Several months ago, everyone’s favourite pundit John C Dvorak admitted – as if anyone couldn’t guess – that every now and then he trolled Mac users, baiting them with outrageous and outlandish claims about their platform or the superiority of Windows. Better yet, John outlined his three-step method of Mac user-baiting:
• Find something critical to say about the Mac that may or may not be true.
• Personal attacks and hate mail then ensue. This gives me “free column number two.”
• Apologize for being wrong and then all the Mac crazies really go nuts since they all feel so vindicated.
The great thing about this forumula is that it’s applicable well beyond Mac fans: you can do this with any audience. So it’s perhaps unsurprising that one Mac “pundit”, Roughly Drafted’s owner/publisher/editor/tea maker Daniel Eran, has decided to apply it with a “pro-Mac” slant.
Yesterday, Eran produced what can only be described as a flame-baiting beauty of a column, claiming to “prove” that over a seven year period, Windows cost five times as much as a Mac. His method was to factor in the cost of OS upgrades, then add – for Windows only – a premium for anti-virus and spyware removal. So far, so good: there’s no doubt that you do indeed pay a tax on top of the cost of Windows for keeping yourself clean of malware, although you can – if you shop around – get both anti-spyware and AV software for nothing.
Where Daniel went off the rails, though, was in his costings. To determine the cost of spyware removal, he added in $200 per year for professional servicing. As a million people on Digg and in his comments pointed out, this was mad: it’s like claiming that every car driver must pay thousands per month for fuel just because some people have gas-guzzlers. Or, as I put it, it’s like saying every Mac users must have ProCare if they want their Macs kept up to date, as one of the benefits of ProCare is updating your Apple software.
That’s column number one. Today, Daniel has posted a second column, called “Bloggers in Blind Rage Over Digg”, which is basically one long “shock” piece at how he’s been criticised, while attacking those who criticised him – including me, of course. When I posted comments that were critical of his argument, Daniel threatened to ban me from his comments, and then trumped all my points with a one liner: “Haha Ian, you are such a tool”. Oh, to be wounded by such wit.
Does this method sound familiar to you? Yes, of course: It’s steps one and two direct from what should be called “The Dvorak School of Column Writing”. I’m expecting step three within a week, once Daniel’s trolling has stopped having the desired effect. It’ll probably take the classic “they all misread me, I don’t know what the problem was” form.
Daniel has been trying to stir up this kind of stuff for some time. His first effort that came to my attention was an attempt to show that, in fact, Apple’s market share was effectively double it’s usually-cited level – a figure he achieved by lumping together OS software and hardware, giving Microsoft a 48% share of the PC market. Why he didn’t add in printers, scanners, monitors, and everything else I don’t know. Thankfully, most people didn’t take the bait: perhaps because his argument was so jaw-droppingly specious that few could do anything but laugh at it.
There’s a second way in which Daniel reminds me of John: His gift for self-promotion. However, while for John self-promotion is mostly a face-to-face thing, Daniel’s chosen forum is Digg, and boy does he do it well. Being told off by some Digg users for the practice of submitting his own stories (referring to himself in the third person while doing so) hasn’t stemmed the tide of Roughly Drafted stories being submitted to Digg.
Instead, the baton has been picked up by an “Andrew Levi Black”, who since registering on June 21st, has submitted a grand total of 25 stories, all from Roughly Drafted. Oddly, many of the submissions follow the same style (“Daniel Eran of RoughlyDrafted Magazine has a phat list…”) as Daniel’s own submissions (“Daniel Eran of RoughlyDrafted Magazine Introduces the Apple XServe mini…”). Also oddly, doing a search for “Andrew Levi Black” on Google returns only his Digg profile: as far as the rest of the internet outside Digg is concerned, there is no Andrew Levi Black.
But whether “Andrew Levi Black ” is a real person who just happens to sound like Daniel, a helpful friend of Daniel’s or a good old-fashioned sock puppet, there’s no doubt that Daniel knows how to use Digg to maximise his traffic. And it all adds up to a pretty impressive package: Dvorak-style trolling, Dvorak-style writing, and Dvorak-style self-promotion. Fellow Mac users, we have our very own Dvorak.
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