Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 24th Oct 2011 22:37 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes Considering the polarising topic of software patents and related IP litigation is coming up a lot lately, I felt the need to write a few words on this thing called 'bias'. This word is being thrown around a lot, but I get the feeling many people are unclear as to what, exactly, it means. Because contrary to popular opinion, there's nothing wrong with being being biased. In fact, there's no such thing as unbiased blogging (or even unbiased journalism).
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Panties...
by umccullough on Mon 24th Oct 2011 22:51 UTC
umccullough
Member since:
2006-01-26

I never understood why people got so worked up over such things as biased reporting... If you can't deal with it, just go elsewhere!

Maybe I'm biased because many of Thom's opinions happen to line up with mine - of course, I'm not entirely sure if that's a result of his bias or not - did I start reading OSNews before I formed those opinions? Or did reading OSNews lead me to form those opinions? hmmm....

Maybe a little of both ;)

Reply Score: 9

RE: Panties...
by MacTO on Thu 27th Oct 2011 00:03 UTC in reply to "Panties..."
MacTO Member since:
2006-09-21

Biased reporting is a problem because it creates polarization, a situation where neither side is right because their views are so extreme that they deny the truth. Reading stories from both sides of the spectrum doesn't really help either because both sides are so full of lies that the reader ends up choosing a truth based upon opinions rather than reality.

While I agree that there is no such thing as unbiased reporting, and that it is dangerous to assume that the most balanced story is actually unbiased, I do believe that a reporter who tries to represent both sides (honestly) will present something closer to the truth. After all, they are closer to the primary sources.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Panties...
by Fergy on Fri 28th Oct 2011 14:16 UTC in reply to "RE: Panties..."
Fergy Member since:
2006-04-10

I do believe that a reporter who tries to represent both sides (honestly) will present something closer to the truth. After all, they are closer to the primary sources.

There's your unicorn Thom.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by cb88
by cb88 on Mon 24th Oct 2011 22:52 UTC
cb88
Member since:
2009-04-23

Bias is inevitable.

Here in the US they push "unbiased education". However It just does not exist, Much to the dismay of my best friend who is an EDU major.

And by unbiased they mean biased toward people that don't fit the norms... suck up to the people that have a hard time or don't speak English and waste effort catering to them when they could just learn to adapt an make the best of it and the teachers could actually teach instead of filling out forms and documentation of the students progress and all manner of insanity!

GO US Education system you haven't failed me yet (I was home schooled.)

And as far as reporting and journalism go.. the best reporter understands most of thier audience and gives a biased opinion that deals with those views.

Edited 2011-10-24 22:54 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by cb88
by subsider34 on Tue 25th Oct 2011 08:35 UTC in reply to "Comment by cb88"
subsider34 Member since:
2010-11-08

I disagree. The good reporter understands his/her reader's views and challenges them to justify their views given current events.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by cb88
by slashdev on Tue 25th Oct 2011 11:46 UTC in reply to "Comment by cb88"
slashdev Member since:
2006-05-14

Here in the US they push "unbiased education". However It just does not exist, Much to the dismay of my best friend who is an EDU major.



While i an unsure about US education stating it is unbiased(i personally havent seen that here), the US education system is large and varied, so their could be some jurisdictions who espouse that, and i just never heard about it. But:

And as far as reporting and journalism go.. the best reporter understands most of thier audience and gives a biased opinion that deals with those views.


I have to disagree with this statement. While i think reporters/journalists should, within reason, inform their audiences of any bias on a subject, I do not think they should change their reporting based on their audiences bias. It would be like Thom reporting on how bad BeOS is and how it should have died, or Thom reporting on software patents and how much he thinks they help innovation. Thom writes; we read. Thom doesnt alter his personal slant, for us. If he did, we'd see much less apple stuff, and Microsoft stuff, as i am sure his population of readers skew more toward anti-microsoft and anti-apple. Nor should any journalist (blogger/internet/print) do so.

Personally, I'd feel betrayed as a reader, if the person editorializing or reporting on a subject actually doesnt believe the conclusions themselves or over is emphasizing a portion of a subject because of their audience's bias, and not necessarily their own. If they are just telling me what i want to hear so they can get my eyeballs, I will be less inclined to take it seriously.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by catonic
by catonic on Mon 24th Oct 2011 22:53 UTC
catonic
Member since:
2005-11-04

Well said Thom.

Reply Score: 2

Not quite
by No it isnt on Mon 24th Oct 2011 23:11 UTC
No it isnt
Member since:
2005-11-14

Plenty of journalists adhere to the "unbiased" paradigm of the ideology of journalism, which demands they give equal time and attention to polar opposite viewpoints when one viewpoint is correct and valid and the other is sheer lunacy. And of course, when they don't do that, they are blamed of bias.

My point is: neutrality isn't neutral, but lends credibility to unreasonable and harmful demagogy. And in whose interest is that?

Reply Score: 6

RE: Not quite
by Flatland_Spider on Tue 25th Oct 2011 13:44 UTC in reply to "Not quite"
Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

What? No, that's incredibly backwards.

You're advocating subjectivism with a feedback loop without any third party checks. The effect being a runaway re-enforcement of personal biases and prejudices.

Let me write some code.

do{i++}while();
do{i++}while(i<x);

Which is correct? Obviously, the second loop because it checks to see if it should continue by referencing data outside of the loop.

I'll acknowledge no one is truly neutral, just like no sphere can be truly round. Humans just don't have to tools to accomplish such things. We can still try to remove as much tint as possible by being aware of our biases, just like we can strive to make rounder spheres with better tools.

