August 20, 2010

DMOZ/ODP 2.0 - Rather a Flop So Far

Well, after more than three years of anticipation, frequent (and increasingly hollow-sounding) promises, months of beta testing, and two aborted installations, DMOZ 2.0 has finally arrived!

So do we have dancing in the editorial streets?
Outpourings of joy and gratitude from the volunteer community?
A long-awaited fix for all the problems that arose from the 2006 AOL Server Crash?
A much-needed increase in enthusiasm and productivity?
In short: will I have to eat my skeptical post "DMOZ 2.0 - Nirvana or Neverland"?

In each case the answer is a despondent but unequivocal "No".

It's only been a day or two since the directory came back online after the "third time lucky" upgrade, but the bug reports keep streaming in from disappointed and/or confused editors.
I'm sure the more serious issues will get fixed eventually, but considering how long it has taken to reach even this point, it is very hard not to see the whole thing as a bit of a

August 07, 2010

Down with FUD! (2)

As I posted a couple of years ago, this is a useful acronym, usually taken to represent "Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt".

It is a sneaky but very effective way of undermining or discrediting others, and to quote from my earlier post,
  • In marketing or politics, the advantages of changing the direction of someone's loyalties are obvious ...
  • In other areas of life it can be used in a more subtle way, by gradually isolating someone from former associates ...
  • Sometimes it may achieve nothing more than intellectual satisfaction, or a sense of having influence.
Having seen this technique used to great effect in recent months, in both work and hobby situations, I can now pass on what I have learned. It won't help me, of course, but it may allow others to see what is coming.
FUD Primer
1. Gain a position of authority.
It can be as spurious as you like, but must allow you to humiliate and/or harrass those "beneath" you, without fear of censure.

2. Find a suitable target (or targets, if you have plenty of experience)
Desirable characteristics are an eagerness to contribute, a strong work ethic, and high levels of energy. Such people are easily ridiculed as "needy" - which starts the undermining process.

3. Fear is the Key
Start by demonstrating your "power" in as many subtle ways as you can manage. Ideally, these should be directed at your target in such a way that they completely understand that you hold all the cards.

4. Introduce Uncertainty
Once you have made your target sufficiently apprehensive, you and your colleagues can bombard them with contradictory instructions. If you have made them anxious enough, this will create the pleasing effect of complete confusion, as they will not know which way to jump without landing in trouble. Your work is nearly done.

5. Doubt and Despair
Your victim will be unable to juggle all the conflicting information they receive, and they will inevitably drop one of the balls. This is your cue to act in a suitably decisive manner, humiliating the target in a way that serves as a warning to others.

6. Follow through
It is essential to maintain complete solidarity with your colleagues after such a campaign, in case of tiresome repercussions or even a challenge to your authority. Such insubordination can usually be overcome by subtle harassment and warnings about further punitive actions.

Anti-FUD Tactics
1. Be Brave
Remember what your mother told you about sticks and stones? This stuff hurts, but it does not actually injure you.

2. Retain Your Values
Nobody can take these away from you. These people can ridicule and criticise as much as they like, but only you can revise your ideals.

3. Use Humour
A sense of humour is rare among those who rely on FUD to achieve their goals or justify their positions, so this can be a powerful defence. It could well be seen as insubordination, and punished as such, but a cheery smile can be an unnerving response, and it will make you feel better.

4. Learn to Cope

nil desperandum illegitimi carborundum


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