Where is there an end of it? | No one supports ISO ODF today?

No one supports ISO ODF today?

IBM employee and ODF TC co-chair Rob Weir’s latest blog entry seeks to rebut what he terms a “disinformation campaign being waged against ODF”. The writing is curiously disjointed, and while at first I thought Rob’s famously fluent pen had been constipated by his distaste at having to descend further into the ad hominem gutter, on closer inspection I think it is perhaps a tell of Rob’s discomfort about his own past statements.

In particular, Rob takes issue with a statement that he condemns as “Microsoft FUD […] laundered via intermediaries”:

There is no software that currently implements ODF as approved by the ISO

Now Rob Weir is a great blogger, a much-praised committee chair, and somebody who can, on occasion, fearlessly produce the blunt truth like a rabbit from a hat. For this reason, I know his blog entry, “Toy Soldiers” of July 2008 has enjoyed quite some exposure in standards meetings around the world, most particularly for its assertions about ODF. He wrote:

  1. No one supports ODF 1.0 today. All of the major vendors have moved on to ODF 1.1, and will be moving on to ODF 1.2 soon.
  2. No one supports OOXML 1.0 today, not even Microsoft.
  3. No one supports interoperability via translation, not Sun in their Plugin, not Novell in their OOXML support, and not Microsoft in their announced ODF support in Office 2007 SP2.

While the anti-MS line here represents the kind of robust corporate knockabout stuff we might expect, it is Rob’s statement that “no one supports ODF 1.0 today. All of the major vendors have moved on […]” which has particularly resonated for users. A pronouncement on adoption from a committee chair about his own committee’s standard is significant. And naturally, it has deeply concerned some of the National Bodies who have adopted ODF 1.0 (which is ISO/IEC 26300) as a National standard, and who now find they have adopted something which, apparently, “no one supports”.

So, far from being “Microsoft FUD”, the idea that “No one supports ODF 1.0” is in fact Rob Weir’s own statement. And it was taken up and repeated by Andy Updegrove, Groklaw and Boycott Novell, those well-known vehicles of Microsoft’s corporate will.

Today however, this appears to have become an inconvenient truth. The rabbit that was pulled out of the hat in the interest of last summer’s spin, now needs to be put into the boiler. Consequently we find Rob’s blog entry of July 2008 has been silently amended so that it now states:

  1. Few applications today support exclusively ODF 1.0 and only ODF 1.0. Most of the major vendors also support ODF 1.1, one (OpenOffice 3.x), now supports draft ODF 1.2 as well.
  2. No one supports OOXML 1.0 today, not even Microsoft.
  3. No one supports interoperability via translation, not Sun in their Plugin, not Novell in their OOXML support, and not Microsoft in their announced ODF support in Office 2007 SP2.

The pertinent change is to item 1 on this list, which now has a weasel-worded (and tellingly tautological) assertion that might make the unsuspecting reader think that ODF 1.0 was somehow supported by the major vendors. Well, is it? Who is right, the Rob Weir of 2008 or the Rob Weir of 2009? Maybe I’ve missed something, but personally I’m unaware of an upsurge in ODF 1.0 support during the last 11 months. My money is on the former Rob being right here.

Okay, I use 1.1.5 (despite its Secunia level 4 advisory) out of a kind of loyalty to ISO/IEC 26300 (ODF 1.0), but I’m often teased about being the only person on the planet who must be doing this, and onlookers wonder what the .swx (etc) files I produce really are.

Blog Etiquette

As a general rule, when making substantive retrospective changes to blog entries, especially controversial blog entries, it is honest dealing to draw attention to this by striking-through removed text and prominently labelling the new text as “updated”. Failing to do this can lead to the suspicion that an attempt to re-write history is underway …

Comments (69) -

  • Jesper Lund Stocholm

    6/10/2009 8:14:39 PM |

    Hi Alex,

    Okay, I use 1.1.5 (despite its Secunia level 4 advisory) out of a kind of loyalty to ISO/IEC 26300 (ODF 1.0)
    How do you know that OOo 1.1.5 uses IS26300? The namespace declarations in the files in the SXW-packages are OOo-namespaces and not the ones found in IS26300. Did you do your pipe line test for these files as well?

    (hoping email notification works ...)

  • Alex

    6/10/2009 8:19:37 PM |


    Eeek, no I assumed at least early OO.o implementations used ODF 1.0 -- and I haven't validated them either.

    Oh well :-(

    So is there anything around which uses ISO/IEC 26300?

    - Alex.

  • Jesper Lund Stocholm

    6/10/2009 8:32:56 PM |


    Well, I haven't validated them either - I just noticed the OOo-namespaces in the XML-files.

    If I get the time for it, I'll try to set up Java on my ubuntu (Hanky panky ed.) and redo your pipeline test for the SXW-files as well. I would imagine they validate just fine.

    (unless someone beats me to it, of course)

  • Rob Weir

    6/10/2009 8:41:40 PM |

    Alex, the point is that (to my knowledge) all major ODF applications are perfectly happy to read ODF 1.0 documents.  Thus, they are conformant ODF Consumers.  Some applications even write out ODF documents declared to be ODF 1.0, such as Google Docs.  Also, anyone can freely download applications, such as earlier versions of OpenOffice, which write out ODF 1.0 by default.  

    As we all know, "support" means different things to different people, and as that word has been more and more frequently used in Microsoft FUD campaigns to mean things beyond what I meant by its use, I changed the post to more precisely reflect the facts.  Nothing wrong with that,  Certainly these facts are not controversial.  Vendors have, for the most part, moved their active development to ODF 1.1 and draft ODF 1.2.  But that does not mean they do not support loading ODF 1.0 documents in their applications, nor that thee previous versions ceases to exist, or for that matter cease to be supported according to whatever support agreement they have with customers.  And then you have Google Docs and various toolkits that continue to target ODF 1.0.

    But how do you explain being quoted by the press saying that the ODF TC was ignoring defect reports and not maintaining ODF when we were actually actively and publicly working on a response on a mailing list which you subscribe to, and in fact had the draft out for public review, at the time you were quoted?

  • Doug Mahugh

    6/10/2009 9:20:32 PM |

    So ... you quietly edited the content of a past blog post because you felt a change was needed to align it better with Microsoft's use of the word "support."  That is (depending on what the meaning of the word "is" is, of course), rather amazing.

    Hey, speaking of making things up, feel free to respond to this when your schedule frees up a bit:

  • Rob Weir

    6/10/2009 9:48:06 PM |

    Doug, I did not align it to Microsoft's meaning.  I made it less ambiguous so it better stated my meaning and was less pliable to Microsoft's attempts to align it with their meaning.

    As to your other point on ZDNet, your proposals were not on the ballot at all, because you did not request them to be on the ballot, which was required for all proposals per the TC's decision on the December 8th meeting, a meeting which you attended. If you make a proposal but then decline to put the proposal up for a vote, then I would call that "withdrawing the proposal".  If you have a different preferred way to describe this fact, then feel free to use it. But if the facts are not in dispute, and we're just debating words, then you'll need to excuse me because I have more important things to do.  But as the story is being retold, it is coming out as "IBM and Sun voted down 15 Microsoft proposals" which absolutely untrue, however you look at it.

  • Doug Mahugh

    6/10/2009 10:17:39 PM |

    Rob, I agree that that quote you keep making up ("IBM and Sun voted down 15 Microsoft proposals"), which I have never said, is absolutely untrue.

    Regarding your claim that I "declined to put our proposals up for a vote," which you claim is tantamount to "withdrawing" our proposals, I'm still confused.  I provided a specific link in my comment on ZDNet, to the one and only email that I believe is relevant to this discussion -- is there anything else you can link to in support of your claim?

    I would agree if you were to say something like "Doug squandered his 5 votes on supporting proposals from IBM, Sun, Novell and others, rather than casting all of his votes for his own proposals."  It was our first participation in this process, and I was trying to be a good cooperative participant and show public support for the work that you and others had done.  But I still think all 15 of our proposals are quite worthwhile, and will help improve ODF interoperability if eventually included in a future version.

  • Rob Weir

    6/10/2009 10:50:40 PM |

    Doug, I have the link to the full history in my original blog post on the topic.  Re-read the minutes of the December 8th TC meeting (, in particular step #4. By not reiterating your proposals, you indicated that you did not want them voted on for ODF 1.2.  You had another chance when Michael, on December 11th, sent out a list of proposals that would be voted on ( asked anyone to speak up if a proposal was missing from that list.

    After reading the above links, do you disagree on the facts?

    Again, I have made no comment on the merits of your 15 proposals.  If they had come up for a vote I likely would have supported some of them, and they may have received support from others.  We'll look at them again for ODF-Next.  My main point is to counter some widespread misrepresentations of the TC's actions, in particular assertions that these proposals were voted down by IBM and Sun.

  • Benfrank

    6/11/2009 12:56:45 AM |

    I'm nowhere near being a great standards geek, nor even an erudite debater and insulter like you fine folks. I do know one very obvious fact: Microsoft has done everything in their power to subvert the standards process and ODF, and they lag far behind other software vendors in implementing good ODF support. It's disgraceful that a company of their size and resources can't do better. Are they incompetent or obstructive? Anyone who has paid attention over the years would likely vote for the latter, with a sizable contribution from the former.

    Ok you may return to your angels dancing on pinheads now.

  • Jim

    6/11/2009 3:01:41 AM |

    Your "standard" of strike-thru and replace is interesting. I often edit my blog entries, when I find out (either from myself or others) that I used the wrong word or was unclear in my meaning. Please cite your "standard", so I can follow it accurately.

