for that.

J David Eisenberg
2007-08-15 22:13:48
But I don't get your logic. MS must have bribed etc because of a court ruling about their market position and contractual techniques?


No; I'm just saying that you can't blame people for not trusting Microsoft, given their track record of business practices. You seemed astonished that anyone would harbor ill will towards Microsoft.


...it doesn't open up their proprietary format.


Whose proprietary format? I'm confused here.


More to the topic of your post: "that standards are community self-help efforts participated in, for the most part, by the parties who want to use the standard;"


This may be more of a question for Brian Jones, but I'm curious to know exactly what substantive contributions the parties other than Microsoft (Apple, Barclays Capital, BP, The British Library, Essilor, Intel, NextPage, Novell, Statoil, Toshiba, and the United States Library of Congress) made to Ecma 376.

Rick Jelliffe
2007-08-15 22:26:15
David: No, that would not astonish me. It is the leap to assume that there must have been bribery and underhand tricks whenever they manage to convince anyone of their position. The two are miles apart.


Substantive differences? The spec grew from 2000 to 6000 pages at Ecma due to their requests for more info. The formulas were documented for example. Open XML changed enough that systems written to work using the Ecma 376 spec cannot open the files belonging to earlier in the committee process (someone got caught on this this week, actually), which suggest substantive changes to the technology.


When they asked us at SC34 what changes to make, I told them it needed RELAX NG schemas, and they added those. I believe they added the NVDL schema on Murata-san's recommendation. So ISO involvement probably added a 100 pages or more (if printed), just from the informal process.

hAl
2007-08-15 23:46:34
I myself was insulted quite a lot by people suggested that I would be taking money or have any other affiliations with Microsoft and other total bullshit suggestions.


I am severely dissapointed in a lot of the members of the foss community and their attitude towards this issue but especially their attitude against people that might consider MS opening up their formats a good thing. It is like your some kind of criminal.
I had to remove my email adress from several places because it got to insulting emails even.

Rick Jelliffe
2007-08-16 02:54:31
Alex: Nothing fishy? Oh, but you would say that...
db
2007-08-16 06:12:04
MS must have bribed etc because you don't like way that the SOAP spec was worded?


Well, I didn't say I didn't like it.


I don't get your logic. MS must have bribed etc because Siemens had a bribery scandal unrelated to orders?
The Siemens reference was just meant to give a sense of the type and scale of machinations involved in real world agent transactions.

J David Eisenberg
2007-08-16 09:35:34
"Substantive differences?" No, I was asking for substantive contributions. From what you write, I gather that the other parties made suggestions for clarifications and lengthier explanations, but Microsoft, and Microsoft alone, added them.


You say, "The formulas were documented for example." Was this done as a cooperative exercise among all the parties, with, say, BP or Barclays adding formula functions that would extend the spec to be more useful to industry and finance, while still keeping all the legacy functions intact? That would be community participation. Asking Microsoft to further document what Microsoft have decided will be *the* functions allowed in a formula is much less forward-looking and community-involved, as I see it.

Rick Jelliffe
2007-08-18 01:57:29
I was interested to see that this stuff even makes its way as fact into submissions to National Bodies. See Get the Facts which devotes 13 pages to claims about funny business; it even perpetuates the Portuguese chair/seat confusion.