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Re: [xml-dev] Microsoft buys the Swedish vote on OOXML?

On Sun, 2007-09-02 at 13:43 -0700, Tim Bray wrote:
> On 9/1/07, Rick Jelliffe <rjelliffe@allette.com.au> wrote:
>  > Dennis Sosnoski said:
>  > > It's now clear that bribery *was* part of the process
>  >
>  > The other side to the story is that MS discovered and fixed the
>  > mistaken/inept email within hours
> Rick, I can't believe that you're pushing back on the central news
> story here; this is the most corrupt and politicized standards process
> I've seen in the two decades or so I've been mixed up with standards.
> It's a real, legitimate, big, news story.

Tim: where exactly is this corruption? No actual instance of corruption
has been found *anywhere* that I can see. In this this case in Sweden
there was a mistake and it was corrected *before* any harm occurred.

(Furthermore, strictly, whether mistaken discussion of a potential
inducement even against company policy by someone not authorized to make
such an offer anyway is wrong is a matter of regional law and custom,
not morality: is it a bribe for a company to pay the travel expenses of
an academic or open source advocate to attend meetings and vote, for
example?  Or does it only become wrong if they don't disclose it before
the vote?) 

The withdrawal of the Swedish vote was on a timing issue (no time to
have a recount because of the ISO deadline) not because of any
corruption issue, as far as I know. 

> Trying to ignore the elephant in the room gives the appearance
> of being either a fool or a tool.  -Tim

But seeing only elephants in the room is a sign of hallucination or

Come on Tim, give us an example of actual inducements being offered
(i.e. and not withdrawn as soon as the mistake was discovered) and acted
on. I have been following the stories pretty closely: it is always "MS
is buying votes in Freedonia" and when you check it is that people
joined the committee legitimately and voted according to their

I am pretty pissed off. Every time the extreme anti-OOXML crowd doesn't
get a vote their way, or forgets to register, or gets excluded from a
chairmanship or a task force, or has someone they don't agree with join
a standards body or speak at a standards meeting, or didn't agree with
the chairman's rulings, or hypes up a committee vote only to have it
change, as regular as clockwork one will come up with some insinuations
of stacking (i.e. attendance) or bribery (which is the blanket term for
any inducement or suspected inducement or even being in a business
connected to MS) and the others will cross-link. When the claim is shown
to be false, they don't retract it. So people are still claiming there
were not enough chairs in Portugal, and so on. 

The countries where irregularities have been claimed are US, UK, France,
Spain, Italy, Portugal, Brazil, Columbia, Chile, Romania, Azerbeijan,
Malaysia, India, Malaysia, South Africa, Ivory Coast, Australia, New
Zealand, Sweden and others. Its a pile of crap by the FUD merchants.
This Swedish story is the first one with any legs, but MS seems to have
done all the correct things, in the circumstances: correct the error
("within hours"), notify the authorities, admit the mistake. 

We have an IBM representative offering a prize to uncover dirt: and we
have multiple blogs which will print any old crap without looking at it,
and deliberately try to put the worst spin on it. We have a large
company which has been explicit that if Open XML is voted up, then there
will be attempts to blacken the process. Politicized: yes. 

And then the newspapers print this spin, and then you quote them as if
they have some independent authority. It is Stephen Colbert's echo
chamber. It isn't just spin, its a tornado.

The thing is, Tim, that ultimate DIS 29500 or its successors will be
accepted into ISO based on calm editorial and technical considerations,
not politics. If you don't trust or like Microsoft, why isn't that a
reason why you should support Open XML becoming a standard even more?
No-one thinks MS is a cute fluffy doggy who will come when called and
roll over to have its belly scratched. 

But your view, that the world would be better off if Microsoft was
completely unencumbered by friction and interaction from the
international standards communities, is really bad thinking. When MS
comes up to the European Union, and the EU asks "Did you put your format
up for standardization, as we recommended to stop anti-trust
considerations?" and MS will say "Oh we tried, but they didn't let us."
And the EU will say "Oh, darn. We cannot penalize you when you were
blocked from doing what we requested."

Tim, do you really want to perpetuate the current system of business as
usual, with MS entirely a law unto itself? I suppose it gives MS'
competitors a consistent message and they don't want to find themselves
pantsless. But legislators have failed to split up or trammel MS, open
source has focus problems, and ISO ODF is no-where near ready to cause
any kind of serious disruption. Standards may not be much, but they are
almost the only game left in town, and it is an opportunity that we
should be grabbing, not Chicken Little-ing.

Tim, it is you who don't see the big picture in this. (And I write this
with enormous respect and genuine affection.)  It is true that we are in
a room full of elephants, and that standards won't tame the elephants;
but standards are an umbrella nevertheless, and we would be better with
the umbrella than without.

Rick Jelliffe

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