“As the person who (in my role as an OpenStreetMap system administrator) first discovered this `incident' let me start by saying that I consider this post to be grossly irresponsible and wholly inappropriate.
[ … ]
It seems to me that this is just an attempt to get some cheap publicity by trying to like the project to the Mocality incident, and I cannot support such behaviour.”
Tom Hughes said...
As the person who (in my role as an OpenStreetMap system administrator) first discovered this `incident' let me start by saying that I consider this post to be grossly irresponsible and wholly inappropriate.
The board of OSMF are making mountains out of tiny pimples here. It seems that they want this to be some sort of organised corporate malfeasance on the part of Google which is why they have tried to link it to the recent Mocality incident where there was indeed clear evidence of such behaviour.
The reality in this case is that there is no evidence that this is any different to the numerous other incidents we get all the time where users either accidentally or deliberately make bogus edits. The only difference in this case is that there happen to be two accounts (though we do not know if that is two people) and the user or users involved happen to (presumably) work for Google.
That is the sum total of what we know, and on the back of that, and without approaching Google at all, two leading board members have decided to reveal personal information about two of our users.
It seems to me that this is just an attempt to get some cheap publicity by trying to like the project to the Mocality incident, and I cannot support such behaviour.
I am told that this posting was in fact made in a personal capacity and as such any suggestion on my part that it represents an official position of the OSMF board is incorrect and should be disregarded.
"I am told that this posting was in fact made in a personal capacity and as such any suggestion on my part that it represents an official position of the OSMF board is incorrect and should be disregarded."
It may be a non-profit but the board members are still the ultimate bosses above the CEO. Calling your bosses behavior "grossly irresponsible" in public forum seems like it would be career limiting.
"The reality in this case is that there is no evidence that this is any different to the numerous other incidents we get all the time where users either accidentally or deliberately make bogus edits. The only difference in this case is that there happen to be two accounts (though we do not know if that is two people) and the user or users involved happen to (presumably) work for Google.
"That is the sum total of what we know, and on the back of that, and without approaching Google at all, two leading board members have decided to reveal personal information about two of our users."
Has Google released any statement beyond the one that said "We were mortified to learn that a team of people..."?
I'm overly curious on the results from Google's investigation.
I can see the connection with Mocality being mentioned, but vandalizing seems odd.
I would venture that this is coincidental.
Pick any branch office of a large enterprise or government and run a search for the IPs they use to access the internet.
You'll find vandalism on Wikipedia, ancient guestbook messages, mailing list postings, etc.
I'm certainly not a Google apologist, but this just seems fishy.
Hopefully Google shuts them down soon.
Regardless of whether or not you think Google is strategically sabotaging other projects, I think we can all agree that if it were under the direction of Google's top brass, they would have been smart enough not to use their own IPs. It's not an organization to which one would attribute less technological accumen than your average Wikipedia vandal.
>Google honestly knew nothing about it...
If Google Management knew of this, wonder why they would let this happen from Google IP addresses...
If we start blaming whoever an IP resolves to for vandalism, you're going to find that pretty much every major corporation has vandalized Wikipedia. (When I worked at BAC, our proxy was perma-banned for vandalism.) Not to mention the ISPs; Comcast is a notorious Wikipedia vandal (by this logic).
(To be fair, it was John C Dvorak's page. But the point is, I didn't do it for money.)
Should we apply this logic to all open source contributions, and view with suspicion everything that doesn't have a price tag attached?
We're aware of OpenStreetMap's claims that vandalism of OSM is occurring from accounts originating at a Google IP address. We are investigating the matter and will have more information as soon as possible
I hesitate to bring this up and add to the melodrama -- but people should be aware of the interests of the parties involved.
I'm not saying that there may not be a conflict of interest, but this post has some support from the board of the foundation.
Look forward to an explaination?... then contact them directly instead of "sand bagging" them (borrowing a colloquialism from Family Guy).
EDIT - I'm genuinely curious. Other than the sales people etc. I could'nt find any relevant details.
Contacting someone in Google Maps might help -- this would at least be a business unit that has some interest in not generating ill will. Google IO is a conference with lot of Googlers. There's a presentation about Google Maps, and if they aren't the right people to talk to, you could probably ask them who a good contact would be: http://www.google.com/events/io/2011/sessions/designing-maps...
That'd be my approach.
If you want to be particularly thorough, look up the name in abuse.net:
what would be a more credible way?
Google is notoriously difficult to contact for most people. One of the best ways to get them to respond is to let as many people as possible know about the issue at hand.
Public backlash -> answers.
I'm no fan of Microsoft (check post history), but when I found that a large volume of 419 spam was coming through Hotmail some years back, I looked up their main switchboard number, called, spoke briefly to the receptionist asking for the VP of the related unit (I'd looked up his name). She transferred me to him. He picked up on the first ring. I explained the situation briefly, we spoke for a few minutes, at the end of which he said he'd put me in touch with the guy who could fix things. Fifteen minutes later I was talking with him, and we exchanged information over the next few months as I helped him plug his holes. I am still highly impressed by the professionalism demonstrated at all levels. I'd also worked with Microsoft to resolve a GPL compliance issue (again, directly contacting the appropriate VP) again with minimal fuss.
A southeastern US university IT contractor who's private business was spamming me (and he was denying it) ended up with a series of emails escalating up the academic food chain, ultimately to the university president (.edu websites are, or at least were, wonderfully information rich). I eventually got the response I had hoped I'd get on first contact.
Another issue involving AOL at which numerous attempts to contact them failed. I ended up somewhat crashing (well, I did wrangle a late invite for a brief presentation) at which I presented data, including some which indicated AOL's little problem. Their chief postmaster was present. We talked a bit.
More recently, Yahoo have had issues in severely restricting mail delivery rates to Yahoo's MXs, even for long-existing, SPF/DKIM compliant MTAs. I'd gone endless rounds with their helpdesk and had repeatedly emailed (with no response) their CTO. So I sent a group email to a roster of their top (C-level and senior VP) staff, again with some data indicating issues (pflogsumm delivery stats showing hours of delay) and an introductory text "Gentlemen, you have a problem". That finally got a response in the form of a "Yahoo concierge" who spoke with me a couple of times and sorted the problem (and also promised a review of policies in general, in case anyone else is having issues).
Just a few anecdotes of different ways to get a company's attention. There's no one-size-fits-all approach, so be flexible. I generally try a direct private contact first, but ... well, if that doesn't work, I've got a bag of tricks I can pull out. Public shaming can work, but I'm willing to give the benefit of doubt first.
Update: Google sent the following statement to ReadWriteWeb on Tuesday morning. "The two people who made these changes were contractors acting on their own behalf while on the Google network. They are no longer working on Google projects."