"If you're going to say what you want to say, you're going to hear what you don't want to hear."
--Chilean novelist and poet Roberto Bolano
A little more than a year ago, we began to use the Disqus commenting service as the backbone of InformationWeek's article discussions. Since then, we've received more than 10,000 comments to our stories and commentaries. That's enough to fill Moby Dick cover to cover -- four times!
For the most part, everyone has maintained decorum and civility towards one another. Oh sure, there's the occasional brouhaha over someone's thoughts regarding a smartphone. Or offshore outsourcing. Or Google. Or Windows. Or Apple.
Look, we get it: You're passionate about your opinions, and we respect that. And everyone is entitled to them. Your own facts? Not so much, as fellow readers are often quick to point out.
We've enjoyed reading all your thoughts this past year. To that end, we looked back at the last 12 months of audience participation. Check out some of our favorite comments, some of the most "Liked" and some that ... well, you just have to read them.
In January, Eric Zeman reported on AT&T's big losses in fourth quarter 2011. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson was pretty perturbed and claimed one of the factors for the financial woes was inconsistent government regulation, which stymied his company's attempts to purchase T-Mobile USA.
Reader 'Inverse137' had a difference in opinion as to why AT&T had such a poor showing:
"Huh ... See, I would have faulted their crappy customer service and their screw-you attitude."
On Groundhog Day, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, and ducked back into his cozy burrow to wait out six more weeks of winter. A couple of Google execs probably wished they could squeeze right in there with him, as the company was caught bypassing the privacy settings of those using Apple's Safari Web browser, which, unlike other major browsers, blocks third-party cookies by default. The incident prompted calls for an FCC investigation.
A reader with the mysterious screen name 'Eschewing Obfuscation' seemed, however, to be on Google's side:
"Privacy hawks aside, Google's shareholders have a right to accurate information regarding Google's solicitation, use of and strategies for gaining personal information."
If there's one thing we've come to expect from our audience, it's the utter devotion/loathing that some of you have for Microsoft and its products. With the debut of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview in March, folks were scrambling to test drive the new OS. Microsoft warned that since it was a beta version, users wouldn't be getting a real feel for what the OS could do. To that end, the company offered some tips in a blog on how to boost performance.
Almost immediately the snark appeared. 'Kmcowan' quipped:
"The BEST way to boost performance is to use Mac OS X, Unbuntu or something other than Windows."
Reader 'MTECH000' wondered:
"So let me get this straight, it performs better than previous operating system, but it requires more hardware to run it."
'Cold Blue Eyes' couldn't contain himself:
"Microsoft concerned about performance!!!! You're killing me here ha ha ha ha ha ha!"
But reader 'shutup' spoke up for Microsoft:
"Are your serious? Microsoft bends over backwards to make sure their software works on millions of old worthless boat anchor computers so they wont get sued by people that think they should get a lifetime of free updates. Seriously my 2 year old htc smartphone meets the minimum specs that Microsoft has laid out for win 8!"
Right up there with the Windows love/hate feelings are the ... ahem ... strong opinions that many of you have towards all things Apple. Back in April, the iPad Mini was still a rumor being debated, dismissed and desired.
Reader 'offthewall' wondered if the world hadn't in fact already seen the device:
"Doesn't apple already make an iPad mini? It's called the iPod touch and the iPhone."
There are those occasions when the Microsofties and Applephiles come together like the Hatfields and McCoys: Neither side will ever pass up the opportunity to take a potshot at the other. In May, Microsoft took heat for accusations that the Windows 8 Tablet OS favored Internet Explorer over third-party browsers such as Firefox.
Reader zman58 griped:
"Did we really expect anything else? Leverage your monopoly in one area to try to dominate another. Bend and break any rules or law that you can. Vampires just can't change their ways -- no matter what they tell you. We'll be better, we promise!"
Reader 'rkdowner' retorted:
"How about investigating why Apple doesn't allow 3rd party browsers on iOS? Why investigate Microsoft and not Apple? A monopoly is a monopoly is a monopoly."
"Why is it that when Microsoft has a browser installed by default they get sued but Apple and Google do not? That's flippin Monopoly too!"
In June, Facebook purchased facial recognition company Face.com, aiming to use the company's superior technology to improve picture tagging. Facebook has been no stranger to controversy in the last few years, from unexpected (and in some cases, unwanted) interface updates to unannounced security changes. Photo tagging is typically a hot-button issue for people with privacy concerns, so this acquisition didn't improve the situation.