Without balance, it's just propaganda, and it's unethical. Another way to put it is, if people aren't disclosing everything, everything includes contrary data, you're being lied to and manipulated.

People cannot be informed and make decisions without having all the information. It's the job of a neutral report to present both sides so people can make up their own minds. It's not the reports job to be a Pied Piper, and lead people down whatever path the benefits the preparer the most.

For example, people like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck like to be Pied Pipers. They are in no way neutral, and because they are not, they poison the discussion of politics by spreading misinformation and propaganda. They only help whomever is pulling their strings. They heard people towards ideas which benefit them and their masters.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Not quite
by No it isnt on Thu 27th Oct 2011 20:20 UTC in reply to "RE: Not quite"
No it isnt Member since:
2005-11-14

I'm not advocating anything.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Not quite
by JoeBuck on Tue 25th Oct 2011 17:05 UTC in reply to "Not quite"
JoeBuck Member since:
2006-01-11

That assumes that there are exactly two sides to any question. In reality, the "balanced" journalist (or his/her editor) will pick two "respectable" positions to represent the two sides, and the resulting article will strongly suggest that the truth lies somewhere in between these viewpoints. In the US, a moderate Democrat and a Republican member of the leadership might be picked to represent the two viewpoints; the more progressive Democrats, Greens, leftists, libertarians, or other dissidents need not be considered at all, and the idea of asking a foreign observer about an American political question is never considered.

Reply Score: 3

Don't stop there
by _xmv on Mon 24th Oct 2011 23:15 UTC
_xmv
Member since:
2008-12-09

Bias is one thing. But knowing you are biased and trying to be objective is another.
Being deliberately biased, while faking your objectivity is what is wrong.

And many believe, they gotta do this and convince others of their - preference - as I can't call that an opinion.

It seems most now just eat pre-conceived opinions as trying to achieve some kind of criticism (or even self-criticism) is way too boring.

Reply Score: 10

Bias =/= Interest
by jack_perry on Mon 24th Oct 2011 23:16 UTC
jack_perry
Member since:
2005-07-06

I think the more important question is whether one's bias affects how disinterestedly one approaches a topic.

For example, my vague impression is that the Wall Street Journal's editorial page is an unashamed bastion of a (relatively) libertarian society, both socially and economically. (I don't read it, so if that's wrong, humor me.) The more important question is whether they use that to cover up information that they discover, or even deliberately misrepresent it, for their own interests; or, whether they are so passionate in their bias that it blinds them to fairly important facts and subtle nuances that contradict the party line, so to speak.

The easy example is whether they run a story even if someone offers them money not to. A harder example is when they resist running a correction, or hide it, because it doesn't seem that important, or because they think it doesn't contradict the "higher truth". Like, say, certain movies or documentaries which are replete with errors, whose directors justify this by appealing to "higher truths". That's harder to justify when the people being lied about are still alive.

Somewhere in between, I think, is if every other story hammers on the same theme over & over, seemingly out of proportion to the story's importance. In that case, people get tired of it, complain, and/or look elsewhere.

So, it's correct to say that there's no such thing as biased reporting, but that's really a cop-out spouted by second-rate journalists, and I'm sure you don't intend to be one of those. The real question is, how disinterested is your reporting? There's nothing wrong with disinterested reporting so long as it's honest, and there are various scales of interest. But, if the people coming to this site are looking for broad-based reporting on different operating systems, and you hammer only on the same topic over and over, irritating the readership increasingly -- well, don't be surprised if they tire of it & go elsewhere. & if you make no attempt to convince, but merely act as if you're screaming "Fire" in an empty theater, or adopt the condescending tone -- again, don't be surprised when you get blowback. Even the innocent don't like being associated with guilt; one ought to show how they really want to agree with you.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Bias =/= Interest
by ozonehole on Tue 25th Oct 2011 11:36 UTC in reply to "Bias =/= Interest"
ozonehole Member since:
2006-01-07

The Wall Street Journal used to be a good newspaper. The policy used to be that the editorial page was unabashedly biased, but that was OK because that is what an editorial page is for. The rest of the newspaper was expected to report the news, whether or not it agreed with what was being said on the editorial page (and often it didn't).

Then Rupert Murdoch took it over.

Now the entire newspaper is an editorial page. Basically the print edition of Fox News for those with an IQ over 40. For those with an IQ under 40, there's the New York Post, Murdoch's other New York newspaper.

Actually, the entire US newspaper industry has declined. I remember when you could spend an hour or more to read a good newspaper. Now two minutes is easily enough - after all, how long do you need to contemplate the football scores, weather, your horoscope, UFO sightings and classified ads?

Edited 2011-10-25 11:45 UTC

Reply Score: 2

differing views
by stabbyjones on Mon 24th Oct 2011 23:27 UTC
stabbyjones
Member since:
2008-04-15

Attacking someone as biased is just attacking an opinion different from their own without a counter argument.

It seems to be pretty common here but if it was that important they would leave the site. Other than that I'm sure people hate my opinions just as much as I hate theirs.

Sometimes I agree, sometimes I don't. I value the varying opinion more than the links to blog posts with a quick summary.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by frderi
by frderi on Mon 24th Oct 2011 23:36 UTC
frderi
Member since:
2011-06-17

There's a big difference between reporting facts, and expressing an opinion on those facts. I'm not judging one from the other, as expressing an opinion is good, even if it proves to be wrong in the end.

