Telco Astroturfing Or Elaborate Double-Reverse Sabotage Fakeout? You Decide

from the point-counterpoint dept

You may recall that we recently wrote about the likelihood of telco astroturfing on professor Susan Crawford's book, Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age. If you don't remember, Crawford's book is highly critical of the telco industry and the fact that serious broadband competition is lacking in the US and that we've fallen way behind many other countries.

The book came out in January, and around March, there was suddenly a bunch of one star reviews that started appearing that all had tell-tale signs of being fake. I spent an evening comparing the then 31 one-star reviews to the then 41 5-star reviews, noting some oddities in the one-star reviews. For example, almost none of the one-star reviewers had ever reviewed another product on Amazon, while nearly all of the 5-star reviewers had a bunch of other reviews. Most of the 1-star reviews felt the need to mention their profession and that they lived in a "rural" area for no clear reason at all. Almost none were "verified purchases" or used Amazon's Real Names program. I concluded that there was fairly strong and compelling evidence that these were astroturf reviews -- fake reviews put forth by the telco industry, their friends or lobbyists to try to drag down the star ratings of the book.

I never thought that defenders of the telcos would respond to the claims. After all, there are times when it really is best to shut up. However, it would seem that some cannot resist. Richard Bennett -- a long time apologist for the telcos' position on nearly everything -- has decided to step to the plate with an alternative theory for those obviously fake one-star reviews, and followed it up with a series of mocking tweets directed at me, claiming that I am a "poor journalist" for never even considering his alternate theory and suggesting that I would never "dare" to discuss it.

So, in the interest of "fairness," I thought I'd present the two competing theories side by side, and let the readers decide which one makes more sense. For some background, Bennett has been a long time denier of any problems with US broadband, insisting that it's been highly competitive and super fast and innovative for years and years. He works for ITIF, which was among those who fought hardest against net neutrality rules and was the "think tank" behind the original plan that turned into SOPA. When the MPAA was desperately seeking tech experts who would support SOPA, the only ones they turned up all had connections to ITIF (and weren't particularly experts on technology anyway). That gives you a hint of ITIF's standard operating procedures. More recently, Bennett co-authored a report claiming that US broadband was highly competitive and working wonderfully -- a report that was discredited thoroughly and repeatedly by a variety of experts, making it a bit of a laughing stock.

But... he's sure he knows where those one-star reviews came from. You see, as we mentioned in our original post, Bennett was among the short list of "named" reviewers of the book. As I noted, nearly all of the named reviewers were well known in DC telco policy circles, working for think tanks, like ITIF, that had a long history of repeating AT&T's talking points. I have no problem with that, because he was clearly named there, and didn't try to hide anything, and his one-star review was well written and gave a full explanation of his position. That's fine. So, here's his alternative theory, followed by my theory:
  • All of those obviously faked one-star reviews -- which he admits are clearly faked -- weren't actually done by telco lobbyist/astroturfers, but rather they were done by Free Press or their supporters, an organization that has been a big supporter of Crawford's book and the view that the telcos are abusing their power and providing us substandard broadband. But, you ask (and I did!), why would an organization like Free Press who supports Crawford's work litter her Amazon book page with one-star reviews? According to Bennett, the answer is obvious to someone of his great intellect (a rarefied club to which I do not belong): it was to do two things (1) bury his own absolutely brilliant critique of Crawford's work so that potential buyers would not read it and (2) so that six months later, a complete stooge like me would come along, find the fake reviews that were really written by Free Press (again, supporters of the book) and write an article blaming those reviews on telco lobbyists.

    Because this is a slightly complex strategy, let me repeat it, just to be clear: Bennett is claiming that Free Press -- an organization that supports Crawford's book -- purposely sabotaged the reviews on the book's page, piling up about 25 obviously bogus one-star reviews solely to demote his own one-star review, and at the same time lead "gullible" people such as myself to pin the blame on telco shills.