'AustinIT' said ominously:
"Spielberg's Minority Report comes to mind ..."
Reader 'LT' echoed the sentiment:
"Facial recognition is a big negative. Facebook is just getting creepier & creepier. I deleted my account months ago & so did many of my friends. Why? We do not want to be constantly tracked, stalked & identified. It ceased to be fun long ago."
On the other hand, 'ZeroHedges' seemed resigned to his fading privacy:
"You are always welcome to drop off the grid to protect your privacy. I'm just saying that you may have to move to a ranch in Afghanistan if you want to stay off the grid."
With social media continuing to extend beyond vacation pictures and tweets about football games, businesses continue to try to successfully capitalize on it. With all this activity, we found it a little disconcerting that 70% of Fortune 500 CEOs are not involved in their company's social networks.
'Jennifer Abernethy' offered her thoughts and a prediction:
"I hear from employees every day how frustrated they are that their CEO and/or C-level executives just don't get this social business landscape we are in right now. If they continue to turn a blind eye ... they won't be around 7-10 years from now."
'Sacalpha1' was a bit more critcial with his opinion:
"Most CEOs will never invest the time in social networking because it has no business based payback. Their job is to run their company and with all of their responsibilities, spending time with social networking would be so far down their to do list that they never even give it a thought."
As the sticky heat of August began to cause air conditioners and fans to blow full force, a rumor started on the breeze that Samsung might be interested in buying troubled RIM. However Samsung was quick to dismiss the reports.
That didn't stop reader 'JameKatt' from this little ponder:
"Why would Samsung buy RIM? It would have nothing successful to copy."
See the whole article and discussion.
In September, InformationWeek's Rob Preston wrote a commentary called "Sorry, But Outsourcing Isn't Evil."
Here's what reader 'twiddler99' said:
"Echoing the entitled attitude of the corporate elite, and quoting statistics on the ubiquity of offshoring does not make the practice ethical. It is unpatriotic."
Reader 'bfreedman940' took a more pragmatic approach:
"IT outsourcing is merely a management tactic. Outsourcing isn't good or bad. Outsourcing isn't a guarantee of success. It is legal and ethical. If done right it, it can create competitive advantage and economic gain. If done wrong it is a costly drag on success."
In mid-October, editor-at-large Paul McDougall offered up his thoughts on the recently debuted Windows 8. At the time, he had good things to say about Microsoft's new OS, and opined that for the first time in a while, it was now Apple's turn to catch up. The worlds of Microsoft and Apple fans collided once more.
"Apple has had a habit of telling you how you're supposed to use your computer. Windows had always been the friend to the power user, allowing you to fit the experience to your own needs, not forcing you to work inside of their parameters."
On the flipside, reader 'johnitguru' said:
"Incredible horse manure. MicroKlunk has NO APPS and worse their interface is so FUGLY no one wants to be caught dead using it! "
And then there was this one from RitchieSmith (I wonder if that's a pseudonym for Danny Bonaduce):
"Win8 looks like the Partridge Family's bus."
November saw the end of David Petraeus' career as the director of the CIA. One of the biggest head- scratchers about the whole scandal was how Petraus and his mistress apparently used Gmail to coordinate their activities.
Readers like 'Austin IT' found it mind-boggling:
"Seems they would have been better off using disposable cell phones to communicate. Hard to believe our top dog would use Google services ... for an affair no less. Sheesh."
Reader 'FT1' was a little more critical:
"The director of the CIA doesn't know about Email encryption like PGP or ofshore VPN and email services like Unspyable. I worry about the jokers running governments these days, top down."
And that brings us up to December. Paul McDougall expressed concern about alleged lagging sales of Windows 8, and wondered if Microsoft should pull a "Coke Classic" and bring back a more familiar version.
Reaction was unsurprisingly swift, on both sides.
Reader 'Ks2 Problema' agreed:
"Microsoft ignored what consumers wanted and just about everything usability experts have taught us and created a confusing, inefficient mess."
Reader 'llynn' was maybe just a little bit harsher:
"Microstupid once again showed us all that they could careless about what the consumer wants and they care ONLY for Insane Obscene ASTRONOMICAL Pofits!"
Reader 'dsdsds' however posed this question:
"If 40 million in sales (not installed, but on the books for MS financially) in one month is fizzling, how many million in sales is just doing OK?"
If you've posted a comment in the past year, thanks for being part of our community, and we hope to see you chatting it up in 2013. If you haven't, don't be shy -- make your voice heard and connect with our editors and contributors.