  • Scott

    6/11/2009 3:36:56 AM |

    It amazes me that Microsoft and its supporters still believe they can say anything and do anything they want with impunity when there is a world-wide web of indelible links to information that shines a bright light directly on their motives and tactics. I still await the day when this company decides to compete on the merits of its products rather than avoiding it through disinformation, strong-arm tactics, and back room deals. Until then, Microsoft and its friends are just leeches.

  • Jesper Lund Stocholm

    6/11/2009 4:35:29 AM |


    Your "standard" of strike-thru and replace is interesting. (...) Please cite your "standard", so I can follow it accurately.

    It's "by convention". I'm sure Rob will be able to tell you what that means exactly.

  • Jakub Narębski

    6/11/2009 4:46:11 AM |

    For me mentioned changing old blog entry by Rob Weir looks like clarification of the issue. Not as substantial change.

  • Bernard

    6/11/2009 10:16:40 AM |


        do you have any idea how silly and petty your own blog entry is making you appear?  Based on your own account, it's quite obvious that you were taking Rob's words out of context.  If there were any doubt, your closing remarks about "Blog Etiquette" only makes this clearer. Please find some more substantial issue to comment on.

  • Alex

    6/11/2009 2:14:23 PM |

    @Bernard @Jakub

    The point is, of course, that Rob specifically called out this text as a particular example of "Microsoft FUD". But in fact it turns out the real origin of this so-called "FUD" was his own statement which had in turn found its way all over the blogosphere and into Wikipedia.

    The implication is that anybody who utters this "FUD" must be an anti-ODF campaigner, and agent of the enemy. Rob's own utterance of it is airbrushed out of history.

    At the time this statement was convenient, because it allowed Rob to rubbish the ISO interop work as being "between versions of the ODF and OOXML standards that no vendor is supporting". Now it is not convenient. In his mind it is both an IBM truth and a Microsoft FUD.


  • Rick Jelliffe

    6/11/2009 2:21:38 PM |

    Oh dear. I frequently reword blog entries without using <del> or <ins>, especially in the first day as the sense of the words overtakes my intended sense and the two need to be reconciled. Sometimes a reader comment forces a revision, so there needs to be appropriate text to say "These comments aren't crazy, they relate to the previous version."

    And I would certainly be free to make minor wordsmithing changes without using <del> or <ins>. And if there is information where I made a mistake which would only be compounded by drawing attention to it (for example, where someone has complained but not wanted a retraction), then I would delete the part or article without comment.

    I will tend to label whole sections [UPDATE] or use the comments, where there is any substantive change. The trouble is that the normal formatting of <ins> is too emphatic and distracting to be acceptable. Nevertheless, where there is a phrase change and the phrase is somehow key to the argument or sentence or narrative, using <ins> also serves as a kind of emphasis and so I think in that case using <ins> should be an easy choice.

    But I would not revise a blog entry where I have changed my mind on an issue. There is no shame in changing one's mind.

    It is also a matter of the kind of discourse: Rob writes polemic-- everyone knows that and knows that the point of any argument by him is to try to polarize opinion in order to market against MS. We have always been at war with Eastasia. You don't look for balance. So I don't see what you are on about, Alex. Indeed, why is it a problem if he rewrites history occasionally if he already make up much of the present?

    Given his vitriol, it is impossible for him to meet the same random standards he demands elsewhere, and just as unreasonable of us to demand it of him.

    To be slightly more serious, that Rob sometimes needs to revise some of his more absolute claims to make the more moderate seems something that we should encourage. If he does it long enough, he might also start to apply the same non-ranty moderation to his normal discourse. Think of it as aversion therapy.

    We all need to lighten up.

  • AlexH

    6/11/2009 3:51:40 PM |

    I have to say, I don't get the hoopla here. Pretty much everyone knows that ODF 1.0 was essentially dead soon after the start, because it was quickly (*in standards terms ;) replaced by ODF 1.1 which fixed some small but serious defects in the original. This is a _good thing_.

    The issue really comes down to the fact that ODF 1.0 is what ISO is stuck with, defects and all, and I guess that's what Rob is protesting so hard - that the ISO version is useful somehow with ODF 1.1 around.

    ODF 1.1 arrived in early 2007 - - yet it's mid-2009 and we don't have an ISO version of that or a later version, and one isn't even on the horizon. In fact, OASIS haven't standardised anything after that either.

    That's the disgrace. This noise about ODF being killed by Microsoft is simply a cover-up for the rather effective job that the OASIS TC is doing strangling its own child; ODF 1.2 is already well over a year behind which means OASIS will do well to ratify it this year (assuming it sails through public comment) and we won't have an ISO standard of it until mid-2010 earliest; 2011 realistically.

    Let's remember that ODF 1.0 was ratified as an ISO standard in May 2006. We're talking four years minimum for the next version.

  • Alex

    6/11/2009 4:09:31 PM |

    @Rick @AlexH

    Perhaps you're right: I should just take Rob for the glorious phenomenon he is Smile

    And re-focus ...

  • AlexH

    6/11/2009 6:11:06 PM |


    At the end of the day, technical comments on ODF from certain "names" just aren't welcome (in their blogs, at least).  Accept it, move on - if those people using it as a political football put half as much effort into their TC work, ODF 1.2 would have been a done deal by now.

    It's a shame, but the name-calling and personal attacks (from all sides, if we're being fair) make it basically a toxic topic for anyone else wanting to get involved. I don't know why an independent vendor would participate in any of the office document standards work.

  • Alex

    6/11/2009 8:40:41 PM |


    Hmmm. On the topic of OASIS's difficulties with ODF maintenance, I understood the OASIS Director of Standards has suggested there be a gentlemen's agreement that it was not productive to blog on this topic, and that we should all move on.

    However, since you insist on raising it again, and for the record, you should be aware that last September, 15 National Bodies (those of Brazil, Canada, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Denmark, Finland, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Norway, South Africa, UK, and the USA) all agreed the text of a liaison statement to OASIS that was strongly critical of its maintenance of ISO/IEC 26300. They urgently requested clarification "why the Project Editor cannot produce a response to Defect Reports within the two months stipulated by the JTC 1 Directives". They were, in other words unhappy that defect reports had been shelved, only to be responded to 7 months (in that case) after their due late.

    And, talking of shelved comments - what has become of Japan's second batch from September 2008?

  • John Lewis

    6/11/2009 9:06:30 PM |

    From an outsider's point of view it certainly looks that any "standard" that is several years behind actual usage is going to have limited credibility.

    I suppose questions need to be asked as to why this state of affairs exists. Is it because ISO itself isn't what it could be, or perhaps passing of a newer standard has been subverted by interested parties?

    Certainly prominent people involved are spending time and effort setting the record straight, time which would probably be better used getting ODF 1.2 through.

  • AlexH

    6/11/2009 9:50:09 PM |


    Standardising ODF isn't (initially, at least) anything to do with ISO; it's purely an OASIS matter, and in this case ISO don't have anything to work with because the ODF TC at OASIS hasn't output anything.

    ODF 1.2 cannot go through ISO until OASIS finish it. The questions you want answers to would be better directed at Rob Weir, then.

  • Scott

    6/11/2009 11:33:30 PM |

    It's a bit late for you to be striking a moderate tone. Most of the commentary about ODF here applies more so to OOXML. Where is the Microsoft implementation of
    that standard, let alone independent third party implementations? Where is there work being done on improving it, correcting it, etc? At least ODF can claim multiple implementations in the marketplace. At least work is being done on improving it and on correcting errors in the specification. The ODF TC at least made an effort to create a high-quality standard before submitting it to ISO. They didn't ram-rod a shoddy specification through ISO with false promises to correct it later as Microsoft did with OOXML.

  • Alex

    6/12/2009 12:04:36 AM |



    Details of the ongoing work on ISO/IEC 29500 can be found here:

    Some statistics about defect processing can be found here:

    If you think there is a big qualitative difference between these standards (as standards), then you obviously haven't studied them!

  • Alex

    6/12/2009 12:44:28 AM |


    Err, thanks - I think Smile

    Not sure what's more disturbing: that, or Doug Mahugh's Eurovision concept:

  • Scott

    6/12/2009 4:50:28 AM |

    @Alex: "If you think there is a big qualitative difference between these standards (as standards), then you obviously haven't studied them!"

    Yes I have studied them, and I have followed the whole OOXML story since Massachusetts declared their intention to accept ODF and PDF and to reject Microsoft's binary file formats, which ultimately led to them submitting OOXML to ECMA. MS's standard is not designed to be independently implementable. That was never their intention. Their intention was to create an XML implementation of their legacy Office binary file formats that would satisfy the document format requirements of large organizations such as the Executive Department of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, not to create a standard that competitors could use. That alone makes it a useless standard, except to the degree that it enables Microsoft to fool its customers into believing that an ISO certification satisfies their document format requirements for open standards.

    But it does not stop there. In several places references are made to the behavior of previous versions of MS Office and to proprietary code. Without access to the code being referenced, third parties cannot implement it. That is a qualitative difference between Microsoft's standard and ODF. And that is why today there are several implementations of ODF and none of OOXML.

    A standard that cannot be used is worthless by any measure.

  • Bernard

    6/12/2009 5:10:57 AM |

    @ Alex

    You continue to illustrate my point.

    I've read your article.  I've read Rob's article.
    Rob makes arguments. You make assertions.