I'm just under the impression that in the last years, a lot of so called internet based "news" reports are opinions and not reports on facts. While opinions can spice news reports up quite a bit, it seems that some internet news reporters have a harder time these days to distinguish between the two.

This being said, I regard this site more as "OSOpinions" than "OSFacts" thus biased.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by frderi
by WorknMan on Tue 25th Oct 2011 00:50 UTC in reply to "Comment by frderi"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

There's a big difference between reporting facts, and expressing an opinion on those facts. I'm not judging one from the other, as expressing an opinion is good, even if it proves to be wrong in the end.

I'm just under the impression that in the last years, a lot of so called internet based "news" reports are opinions and not reports on facts. While opinions can spice news reports up quite a bit, it seems that some internet news reporters have a harder time these days to distinguish between the two.

This being said, I regard this site more as "OSOpinions" than "OSFacts" thus biased.


Yes, THANK YOU! This site is called OSNEWS, not thomsblog.com

Personally Thom, I really don't give a shit what you think. It's not because I either agree or disagree with your viewpoints, it is because I come to sites like this to get the latest news on operating systems and other tech, not to find out what Thom Holwerda thinks about a particular subject.

So it's not your bias that bothers me personally... it's the fact that you have ruined this site by turning it into your own personal/political blog. The main reason why I used to like this site so much is because it was rather unique among tech sites. Kind of like Slashdot, but without all the bullshit. That's why it is hard to leave it behind. So maybe you could just write articles with the facts, and save your own opinions as the first comment of the piece? IMHO, that would be a decent compromise. And enough with all the goddamn patent articles already... this isn't patentnews.com ;)

Edited 2011-10-25 00:52 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Comment by frderi
by frderi on Tue 25th Oct 2011 01:14 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by frderi"
frderi Member since:
2011-06-17

I'd also enjoy this site a lot more if there were more fact and less opinion. Say, more in-depth product reviews with actual information on what actually composes a product release, benchmarks of new systems, consistent news on OS releases, no matter who releases them. And I mean real hands on reports, not a discussion of a Youtube video as "news". Of course, this actually takes a lot more work (something which separates the real journalists from the bloggers I suppose, doing actual research)

Since a lot things are turning into platforms these days, one could widen the scope of "OSNews" to also include these new emerging platforms. Web platforms and smartphones have both become a lot more in common with operating systems than they used to.

Edited 2011-10-25 01:16 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Comment by frderi
by cfgr on Tue 25th Oct 2011 02:14 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by frderi"
cfgr Member since:
2009-07-18

Since a lot things are turning into platforms these days, one could widen the scope of "OSNews" to also include these new emerging platforms. Web platforms and smartphones have both become a lot more in common with operating systems than they used to.


Isn't it sad that there is more news about legal issues than about technological improvements and new emerging platforms these days? There's a reason for that: in this perverted economy it's easier to make money artificially (litigation/speculation/banking) than by doing real work and actually making a new product.

Let's suppose you want to build a new platform, what will happen is any of the following:

1- The market is saturated, you may or may not be able to compete against the established companies, in any case, noone hears from you and there's no news.
2- You build something interesting and get bought by bigger companies often to be buried or integrated into an existing product, again no news.
3- Start-ups are scared of patent suits. It's safer to join an existing platform with known problems than it is to jump into a legal minefield on your own.

The damage from patents goes far beyond the costs of direct law suits. It's creating a hostile environment for innovation. Investors like to know you have a 'freedom to operate'. So when starting a project, you have to search the patent database for infringements, and not for interesting technology which you can licence (wasn't that the whole idea of patents? Sharing knowledge?). None of the patents descriptions I encountered are useful in any way whatsoever. It's lawyer speak, designed to be useless outside courts. And then I haven't even mentioned patents that are so trivial that you can't get around them. So why go through all that trouble and still risk law suits you can't afford even if you're right?

To make a long story short: I understand Thom's bias and I agree. And as long as it's easier to troll in court or gamble on the stock market/casino than it is to build a product that competes on quality, you'll keep seeing more news about patents than about new emerging platforms.

Reply Score: 4

RE[4]: Comment by frderi
by frderi on Tue 25th Oct 2011 14:49 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by frderi"
frderi Member since:
2011-06-17

It also seems the more opiniated "journalists" in the blogosphere are more sensitive to these cases now and rather report on the legal stories which capture their minds instead of reporting on the products themselves.

Reply Score: 0

RE[2]: Comment by frderi
by Dr.Mabuse on Tue 25th Oct 2011 01:39 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by frderi"
Dr.Mabuse Member since:
2009-05-19

Yes, THANK YOU! This site is called OSNEWS, not thomsblog.com

Personally Thom, I really don't give a shit what you think. It's not because I either agree or disagree with your viewpoints, it is because I come to sites like this to get the latest news on operating systems and other tech, not to find out what Thom Holwerda thinks about a particular subject.


Ouch, bit harsh?

There are already many "just the facts" type sites out there, and frankly you can stay much more up to date with them. It's the fact that OSNews gives some informed and insightful opinion that makes it special (and not just from Thom!)

I personally believe this makes the comments section on the articles more informative too, because people actually make the effort to put forward well-reasoned counter arguments.

IMHO of course :-)

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: Comment by frderi
by tomcat on Tue 25th Oct 2011 02:10 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by frderi"
tomcat Member since:
2006-01-06

There are already many "just the facts" type sites out there, and frankly you can stay much more up to date with them. It's the fact that OSNews gives some informed and insightful opinion that makes it special (and not just from Thom!)