    His evidence for this is that his own brilliant review has many "unhelpful" votes and just a few "helpful" votes, and that could only have happened because Free Press set up this complex string of dominoes, knowing that one day I would tip them over, getting the story on Reddit and having lots of people on Reddit vote down his unimpeachable critique of Crawford's duplicitous book. Or, he believes, Free Press is so frightened by the intellectual might and persuasive power of his review, that it unleashed an unruly and uninformed mob of its followers armed with blatant misinformation, to click that his review was "unhelpful."


  • Or, you know, my theory: most of those one-star reviews were from telco astroturfing groups designed to pull down the star rating on the book.
I will in admit that, as Bennett suggests, I had not considered his alternative scenario, in part because I am simply not as smart as Bennett, but also (perhaps in larger part) because it sounds like the most ridiculous and convoluted strategy I've ever heard of, involving both a massive overvalued view of the important persuasive power of his own review, as well as a truly epic confusion about Amazon reviews and the process under which they work and how potential buyers view them. But, I will concede, his version is not impossible. Just completely nutty.

For what it's worth, since my original post did end up on the front page of Reddit, and got a ton of traffic, a bunch of folks added their own 5-star reviews (and one absolutely hilarious one-star parody review), which have since shifted the numbers so that there are many, many more five-star reviews on the book, many of which admit that they haven't read the book but are trying to counter the astroturf reviews. As I noted in my original story, I don't think this is particularly helpful, and Bennett now uses those reviews to argue that there is some sort of equivalence between the clearly faked astroturf reviews and the "faked" 5-star reviews.

So, there we go. Since Bennett claims that I am too gullible and stupid to see the truth, I will leave it up to the readers here to suss out which of the two theories is more plausible. Theory one, in which supporters of the book purposely sabotaged the ratings, driving down the overall star rating, just to bury Bennett's own brilliant review and get it buried with "unhelpful" votes, or the apparently facile explanation that the bogus one-star reviews came from telco astroturfers. And, of course, for Bennett's theory to be accurate, it would mean that people don't really care so much about the overall star ratings on a product as they do about how many "helpful/unhelpful" votes there are on each review -- and therefore loading up the book page with one-star reviews, just to drive people to vote Bennett's single review as "unhelpful" was the strategy. But, perhaps I'm wrong in my assumption that most people focus mainly on the star ratings, and Bennett in his vast store of knowledge has ferreted out the real plot from those nefarious consumer advocates at Free Press.

I'll leave it open for you to decide.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2013 @ 1:07pm

    You know what?

    That's not the most convoluted excuse I've heard today.

    I heard Obama talk about transparency.

     

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  2.  
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    testcore (profile), Aug 13th, 2013 @ 1:12pm

    Occam's Razor...

    suggests that the reviews are actually the direct result of a butterfly flapping its wings in China.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2013 @ 1:14pm

    Both theories are wrong.

    The reality is that the reviews are actually part of a *triple* reverse sabotage. They were written by telco astroturfers pretending to be Free Press fake-astroturfers pretending to be telco astroturfers.

     

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  4.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Aug 13th, 2013 @ 1:15pm

    Someone might want to point this guy to the wiki page on 'Occam's Razor', as it rather neatly slices his argument to pieces.

     

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  5.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Aug 13th, 2013 @ 1:15pm

    Occam's Razor.

    'nuf said.

     

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  6.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Aug 13th, 2013 @ 1:16pm

    Razors, razors everywhere...

    Watch your footing

     

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  7.  
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    Akari Mizunashi (profile), Aug 13th, 2013 @ 1:19pm

    Bennett, you get 1 star. I'd go lower, but Amazon won't let me do so.

     

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  8.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 13th, 2013 @ 1:20pm

    Re:

    Yes, via a tweet, I told Richard that it appeared he hadn't shaved in a while, and I was happy to send him Occam's razor, and he in turned called me an idiot for believing something I read on the internet about the simplest answer always being correct.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2013 @ 1:21pm

    Third option

    What about the third option? The one where Bennett's argument is "for the children" and the book isn't about "the children". And where Mike's comments aren't about the children? That's one against two, and by SOPA's definition, the one wins.

     

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  10.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Aug 13th, 2013 @ 1:24pm

    Re: Re:

    Actaully, realizing my post was late to the party, I want to change my reasoning. I still think you've got the right theory, but...

