Regular readers to Openbytes will remember that we recently covered a rather sinister practice where a Microsoft MVP had changed his name (and gender) in the comments section of Openbytes in order to support himself by pretending to be another user.

This wasn’t new news since the same Microsoft MVP had also engaged in the same behaviour on CNET where he had two different accounts there.

You can read that article here, although I won’t mention the name of the person concerned in this text (only in the email paste), lest he claims that I use his “name” to get hits to my site.  So does our Microsoft MVP seems to think their name alone attracts readers?  I’m sure after reading some of the “work” of this MVP you will come to your own conclusions about how “important” he is.

I decided that it would be best to bring the behaviour of this MVP to the attention of the MVP program, afterall if someone is representing themselves with a “Microsoft MVP” title then I would expect Microsoft would at least be interested in what they were doing whilst displaying that title.  With that in mind I sent the following to Microsoft:

To Whom it may concern,

I run the blog (linked in sig) and read with interest your comments in
regards to the MVP award of:

” These exceptional community leaders come from a wide range of
backgrounds. They are teachers, artists, doctors, engineers, as well as
technologists, who actively share their high-quality, real-world technical expertise
with the community and with Microsoft.”

It is with puzzlement then that I find a Microsoft MVP making comments
on my blog (to support himself) under an alias (changing his gender and
name)

I wrote about this at the time, which you can see here:
openbytes.wordpress.com/2010/04/23/microsoft-mvp-andre-da-costa-oops-heshes-done-it-again/

and it was a followup from information that the same MVP (Andre Da
Costa) had been using an alias (as well as his own handle) on CNET to
support his Microsoft opinion.

I am writing another followup article on your “MVP” program as this is
not only the example of MVP behavior I wish to highlight.  I wonder, are
you willing to make a comment?

Is Andre Da Costa an example of “exceptional community leader”?  What is
Microsoft’s position on this type of behavior? and if Andre (in this
case) has acted in a way that Microsoft does not condone, how does
Microsoft justify continuing to let him represent himself as a Microsoft
MVP?

If you look further on my blog, you will see his behavior has been
followed for a considerable time, Mr Da Costa recently posted words to
the effect of “*Its a shame Michael Jackson didn’t live to see Windows
7*” on Twitter (which he tries to justify on my blog)  Is this the way
Microsoft wants its products promoted?  Why does it take a 3rd party to
challenge this type of behavior.

If you would like to comment, you are more than welcome.  I would like
for both sides of the debate to be presented in my article.

Kind regards

To be fair to Microsoft, I received a speedy reply.  After sending the email on Saturday, I got an auto-reply stating that within 2 working days they would respond and on Monday I received the following email:

Hello,

I am sorry to hear about your recent experience with the Microsoft MVP Award Program. Please be assured that we take your feedback seriously and regularly reinforce the Microsoft Communities Rules of Conduct and MVP Award Program Code of Conduct with all active MVPs.

At Microsoft, we believe that by participating in technical communities, MVPs enhance people’s lives and the Industry’s success. Its unfortunate that this particular community interaction resulted in a negative experience for you, rather than a positive one. I hope you will continue to participate in these valuable community channels, as they are a great way to help foster the free and objective exchange of technical knowledge to users around the globe.

For customer privacy reasons we will not share any MVP correspondence with you regarding this matter or actions taken by Microsoft. Please consider this email your confirmation that we have received your feedback and will take action as appropriate.

Thank you for taking the time to share this feedback with us. Please consider this matter resolved.

Best Regards,

MVP Global Administrator

Since the matter seems to be resolved (as far as they are concerned) What made me chuckle was:

Its unfortunate that this particular community interaction resulted in a negative experience for you, rather than a positive one.

Thats it? Its unfortunate?  You mean an MVP coming to my blog and changing gender and name is a “negative experience” for me?  It certainly was and one I will share with others.

What about “sorry” instead of unfortunate?  I think the only thing that was unfortunate was I noticed the nymshifting (for the person concerned).

Lets hope:

and will take action as appropriate.

Is something a little more than a simple email although I do get rather suspicious when I read:

I hope you will continue to participate in these valuable community channels

Since it was the MVP contributing to my blog.

I get the feeling that this is a copy and paste email since “community channels” seems to suggest something Microsoft offers not Openbytes.

Of course the MVP in question has already seemed to prepare on his twitter account with the comment of:

You know what I am realizing? 2010 is the year of obsession, Gawker media’s obsession with Apple is a perfect example.

Which I am sure he will extend to this blog when he sees the article (as I think he’s written that because he’s received contact from the MVP program re: my email)

What I would respond is this.  It is not obsessing to challenge someone who uses a Microsoft title and then goes on to change their name and gender in order to try and create the illusion of support by another user.  Thats not obsessing, since you did that.  It’s not obsessing to challenge that type of behaviour and it’s certainly not obsessing to ask readers to make up their own mind about what they think of you and the integrity of some MVP’s.

So is this another example of Microsoft Advocacy? Is the only pro-MS opinion a paid or awarded one?  and how widespread is this practice of nymshifting by this particular MVP or indeed others?

Certainly the MVP in question was happy with his MVP award pack, which he tweeted about and said:

My MVP Award Kit arrived today, gosh its gorgeous!🙂 Got a bit choked up😉 #mvpbuzz

But whats even more interesting is that he had this to say:

Why is a Linux advocate (a known Internet Spammer too) concerned about Microsoft Award program?

I wonder who he is talking about?  Maybe he can confirm?  I’m sure that person would like to be able to defend themselves, but as is usually the way, the allegation has no basis, that is why there is no name.  And what does that make him?

As always, its your call readers, but remember Linux advocates don’t receive freebies or gifts like we have seen advocates of other systems get.  I promote the distro’s I do, not because I get awards, freebies or gifts but because I have an honest held belief in what I write.  I am sure other Linux writers are the same.  Question is, who has more integrity?  The writer that does it for free or the writer who receives gifts/awards?  Thats something for you to decide.

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

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