I don't mind the opinions. Just not embedded along with the news.

Reply Score: 4

RE[4]: Comment by frderi
by Dr.Mabuse on Tue 25th Oct 2011 02:26 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by frderi"
Dr.Mabuse Member since:
2009-05-19

I don't mind the opinions. Just not embedded along with the news.


The site would become pretty sterile without the opinion portion. Couple that to relatively low frequency of updates and selective reporting of computing/technology issues and you could just about call it dead after that.

Thom would need to re-invent the whole site to keep it going.

One way or another I suspect he's not going to change habits - it his site afterall.

Is it more that you're just upset with his views?

Edited 2011-10-25 02:29 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Comment by frderi
by tomcat on Tue 25th Oct 2011 20:45 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by frderi"
tomcat Member since:
2006-01-06

The site would become pretty sterile without the opinion portion.


What do you think it is that we're typing here? Opinions.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by frderi
by tomcat on Tue 25th Oct 2011 02:09 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by frderi"
tomcat Member since:
2006-01-06

Personally Thom, I really don't give a shit what you think. It's not because I either agree or disagree with your viewpoints, it is because I come to sites like this to get the latest news on operating systems and other tech, not to find out what Thom Holwerda thinks about a particular subject.


I have to agree. This site would be a lot better if it simply reported the news, and reserved the editorializing for the comments that follow -- or put editorials in their own section -- because you're blurring the two together. And that blows. Seriously hard.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by frderi
by cfgr on Tue 25th Oct 2011 02:27 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by frderi"
cfgr Member since:
2009-07-18

The news is the article that's being linked to. Feel free to click the link, read the article and ignore the editorial on OSNews.

Personally, I think Thom's opinion adds value because unlike most people, he actually provides arguments for how he reached that conclusion - even though I sometimes disagree with those arguments, but that's what the comment section is for.

The only thing I dislike a bit are the references to unrelated 'funny' pictures to describe his thoughts. I think it's a bit unprofessional, but clearly it's not stopping me from reading his posts. It doesn't happen often anyway.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by frderi
by jaimzob on Tue 25th Oct 2011 18:47 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by frderi"
jaimzob Member since:
2011-08-19

My sentiments exactly. "In the old days" OSNews was full of intelligently written articles about deep tech issues. I learned more from this site than any of the other tech sites. Very occasionally someone, who isn't Thom, still writes a story like that - but it tends to get relegated to the side bar while the main page is filled with 101 more reasons to irrationally hate Apple.

And I'm also tired of hearing that there is "no such thing as unbiased reporting" pronounced in such a superior tone. There may not be such a thing as an unbiased person but there _is_ such a thing as unbiased reporting. That's what makes journalism journalism.

Edited 2011-10-25 18:59 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Comment by frderi
by Thom_Holwerda on Tue 25th Oct 2011 18:56 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by frderi"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

"In the old days" OSNews was full of intelligently written articles about deep tech issues.


"In the old days", OSNews was a linked list.

Reply Score: 1

Opinion vs Fiction vs Fact
by Mystilleef on Mon 24th Oct 2011 23:45 UTC
Mystilleef
Member since:
2005-06-29

Unbias, in simple terms, means not having an opinion. It means being objective. It means stating the facts ONLY!

It is true that there's absolutely nothing wrong with having an opinion or bias. Even better if your opinion is backed up with facts. Those kind of opinions are highly valued.

HOEWEVER, your job as a journalist is to do the research to root out the facts (i.e truth) and then present those facts (i.e truths) to me in digestable, accessible and possibly entertaining manner.

Just don't mix opinion with facts. Or even worse, masquerade opinion as fact. This is what has always frustrated me about osnews.

Gimme the digestable, accessible and entertaining facts first. Then in a paragraph, or seperate entry entirely, gimme your opinion piece and state clearly it is an opinion. I can draw my own conclusions and reach my opinions. Maybe I'm odd. But I don't appreciate being force-fed opinions.

It's irritating reading a supposed news entry and having to distill fact, from fiction, from opinion.

One last thing about OPINIONS, especially for bloggers or psuedo-news channels, if your opinion doesn't provide me with any value whatsoever, I frankly don't give shit about it. For example, I don't give a shit that you don't like chocolates, or that you're currently taking a dump.

***rant over***

Edited 2011-10-24 23:48 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: Opinion vs Fiction vs Fact
by flanque on Tue 25th Oct 2011 02:30 UTC in reply to "Opinion vs Fiction vs Fact"
flanque Member since:
2005-12-15

I agree with you.

This site has become increasingly a place for political venting in my view when it's origins were more about fact and informing. I still read this site but only this week I put it's rss feed below all others which I'll get to if I have time.

This used to be my favorite site.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by ilovebeer
by ilovebeer on Mon 24th Oct 2011 23:52 UTC
ilovebeer
Member since:
2011-08-08

Blogging is about opinions and perception of events so bias in blogging is to be expected. However, it's ridiculous to say there's no such thing as unbiased journalism. Media, especially the American media, is heavily biased, but there's plenty of unbiased reporting out there as well.

What I find alarming is how many non-thinkers there are. People who are clearly "programmed" to be bias versus those whose bias are a result of the persons own well-informed conclusions.

There's no shortage of sheep so I don't anticipating any of this changing any time soon.

Reply Score: 1

Bias and too much bias
by sicofante on Mon 24th Oct 2011 23:56 UTC
sicofante
Member since:
2009-07-08

You can't seriously mean it's the same thing reading WinSuperSite and The New York Times.