    I'm going to go with Hanlon's Razor now. "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."

    Bennett is assuming malice against his 1-star review. You're assuming stupidity on the part of telco-astroturfing efforts. Therefore, I'm going with stupidity on the part of the telcos, who have been proven to engage in similar stupidity before.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2013 @ 1:27pm

    My cable internet service back in the 1990's used to cost the same price I'm paying now, and had two times the download speed with no data usage caps.

    Now, I'm still paying the about the same price, but I have half the download speed I used to have, and I have a data usage cap.

    The only thing that's stayed consistent, is I only have one choice for a broadband provider in my area, unless I want to pay for satellite internet, which is expensive and slow.

    I'm sure Mr. Bennett will argue that satellite internet should be considered 'competition' in my area.

    I can't even get DSL internet in my area...

     

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  12.  
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    dante866 (profile), Aug 13th, 2013 @ 1:29pm

    Wow...just...wow...

    And people call me crazy...

    I honestly expected to click on the comments link and see OOTB as the first poster, because any attempt to bludgeon Mike into submission is a good place to find him.

    That being said, I think Bennett takes the cake for oddball. and by cake I mean laughing gas. and by laughing gas I mean anything else that has no bearing on society...

     

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  13.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 13th, 2013 @ 1:43pm

    I had no idea

    Richard Bennett is hilarious!

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2013 @ 1:43pm

    Re:

    Both theories are wrong.

    The reality is that the reviews are actually part of a *triple* reverse sabotage. They were written by telco astroturfers pretending to be Free Press fake-astroturfers pretending to be telco astroturfers.


    You have clearly missed your calling and should immediately apply to head up the NSA. Your reasoning is far, far better than theirs.

     

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  15.  
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    SolkeshNaranek (profile), Aug 13th, 2013 @ 1:45pm

    Re: Re:

    You are clearly being unreasonable.

    The poor guy is merely trying to earn his money... no matter how stupid it makes him look.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2013 @ 1:46pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    tl;dr Let's Play Mangle That Quote!

    "Sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from malice."

     

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  17. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Aug 13th, 2013 @ 1:49pm

    "I spent an evening comparing the" reviews. -- I just bet you did.

    You're even duller and more into promoting the book than I allowed for.
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130722/17503523891/telco-astroturfing-tries-to-bring-down-r eviews-susan-crawfords-book.shtml#c112
    [Heh, heh. Hidden again by the non-censoring censors here at Techdirt.]

    Now that you've bragged of the power of Techdirt to cause people to LIE, you should at least consider -- well, not YOU, Mike, but objective readers, should they exist -- that for whatever reason, you're out to promote the book, and this 3RD mention makes it a dead cert.

    First time is happenstance; 2nd time coincidence, 3rd time enemy action. Ian Fleming, some Bond book.


    @ "dante866": Now that I've commented you and other ankle-biters can use the "report" button to censor! But thanks for the advance notice.

     

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    sorrykb (profile), Aug 13th, 2013 @ 1:50pm

    Forget Occam's Razor. The guy's gone full Rube Goldberg.

     

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  19.  
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    Lord Binky, Aug 13th, 2013 @ 1:52pm

    For the alternate theory of burying his review to work, it is predicated that anyone would find his review helpful in the first place. Regardless of the votes on his review, I don't find it helpful, so I extrapolate that small sample survey (that's how you do it in telo-land right?) to conclude his review is insignificant and not worth the effort.

    For the alternate theory of faking sabotage and crossing your fingers that it is discovered for media attention... The risk/reward for such such an act makes it absurd for a reasonable person to consider. If you believe the Free Press to have a high-risk taking delusional character/culture than yes, this theory remains a valid possibility. If you do not, then this theory is some fantastical idea that is more likely to conjured up by someone with those same attributes.

     

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  20.  
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    Matt Wood, Aug 13th, 2013 @ 1:52pm

    Quadruple Fake Comment

    As a rural resident and consumer advocate, I have to say that I find Mike's analysis to be spot on!