    When people disagree with what you said, you mostly repeat the assertion.  When people disagree with what Rob said, he gives a reply that furthers his case.  Considering your respective positions  (both in the sense of arguments and in the sense of job/title), the case should be the other way around.  The fact that it isn't speaks volumes.

  • Paul E. Merrell, J.D. (Marbux)

    6/12/2009 5:22:30 AM |

    Just remembered an <a href="">earlier conversation</a> I had with Rob, where he said:

    "Well, say, hypothetically, that ODF 1.2 is approved by JTC1.  That doesn't
    help anyone who put down in permanent ink "our standard is ODF 1.0", but
    it does give something to use for those who are willing to wait the few
    extra years to have an ISO-approved version."

    The problem is that many governments have put down in ink "our standard is IS 26300 ODF," paying due obedience to requirements in the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade and Agreement on Government Procurement that governments specify international standards in their technical regulations and procurement technical specifications.

    Rob sees no problem with the fact (that he doesn't emphasize) that we don't have any major implementations that can *write* to IS 26300 ODF because governments have "something to use" until ODF 1.2 becomes an international standard. But that blinks past the very purpose of an international standard, to level the competitive playing field globally by governments standardizing on international standards rather than different standards. See e.g., <a href=" on Technical Barriers to Trade Article 2</a>, sections 2.2 and 2.4:

    "2.2 Members [nations and the E.U.] shall ensure that technical regulations are not prepared, adopted or applied with a view to or with the effect of creating unnecessary obstacles to international trade.  For this purpose, technical regulations shall not be more trade-restrictive than necessary to fulfil a legitimate objective, taking account of the risks non-fulfilment would create. "

    "2.4 Where technical regulations are required and relevant international standards exist or their completion is imminent, Members shall use them, or the relevant parts of them, as a basis for their technical regulations except when such international standards or relevant parts would be an ineffective or inappropriate means for the fulfilment of the legitimate objectives pursued, for instance because of fundamental climatic or geographical factors or fundamental technological problems."

    ODF vendors boycotting read/write support for the international standard reduces the entire treaty legal framework to a farce. Why bother to have international standards if vendors do not provide support for them? It is problematic that both IS 26300 and IS 29500 are orphan international standards.

    OASIS could have dealt with the problem by submitting the ODF 1.1 changes to ISO/IEC as amendments to IS 26300.  But it did not and thereby undermined the system of international standardization by leaving IS 26300 an orphan standard.  

    @Rick: I'd love to lighten up. But it's kind of hard to do so with IBM and its echo chamber out there incessantly painting the picture of "good guys" against "bad guys" rather than frankly discussing problems and the merits of their proposed technical and legal solutions.  The IBM echo chamber of course acts only as an impediment to the hard work of building quality standards by diverting attention from the need to repair ODF. They thereby earn exactly what they've got: non-interoperable implementations of grossly defective standards. I doubt there are many among them who even have an inkling of how desperately ODF is in need of repair. E.g., the ~ 7,192 mandatory interoperability requirements <a href="">that were stripped</a> from OASIS ODF 1.0 when IS 26300 was adopted.

    IBM's response: More mud-slinging rather than fixing what's really broken. I doubt that any of us who are actually working on improving the ODF standard in regard to interoperability will be given a chance to lighten up before IBM does.  

  • Paul E. Merrell, J.D. (Marbux)

    6/12/2009 6:55:10 AM |

    @ Rob Weir: Kudos for admitting that you silently changed what you had written. But please: [i] reveal precisely *when* you made that edit; and [ii] publish the entire Microsoft document that you quoted without attribution, the one that said, "There is no software that currently implements ODF as approved by the ISO", ; and [iii] edit your latter article to remove the allegation that Alex Brown was engaging in spreading Microsoft FUD for having repeated what, it turns out, you had said yourself and your attack on the quality of the Wikipedia article for having stated what you said yourself.
    Your admission kicks all legs out from under the specific charge you leveled at Alex and Wikipedia. Your readers deserve accurate information, but your admission appears only here, not on your own website where you made your relevant allegations, which was broadcast far and wide.  

    A failure to issue a retraction has the legal effect of ratifying the inaccuracy; i.e., not correcting your article would leave the impression that you are more concerned about the propaganda value of what you charged than you are with the truth. E.g., Grandstaff v. City of Borger, Tex., 767 F.2d 161, ___ (5th Cir.1985), cert. denied, 480 U.S. 916, 107 S.Ct. 1369, 94 L.Ed.2d 686 (1987).  para. 34-39 ([i] evidence of prior acts or omissions may prove a subsequent state of mind; and [ii] evidence of subsequent acts or omissions may prove a prior state of mind).  

    Retractions are de rigeur in both journalism and academic writing when errors are brought to the author or publisher's attention. While they may not undo the harm thus inflicted,  they are a social lubricant of a sort. Retractions evidence good faith; not retracting evidences something entirely different.

    You have a stark choice here: [i] to demonstrate that you are principled person; or [ii] to demonstrate that you are not.  

  • Anonymous Insider

    6/12/2009 8:46:24 AM |

    @ Rob Weir, you're a proud member of an elite group of people that are better described as Linux techno-troopers.

    Your other comrades are Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, Carla Schroder, and Pamela Jones. There are others but at least the members of your group have professions such as journalists and a paralegal.

    Your subordinates are simply called Linux pinheads.

    There are other more derogative names such as freetards, loons, etc. However, Linux pinhead is a name that mainstream computers users can better understand specially it they have seen O'Reilly at Fox.

    So Rob, I hope you enjoy your Linux techno-trooper label. Keep changing your blog to better serve your agenda.

  • Rob Weir

    6/12/2009 10:11:38 AM |


    I do not have a record of when I changed that blog post.  It was a long time ago, back in 2008, much closer to the original date of that post.  But you should know that that this is a red herring and that you and everyone else is being taken for a ride here.  

    I ask you, where has Alex actually said that he relied on the quoted blog post to argue that no one supported ODF 1.0? Where on his blog or on wikipedia did he make that reference?  Although he has certainly invited that interpretation in the present post, you can't really point anything, can you?  He is just blowing smoke in your eyes. If you look at my original post ('Lies and Whispers') I talk about a citation on Wikipedia to where to Alex claimed that there was no ODF 1.0 support.  Although that citation is not currently in the wikipedia article, the link that once was present pointed to Alex's blog post of April 30th 2008 ('ODF 1.0 and a conformance smoke test').  My blog post was originally written on July 16th 2008.  So Alex's blog post (which the reader has been lead to believe I inspired) was written a full three months before I wrote the blog post he quotes now.  

    So how exactly did my blog post influence something that Alex wrote three months earlier?  

    Again, Alex never claimed that there was any influence.  He merely presents disjointed facts and lures the reader to connect them.  This is a deceptive and deplorable practice.

  • Rob Weir

    6/12/2009 10:30:03 AM |

    Alex, if you wish to invoke a "gentlemen's agreement" regarding speaking on ODF maintenance, then I'd ask you to publicly retract the erroneous statements you've made to the press in this regard, knowing that your earlier false statements are even today still being propagated by Microsoft to national standards committees, whose need for accurate information should be your paramount concern as an SC34 officer, even if my personal concerns are low on your list of priorities.  You have the unique opportunity now to prove wrong my assertion, and the widespread belief, that you are a Microsoft lackey.  


  • Paul E. Merrell, J.D. (Marbux)

    6/12/2009 1:11:51 PM |

    @Rob Weir: Fair is fair. Thank you for pointing out the publication date issue. I will correct a statement I made that indicated you were the source of Alex's  information. However, I believe you still owe Alex and Wikipedia a retraction on your blog for the following reasons:

    1. It is a fact that there are no full-featured implementations of IS 26300 that can write to that format.  You and I have that discussed that before and you know this fact is true.

    2. Skipping the analysis that gets us there, your relevant smearing of Alex with the Microsoftie paint brush devolves to the meaning of the word "support."

    3. The governments that have specified IS 26300 as their standard have specified it for both read and write support purposes.

    4. The vendors of the full-featured ODF editors including your company have provided only read support for IS 26300.

    5. It is not unreasonable under the circumstances to regard IS 26300 as an orphan standard; the ability to read IS 26300 documents is fairly useless in terms of compliance with relevant national standards, technical regulations, and procurement specifications absent the ability to write documents to IS 26300 formats.

    6. It is also not unreasonable under those circumstances to state that IS 26300 has no supporting software; you said it yourself.

    7. One may quibble whether the fact that the lightweight Google Docs or a no-longer supported version of means there is "support" for IS 26300; but that ignores the market requirement for full-featured, currently supported implementations. E.g., European governments quite specifically stated at the 2007 Open Document Exchange Formats Workshop, "No incomplete implementations, no proprietary extensions."

    8. Your position boils down to the proverbial counting the number of angels dancing on the head of a pin. Certainly it was an insufficient basis to support a smear of both Alex and Wikipedia as being Microsoft-tarnished; again, you had said virtually the same thing yourself.  

    9.  You have a history of not backing down from unsustainable positions. In case you have not figured it out yet, when you realize your position is unsustainable, the strategically smart thing to do is to retract and move on to a better position. The tactical decision not to do so winds up with you just sticking your foot even further into your mouth. No one is less credible before a jury than the witness who can't admit that he made a mistake. The other side's lawyers have wet dreams about that kind of witness.