Of course everyone has an opinion and of course there's bias in every piece of writing. But there's bias and then there's too much bias, also known as fanboyism.

The above post about facts, opinion and fiction is another way of expressing what I'm trying to say here.

You can't get along by saying, "I'm biased, so what". Well, just try to present facts and opinion separate and you won't have to say that again. You'll have much less bias by doing so, which is a nice goal to achieve.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Bias and too much bias
by Thom_Holwerda on Tue 25th Oct 2011 09:00 UTC in reply to "Bias and too much bias"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

You can't seriously mean it's the same thing reading WinSuperSite and The New York Times.


Of course not ;) . I'm just saying that even the NYT is heavily biased - you just don't see it because the bias manifests itself at the gates. Just look at how the old world media handled Occupy, or WikiLeaks.

Reply Score: 1

Thom
by fran on Tue 25th Oct 2011 00:34 UTC
fran
Member since:
2010-08-06

Thom you are our big biased osnews editor..and we love you and don't want it any other way.
Don't get despondent.

Reply Score: 1

My bias
by lemur2 on Tue 25th Oct 2011 00:34 UTC
lemur2
Member since:
2007-02-17

I am biased in favour of what is good for ordinary people.

Reply Score: 2

Anybody with half a brain is biased.
by crhylove on Tue 25th Oct 2011 00:51 UTC
crhylove
Member since:
2010-04-10

Particularly against obvious stupidity. Software patents are so logically and profoundly repugnant that anybody with even a lower primate level of intelligence should be able to understand and also logically infer an intense bias against them.

But don't take my word for it. Give old Ben a try:
"... as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously."

Ben Franklin was much, much smarter than anybody I know of today, or even any of his contemporaries. Arguing against him would be insane. This is doubly true in a system where corporations can enter litigation as if they were people.

Reply Score: 1

Is it OsNEWS or OSOPINIONS?
by tomcat on Tue 25th Oct 2011 02:07 UTC
tomcat
Member since:
2006-01-06

Journalism is supposed to be as free of bias as possible. I don't mind if you have your own biases (we all do), as long as you're simply editorializing and not reporting news.

Reply Score: 2

...
by Hiev on Tue 25th Oct 2011 04:00 UTC
Hiev
Member since:
2005-09-27

bias? This is not bias, is called obsession.

Reply Score: 4

Comment by Icaria
by Icaria on Tue 25th Oct 2011 04:29 UTC
Icaria
Member since:
2010-06-19

Bias is less the issue than the unnecessary leading you do in a fair amount of your writing. All you need to do is separate your reporting from your analysis and opinion, if only by a paragraph. It's simply a matter of giving your readers a clean-room environment to develop their own opinions before burdening them with your interpretation of the story. Granted, OSNews has it's share of low-hanging fruit but just give your audience a little more credit.

Reply Score: 2

keep up the good work
by weebnuts on Tue 25th Oct 2011 05:12 UTC
weebnuts
Member since:
2011-05-11

Thom, keep up the good work. I wish I had the time and dedication to help you out, but I'm lazy and am busy enough! Anyways, thanks for making this a great site and I will continue to come back even though your love for Fiona Apple is a little weird (though I do have one of her albums)!

Reply Score: 2

Reporting Bias
by Alfman on Tue 25th Oct 2011 05:36 UTC
Alfman
Member since:
2011-01-28

It's natural for all people, including reporters, to be biased. I think it's ok here because people can debate it in the open. What I hate is when reporters publish a biased article masquerading as being unbiased or using straw man style objectivity - that is a major turn off for me but here Thom doesn't do that IMO.

I suggested an "our view, their view" format many months ago, which could help against biased reporting?

As for the choice of topics, patent lawsuits may be tiresome, but there is no denying that they are significant for today and the future. They deserve to stay on the radar. I think the gradual shift we're seeing to DRM crippled platforms deserves to stay on the radar too.

I'd really like more original & technical material where I could hone my CS skills. However that niche content would be much more difficult to find/write, and would probably alienate a significant portion of other visitors.

Reply Score: 2

the problem
by kristoph on Tue 25th Oct 2011 06:32 UTC
kristoph
Member since:
2006-01-01

The main problem with OSNews today is not that you are biased. It's fine to be biased / have an opinion.

The problem I have with many of your posts is that you simply pick and choose some random article that supports your position on an issue, you wrap it in vitriol, and you present it as fact and any counter argument is met with abject hostility.

You also make no effort to show ANY respect to any opposing opinions, you frequently denigrate other journalists and bloggers, and you make personal attacks against your readers in response to perfectly legitimate comments.

It's totally ok to be biassed and have strong opinions on issues. It's really not ok to call anyone who disagrees with you and idiot / fanatic / liar or whatever. That's really very much beneath you.

]{

Reply Score: 2

RE: the problem
by Thom_Holwerda on Tue 25th Oct 2011 09:20 UTC in reply to "the problem"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

The problem I have with many of your posts is that you simply pick and choose some random article that supports your position on an issue, you wrap it in vitriol, and you present it as fact and any counter argument is met with abject hostility.

You also make no effort to show ANY respect to any opposing opinions, you frequently denigrate other journalists and bloggers, and you make personal attacks against your readers in response to perfectly legitimate comments.


This is, of course, provably nonsense. If I really were as hostile and evil as you make it out to be, OSNews wouldn't be filled to the brim with people who disagree with me.

