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FUD

From Academic Kids

FUD is an abbreviation for Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt, a sales or marketing strategy of disseminating negative but vague or inaccurate information on a competitor's product. The term originated to describe misinformation tactics in the computer software industry and has since been used more broadly.

Contents

Definition

FUD was first defined by Gene Amdahl after he left IBM to found his own company, Amdahl Corp.: "FUD is the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that IBM sales people instill in the minds of potential customers who might be considering Amdahl products." (quoted in [1])

Eric S. Raymond speaks more about this in [1]:

"The idea, of course, was to persuade buyers to go with safe IBM gear rather than with competitors' equipment. This implicit coercion was traditionally accomplished by promising that Good Things would happen to people who stuck with IBM, but Dark Shadows loomed over the future of competitors' equipment or software. After 1991 the term has become generalized to refer to any kind of disinformation used as a competitive weapon."

Opponents of certain large computer corporations state that the spreading of fear, uncertainty, and doubt is an unethical marketing technique that these corporations consciously employ.

By spreading questionable information about the drawbacks of less well-known products, an established company can discourage decision-makers from choosing those products over its wares, regardless of the relative technical merits. This is a recognised phenomenon, epitomised by the traditional axiom of purchasing agents that "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM" equipment. The result is that many companies' IT departments buy software which they know to be technically inferior because upper management is more likely to recognize the brand.

Recent developments

Although once it was usually attributed to IBM, in the 1990s and later the term became most often associated with industry giant Microsoft. The Halloween documents (leaked internal Microsoft documents whose authenticity was verified by the company) use the term FUD to describe a potential tactic, as in "OSS is long-term credible ... [therefore] FUD tactics can not be used to combat it." [2] More recently, Microsoft has issued statements about the "viral nature" of the GNU General Public License (GPL), which Open Source proponents purport to be FUD. Microsoft's statements are often directed at the GNU/Linux community in particular, to discourage widespread Linux adoption, which could hurt Microsoft's marketshare.

The SCO Group's 2003 lawsuit against IBM, claiming intellectual property infringements by the open source community, is also regarded by some as being an attempt at spreading FUD, especially about Linux. IBM directly alleged in its counterclaim to SCO's suit that SCO is spreading FUD [3].

Similarly, the claims made by some members of the GPL community about the dangers and threats to freedom of software from non-GPL sources, such as commercial software vendors or BSD or X11 style licenses, is regarded by many to be FUD.

Free software advocates now often apply FUD as a label to the people who they feel are trying to make the FUD smears against Linux or other open source projects like Mozilla Firefox. In doing so, FUD takes on somewhat of a double meaning, as it is insinuated that those trying to spread the fear, uncertainty, and doubt are fuddy duddies who are too backward and set in their ways to acknowledge the value of something new and innovative. Sometimes this is written out as "FUDdy-duddy."[1] (http://www.linux-mag.com/2002-06/shutdown_01.html)

FUD can be used to offhandedly 'smear' criticism or legitimate debate, even in cases where the allegations are without merit or are merely implied; this tactic is often used in cases where the initial publicity surrounding claims of FUD is likely to vastly overshadow any subsequent retraction. Such an arbitrary usage is a general type of logical fallacy known as Ad hominem circumstantial.

At the same time, those being smeared can dismiss legitimate criticism as simply being FUD tactics, for example when usability defects in OSS are commented on by marketing directors of competing companies. This is aggravated by the aggressive and sometimes rabid anti Microsoft stance many advocates of Free software take.

Non-computer uses

FUD is now often used in non-computer contexts with the same meaning. For example, in politics the tactic is often used to attempt to alter public opinion on a particular issue or on an opposing group. Often, one group will accuse another group of utilizing FUD. Many critics of George W. Bush accused him of using a FUD-based campaign in the 2004 U.S. presidential election [2] (http://3martini.typepad.com/3martini/2004/10/bush_bangs_the_.html). Bush supporters also accused their opponents of using FUD by spreading rumors about a possible military draft should Bush be re-elected [3] (http://www.uncorrelated.com/archives/2004/09/democrat_fud_fe.html). Ironically, accusations of use of FUD can sometimes themselves become a FUD tactic to discredit the opposing side. Who actually utilizes FUD is a question that leads to difficulties with distinguishing objective and subjective truth.

Footnotes

  1. Raymond, Eric S. The Jargon File: FUD. [4] (http://www.catb.org/~esr/jargon/html/F/FUD.html)
  2. Open Source Initiative. Hallowe'en I: Open Source Software (New?) Development Methodology [5] (http://www.opensource.org/halloween/halloween1.php#quote4)
  3. The SCO Group v IBM - answer to amended complaint and counterclaims (Undecided, US District Court - Utah, Kimball J, filed 6 August 2004) Section E, paragraph 22 [6] (http://www.groklaw.net/pdf/Doc-27.pdf)

External links

  • FUDZilla (http://www.libervis.com/modules/mylinks/)
  • FUD (http://www.cavcomp.demon.co.uk/halloween/fuddef.html) (or the original page on the Internet Archive (http://web.archive.org/web/20020611090853/%68ttp://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Hills/9267/fuddef.html))
  • The FUD FAQ (http://fud-counter.nl.linux.org/fud-faq.html) (particularly as applied to the Linux operating system and the modern-day open source software movement)


This article or an earlier version of it came from the Jargon File.cs:FUD da:FUD de:Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt fi:FUD fr:Fear, uncertainty and doubt nl:FUD pl:FUD ja:FUD sv:FUD zh:FUD es:FUD

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