    10. You have a choice to make between retraction or being a lawyer's wet dream.

  • Paul E. Merrell, J.D. (Marbux)

    6/12/2009 1:38:13 PM |

    @Rob Weir: "You have the unique opportunity now to prove wrong my assertion, and the widespread belief, that you are a Microsoft lackey."

    You are confused as to who bears the burden of proof and persuasion. As the proponent of a position, you have those burdens.

    ""4.3.1 Avoiding false and misleading statements about competitors

    "It is IBM's policy to sell products and services on their merits. False or misleading statements and innuendoes about competitors, their products or their services are improper. Such conduct only invites disrespect from clients and complaints from competitors.

    "Be sure that all comparisons to competitors and their products and services are substantiated, and that they are complete, accurate and not misleading whenever they are made."

    And I doubt you can prove what you said. Certainly anyone who has actually followed closely what's been happening around ODF and OOXML knows that Alex has been at least as tough on OOXML as he's been on ODF, notwithstanding the one-sided picture painted by IBM and its Groklaw echo chamber.

    You might better ask, "who is responsible for the widespread belief that Alex Brown is a Microsoft lackey?" To which I would reply, "go look in the mirror and tell me who you see."  

    Score another ad hominem attack for Rob Weir, another logical fallacy.  

  • Andrew Sayers

    6/12/2009 7:16:07 PM |


    If you don't mind me borrowing your excellently-constructed petard:

    When faced with somebody that has a history of not backing down from unsustainable positions, the strategically smart thing to do is to avoid making a change of mind look like backing down.  The tactical decision not to do so winds up with you fanning a flamewar.

      - Andrew

  • Rob Weir

    6/12/2009 8:57:26 PM |


    1) There are earlier versions of OpenOffice/StarOffice that write ODF 1.0 by default.  Are they supported?  Most vendors support software for several years.  For example, support just ended for Office 2003 a couple of months ago.  So what makes you think that a version of StarOffice from 2007 would not be supported?  So I don't believe your statement that there are no full-featured, supported applications that both read and write ODF 1.0.  And then there is Google Docs, which I don't think you can dismiss so easily.  So I don't think your argument holds together, since your premise is false.  

    2) It is not a "smear" to point out these lies and to ask for a retraction.  Alex's statements to the press regarding the maintenance activities of the ODF TC were false.  I believe I've adequately shown that.  Certainly neither he nor you have dealt with the facts that I have presented.  On the contrary, you have avoided them entirely and made a fool of yourself by falling into Alex's deception regarding the timeline.  

    3) Obviously I do not publicly call someone a liar lightly or without some recognition of the weight of that statement.  Why don't you, or he, take me on that very issue, rather than diverting from the question.   To the point: Why did Alex lie to ZDNet regarding the state of maintenance of ODF 1.0 in OASIS?

  • Anonymous Insider

    6/13/2009 1:09:03 AM |

    So much agitation for a platform that has less than 1% market share and is fragmented (Linux pinheads say it's a feature and not a bug) on the destop.

    Or should I assume the agitation is coming from resellers for Google Apps?

    There are some good Linux techno-troopers working in Google like Chris DiBona (1999 Windows Refund Day fame) and Jeremy Allison (Samba fame). The Google Apps rationale is pretty strong.

    ODF techno-troopers should take it easy:

    2005-05-23 OpenDocument Version 1.0
    2005-10-20 2.0

    2006-03-07 Governments, Users, Providers of Office Applications Unite to Advance ODF Adoption
    2006-03-09 Writely becomes part of Google
    2006-05-08 ISO and IEC Approve OpenDocument OASIS Standard
    2006-06-06 Google Announces limited test on Google Labs: Google Spreadsheets
    2006-09-12 OASIS Launches OpenDocument
    2006-10-11 Google Announces Google Docs & Spreadsheets

    2007-02-13 OpenDocument Version 1.1
    2007-02-22 Google Introduces New Business Version of Popular Hosted Applications
    2007-06-25 Google Apps Gets Mail Migration, Dozens of New Features
    2007-06-27 Google Docs & Spreadsheets matures with a fresh new face

    2008-02-07 New Google Apps Team Edition brings collaboration to groups at work, school
    2008-10-13 3.0
    2008-11-03 OASIS to Advance Interoperability and Conformance of ODF Applications

    2009-01-14 Google Launches Reseller Program for Google Apps


    ODF techno-troopers have been enjoying their standard for only 3 years.

    Yet, Microsoft Word is about 26 years old [ ] and Microsoft Excel is about 24 years old [ ]

    Linux techno-troopers and Linux pinheads should spend more time on fixing critical things in their platform:

    Google techno-troopers should concentrate on how to make their interface as competitive as Bing.

    In case you wonder, not all Linux haters are MS Windows fanboys, some of us like Mac OS X on the desktop and FreeBSD on the server.

  • AlexH

    6/13/2009 2:24:41 AM |


    The "old versions write out the old format" is a nice argument, but doesn't really advance things very far: it certainly doesn't make ODF 1.0 usable, because no-one wants to run an office suite major versions old.

    What would be useful would be a way to make or similar write out an ISO-standard file format (y'know, in the way you keep asking Microsoft to do?). And certainly in the "File Save" menu there is no such option. But lo! Tools->Options->Load/Save->General->ODF format version. "1.2 (recommended)" [sic] or "1.0/1.1 ( 2.x)" MAY CAUSE INFORMATION TO BE LOST. Ok, tick it anyway, save. Er, oh well, office:version="1.1".

    Of course it writes out ODF 1.1, because ODF 1.0 is pointless in comparison.

    The issue here isn't that apps don't write out ISO-standard files. The issue is that the ISO standard is lagging so badly that nobody bothers to write it any more.

    Easy question; why has the ODF 1.1 standard - essentially a small but important upgrade to 1.0 - not been submitted to ISO yet?

  • PSS

    6/13/2009 3:25:48 AM |

    Rob, your claim about Office 2003 support is false. Office 2003 Mainstream Support has ended on April 14, 2009. Office 2003 Extended Support will continue until January 14, 2014. Please, learn your sources.

  • Rob Weir

    6/13/2009 4:14:54 AM |

    @AlexH,  Would it it nice if OpenOffice had a "Save as ODF 1.0" option in their menu?  Yes, that would be nice.  We get no requests for this in Symphony, but if you want it that bad, you can go and write it and contribute it to   Certainly, Microsoft did not consider it important enough to add to SP2.  But the fact that you personally may not want to run an older version of StarOffice or Google Apps does not mean that they do not exist or that they are unsupported, or that no one uses them.

    As for OASIS ODF 1.1 going to JTC1, we were not permitted to do this under a JTC1 rule which states that the initial version of a PAS submission may be in the drafting format of the originating organization but that subsequent versions must be in the ISO Directives Part 2 format.  Since ODF 1.1 was only a small update, fixing a handful of accessibility issues, and not a full redrafting, it did not conform to ISO drafting requirements.  We planned that work for ODF 1.2, which is a more substantial redrafting, which conforms to these requirements and so will be eligible for transposition.  This is not how I would have preferred it, but those were the rules we faced.

    I'd be interested in what other story you've heard on this question?  The fact that you've asked suggests you have heard some FUD.  What was it?


  • AlexH

    6/13/2009 5:48:11 AM |


    First, I'm not sure what "other story" you're alluding to - I didn't mention any "other story". Interesting that you take a simple question as being inspired by FUD...

    Thanks for answering about ODF 1.1, though I'm not sure it's fair to blame ISO submission guidelines as seems to be implied. The work to format subsequent versions according to ISO had to happen in any event; it seems to me therefore that it was a conscious choice to roll both that work and additional development into ODF 1.2. Presumably the TC didn't realise how late ODF 1.2 was going to end up being, so c'est la vie in some respects.

    Fundamentally, though, it doesn't change the basic premise that for most intents and purposes ISO-standard ODF is really not that interesting. That you've had no requests for that feature in Symphony strikes me as deeply unsurprising. ODF 1.2 is the hot action; but (as I've said to you before, on this blog I believe) someone needs to draw a line under it right about now and _ship it_.

  • Rob Weir

    6/13/2009 6:08:47 AM |

    ODF-in-ISO is not a single release.  It is an ongoing effort.   ISO/IEC 26300:2006 will have technical corrigenda applied.  It may see an amendment.  ODF 1.2 will be transposed as a technical revision.  And so on.  In the future we will make all completed ODF TC work available to JTC1.  If their rules allow them to process the item, then fine.  If their rules do not allow then to process it, then that is fine as well.  But we'll give them everything.  In the end, I'm flattered that they measure their relevance (in part at least) by the presence or absence of the latest version of ODF in their standards catalog.  Indeed that was why the PAS process was created, to make JTC1 more market relevant in a world where most standards development work has moved to standards consortia.

  • AlexH

    6/13/2009 6:43:43 AM |

    And suddenly ISO ratification is take it or leave it. Hm...

  • Alex

    6/15/2009 2:24:28 PM |


    You throw the word "lie" around very cheaply.

    I have just seen Groklaw has published another accusation from  you, asserting you have demonstrated "several statements by Alex Brown which were outright lies".

    Your accusations are totally false, and based on a misrepresentation of what I did, and what I wrote.

    Do you write these accusations on IBM company time?

    I am quoted as stating: "When flaws are found in an International standard, nations [...] want to see the problem fixed pronto. Now they find the mechanism they thought they had for this (OASIS via SC 34) does not appear to function. Their defect reports are being shelved."

    I have checked my email archive and can confirm this text is an accurate quotation from the text I sent to ZDNet (They had asked me for a reaction to a Groklaw article on the SC 34 meeting in Jeju.)