If someone's an Apple fanatic, I see absolutely zero reason not to simply say so. There's nothing wrong about being called a 'fanatic' - it's not a negative label at all. It just means you're enthusiastic about something, a fan of something. You can call me a Metro fanatic or BeOS fanatic or Windows NT fanatic or microkernel fanatic every time of the day. I don't care.

I also don't think someone like lemur2 would object to being labelled a KDE or open source fanatic - it's a very apt description of the kinds of views that he holds. It's not a negative judgement at all. It seems like only a small number of Apple fanatics take issue with being labelled fanatics - well, that's your problem, not mine.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: the problem
by saynte on Tue 25th Oct 2011 17:19 UTC in reply to "RE: the problem"
saynte Member since:
2007-12-10

Fanatic can have a fairly negative connotation, namely that you disregard reason in support of something. Perhaps you were not aware of this common interpretation of the term?

So no, I'm afraid fanatic can very very easily be a negative label.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: the problem
by MOS6510 on Tue 25th Oct 2011 18:31 UTC in reply to "RE: the problem"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

It's not the name calling, like Apple fanatic/fanboy, but it's you disregarding any arguments and disrespecting the person because he/she is labeled a fanatic/fanboy by you.

And it's not the OSNews readers, it's also other bloggers, journalists, sites and companies that get labeled, biased, insulted and disregarded.

You can have your bias and preferences, but you can have and express those without the direct insults or indirect jabs at others, sometimes when these other parties not even have any relation to the article you have written or news event you linked.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: the problem
by Thom_Holwerda on Tue 25th Oct 2011 18:56 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: the problem"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

It's not the name calling, like Apple fanatic/fanboy, but it's you disregarding any arguments and disrespecting the person because he/she is labeled a fanatic/fanboy by you.

And it's not the OSNews readers, it's also other bloggers, journalists, sites and companies that get labeled, biased, insulted and disregarded.


Examples?

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: the problem
by MOS6510 on Tue 25th Oct 2011 19:00 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: the problem"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

You can find a number here:

http://www.osnews.com/

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: the problem
by Thom_Holwerda on Tue 25th Oct 2011 19:02 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: the problem"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

You can find a number here:

http://www.osnews.com/


So you don't have any examples. Awesome ;) .

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: the problem
by MOS6510 on Tue 25th Oct 2011 19:17 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: the problem"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

I can spend time making a list, but I doubt it would make you see the light. Over the years I have seen many requests fot examples, always were they waived off. We have had a couple of arguments, most regarding what you want examples of.

Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems others in this same comments section have this impression of you.

I read a lot of news on a number of sites and you're the only one that gives me this impression.

You are a good writer, you do a lot of work, all of us enjoy this site (despite your dark side). When we say what can be improved it's not us having fun attacking you, it's our love for this site.

Please be biased toward BeOS or NT, tell us, make us curious, spread the positive vibes, but don't be so negative about things you don't like or people who don't share your opinion.

Reply Score: 1

RE[7]: the problem
by Thom_Holwerda on Tue 25th Oct 2011 19:22 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: the problem"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

I can spend time making a list, but I doubt it would make you see the light. Over the years I have seen many requests fot examples, always were they waived off. We have had a couple of arguments, most regarding what you want examples of.


Link to those then. I'm honestly curious, because I don't recall any of this. I'd love to know what I'm doing wrong - however, just stating I'm doing something wrong, without citing any relevant examples it not doing anybody any good.

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: the problem
by Alfman on Tue 25th Oct 2011 21:50 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: the problem"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

MOS6510,

"Please be biased toward BeOS or NT, tell us, make us curious, spread the positive vibes, but don't be so negative about things you don't like or people who don't share your opinion."

I think that's good advice. As you must know though, it's sometimes incredibly difficult to be balanced in the presence of certain posters who are so far biased that there is no possibility of reasoning with them.

Many other sites are moderated, and frankly that will always help maintain the appearance of balance even if it's not genuinely there.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: the problem
by jaimzob on Tue 25th Oct 2011 18:57 UTC in reply to "RE: the problem"
jaimzob Member since:
2011-08-19

"
You also make no effort to show ANY respect to any opposing opinions, you frequently denigrate other journalists and bloggers, and you make personal attacks against your readers in response to perfectly legitimate comments.


This is, of course, provably nonsense.
"

Except you've just proven that guy right in six words with your childishly snippy response. Could you really not have thought of a better way of phrasing that?

Reply Score: 0

RE[3]: the problem
by Thom_Holwerda on Tue 25th Oct 2011 18:58 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: the problem"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Except you've just proven that guy right in six words with your childishly snippy response. Could you really not have thought of a better way of phrasing that?


There's an entire comment below that snippet - you saw that right?

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: the problem
by jaimzob on Tue 25th Oct 2011 19:05 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: the problem"
jaimzob Member since:
2011-08-19

"Except you've just proven that guy right in six words with your childishly snippy response. Could you really not have thought of a better way of phrasing that?


There's an entire comment below that snippet - you saw that right?
"

Too late. The tone is set by the first sentence and the comment doesn't recover from it. If you think you have an intelligent point then you have to write with intelligence - don't give in to the urge to bicker with your readers.

Reply Score: 0

RE[5]: the problem
by Thom_Holwerda on Tue 25th Oct 2011 19:07 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: the problem"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

What? Saying something is provably nonsense, only to then expand on it is now considered a bad thing?

I'm sorry, but that doesn't make any sense.