    Love,
    A nefarious Free Press guy

     

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  21.  
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    Lord Binky, Aug 13th, 2013 @ 1:55pm

    Re: "I spent an evening comparing the" reviews. -- I just bet you did.

    In your case it isn't censorship, it's quarantine.

     

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  22.  
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    Phillip Dampier (profile), Aug 13th, 2013 @ 2:11pm

    OK, I Did It

    In the interests of the much more important question of learning what Big Telecom companies contribute to the ITIF (and in turn Bennett's paycheck), let's put the original question to bed with my confession that I wrote all of the astroturf reviews. :-)

    Who reads books anymore? :-)

    Now that we can shelve that topic, back to following the money. Richard has never disclosed what large companies (cough... AT&T) are keeping the lights on at the K Street HQ of ITIF, one of America's biggest apologists of the sorry state of overpriced, too slow U.S. Internet access. (Broadband for America, in terms of sheer hackery, is even bigger and the always useless Harold Ford, Jr. and John Sununu are honorary co-chairs).

     

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  23.  
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    Beech, Aug 13th, 2013 @ 2:12pm

    Re:

    Oh, you poor gullible fool. If you gave it any thought at all, you would see that this was the conclusion at which THEY wanted you to arrive! The reality is that this is a *quadruple* reverse sabotage. The reviews were clearly written by the Free Press pretending to be teleco astroturfers, pretending to be the Free Press, pretending to be teleco astroturfers.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2013 @ 2:16pm

    Godwin's Law

    You're all wrong. Hitler's behind the 1-star reviews.

     

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  25.  
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    Mark Murphy (profile), Aug 13th, 2013 @ 2:24pm

    Re: Re:

    Ridiculous. Clearly the one-star reviews were written by ill-tempered mutated sea bass.

    With frickin' laser beams attached to their heads.

    Pretending to be telco astroturfers.

    .
    .
    .

    Oh, sorry. My bad. I just assumed that Dr. Evil had one of those razor things everyone's talking about. Y'know, given his head, and all.

     

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  26.  
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    DOlz (profile), Aug 13th, 2013 @ 2:26pm

    Two competing theories, hmmm. I wonder if Mr. Bennett has meet Occam's Razor?

     

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  27.  
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    Richard Bennett (profile), Aug 13th, 2013 @ 2:32pm

    Mike, Mike, Mike, why must you misrepresent my position so grossly? I understand you yearn for a career in standup comedy, but lying about other peoples' analyses is not the way to achieve it.

    To boil it down to its simplest terms, I said nobody knows who wrote the obviously fake reviews of Crawford's book on Amazon. All we do know for certain is that 95% of the posted reviews where written by people who haven't read the book, and that goes for the 5 star reviews as well as the 1 star reviews. It makes no more sense to blame telco astroturfers for the fake reviews than to blame the Free Press astroturfers.

    In reality, there are fairly compelling reasons to believe that both sides have manufactured fake reviews, and the overall balance of fakery is on the five star side. But I don't claim it's a certainty, just a likelihood.

    Another plausible explanation that I've floated on this blog is that some intrepid PR entrepreneur produced the fake reviews in order to win some future business from one of the vested interests involved in the discussion. I don't know if that happened either, but things like that have happened before. It's widely known that Amazon reviews can be purchased.

    I appreciate that your desire to attack me is a show of respect in some perverse sense, but surely there are better ways for you to raise your visibility than by dragging others down to your tabloid level.

    I'll see you and your colleagues Tim Karr, Matt Wood, and Karl Bode on Twitter.

     

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  28.  
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    Lord Binky, Aug 13th, 2013 @ 2:33pm

    Re:

    Even Occam's Razor can't cut through something this dense.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2013 @ 2:34pm

    Re:

    My brain just exploded

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2013 @ 2:36pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    But then the telcos were being malicious in their efforts to downstar the book

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2013 @ 2:38pm

    Re: Re:

    "for believing something I read on the internet"

    Ok, so what if I typed it in a word document, sent it to you, and you read it? Then you can claim you didn't just read it on the Internet and you would no longer be an idiot for believing it.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2013 @ 2:44pm

    I've read Bennett for years

    (because I really do try to read opinions from all over the spectrum)

    However, it's pretty clear that he really doesn't have the slightest idea what the Internet is or what it could be or what it should be. Like so many telco lobbyists, he sees the world entirely in terms of billable events: not surprising, that's how EVERY telco sees it. Thus if it can't be captured and logged and billed...it doesn't exist. It never occurs to these people that the idea of "billable events" is an ancient construct and that maybe, just maybe, it's obsolete now.