    Let's take it sentence by sentence:

    1. "When flaws are found in an International standard, nations [...] want to see the problem fixed pronto."

    my comment: yes, especially when they have transposed the standard into a National standard (that was the sentiment ZDNet redacted). (OO.o gives the meaning of "pronto" as "prompty").

    2. "Now they find the mechanism they thought they had for this (OASIS via SC 34) does not appear to function."

    my comment: the JTC 1 Directives mandate a response in a certain time frame, which was not being respected. Nations expect corrections to appear in the ISO standard via amendment or corrigenda; yet no functional mechanism exists for this (SC 34 and OASIS are still working on that).

    3. "Their defect reports are being shelved."

    my comment: the errata from the ODF TC were 7 months late, and so had quite evidently been shelved (OO.o gives the meaning of "shelve" as "(verb) postpone").

    Now, some of the surrounding editorial is less careful and exact than my own words. You have taken those editorial words and put them, damagingly shorne of context, in my mouth. The deception is yours.

  • Luc Bollen

    6/18/2009 9:47:17 PM |

    "@AlexH, Would it it nice if OpenOffice had a "Save as ODF 1.0" option in their menu? Yes, that would be nice. We get no requests for this in Symphony, but if you want it that bad, you can go and write it and contribute it to"

    Given the trivial differences between ODF 1.1 and ODF 1.0, it is very easy for a customer (e.g. a government) wanting to produce only ODF 1.0 files, to (ask their Office software supplier to) write a filter stripping out the ODF 1.1 elements and making the needed adjustments so as to get ODF 1.0 compliant files.  

    So, any product writing ODF 1.1 files can be adapted to seamlessly write ODF 1.0 files.

    Claiming that "No one supports ISO ODF today" is therefore more a disingenuous truth than an inconvenient truth...

  • Rob Weir

    6/19/2009 3:20:53 AM |

    Alex the entire paragraph is:

    "Brown said Oasis has not been acting on reports of defects in ODF from standards bodies, some of whom are in the process of applying the document format as a national standard. "When flaws are found in an international standard, nations...want to see the problem fixed pronto," he said. "Now they find the mechanism they thought they had for this (Oasis via SC34) does not appear to function. Their defect reports are being shelved.""

    Are you saying that you were misunderstood or misquoted by the article's author? Have you attempted to communicate this to the author?

    Note also that you used the present tense with progressive aspect, "Their defect reports are being shelved", not a past tense.  You stated that the action was still ongoing, namely that OASIS was still shelving the defect report.  This is clearly false, since it was being actively worked on at the time of your quote, and you knew it.  As a native speaker of the language, with a degree in English from a prestigious university, I assume English grammar is not unfamiliar to you.  I continue to assert that you lied to the press regarding ODF maintenance.

  • Alex

    6/19/2009 1:34:14 PM |


    I see. Yet again your argument, and your serious accusation, hinges on trying to force a grammatical quibble.

    You need to take both sentences together, rather than quoting out of context.

    If I write:

    "Now delegates to ISO meetings find the security checks at US airports even more irksome. They are being made to take their shoes off."

    This does not mean that *at* *this* *instant* delegates are taking their shoes off, since the second sentence obviously describes their experience on certain occasions. Also it does not mean that they will *certainly* be taking ther shoes off in future - although it strongly suggests that.

    "Now [Countries] find the mechanism they thought they had for this ... does not appear to function. Their defect reports are being shelved."

    This does not mean that *at* *this* *instant* defect reports are being shelved, since the second sentence describes the experience the countries have had. Also it does not mean that future defect reports will *certainly* be shelved - although it strongly suggests that.

    > I continue to assert that you lied to
    > the press regarding ODF maintenance.

    Yes, and you're doing it by misreading and quoting out-of-context.

    I didn't catch an answer to the question on whether you were doing this on IBM company time.

  • Rob Weir

    6/20/2009 5:20:48 AM |

    I never said it meant "at this instant".  Is said it was progressive aspect, meaning ongoing, including the present.   This is "Are being made to take off their shoes" (progressive) versus "Were being made to take off their shoes".  Neither implies anything about the future.

    As to your other question, I'm on vacation right now.  But how about answering my questions?  Were you misunderstood or misquoted by the article's author, specifically when the author indirectly quoted you, "Brown said Oasis has not been acting on reports of defects in ODF from standards bodies" ? If so, have you attempted to communicate this error to the author?

  • Paul E. Merrell, J.D. (Marbux)

    6/21/2009 8:05:49 PM |

    I find myself in the rare position of apparently needing to retract the retraction I issued earlier in this conversation and on Groklaw.  My retraction was based on information Rob Weir provided above that is erroneous. I should have checked what Rob said before issuing my retraction. My bad.

    Rob's statement above that led me to retract is:

    "I do not have a record of when I changed that blog post. It was a long time ago, back in 2008, much closer to the original date of that post. But you should know that that this is a red herring and that you and everyone else is being taken for a ride here.

    "I ask you, where has Alex actually said that he relied on the quoted blog post to argue that no one supported ODF 1.0? Where on his blog or on wikipedia did he make that reference? Although he has certainly invited that interpretation in the present post, you can't really point anything, can you? He is just blowing smoke in your eyes. If you look at my original post ('Lies and Whispers') I talk about a citation on Wikipedia to where to [sic] Alex claimed that there was no ODF 1.0 support. Although that citation is not currently in the wikipedia article, the link that once was present pointed to Alex's blog post of April 30th 2008 ('ODF 1.0 and a conformance smoke test'). My blog post was originally written on July 16th 2008. So Alex's blog post (which the reader has been lead [sic] to believe I inspired) was written a full three months before I wrote the blog post he quotes now. "

    Problem 1:

    "Alex's blog post of April 30th 2008 ('ODF 1.0 and a conformance smoke test')" does not have the slightest thing to do with a claim by Alex "that there was no ODF 1.0 support."

    Problem 2:

    Alex did in fact directly quote verbatim Rob's silently removed statement under discussion in his blog article on 6 November 2008. There, he said:

    "In July 2008 the co-chair of the OASIS ODF TC announced in a blog entry: '[n]o one supports ODF 1.0 today. All of the major vendors have moved on to ODF 1.1, and will be moving on to ODF 1.2 soon.'”

    Problem 3:

    6 November is after 16 July, so Rob's claim that Alex published first is wrong. Rob Weir was in fact the source of Alex Brown's information that Rob labeled in his Lies and Whispers article as "Microsoft FUD ... laundered via intermediaries to Wikipedia,"  part of a Microsoft "disinformation campaign being waged against ODF[.]"


    I found other holes in what Rob said as well, but the above appears to cover the key information on which my retraction was based. Rob, I'm going to allow you an opportunity to respond before I retract my retraction.

    Why in your view should I not retract my retraction and why in your view should you not issue a retraction of your charge about Alex, Microsoft, and Wikipedia in your blog article?

    In your explanation, please do not rely on any information essential to your grounds that I cannot verify.

  • Rob Weir

    6/22/2009 8:03:19 PM |

    Paul, you need to trace it back up to the original Wikipedia citation, which was the topic of my original blog post.  When Wikipedia quoted Alex as saying that no one supported ODF 1.0, it linked to his April 30th blog post.  And indeed, his post does assert that there is a defect in the ODF 1.0 schema that prevents any application from being conformant with it.  I happen to believe that this is false, but that was how it was interpreted, reported in the press, and was the citation that made it into Wikipedia.  

  • Paul E. Merrell, J.D. (Marbux)

    6/23/2009 9:57:45 PM |

    @Rob: You say that I "need to trace it back up to the original Wikipedia citation," but you certain have not been helpful in that regard. To date, you have not even identified which Wikipedia ODF article you have been discussing let alone pointing to a page revision that included the referenced link. Yet I specifically requested that "[i]n your explanation, please do not rely on any information essential to your grounds that I cannot verify." You've stretched that request past its limits.

    So far as I know there is no way to search Wikipedia's page histories, so it has taken me considerable work intermittently over several days to unearth what appears to be the Wikipedia article and page version that you've been going on about, finally using a Google site search of your blog for all links to Wikipedia. (Wikipedia has many pages about ODF.)

    You linked to what appears to be the relevant diff of the Wikipedia article where the link you have been discussing first appeared, in your your blog post of 2 May 2008, (.)   The Wikipedia edit occurred on the day before.

    First, to be clear, that was not an edit that Alex made. It was made by a person who has been repeatedly warned by the Wikipedia powers that be about his biased and inaccurate edits on Wikipedia and that as I recall you blocked from commenting on your blog for similar reasons. I find it troubling under such circumstances that you would rely on a statement by that person as a basis for your Microsoft paint job on Alex.  

    Second, you just made an apparently false statement, your new claim that "Wikipedia quoted Alex as saying that no one supported ODF 1.0." You have pointed to no such page on Wikipedia and assuming the Wikipedia edit by HAI linked above is the one you have been referring to, it did not quote something Alex had said at the relevant time. In fairness, the statement persisted on Wikipedia for quite awhile through many edits of that page, so the link under discussion might have pointed to a different version of the page.

    But it was a statement by someone else that cited Alex's 30 April 2008 blog article as supporting authority. So you are now apparently falsely portraying Alex as the author of a "no one supported ODF 1.0" statement that Alex had not made at the relevant time.

    Third, the Wikipedia edit mischaracterizes what Alex said in his 30 April 2008 blog article. The edit states in relevant part, "it is unsure if any office implementation has true ISO/IEC 26300 standard support for OpenDocument[.]" But Alex's subject blog post deals only with validation and conformance issues and does not even use the word "support."

