A Statement Regarding OSNews’ Bias

Hello all. Over time we have had every imaginable claim of bias levied against us. We are routinely called pro-Apple, anti-Apple as well as pro-Microsoft and anti-Microsoft (even within the same discussion thread!). OSNews is an editorial site where the content is selected by a core team of volunteers who either write up news articles themselves, or take links or submissions from users on the site. Read More for the full statement.

Volunteering editors, our users and the submissions we receive are all free agents who are part of OSNews because of a personal interest in technology. I will in no way attempt to claim that any one of these is completely unbiased and impartial. In fact, our editors are well known in the community for participating in the discussion threads and speaking their own mind freely; that is just one of the things that makes OSNews’ community interesting and varied–the editors do not hide their opinion behind the facade of the site.

Whilst each editor will be biased toward his or her likes and dislikes as everybody has (there exists no such thing as an unbiased person), OSNews itself (the entity) aims to represent all of the differing views of the community by being a publishing platform for these views. It is this diversity of views that we are attracted to, and if one day we publish an article that praises one technology and the next day we receive a rebuttal pointing out the flaws of said technology, then we will have no problem or internal conflict publishing both (given that they meet basic writing guidelines).

I, Kroc Camen, am an opponent of Adobe Flash, but I do not have any hesitation to publish articles we would receive that extol the virtues of Flash and all the new developments occurring in the technology. I, as an editor, am looking for good topics of discussion on the site that go into technical nitty-gritty that we all like so much.

OSNews is as biased as the indirect number of people publishing on it. The more people who contribute, the wider the collection of skillsets and technology get represented and that is a healthy place for a community to be, rather than a community that pats itself on the back all the time.

We have said on many occasions before that the quality of comments on OSNews is above par on the Internet. Other major sites have had recent spats with out of control bad comments, and we can only be perplexed at this. For that we offer you our thanks and suggest that you do pat yourselves on the back. Our database goes back to 2001 (the site itself to 1997) and in the half a million comments that have been made in over 20’000 articles, not once has anybody ever said “First!” or “First post!” (although I now expect that record to be broken within seconds of publishing this :P).

A lack of bias isn’t what leads to a good community or level of discussion. It is the coalition of people who are united in the interest of diverse technologies beyond even their own particular area of expertise. In that context, discussing Microsoft and Apple is positively boring. We would far rather be biased towards something niche and interesting like OS/2, RISC OS or even QNX!

Now, I will get to the point:

There has been much news this year and right into this week of the ongoing HTML5, H264, Ogg Theora and patent clusterfudge. I won’t recap, but it is a hotly debated set of topics with a lot at stake. OSNews’ stance has generally been that H264 is a Bad Thingâ„¢ and that is because if there is one thing that OSNews must be biased towards, that is interoperability.

We have regular users of the site on BeOS/Haiku, Amiga OS, RISC OS and a myriad of niche platforms and browsers. We want all users to be able to participate on the site and access our content.

Since any open-source / unlicenced H264 codec (e.g. x264) cannot be installed legally on Linux in the U.S. (and other likely soon-to-be-participating nations) as well as the nature of a proprietary and closed format restricting the types of platforms and devices it is available on, it represents a roadblock of interoperability for the very platforms that we are proud to serve. If H264 video is to be a de-facto standard on the web and OSNews wants to publish video content, then our hand is forced to use a format that is not accessible to the very technologies we are reporting about. Come 2016, the cost of H.264 will be prohibitively expensive for OSNews and we would in no way want users to have to pay for this cost first before any money was spent on improving the site itself. We would much prefer to be compensating our contributors than paying for the simple right to publish video.

We are not opposed to proprietary and closed technologies. We report on numerous operating systems and technologies, both open and closed. We believe that all systems, both open and closed, should be able to participate together without unnecessary hurdles to interoperability because as we have seen in over 12 years since OSNews was founded, the technology landscape continually changes and the next world-changing technology will more than likely come from a periphery than from the already established market-leader.

The editors believe that the spearheading of H264 into HTML5 is a joint attempt by the MPEG-LA, Microsoft and Apple to prevent new business models and competitors from arising around video through the use of a patent minefield, Fear Uncertainty and Doubt (such as the continuing 10-years of threats against Theora with no proof provided), and strong arming their technology into a dominating position with no provision of free alternatives (IE9 / iPhone OS). These companies do not want any innovation happening unless a) they are doing it, or b) they are getting paid for it.

We are open to publishing alternative viewpoints on this matter.

I have decided to write this article today to clarify OSNews’ position on the matters of which we report and also as praise of our community for making OSNews what it is.

Kroc Camen



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