    You will never persuade these people. It's burned too deeply into them. All you can do is wait for them to die off...which is now happening. In another 20-30 years, minds that have never been poisoned by this worldview will (I hope) have the vision that telco leaders lack.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2013 @ 2:45pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Also 2 + 2 = 4. You believe that right? You just read it on the Internet. That makes you an idiot for believing something you read on the Internet.

     

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  34.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 13th, 2013 @ 2:50pm

    Re: I've read Bennett for years

    However, it's pretty clear that he really doesn't have the slightest idea what the Internet is or what it could be or what it should be.

    Uh oh, now you've done it. You've summoned its presence, and it will come.

    Give in a little while and I promise that Bennett will be here to talk about how he invented the internet, ethernet, WiFi and every other important networking technology ever. He may have invented the telegraph and the telephone too. I forget.

     

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  35.  
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    Internet Zen Master (profile), Aug 13th, 2013 @ 3:04pm

    You're both wrong!

    [impersonation of "expert" with weird hair from History Channel's Ancient Aliens]These fake reviews were clearly posted by aliens trying to keep people ignorant of their impending invasion.

    Because it'd be too simple for it to be a bunch of telcos trying to smother dissenting opinions!
    [/impersonation of "expert" with weird hair from History Channel's Ancient Aliens]

     

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  36.  
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    Richard Bennett (profile), Aug 13th, 2013 @ 3:04pm

    Re: Re: I've read Bennett for years

    I was the vice-chairman of the IEEE 802.3 task group that wrote the first standard for Ethernet over twisted pair, 1BASE5, in 1984-6. Do you care to dispute this?

    I was also one of the contributors to the first Wi-Fi standard, starting in 1990, and I contributed the 802.11n A-MPDU frame aggregation technique that doubled throughput. Do you care to dispute this?

    Remind me what you've done for networking.

     

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  37.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 13th, 2013 @ 3:15pm

    Re: Re: I've read Bennett for years

    Oh yeah, almost forgot. Richard also claims to be the first person who ever blogged. Ask him about it some time...

     

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  38.  
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    Disgusted, Aug 13th, 2013 @ 3:20pm

    Re:

    Hopefully about one inch below his chin.

     

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  39.  
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    Richard Bennett (profile), Aug 13th, 2013 @ 3:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: I've read Bennett for years

    This is a lie.

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2013 @ 3:25pm

    Re:

    C'mon blue, the game is up. We all know now that you really support Mike and the Free Press and you only post like a moron to draw attention away from legitimate critics of this site.

     

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  41.  
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    Atkray (profile), Aug 13th, 2013 @ 4:09pm

    Re: Re: I've read Bennett for years

    ¿Whaaa?
    "Bennett will be here to talk about how he invented the internet"

    Richard Bennett == Al Gore

    'splain that one to me.

     

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  42.  
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    loaderboy (profile), Aug 13th, 2013 @ 4:12pm

    He has finally come out-of-the-closet.

    Richard Bennett is O-O-T-B!!!

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2013 @ 4:12pm

    Re: Occam's Razor...

    Definitely a commie plot then!

     

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  44.  
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    Jay (profile), Aug 13th, 2013 @ 5:10pm

    Re:

    Yo Dawg...

     

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  45.  
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    Karl (profile), Aug 13th, 2013 @ 6:45pm

    Re: Godwin's Law

    You're all wrong. Hitler's behind the 1-star reviews.

    Your attempt at Goodwin-ing this thread has outed you as an agent provocateur.

    Obviously, it was the Jews. I mean, they're behind everything.

     

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  46.  
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    Wally (profile), Aug 13th, 2013 @ 9:26pm

    Both...and here's why...