Reply Score: 1

RE[6]: the problem
by jaimzob on Tue 25th Oct 2011 19:21 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: the problem"
jaimzob Member since:
2011-08-19

What? Saying something is provably nonsense, only to then expand on it is now considered a bad thing?

I'm sorry, but that doesn't make any sense.


It's the confrontational tone that's the bad thing. If you think something is "provable nonsense" then prove it, or better still rise above the comment by ignoring it (maybe someone else will prove it in your defence). Or write your comment without that first sentence - which I'm sure would have occurred to you if you read over the comment before posting.

Reply Score: 0

RE[7]: the problem
by Thom_Holwerda on Tue 25th Oct 2011 19:24 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: the problem"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

It's the confrontational tone that's the bad thing. If you think something is "provable nonsense" then prove it, or better still rise above the comment by ignoring it (maybe someone else will prove it in your defence). Or write your comment without that first sentence - which I'm sure would have occurred to you if you read over the comment before posting.


I'm sorry, but this makes very little sense to me. I say something is provably nonsense, and then give said proof in the same comment (whether you agree with that proof is a different matter) - and somehow, that's confrontational? What am I supposed to do, add a smiley?

Or wait, is this comment confrontational as well?

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: the problem
by BeamishBoy on Fri 28th Oct 2011 18:22 UTC in reply to "RE: the problem"
BeamishBoy Member since:
2010-10-27

There's nothing wrong about being called a 'fanatic' - it's not a negative label at all.


I know you're Dutch Thom, so you can be forgiven for this, but it's simply not true. In the English-speaking world "fanatic" almost always has a negative connotation.

(Indeed, it's not just in English that this is true. The Latin root of fanatic is fanaticus, meaning "insane person.")

Reply Score: 1

Comment by Gone fishing
by Gone fishing on Tue 25th Oct 2011 07:37 UTC
Gone fishing
Member since:
2006-02-22

I think the question is not one of whether we are biased but one of are we being objective? – is objectivity possible?

I am assuming that journalism is about producing an understanding of the world?

I would take the position that objectivity is problematic but not impossible. It is evident that our understanding of the world cannot come from simply observing the world. Rather our ideas about the world - our ideas our biases direct the observations that we make. This makes the connection between our ideas about the world and the way the world as it truly is tenuous. However I believe (and I consider this is not unwarranted) that it is possible to empirically understand the world, even if this understanding is tentative and fallible. Our ability to understand the world is cumulative and comes from the meshing of many pieces of evidence, which helps us build a complete picture or model of the world.

The problem comes when love or reify our ides so that in a conflict between observations of reality and our ideas we reject reality and cling to our ideas. At this point objectivity is gone all we have left is baseless ideology.

So the question is Thom is your bias used to form a position that helps you construct a coherent model of the world? or simply an ideological position that you would take whatever the evidence supported?

Reply Score: 2

What?! unicorns don't exist???
by adinas on Tue 25th Oct 2011 11:27 UTC
adinas
Member since:
2005-08-17

:(

Reply Score: 1

There is also this thing called LOGIC.
by axilmar on Tue 25th Oct 2011 11:31 UTC
axilmar
Member since:
2006-03-20

If our bias forbids us from reaching a conclusion, we can use logic to do it.

We can put the different approaches down, count their advantages and disadvantages, and select the one that is most beneficial to most people.

Reply Score: 2

Well, not so fast
by Tractor on Tue 25th Oct 2011 11:33 UTC
Tractor
Member since:
2006-08-18

The famous "everybody is biased" shouldn't be branded as an excuse to become as much biaised as one see fit.
"Nothing is perfect", yes, is that reason enough to be as worst as possible ? That's just too easy as an excuse.

Everybody know that there is no white, there is no black, but there are a lot of different greys. Are they all the same grey then ? Certainly not. I can see a difference between light grey and dark grey.

No-one is perfectly "impartial", but trying to be unbiased "as much as possible" gives credit to one's comment. A fully biased report, on the other hand, has simply zero value. It is even detrimental to the thesis being defended.

Reply Score: 2

From my point of view
by bowkota on Tue 25th Oct 2011 11:50 UTC
bowkota
Member since:
2011-10-12

I had been a long time reader however I stopped (and I now visit on occasion) mainly because of the deteriorating quality of the articles. This has mainly to do with the notion of bias and objectiveness that you addressed but also the tone and the style of the articles in the recent years.

In essence, I was expecting more of the style of AllThingsD, Arstechnica, Anandtech(more tech related but still) and less Gizmodo. I know, relating you to Gizmodo is a pretty big insult, but I feel that this is where it's heading to.

This is just my input; hope you'll find it useful.

Reply Score: 2

RE: From my point of view
by Thom_Holwerda on Tue 25th Oct 2011 11:53 UTC in reply to "From my point of view"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

I was expecting more of the style of AllThingsD, Arstechnica, Anandtech


If we have their kind of cash and personell, then we'll try.

As long as I'm doing this on my own with limited funds - sorry. Can't offer anything like that ;) .

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: From my point of view
by bowkota on Tue 25th Oct 2011 12:02 UTC in reply to "RE: From my point of view"
bowkota Member since:
2011-10-12

" I was expecting more of the style of AllThingsD, Arstechnica, Anandtech


If we have their kind of cash and personell, then we'll try.

As long as I'm doing this on my own with limited funds - sorry. Can't offer anything like that ;) .
"

I was referring to the quality and the style/tone of the content and not the quantity.


Take a random pick of articles from the sites named and you'll see a pattern.

