[Originally Posted 15-June-2004]

If you do anything with professional Java development,especially in the J2EE space, then you know that the JBoss group was just caught ‘astroturfing’ the forum boards at TheServerSide.com. What astroturfing means is that a bunch of JBoss employees were heralding the virutes of JBoss over all the other J2EE servers out there (in particular they were going after BEA – makers of WebLogic) and doing so anonymously. As a result, they were not saying “I’m a JBoss employee and I think that…” they were making it sound like they were employees of companies using JBoss and that it was what saved their company.

After the JBoss group was found out by other users of TheServerSide forums, it appeared that, upon closer inspection, that TSS might have *known* what JBoss was doing and ignored it, because JBoss were huge sponsors of TSS conferences, banner ads, etc. Now some of the more high-profile whiners are saying they are severing their ties with TSS. In particular the Spile Blog [http://jroller.com/page/pyrasun/20040526#saying_goodbye_to_an_old]:

Well, today I say goodbye to that old friend, that community which has figured so prominently in my life for the past couple of years. There’s still a great deal of value in that community, but I believe they’ve let myself and the community down in a way that I can’t get past and will not condone, either explicitly or tacitly.

As an end result, in a purely over-reactionairy move, TSS has “severed ties” with the JBoss group [http://www.theserverside.com/user/bookmarks.tss?thread_id=26234]:

We attempted to diplomatically work through our differences that arose from recent events. However, the instability and unprofessional conduct from JBoss Inc. CEO Marc Fleury eroded our optimism for reaching resolution. We regret the inconvenience this may cause JBoss, Inc.

Translation: Oops! You caught us, and now we have to make like hard-asses so people don’t lose faith in us…

I think the Java developer community needs to take a step back and keep something in mind – these are all BUSINESSES. These are NOT altruistic organizations trying to better mankind with free J2EE servers. They are trying to make a LIVING. The Middleware Company, TSS’ parent, needed the capital from JBoss in order to run their Server Symposium conference series. Without it, our fees to those conferences sharply rise. Now should they have been more forthright in providing details of the nature of their relationship with JBoss? Sure… Ethically that would have been nice – but they (JBoss and TSS/TMC) are two private companies and are under no legal obligation to do so. None of us are part owners in the company – we buy services from them – nothing more. My advice to TSS would be to maintain your relationship with JBoss but turn off “annonymous posting” and show on the screen what people’s posting IP address is.

And to JBoss – you guys are technically a brilliant group, but you have all the common sense of a box of rocks with respect to marketing and technical evangelism. You have a GREAT tool – and you should evangelize it all you can, but do NOT do it by lying about who you are or who is using it. How am *I* supposed to push the virtues of JBoss (and did I mention it’s a great product?) on forums like TSS when now everyone who reads it will automatically assume I’m just a shill for the JBoss group?

Thanks guys. I’ll keep using your tools, but you just created a HUGE uphill battle for me…