    Mike, the issue really isn't that people don't care more or less about helpfulness ratings...but it does play a huge factor for most Amazon users. The conundrum about the rating vs the review is that it typically stems from bias. Often times users rely on that review as well as where it is ranked in helpfulness to determine a purchase. Bennett might not have a clue about how the Internet works, but honestly it doesn't take much to see how a biased helpfulness astrofturfing bunch of votes can give the wrong review "good" credit thus making a bad product look good or visa versa.

     

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  47.  
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    techflaws (profile), Aug 13th, 2013 @ 10:27pm

    Re: "I spent an evening comparing the" reviews. -- I just bet you did.

    Hey, ankle-biter #1. Seems Bennett has a job opening right up your alley. Hurry!

     

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  48.  
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    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Aug 14th, 2013 @ 12:42am

    I tried to apply Occam's, but the poor thing just shattered from the differential.

    Turns out Hanlon's was a much better choice.

     

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  49.  
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    Tim Griffiths (profile), Aug 14th, 2013 @ 1:36am

    Re: Re:

    Wait, just so we are clear, this man who wants us to take his argument's logic seriously just dismissed a logical principle that is centuries old as "something you read on the internet" while showing a misunderstanding that would be corrected by 5 seconds on google?

    Wow. Ok. That's a thing.

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2013 @ 2:42am

    Damn, reading his article against Crawford is very hard.

    - Arguing that wireless is inherently better than wired is reversing positions. Here he is arguing from a future perspective, while she is taking the present stance. Also, wireless technology builds on the fiber, arguing wireless structure as something else than fiber to home is a bit thin since fiber to all homes = fiber for all wireless, while that is not the case in the opposite situation...

    - His anecdote about a person preferring satellite above DSL is ridiculous in itself. That it proves real competition between satellite and DSL is a complete non-sequitor. He should be emberrased to even try such a cop-out instead of giving evidence!

    - He is claiming VDSL as something other than fiber while explaining it, correctly, as a hybrid technology. It is used as an argument against fiber being the standard of the future... Yeah... VDSL as competition to fiber is like fiber competing with fiber. There is a small saving from the homeowners in choosing VDSL in the short-medium term. In the long term, it gets speculative at best. From the telcos desk fiber is too damn expensive and that is the only reason they are pushing VDSL and normal DSLs today. Using VDSL as the standard of the future is medium term an improvement over ADSL or dial-up, but it is not the solution in the long term!

    - He constantly mention her name in ridiculing and fact-poor sentences, which is a loosing debaters position. It has straight up ad homs a good deal of the way and there are several strawmen he pounds down with a vengeance. I think he has a problem with Crawford basing a lot on predictions, while he wants pure reactive measures from the industry. On the other hand, his own future scenario is also based on predictions...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2013 @ 2:54am

    Super Troll's real identity unmasked !

    "Richard Bennett -- a long time apologist for the telcos' position on nearly everything -- has decided to step to the plate with an alternative theory for those obviously fake one-star reviews, and followed it up with a series of mocking tweets directed at me, claiming that I am a "poor journalist" for never even considering his alternate theory and suggesting that I would never "dare" to discuss it"

    Sounds vaguely familiar. Oh wait! OOTB_AJ_AC real identity is uncovered ! He is ... Richard Bennett! Not ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    icon
    leichter (profile), Aug 14th, 2013 @ 2:56am

    You guys have missed it all

    The real fake reviews are the 5-star reviews. They were planted by the Telco's exactly to start this debate, months later thus distracting attention from the book and the real issue: That we have to continue to have the best Internet in the world, provided by the best companies in the world, because those companies are dedicated to helping the NSA keep us all safe by carefully but completely lawfully preventing that precious Internet - a wonderful American invention - from being used by, you know, terrorists and mother-rapers and father-rapers and all those others on the Group W bench.

    You're all a bunch of filthy hippies and Communists and traitors who don't appreciate what this great country of ours - not yours - has done for you. If you don't like it, why don't you just get out and go live in one of those workers' paradises you dream of, like Sweden or Eurasia or something.

