LinuxWorld Editorial Staff Resigns & My Sys-Con Media Experiences

I wasn’t really on the internet much on Friday as I was busy with work and also went out of town for the weekend, but apparently there has been a lot of buzz in the open source world in the past week or two about Sys-Con Media which seemed to culminate over the weekend with the editorial staff of LinuxWorld resigning. Sys-Con publishes a wide variety of technology related magazines including ColdFusion Developers Journal. (Disclaimer: I’ve been published by them– more on this later). I haven’t seen any other ColdFusion bloggers cover the issue, so I guess I’ll have to blaze a new, perhaps controversial trail here.

The buzz stems from a former LinuxWorld magazine columnist, Maureen O’Gara, essentially attacking Pamela Jones, the founder of GrokLaw. GrokLaw could be summed up as a community blog similar to Slashdot which covers technology legal issues, and is quite popular with those involved in the open source community. In particular, it’s probably most famous for calling out SCO on various issues related to their lawsuit against IBM and other Linux “intellectual property” related jackassery. Maureen was eventually dismissed from Sys-Con as a result of community pressure following this article.

The worst part about all of this is the recent interview of Fuat Kircaali, the publisher of these magazines. In his interview, he basically states that he pulled the aforementioned article because Sys-Con was getting DOS’ed, not because the article was unethical. This has created a lot of bad publicity and backlash for Sys-Con, including the whole editorial staff of LinuxWorld resigning. I’d also assume all of them were unpaid– I didn’t even receive a complimentary print copy of the issue of the CFDJ that I wrote in for instance, whereas I received several copies of Inside ColdFusion MX when it was published after I’d helped edit it in addition to being paid a small fee.

As I’m not an active reader of their other magazines, it appears that those publications have the reputation of being more controversial and gossip oriented than the CFDJ. For instance, the current leading article on the Sys-Con site as of this writing is “Does LAMP Challenge J2EE & .NET?” In my opinion, the CFDJ seems to be pretty much what you’d expect of a developer related magazine, but perhaps it’s left alone by the executive management since ColdFusion isn’t a sexy buzz word like “Java” or “Linux”. This “controversial” reputation explains a strange event that happened a few months back with some content I wrote.

A few months back, a post I wrote which did an informal comparison of job openings ended-up getting Slashdotted. During the middle of putting out server fires, I got an e-mail from someone at Sys-Con asking for my approval to publish that content, with a link to it on their site to preview it for my approval. I just assumed it was for the CFDJ, so I didn’t read much into it. I did find it strange that my author link didn’t appear, so I replied and told them I’ve wrote for them before, and to link it up to my author profile, but otherwise I was fine with them posting it on their site.

As it turns out, what I thought was going to be published for the CFDJ didn’t get published there at all, and instead ended-up on several Sys-Con sites including LinuxWorld, .NET Developers Journal, Eclipse Developers Journal, and the Java Developers Journal with controversial titles. I got flamed for what originally was just a simple blog post about me playing around with a new job search engine, and I ended-up having to post comments in the forums for the various posted instances of the articles to explain what had happened.

In general it just seems like a case where the Captain of the ship is completely oblivious to what is going on below deck, and it’s too bad that so many good people involved with Sys-Con are having their reputation tarnished by a couple of peoples actions and opinions. From reading the buzz around the internets (sic), it looks like a lot of people are going to start boycotting Sys-Con publications. I’m sort of mixed about that issue myself– I liked the people I worked with and find the CFDJ to contain interesting and valuable content, but I also tend to avoid supporting organizations and causes which I have major moral or ethical objections with (like Wal-Mart for instance).

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