RealTime IT News

JBoss in Mess Over 'Fake' Messages

The Middleware Company (TMC) and JBoss, Inc., have severed their business ties with each other over ongoing charges of JBoss employees posting fake messages on the TheServerSide.com online forum.

TMC, which owns the Web site, made the announcement Friday but there are questions about who cut the ties with whom first.

TheServerSide.com caters to the 326,126 registered members interested in vendor-neutral discussion, articles and reviews of Java-based technology. JBoss is one of the more popular Java-based open source projects on the market today, offering the JBoss Application Server as a free download. JBoss, Inc., is the services and support company formed around the software and headed by outspoken CEO Marc Fleury.

The issue doesn't seem so much that JBoss employees were signing up under fake IDs and posting disparaging remarks about competitors and promoting the JBoss model, called "astroturfing," but about the actions of its CEO.

"The Middleware Company attempted to diplomatically work through differences that arose from recent events," a TMC statement read. "However, the instability and unprofessional conduct from [Fleury] eroded the company's optimism for reaching resolution."

However, according to a post on TheServerSide forum by Joe McGonnel, JBoss, Inc., director of marketing, JBoss is the one that originally decided to end the business arrangement between the two companies Monday, and requested the matter be handled privately.

"The relationship between TMC and JBoss has gotten very personal over the past several weeks," it read. "For a number of reasons, JBoss decided to end our business relationship with TMC earlier this week (Monday to be exact)."

While JBoss officials could not be reached at press time for a comment, the JBoss blog features a comment posted by Fleury May 21 defending his company.

"You may have heard about recent charges in online forums that some JBoss employees, including me, were personally involved in anonymous postings on developer sites," the blog entry read. "The practice, known as 'astroturfing,' is wildly popular on sites like Slashdot that actually let you post as 'anonymous coward.' JBoss has the reputation as an in your face, straight up, tell it like it is company. I personally don't need a mask to speak my mind and one thing I can't stand is two-faced hypocrisy. This has made us many friends and a few critics."

But the last sentences of the same May 21 post by Fleury seem to contradict his opening sentences and lend validity to the charges:

"Our visibility and success puts our customers and partners in a situation where you expect and demand that employees of JBoss Inc. hold themselves to that higher standard," the post concluded. "Let's put the professional back in professional open source. 'Astroturfing' is hereby banned at JBoss, starting with me."

TMC officials were also unavailable for comment at press time.