    -- A True Patriot from Iowa or Idaho or one of those places

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Aug 14th, 2013 @ 3:00am

    Re: "I spent an evening comparing the" reviews. -- I just bet you did.

    Hello Mr Bennett! Now all the stupidity you have been piling up in TD makes total sense!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2013 @ 5:25am

    Re: Re: Re: I've read Bennett for years

    This guy gives credence to the idea that the people who post dumb comments on techdirt trying to criticize us (if you can call it that) are serious. They're not TD supporters pretending to make the opposing position look stupid, they are serious supporters of their completely illogical position that makes no sense at all. Some maybe even paid shills, as it has been well known for a while now that posters with a hostmask from lobbying and legal firms with an interest in the matter post to places like Wikipedia and elsewhere to spread propaganda.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Aug 14th, 2013 @ 6:10am

    Re:

    This review says it all:

    Ronald J. Riley says:
    Telcos have been scum so long that they no longer have an memory of being responsible corporate citizens.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Aug 14th, 2013 @ 6:12am

    Re: Re: "I spent an evening comparing the" reviews. -- I just bet you did.

    LOL!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57.  
    icon
    Niall (profile), Aug 14th, 2013 @ 6:37am

    Re: Re:

    You forgot the other 200 lines of sig.

    But otherwise - *gasp* - RJR talks sense!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  58.  
    icon
    octogeek (profile), Aug 14th, 2013 @ 6:38am

    Re:

    Anonymous Coward's on the right track. Think of the iocane sequence in The Princess Bride"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59.  
    icon
    Niall (profile), Aug 14th, 2013 @ 6:41am

    Re: You guys have missed it all

    9/10 - you forgot to mention living in a rural part of I****, studying, or doing a blue-collar job.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2013 @ 7:07am

    Re: Re:

    These are not the astroturfers you are looking for.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2013 @ 9:51am

    Icredulity

    Its absolutely amazing how far these think tanks go in their attempt to sway the guillible intellectuals and safeguard monopolies.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  62.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2013 @ 11:02am

    Re:

    You still have not provided any evidence to support the assertion that conspiratorial self-sabotage is more likely than sabotage.

    You have no "fairly compelling reasons."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63.  
    identicon
    ignorant coward, Aug 14th, 2013 @ 11:18am

    This is

    wait for it!






    AWE SOME !



    some of the best mind blowing cr@p on the internet


    (which I invented, of course)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  64.  
    identicon
    Pete, Aug 14th, 2013 @ 12:01pm

    Re: Re:

    Never get involved in a land war in Asia...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sPVEBAtwmg

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  65.  
    icon
    Richard Bennett (profile), Aug 14th, 2013 @ 2:47pm

    Re: Re:

    The most likely explanation is grass-roots campaigning on both sides, but that's to straightforward for a link-baiter like Masnick to acknowledge. If you insist on Occam's Razor, that's where you have to go.

    If the open market people are astroturfers, so are the open networks people, and vice versa.

    Consistency.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  66.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 15th, 2013 @ 12:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: I've read Bennett for years

    This is a lie.


    Is it?

    http://web.archive.org/web/20060503084840/http://www.bennett.com/blog/

    "The Original Blog

    Established July 4, 1996 by Richard Bennett"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  67.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 15th, 2013 @ 12:44am

    Re: Re: Re:

    The most likely explanation is grass-roots campaigning on both sides, but that's to straightforward for a link-baiter like Masnick to acknowledge. If you insist on Occam's Razor, that's where you have to go.

    Actually, no, that's not true, but you can live with your delusions Richard.

    1. As I showed with my analysis, the bogus 1-star reviews had indications of being faked. The 5-star reviews did not. You present no counter evidence other than a visceral (and ridiculous) hatred for Free Press and claims that they "do this kind of stuff" which, um, they don't.

    2. While it is true that many of the 5-star reviews *do* point out that they didn't read the book, they clearly state that they're doing it in response to *seeing* the 1-star reviews. So, what happened -- as is clear to just about *anyone* -- is that there was clear telco astroturfing. Somewhere along the line (around Feb or March or so) someone else drew attention to those reviews, and some people responded with the 5-star "counter" reviews. Then there was my post, which lead to many more of those "counter" reviews. I made clear in my post that those reviews were not helpful and I didn't support or condone them.