    Moreover, Alex's "Conclusion" section unambiguously labeled his two conclusions as "tentative" because they were based only on a smoke test, and he closed that section by posing a question, "I’d be very interested to find an office application that does work with valid ISO/IEC 26300 content. Do any readers know of one?"  So by no stretch of the imagination did Alex claim in that article that there *are* no implementations that *support* ODF 1.0.

    Fourth, "validation," "conformance," and "support" are not synonyms. "Support" can be partial; see e.g., the ODF conformance section's last text paragraph in all adopted versions: "There are no rules regarding the elements and attributes that actually have to be supported by conforming applications[.]"

    But  "conformance" and "valid" are not susceptible to such a meaning in context. A document either validates and is conformant or it does not and is not. Why validation or conformance failed is certainly of interest; but "valid" and "conformant" are a lot like "pregnant." One is either pregnant or one is not; "partially pregnant" does not compute.  Alex discussed conformance and validation in his 30 April 2008 article, not "support."

    I do not attribute to you ignorance of such distinctions, but I'm willing to listen if you'd like to argue that's the problem.  You now say Wikipedia "quoted" Alex as saying that "no one *supported* ODF 1.0," but you have provided no evidence that your statement is true and all of the evidence I have unearthed contradicts your statement. So please provide a link to where a relevant Alex Brown quotation is on Wikipedia or retract your abuse of the term "quoted." From the evidence I have available, the appearance is that you put words in Alex's mouth that he had not uttered himself.

    Fifth, even that Wikipedia edit did not say that there are no imlementations that support ODF 1.0; instead it said that it was "unsure" that there were any implementations that support ODF 1.0. This is the apparent origin of the use of the term, "support" in this mess but even it did not claim what you attribute to a statement by Microsoft.  

    Sixth, you claim to have got your hands on a Microsoft letter that you quoted in your Lies and Whispers article (without citation or disclosure) as saying, "There *is no* software that currently implements ODF as approved by the ISO," (.).  Then you say that it links to the Wikipedia article version being discussed. So now we have moved yet another step farther away from what Alex actually said (validation, conformance, and tentative conclusions) by a statement you attribute to Microsoft that mischaracterizes what was said on Wikipedia. I.e., "unsure if any office implementation has true ISO/IEC 26300 standard support" became the emphatic "'[t]here is no software that currently implements ODF [1.0]".  

    Seventh, you have in my opinion now gone clear beyond principled argumentation by claiming that Alex was "quoted" rather than cited on Wikipedia in relevant regard. In his Wikipedia edit, HAI mischaracterized what Alex had said. What you claim Microsoft said mischaracterized what HAI had said. Now you equate "conformance" with "support" and claim that "Wikipedia quoted Alex as saying that no one supported ODF 1.0."  

    So what we have is a string of people ending with you who all mischarcterized what Alex had actually said. But you shoot only at the mischaracterization, not at what Alex did say. That is not not a principled position for you to take. That is straw man argumentation, which is a logical fallacy. (.) You attack your mischaracterization of what Alex said rather than the words Alex wrote and in your latest comment you go beyond mischaracterization to what appears to be a bald-face falsehood, that Alex was "quoted" on Wikipedia.  

    Eighth, you are also avoiding rather than addressing the fact that Alex did in fact publish a verbatim quote of what you later silently amended. See Alex's 6 November 2008 article. That fact is directly at odds with your own criteria you laid down that caused me to retract. You said:

    "I ask you, where has Alex actually said that he relied on [Rob's] quoted blog post to argue that no one supported ODF 1.0? Where on his blog or on wikipedia did he make that reference? Although he has certainly invited that interpretation in the present post, you can't really point anything, can you?"

    In my last comment, I showed you precisely where Alex "relied on the quoted blog post to argue that no one supported ODF 1.0," except that he was not arguing it, he was quoting verbatim your later silently-amended blog article.  And that fact plus the fact that Alex's 30 April 2008 article did not say what you accuse him of having said at that time utterly trashed your claim that Alex had published first.

    You only got to your claim that he published first by mischaracterizing what he had said on 30 April 2008, standing atop mischaracterizations of Alex's position by HAI on Wikipedia and by what you claim to be a statement by Microsoft. Add to it your latest apparent falsehood of what Alex had said ("quoted" on Wikipedia) and the relevant mischaracterizations now stand layers deep with your blatant misrepresentation on top.  

    Ninth, there are other troubling factors afoot.

    A. Your Lies and Whispers article says that your mischaracterization of what Alex had said had been "debunked long ago." That statement is linked to the same article from which you linked the Wikipedia page diff without any indication that it was a link to Wikipedia or had any relevance to your mischaracterization of what Alex had said in your Lies and Whispers article. The words from which it was linked are: "But let's see if we can help show Alex, [link]or anyone else similarly confused[/link], the correct way to validate an ODF document.

    B. In that same article, you linked and quoted the two tentative conclusions from Alex's 30 April 2008 article, but did not identify his conclusions as tentative. You preceded the quotation with this statement, "Alex is so sure of himself that he [link]publicly exults[/link] on the claimed significance of his findings[.]"  And you immediately followed the quotation with the statement, "I think you agree that these are bold pronouncements[.]"

    I cannot view that as anything other than a deliberate mischaracterization. Alex unambiugously labeled his conclusions as tentative immediately before the conclusions you quoted and stated that they were tentative because they were based only on a smoke test. He followed his two conclusions that you quoted by a question making clear that he was taking no position on whether there were in fact implementations of ODF that could write ODF valid against the ODF 1.0 schema.

    But even more important than those misrepresentations, I find it impossible to believe that you did not read the sentences preceding and following the two conclusions you quoted. That is very powerful circumstantial evidence of you "knowing" before you published your Lies and Whispers article that Alex had *not* made a claim that there were no implementations that support ODF 1.0 in his 30 April 2008 article.

    Add to the evidence of guilty prior knowledge the fact that you now finally describe the content of Alex's article directly rather than relying on the previous mischaracterizations of it but mangle the English language in an appeal to have me believe that "conformance" and "validity" are synonyms for "support." That is an appeal to ignorance, another fallacy.

    Add atop that your new apparently  false claim that Alex was *quoted* on Wikipedia in relevant regard.

    Add to that the fact you very apparently had at your fingertips the link to the Wikipedia diff of interest but apparently chose to tell a whopper about it in your last post (Alex was "quoted" there -- which implicitly claims knowledge of what the Wikipedia page does say) rather than providing the link after I asked that you rely only on verifiable information in your reply.  

    What I get from the weight of such evidence, Rob, does not paint a very pretty picture of your conduct in this matter. There is an appearance that you concealed relevant evidence (the link to the Wikipedia diff) multiple times because it conflicts with a false position you wished to present.  I am willing to listen to a cogent explanation of why that appearance is false. But I expect links for every point essential to your explanation this time.    
    B. In your second post on this page, you offered a justification for silently amending your 16 July 2008 article to remove the statement Alex quoted in his 6 November 2008 article. You said, "I made it less ambiguous so it better stated my meaning and was less pliable to Microsoft's attempts to align it with their meaning." When I asked when you had made the edit, you replied that you did not remember but that it was near the time of original publication.

    However, the fact that Alex on 6 November quoted verbatim the statement that was removed strongly suggests that the statement was still in your article on or very shortly before Alex quoted it. I've noticed that Alex is quite careful about his fact checking, always a good idea when bumping heads with folks acting the role of the 800-pound gorilla. Checking links and quotes before publication is just common sense.  

    Now we turn to the subject matter of Alex's 6 November post. (.) That was Alex's dissertation on the problems he perceived with OASIS' handling and maintenance of ODF and his recommendations for what JTC 1 to do about it. That quickly blossomed into SC 34 landing on the ODF TC, for amongst other things tardy submission of fixes for spec defects.

    Our paths cross on the Web a lot, Rob. I've often been amazed by just how fast you comment on a newly published web page having anything to do with ODF in the most unlikely of places. That makes me suspect that our Google Alerts settings have a substantial overlap. But considering who Alex is and his role at SC 34, the subject matter of his 6 November post, who you are and your role on the ODF TC, and the trouble Alex's post predicted for the ODF TC, I put the odds somewhere slim to none that you did not read Alex's 6 November blog entry very soon after it was published.

    And that means that I also see the odds as slim to none that you did not see your own words quoted on that page. And that assessment raises a strong suspicion that you edited your page silently *because* you had read the quote and didn't want it to be there when someone might go looking for it because of Alex's use of the quote, but apparently forgot that you have an echo chamber. They had republished what you had said some four months before.

    Now that's circumstantial evidence supporting only a reasonable suspicion. But were we to assume only for sake of discussion that Alex had sued you for defamation, it's plenty enough to justify searching discovery into the topic, e.g., ransacking your emails, computer drives, and backups. All that a discovering litigant need show is that the discovery sought appears "reasonably calculated" to lead to the discovery of evidence that would be admissible at trial. See e.g., Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1), (.)

    Nearly all state court rules of civil procedure are modeled on the federal rules, so this rule is near universal in U.S. trial courts. The uniformity of the rules is a major lubricant for lawyers who have nationwide practices, as I did before I retired. And I think that in the case I hypothesize, one major focus of the plaintiff lawyers' discovery efforts would be to pin down precisely what Rob Weir knew when because of such factors.  I doubt there'd still be much room after discovery for your lawyers to assert the truth of your accusations as a defense. Already it doesn't look there is much room left for it.

