[sclug] Microsoft recruiting in Reading Uni

Tom Chance lists at tomchance.org.uk
Tue Oct 26 16:43:23 UTC 2004

On Tuesday 26 Oct 2004 15:15, James Wyper wrote:
> Hassling a M$ employee might be fun for you, but please bear the
> following points in mind:
> - He or she is probably doing this because they are paid to (unlike
> most Open Source enthusiasts, who use/develop Open Source because they
> choose to).  Is it really fair to disrupt them, when they are only
> doing a (perfectly legal and, in the opinion of most of the population,
> ethically unimpeachable) job?
> - I haven't yet had the chance to attend one of the monthly pub meets,
> but I'm pretty confident that you'd be hacked off if a M$ advocate
> turned up and droned on and on about XP / Office 2003 / whatever
> - Perhaps most importantly, one of the major barriers to more
> widespread Open Source and Linux adoption is the perception (note -
> **perception**) that it's still the plaything of hackers with limited
> social skills and no conception of the "real" world of business.  This
> sort of thing plays into the hands of anyone wishing to reinforce that
> perception.  I'm not suggesting that it would happen, but just imagine
> if you or someone else did go along to barrack the event, and M$'s PR
> department got hold of the news..

I'm not sure how you got this from what I wrote? I suggested "asking awkward 
questions...to persuade students attending that they shouldn't work for 
Microsoft, or just to raise concerns you might have with the company". I 
didn't suggest you hassle the employee, disrupt the meeting or imply that 
free software doesn't have a place in the world of business.

> I'm 95% certain that you were talking in jest, and I hope that you're
> not personally affronted by my reply (I **don't** want to start a flame
> war), but IMO the points I've raised are serious ones that we should
> bear in mind when considering better and worse methods of Linux
> advocacy.

The spirit was in jest, but the idea wasn't. I suppose this depends on what 
you're advocating - an alternative bit of technology, or an alternative 
approach to so-called "intellectual property". If, like me, you're advocating 
the latter (which is, incidentally, a position that, amongst other things, 
concerns the "real" business world) then it makes perfect sense to raise 
objections to Microsoft's approach to IP in a setting in which Microsoft is 
actively recruiting students.

I've been involved in doing this sort of thing at all kinds of recruitment 
talks, and it can be very effective. Students just never hear the other side 
because nobody gives it to them. If you present it politely and clearly, 
aside from some who are committed to their worldview, most will appreciate 
it, and some might even reconsider signing up to the recruitment scheme in 


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