I think you should also take it as a complement, as I consider that you have the capacity to produce content on the same level of the more respected sites, rather than the garbage that comes out of the likes of Gizmodo.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: From my point of view
by Thom_Holwerda on Tue 25th Oct 2011 14:09 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: From my point of view"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Your point is valid, but I think you misunderstand how, say, Ars Technica works.

First, Ars Technica is owned by a large company. They have loads of money, and because of this, they retain a large staff of writers. This in turn allows specific people to focus on specific subjects, thus becoming knowledgeable in said subjects (Ars also hires people specifically because of their knowledge). So, they have two people (at least) covering nothing but Apple. They have one guy doing nothing but Microsoft. They have one guy doing nothing but open source/Linux related stuff.

On top of that, they have the money to hire several 3rd party writers to write top-notch stuff. Since Ars' parent company also owns Wired, articles by Wires also appear on Ars, further increasing the site's workforce.

We have nothing of the sort. I have to do everything, and thus, I have to be a jack of all trades, master of none - and I get blasted when I make some obscure mistake in some obscure topic somewhere. Or, I get complains when we don't cover topic Xyz as in-depth as Ars does.

The comparison simply isn't fair.

I'd *love* for OSNews to have the kind of financial resources Ars has, so we could hire additional writers and editors, so I wouldn't have to cover such an immense variety of topics. In fact, and I'm not being arrogant here (well okay, a little bit), but there aren't a whole lot of people capable of covering the wide variety of topics OSNews covers, day in, day out the way that I do. I've been doing this for over six years now, and I'm still learning.

If we had that kind of money, we would be able to have specific writers capable of focussing on specific topics. We'd have a wide variety of opinions plastered over the front page, more items, which would be moe in-depth because the writers in question would only have to focus on one topic.

In the meantime, I would be able to focus on my own preferred topics, and just become one of several writers. Of course, I'd also want to be the one managing the site's news stream as a whole (David does the actual management), simply because of my experience.

I'd love for OSNews to be like that. In fact, as you can discern from the detail in which I describe it, it's somewhat of a dream of mine. However, money don't grow on trees, advertising dun make you rich, and as such, we'll just have to make do.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: From my point of view
by bowkota on Tue 25th Oct 2011 19:05 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: From my point of view"
bowkota Member since:
2011-10-12

I think we both understand each others' views and I'll give you credit for writing this article even though you didn't really have to.

There's plenty of Google/MS/Apple fans out there right now so you'll always get some backlash depending on what you write.

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: From my point of view
by Thom_Holwerda on Tue 25th Oct 2011 19:10 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: From my point of view"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

I think we both understand each others' views and I'll give you credit for writing this article even though you didn't really have to.


Exactly - in fact, I think we agree with one another. We're both saying OSNews needs more depth - and there's no denying that's the case. There's a limited number of topics I can offer this depth on, but of course, OSNews would benefit greatly from more writers with more intimate knowledge on a wide variety of topics. Sadly, writers don't grow on trees - and writers willing to put up with public scrutiny like you get here on OSN are even less easy to find.

There's plenty of Google/MS/Apple fans out there right now so you'll always get some backlash depending on what you write.


Definitely true. It's just the way things are.

Reply Score: 1

Comment by Luminair
by Luminair on Tue 25th Oct 2011 12:40 UTC
Luminair
Member since:
2007-03-30

our little thom is growing up

his news site (which is now a blog) will soon be an activism platform for the new age! viva la technologique!

Reply Score: 3

The biased leading the Biased
by fretinator on Tue 25th Oct 2011 16:24 UTC
fretinator
Member since:
2005-07-06

I don't think the problem is bias as much as it is blindness. A biased person leans towards one conclusion, preference, ideal, etc.

However, a blind person cannot see anything but facts and articles that support the bias. I would use the example of Rush Limbaugh (and much of FNN). Every story, every fact, every EVERYTHING must support his bias. If Obama goes to war, he is a secret totalitarian. If he doesn't go to war, he is weak. There are no other facts for Limbaugh. Every issue is defined in terms of convervative rightness and liberal wrongness. If any in formation is found that is contrary, it is flatly ignored or "re-engineered" to now support his cause. I would say the same of Keith Olberman.

On the other hand, CNN is an example of a false state of being unbiased. They try to approach every issue in such as way that all opinions, ideas, facts are equal. I am sure there are times when they hear a total whopper from someone like Michelle Bachman and must be tempted to say, "Madam, you are crazy".

In conclusion, we are have biases, and we should be open about them. However, try to avoid blindness, where information we don't like is simply ignored.

And as for you, Thom - Mega Dittos!

Reply Score: 2

Nth_Man
Member since:
2010-05-16

> It's also pretty clear I have a bias against KDE4,
> because despite my best efforts - different hardware
> configurations, distributions, drivers, versions, and
> so on - I never got it to work without sluggish Kwin
> performance and continuous crashing.

At least, it isn't "continuous crashing".
If you want to try it, I published a VirtualBox disk image of Kubuntu 11.04 i386 Desktop, stable version in
http://torrentbox.com/torrent_details?id=1476261

Reply Score: 1

Am I biased?
by IanDumych on Thu 27th Oct 2011 22:47 UTC
IanDumych
Member since:
2009-02-02

I think that Thom is generally a moron and that he's made OSNews into his own personal blog, does that make me biased?

Reply Score: 1

Comment by Tuishimi
by Tuishimi on Fri 28th Oct 2011 15:59 UTC
Tuishimi
Member since:
2005-07-06

What a biased piece on bias.

Reply Score: 2