posted by Alan Fisher on Tue 8th Apr 2003 06:33 UTC
IconI'm going to warn you now - this editorial is as much rant as anything else, you have been warned! One of the things that really bugs me in the comments often found in articles is the "my OS can do this better/bst" type stuff, it's not just Windows or Linux Users, it comes from a lot of camps. And puts me in mind of Usenet at times it gets so bad.

Editorial Notice: All opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of

My first attempt at this whole Editorial was, well quite frankly laughable, it was too short, didn't explore the subject enough and was flawed in more ways than was pointed out to me. (thanks Eugenia for being as polite as you did).

One of the points that was raised was this should be a more scientific article than its original creation. But I asked myself, how can one be trully scientific about something as unscientific as personal preference, that is a tough nut to crack, but being scientific about peoples reactions in these forums, that is I think less of a challenge so I'll take that on first I think. :)

When I sat down and thought about this, I came to the initial conclusion that many people in attacking others choices was simply a defence mechanism for protecting their investment, often these would be in the form of outright attacks, whilst at the same time more thought out discussions were seemingly based on greater understanding of the subject matter.. I started to look for websites and usenet articles about this aspect of computer user behavior, initially I found information a tad thin on the ground, but then again, I often find this when initially searching out for a specific or speciallist item or peice of information. But as is often the case, the internet holds many jewels deeply hidden, just waiting for someone to come searching for them... funily enough it was on IRC.

Of the forty or so people I asked the question to, quite a few simply disliking change and not liking others having a go at them for their choice. Some pointed out that certain groups of particular OS users simply irritated them to the point where they would never be seen dead using that OS, this was often the case from windows users regarding some of the more... ahem vocal linux users and vice versa. Most people didn't know what BeOS was but admitted that they'd be interested in learning more about it. Those that did know about it were either users or ex users.... And the Ex users brought up another point to all of this - some simply had fond memories for what was for them a "dead" OS, whilst others did nothing but rip it to pieces, this is true also of Ex Amiga users that I asked. I think that some of it is because the remaining supporters sometimes don't give the users who are leaving the platform an easy time, in point of fact I have been branded a "Traitor" for having left the Amiga myself.

I found it interesting reading usenet groups of various OS help groups, it gave me a feel for how each group in general deals with new users. In general all of the major and most of the minor (I have not looked into every OS out there so I won't say All of the minor) groups were helpful and welcoming. There were idiots in all of these groups who did nothing but point and laugh but you get that no matter where you go or what you do. I found sometimes that the Linux usergroups were often better at catering to established users, sometimes dismisive of new users to the point where the new user stopped posting. I've also noticed this much more in forums where OS's of differing natures (such as OS news) meet. Linux wants to be the "next big thing" and take over the desktop market, great, I wish it well, but quite frankly it isn't designed for people with no experience of operating systems and some of its vocal supporters make it very clear that if you aren't a guru, then don't use Linux. Windows tends to be more trivial than most of the other OS's with regard the problems that are put forward, "my driver stopped working" "my hard disk is b0rked" etc.

Table of contents
  1. "Psychology of an OS Zealot, Part I"
  2. "Psychology of an OS Zealot, Part II"
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