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Thursday, December 6th, 2007, 2:07 am

When Going Against Someone is the Best Way to Help…

I was recently made aware of a Web site and startup called The Point. It is said to be “a new way of thinking about organizing actions like boycotts.” To borrow a description of the methods used: “When you start a campaign on The Point, you target a company and say, ‘Change, or else when X people join, we’ll all do something that will force you to change.’ So no one does anything until the campaign reaches its ‘tipping point’ — when you have the numbers to actually force a solution.”

This is related to the Web site Boycott Novell, which I mentioned a few moments ago. The site presents the point of view which is rarely covered and makes people aware of reasons to avoid Novell and move on to other solutions/companies. In that respect, the site has been very successful and cost Novell millions. Visibility/reach/publicity are the key. It’s long lasting due to RSS/search engines.

Signatures alone are not enough, but Bruce Perens played a role in a Novell boycott as well. He had 3000+ people sign a petition which is protesting against Novell’s deal with Microsoft. If there’s a site where people can quickly add their name to acknowledge that Novell lost their business, that would be it. In Novell’s case, Bruce Perens beat Shane and I to it.

The power of the Web (peers) has had many petition spots born. They can be made more effective though. One needs to hit abusive companies where it hurts — the PR image, which in turn hurts their wallet in the most effective (and long-lasting) way.

We sometimes pressure or present a list of conditions and suggestions for Novell. Last week, for example, Novell was pressured to stop with careless Mono development, to a certain degree. A former Novell developer acknowledged this after the GNOME Foundation found itself attacked.

To an extent, the site was inspired by the work of Groklaw, which brought SCO to its knees.

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