    I suggest you get some legal advice before you flail your Microsoft paint brush again, Rob. You appear to be operating under the delusion that insinuations can't provide the basis for a defamation lawsuit. That isn't true. It's up to the jury to determine whether the  insinuations were defamatory. And one need look no further than the IBM echo chamber for tons of evidence as to how your words were understood.

    BTW I also noticed you beating up on Alex both in your Lies and Whispers article and on this page for statements attributed to him by a trade publication in regard to the SC 34-ODF TC maintenance tussle. That put me scratching my head as to why you were not dealing with what Alex had written on the topic on his own blog, which I had read and commented on at the time. Bingo! There's the page where Alex quoted your later silently edited statement. Makes it look like you wanted to beat up on Alex on the maintenance issue without pointing people to where Alex had quoted what you silently amended later *because* Alex had quoted it.  

    Still more, but thankfully there's more to my life than studying just how many fallacies Rob Weir is willing to stack underneath his ad hominem attacks. So I need to work on something else now. But I'll be watching for your reply.

  • Rob Weir

    6/24/2009 8:37:12 PM |

    Paul, the fact is the Microsoft whisper campaign uses Alex's blog posts, laundered via 3rd party edits in Wikipedia, to lend authority to their false claims.  I don't need to prove that their argument is well-founded.  Indeed, a primary characteristic of their argument is that it cannot withstand scrutiny.  It is also immaterial whether Alex participates in Microsoft's FUD campaign intentionally, or whether he is being abused as one of Microsoft's many "useful idiots".

  • Paul E. Merrell, J.D. (Marbux)

    6/26/2009 6:11:15 PM |

    @Rob: My first take-away from your last comment is that you have provided no factual defense to my discussion in my last post of the relevant evidence and the inferences I drew from it. Therefore, I will treat those facts as established.

    @ Your premise, "[t]he Microsoft whisper campaign ... Microsoft's FUD campaign." I've seen no persuasive evidence that there is currently such a campaign, only an unsubstantiated statement that you have a single Microsoft document involved with a single incident in the Balkans that you have not sent me a copy of despite repeated requests that you do so. All other references to such a campaign I've seen, e.g., on Groklaw, seem to infer the existence of such a campaign now on conduct that occurred years ago, before your company and others pushed an antitrust complaint against Microsoft in the E.U. alleging, inter alia, a violation by failing to provide support for ODF.  Microsoft has now provided support for ODF 1.1 and despite having my ear close to the ground, I've seen no evidence of such a campaign presently existing.  

    Beyond that, in regard to the statement you attribute to Microsoft in your Lies and Whispers article, you have only picked nits from its truthfulness. E.g., support for ODF 1.0 in older versions apps no longer marketed or available, an ability of newer apps to read ODF 1.0 but not to write it; support by the lightweight Google Docs editor whose feature set is so limited it would not matter which ODF version was specified in the package's header. ISO/IEC:26300 write support has been boycotted by the major ODF vendors in the full featured ODF implementations. Nonetheless, your company and others continue to extoll the virtues of their ISO/IEC:26300 support in product marketing. False advertising at best. The alleged Microsoft statement is substantially true so your real assault is on truth, not on "FUD."  

    @ "I don't need to prove that their argument is well-founded. Indeed, a primary characteristic of their argument is that it cannot withstand scrutiny."

    It's now an unrebutted fact, based on substantial evidence, that you did rely in your Lies and Whispers article on misrepresentations of Alex's position to smear his reputation with your Microsoft paintbrush. You even told an outright whopper here about Alex being "quoted" on Wikipedia in relevant regard whilst withholding the link to the Wikipedia page that indelibly branded what you said about him being quoted as a deliberate lie.

    @ "It is also immaterial whether Alex participates in Microsoft's FUD campaign intentionally, or whether he is being abused as one of Microsoft's many 'useful idiots'."

    By one of those routes you would claim that Alex is guilty of no more than being cited as supporting authority by someone else who edited Wikipedia. By the other route you would be accusing Alex of deliberately participating in a Microsoft FUD campaign directed against ODF, of being a Microsoft co-conspirator.

    By not drawing such distinctions and tacking on your Microsoft "triangle of trade" argument in your Lies and Whispers article,  you invited your readers to understand that you were saying the latter and thus smeared Alex's reputation.

    Here is Plaintiff's Exhibit 2 in that defamation lawsuit against you that I hypothesized. (.) Your Lies and Whispers article was republished on Groklaw and that mountain of comments  testifies as to just how your words were understood by its readers, recorded contemporaneously. You were widely understood --- and apparently believed --- as stating that Alex is intentionally in a conspiratorial relationship with Microsoft. You had no apparent motive in the attack other than destroying Alex's reputation, and that's the stuff that defamation damages are made of.

    Even now, after having been caught telling an outright lie about Alex, you continue to prove your intent to destroy his reputation by referring to him as "one of Microsoft's many 'useful idiots.'" Yes, I know what "useful idiot" means. But I also know that most people don't. And even for those that do, you now accuse Microsoft of using Alex whilst regarding him as an idiot whilst still raising the question of whether Alex is intentionally conspiring with Microsoft without offering a shred of proof on either issue.    

    @ Conclusion

    You've shown no proof of there being a Microsoft campaign such as you claimed and it does matter whether Alex is intentionally conspiring with Microsoft or "he is being abused as one of Microsoft's many 'useful idiots'." It also matters greatly whether you have any evidence to support either alternative you pose. Such issues matter to an ethical person attempting to engage in a principled discussion. They also matter in the law of defamation. But perhaps they do not matter to an unprincipled person engaging in the logical fallacy of an ad hominem attack.

    As you put it in your Lies and Whispers article, you did not tell the "whole truth," a practice you condemned there whilst doing on the same page precisely what you condemned. And your conduct in this discussion, e.g., your lie about Alex having been quoted on Wikipedia in relevant regard, has certainly proved the truth of one of your closing sentences in your Lies and Whispers article: "More people are willing to lie than face of consequences of being caught lying."

    You are not facing the consequence of having been caught lying and also telling less than the whole truth, Rob.  You owe Alex a retraction at the very least if you are an ethical person.

    I'm concerned that you engage in unprincipled argument so often, Rob. Can you straighten up and fly right on your own or do I need to contact the IBM Directors and Corporate Governance Committee to request that they get you the help you plainly need?

  • Rob Weir

    6/26/2009 8:33:07 PM |

    Actually, I claim both.  In the case of "no one supports ODF 1.0", Alex's blog post was used by an Microsoft hack on Wikipedia as a citation and then the "weight" of Alex's opinion was used by Microsoft in their note.  Whether Alex knew about the Wikipedia article and how Microsoft used it is unproven, though obviously the record shows that Alex edits the ODF Wikipedia page as well and would be unlikely not to notice his blog being cited.  If it was being used incorrectly, why didn't he correct it?

    I also pointed out that Alex was quoted directly and indirectly in a ZDNet article, telling lies about ODF maintenance.  I assert that this was deliberate.

    I have not claimed that Alex is conspiring with Microsoft.  I'm only pointing out his false statements and how they are being used by Microsoft.  That is the main value to Microsoft of "useful idiots", that they are so cheap.  

  • Paul E. Merrell, J.D. (Marbux)

    6/28/2009 10:36:58 AM |

    @ Rob: "In the case of 'no one supports ODF 1.0', Alex's blog post was used by an Microsoft hack on Wikipedia as a citation and then the 'weight' of Alex's opinion was used by Microsoft in their note."

    You're ignoring the fact that what you allege is a Microsoft statement  mischaracterizes both what was said on Wikipedia and in Alex's article. You're also ignoring the facts that: [i] it is substantially accurate that "no one supports ODF 1.0;" [ii] you said it yourself and then later silently removed your statement from your blog; and [iii] there are strong grounds for suspecting that you made your edit after reading Alex's 6 November 2008 article that quoted your statement, removing any excuse for removing your quoted statement from your blog article without an errata making it clear that you had altered the article.

    To boot, you have yet to establish that the Microsoft statement exists. Consider these facts in combination: [i]  your concealment of the Wikipedia page link whilst telling an absolute whopper about Alex being quoted there and what you claimed he had said; [ii] your many misrepresentations documented on this page that you have not denied let alone responded to with countering evidence; [iii]  you blinking past my many requests to send me a copy of the alleged Microsoft document; and [iv] your omission of any excuse for not providing me with a copy of the alleged document. Those facts leave me without without any informed basis to believe that the alleged Microsoft document exists. Undeniably, you have been an unreliable source of information in this matter.

    Yet your entire position continues to rest on the premise that there is in fact a Microsoft campaign to disseminate ODF disinformation, without offering an iota of proof of its existence, even after I challenged you to offer some evidence that there is such a campaign.

    You know that I have not shrunk away from holding Microsoft's feet to the fire when I have evidence of that company's misconduct in regard to document formats. I would have no hesitation to do so now were evidence of significant new misbehavior brought to my attention. But everything I have seen says that the Softies have been behaving remarkably better than you in regard to ODF since the company announced its intent to support ODF 1.1. And as to OOXML, I note that Microsoft apparently did not even complain publicly about JTC 1 assigning maintenance responsibility to SC 34.

    That the Softies have changed their behavior in relevant regard is unsurprising to me. Your company through ECIS is holding Microsoft's feet to the fire in the E.U. antitrust investigation regarding, inter alia, ODF and OOXML. The Softies would have to be more than somewhat out of touch with reality to misbehave in regard to ODF under those circumstances.