    But, as with SOPA, you can't come to grips with the idea that *actual people* found the bogus corporate talking points to be pure bullshit -- bullshit that you've been known to spew for years -- and reacted *naturally* against it, not because of some "campaign" but because they were disgusted by the dishonesty.

    You need to get yourself out of DC "policy circles" -- it's dulled your senses.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  68.  
    icon
    Richard Bennett (profile), Aug 15th, 2013 @ 6:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Crawford's book is non-factual work of policy fiction, so it's easy to understand why the open networks people would rather invent sideshows to stop discussion of its analytical shortcomings. This discussion is such a sideshow.

    The astroturf fake review fantasy comes down to what the definitions of "astroturf" and "fake reviews" are.

    In your little world, any comment that's favorable to open markets is telco astroturf, but any comment favorable to open networks is righteous, true, and genuine. As I see it, any review from an open network advocate recruited by Free Press, Karl Bode, or Tech Dirt-by-way-of-Reddit is also astroturf.

    I also judge as fake any review that fails to convince me that the reviewer has actually read the book would be a fake review, regardless of how it's motivated.

    Amazon book reviews on tribal subjects such as this one are full of partisanship and dishonesty, so there's no need to single out one of the tribes while giving the other tribe a free ride.

    The fact remains that "Captive Audience" is a work of story-telling held up by references to blog posts and popular press articles. It is not based on serious research.

    Don't hate for knowing technology and policy, Mike. It's good for you that someone like me is willing to dirty his hands in the sausage factory. You really don't want policy work to be left to law professors who can't be bothered to learn the difference between an Internet and a phone booth. The Crawfords and Wus of the world may be well-meaning, but that's not good enough.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  69.  
    icon
    Richard Bennett (profile), Aug 15th, 2013 @ 6:34pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I've read Bennett for years

    It's called "tongue-in-cheek", look it up.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  70.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 16th, 2013 @ 11:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Crawford's book is non-factual work of policy fiction

    It's funny how nearly every other tech expert who has reviewed the book disagrees. I've already said that I actually agree that her policy recommendations are not ones I agree with, but there is a lot of good information in the book.

    The astroturf fake review fantasy comes down to what the definitions of "astroturf" and "fake reviews" are.


    Yes... do go on...

    In your little world, any comment that's favorable to open markets is telco astroturf...

    Oh bullshit, Richard. Seriously, you are so full of shit it's not even funny.

    1. I'm a major supporter of *open markets*. That's the whole basis of what we often talk about.

    2. The telco market that you support is ANYTHING BUT an open market. It's a regulated oligopoly, with incredible limits via rights of way and other government subsidies. Denying that means you're either stupid or lying.

    3. I gave a detailed list of reasons and explanations for why those comments were astroturf, and NONE of them had to do with "supporting open markets." Because that's pure horseshit. I support open markets. You support corporate cronyism AGAINST open markets.

    As I see it, any review from an open network advocate recruited by Free Press, Karl Bode, or Tech Dirt-by-way-of-Reddit is also astroturf.

    Then you're an idiot. We didn't "recruit" any reviews.

    I also judge as fake any review that fails to convince me that the reviewer has actually read the book would be a fake review, regardless of how it's motivated.

    How many times do I need to tell you that I agree with this before you stop acting like the world's biggest idiot? I've said, repeatedly, that I disagree with the fake positive reviews as well. But there's a difference between planned astroturf reviews, and the backlash to those reviews, which is what those fake positive reviews are.

    Amazon book reviews on tribal subjects such as this one are full of partisanship and dishonesty, so there's no need to single out one of the tribes while giving the other tribe a free ride.

    I didn't. You don't even read before you spew. You really look like a complete fool here. A smart person would have stopped digging. But you just got a bigger shovel.

    Don't hate for knowing technology and policy, Mike.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH. Good one Richard. Good one. You had me going there for a second.

    Seriously. You're a joke.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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