    All signs I see say that Microsoft management is now trying hard to walk the straight and narrow in regard to ODF, your false claims about non-conformance and breaking of "ODF interoperability" notwithstanding. They can't break what doesn't exist, Rob, and your company is the principle source of the ODF Interop Myth. There seems to be no length to which your company will not go to keep the public from realizing just how grossly under-specified the ODF specifications are. Personal attacks on those who point out flaws in the specifications seems to be your favored tactic.        

    "I have not claimed that Alex is conspiring with Microsoft."

    Then you have no excuse for not publishing a statement on your blog making it clear that your Lies and Whispers article should not be so understood. In fact, that was what you insinuated and many readers understood your article that way, as demonstrated by the comments on your article when it was republished on Groklaw.

    It's all about principled discussion, Rob. Your Lies and Whispers article is a pure ad hominem attack on Alex. You attacked the man rather than his words, his person rather than his behavior, and you used straw man argumentation to do it. I personally had my public credibility largely destroyed by one of your personal attacks where you told far less than the "whole truth." (.)

    I have big issues with you resorting to personal attacks when you have no better response to what others say, particularly when the facts you allege in support of your attacks are false or far less than the "whole truth." Granted, no one is right all of the time. But the goal should be arriving at the truth, not obscuring the truth with unprincipled argumentation.

    You owe Alex Brown a retraction.

  • Rob Weir

    6/29/2009 3:37:29 AM |

    Paul, the full change record in Wikipedia is there for anyone to read.  I assumed you could figure this out for yourself.  Evidently, this is not the case.  So let me walk you through it.  Alex's blog post was April 30th, 2008.  On the same day, the ODF Wikipedia entry was updated, by a known Microsoft fanboy who has already been booted off the ODF article by Wikipedia admins for his vandalism several times.  You can see the change here, including the citation of Alex's blog:

    Although the ODF article today (June 28th) does not contain those false claims, it has returned to the article on several other occasions, added by the same party.

    So I've backed up my claim.  But I'm surprised that you have nothing to say about Alex's claim on ODF maintenance, or his deception in this blog article suggesting that my blog post inspired his.  

    In any case, I don't see where you are seeing an ad hominem argument.  I quote what parties have written and what has been quoted by the press.  I then show what the facts are.  Please show me where my argument relies on an ad hominem attack.  I may call a fool a fool in passing.  But that is not argumentum ad hominem unless my argument depends on that.  My argument does not. In fact, by repeatedly bringing up this red herring you are the one guilty of not addressing the merits of the argument and the evidence I have presented.

  • Alex

    6/29/2009 4:46:58 AM |


    You are evidently so self-convinced in your ridiculous fantasy there seems little point in wasting words on you. However, just briefly:

    1. If you have a problem with some third-party's edits on Wikipedia, that is your problem not mine. However, looking at the link you provided, was this fanboi's edit here actually so incorrect? You have in no way "backed up your claim".

    2. As I have pointed out above, my own statements to ZDNet about ODF maintenance were correct. If you choose to extract and intepret the framing editorial in some perverse way, then that is your problem, not mine.

    3. As to my "deception" stating I based my blog on yours, I was referring to the time when I quoted you directly stating "nobody supports ODF 1.0 any more" on my blog. I can hardly be expected to know you had in mind some misquoted citation of something I never wrote, since I am not familiar with the inner narrative of your conspiracist fanstasies.

  • Paul E. Merrell, J.D. (Marbux)

    6/29/2009 11:24:39 AM |

    @ Rob: Each of the points you raise in your last comment have already been dealt with on this page and your comment does nothing to resurrect your arguments already disproved.

    I will, however, note that this is the first time you have ever identified the Wikipedia edit you've been complaining about. The lengths I had to go to find it are documented above along with the undeniable outright lie you told about its content whilst concealing identification of both the article that was edited and the link to the edit, which I finally found by searching your blog site for all links from it to Wikipedia, tucked away in one of your earlier articles.

    You still offer no proof of the premise of your Lies and Whispers article, that there is currently a Microsoft FUD campaign against ODF under way. You continue to conceal the single Microsoft document you allege you have and quoted from.

    And incredibly, despite the evidence discussed above that your "triangle of trade" not only was an ad hominem attack on Alex and was so understood by a multitude of people who commented on its republication on Groklaw, you now pretend that you did no more than to call Alex a "fool."  

    Your last comment is yet more unprincipled discussion, Rob.

    You owe Alex Brown a retraction.

  • Rob Weir

    6/29/2009 8:41:41 PM |

    Paul,  I've heard variations on this FUD on three continents, including from government officials.  This is not a "single document".  However, I'm not going to give you documents or name the names, respecting the wishes of my sources.  But I could produce such information, if it were necessary in a legitimate proceeding.  In the end, I don't need to prove anything to you or Alex.  My sole goal was satisfied by revealing the existence of whisper campaign.  Microsoft will no longer be able to use these same points since there is now widespread knowledge about the FUD.

  • Doug Mahugh

    6/30/2009 4:58:22 AM |

    Er, Rob, how did you "reveal the existing of whisper campaign" if you can't produce any evidence?  Those of us who know your claims are nonsense find this detail rather interesting.

    You say things like "Microsoft will no longer be able to ..." without offering any evidence that Microsoft (or anyone else) has ever actually done what you claim.  Lies and whispers campaign, indeed.

  • Paul E. Merrell, J.D. (Marbux)

    6/30/2009 10:00:30 PM |

    @Rob: "I'm not going to give you documents or name the names, respecting the wishes of my sources. "

    Now that your refusal to disclose any evidence supporting your allegation that you were quoting from a Microsoft document is on the record, let's move from your first "triangle-trade relationship" to the second in your Lies and Whispers article,

    You stated, "Amazingly, Alex Brown is implicated in this FUD one as well." From that statement you link to an article published by ZDNet-Asia in which Alex was quoted. That report was published on October 8, 2008, a date that you acknowledged in your article.  You discuss that article, then close your paragraph with this statement:

    Also observe the triangle-trade route of FUD in this case from Alex to Doug Mahugh to Wikipedia, this time for negative edits in the OASIS article.

    You linked the phrase "OASIS article" to the "Criticism" section of this Wikipedia article, (.) There, we find a footnote to Doug Mahugh's article here, (.) Doug's article was published on October 1, 2008.  

    Please explain how the ZDNet-Asia article that you admit was not published until October 8, 2008 demonstrates in this instance (using your own words) a "triangle-trade route ... from Alex to Doug Mahugh to Wikipedia[.]" The ZDNet-Asia article in which Alex was quoted was not published until eight days after Doug's article was published.

  • Rob Weir

    6/30/2009 10:23:26 PM |

    Paul,  This was via non-public documents in SC34 which Alex authored, repeating the same FUD.  The lies to the press came the following week, as you indicated.


  • Alex

    6/30/2009 11:39:21 PM |


    > via non-public documents in SC34 which Alex authored

    Intriguingly bonkers. So I have a way of engaging in this "triangle trade" with Doug Mahugh through SC 34's documents? Some kind of tunnelling protocol or coded messaging, obviously.

    What are the N numbers of these SC 34 documents that I supposedly wrote?

  • Paul E. Merrell, J.D. (Marbux)

    7/1/2009 2:30:14 AM |

    @Rob: "This was via non-public documents in SC34 which Alex authored, repeating the same FUD. The lies to the press came the following week, as you indicated."

    To be clear, you called them "lies," not I.

    Your Lies and Whispers article makes no mention of SC 34 documents, public or non-public. It cites only the ZDNet-Asia article and the link to Wikipedia, which in turns links to Doug's article. It then instructs the reader to "observe the triangle-trade route of FUD in this case from Alex to Doug Mahugh to Wikipedia[.]" I read your use of the verb "observe" in its imperative form  coupled with the "in this case" phrase as telling the reader that the evidence you did identify proved the existence of a "triangle-trade route ... from Alex to Doug Mahugh to Wikipedia[.]"

    1. Do you agree that your article and its citations --- not what you omitted mention of --- did not "in this case" establish the existence of the triangle trade route you alleged?  

    2. Do you agree that "in this case" you did not tell the "whole truth" as you perceived it at the time?

  • Paul E. Merrell, J.D. (Marbux)

    7/1/2009 3:17:14 AM |

    @ Rob: Returning to your refusal to disclose the alleged documents:

    I noticed in the comments on your Lies and Whispers article, this comment:

    > Here are some of the points made by this large
    > company in a letter

    "Is there any independent confirmation that all those false claims were made by Microsoft? (Not because I don't trust Rob but because I want to be able to use information from this article to argue with people that don't trust him)"

    To which you responded:

    "@Nick, I'm not going to reveal my sources, but if you have a good reason for needing this information, send it to me in an email, and I'll pass it on to my source and them decide whether to respond."

    I request the same courtesy from you, please. Please provide your alleged source with a link to this conversation as my "good reason for needing this information."  

  • Rob Weir

    7/1/2009 3:43:58 AM |

    OK.  I'll send your request along, Paul.


  • Doug Mahugh

    7/1/2009 4:10:16 AM |

    Alex, I do recall that time you wrote that "reviewing OASIS's behavior inside SC34 will eventually inspire Rob's diatribes."  But I (perhaps naively) thought that I was the only person who knew to acronym your sentence fragment to uncover its secret meaning.

    A more secure tunneling protocol is probably in order.

Comments are closed