Andover.Net and the deep pockets of Wilber the GIMP?

Posted 2 Feb 2000 at 20:42 UTC by shawn Share This

This is a true story of a big Linux media giant (if you believe the hype) who apparently doesn't understand Free Software. Enjoy!

A few days ago, I checked my voicemail and had a message from Andover.Net. These are the guys that own Slashdot and Freshmeat. The message said something about advertising.

My initial assumption was that Andover.Net wanted to put advertisements up on We get a lot of hits to both and, so I thought this made some sense. I've basically decided in the past not to put advertisements on those sites unless it generated enough to employ full-time people to maintain them, but I figured I'd be nice and return the representative's call anyway. I called him back that day, but he was not at his desk so I left a voice message.

The next day, he called me at about 9:30am. I was still sleeping and completely incoherent at the time. It was obvious to him that I had been sleeping and he commented on it several times, "perhaps I should call back later." I asked what type of thing he was proposing and then replied with something along the lines of, "the server is on a university network, so we really can't advertise." OK, I think at this point he thought I was completely insane and maybe still asleep. So he asked if he could send me some materials via e-mail and I said sure.

I eventually got his e-mail. Attached was a Microsoft Word document which had some info about why you would want to advertise on the Andover.Net network. It had Wilber the GIMP at the top of the document and he misspelled my name. I was confused at the document as it seemed pretty void of content. Then it hit me: Andover.Net was trying to get to pay for advertising space on Slashdot.

I started laughing pretty good at that point. Apparently Andover.Net didn't know what GIMP was at all. Just to make sure I wasn't misunderstanding something, I decided to give the representative a call back. I called and got his voice mail, so I figured I'd call back the next day.

That leads us up to this morning, when I called the guy back and asked him if he was proposing that advertise on Slashdot. He said yes, and I asked him if he knew what GIMP was. He said he had 'done some research of your site', but that basically he did not know. I told him that GIMP was free software and thus did not make any money. He said he didn't know much about computers. I also let him know that ads already run on Freshmeat for both GIMP and GTK+ projects.

He asked some questions about how we where organized and I told him we did not have any central organization. I told him that I registered and volunteers helped put up the content and maintain the site. I also told him how the developers where all over the world. He said if we ever put up a commercial product to keep them in mind. I told him that wasn't likely and I wasn't very impressed with Andover.Net's understanding of Free Software.

I've found this pretty entertaining. But it's also scary to me that Andover.Net, who is claiming to be the 'leading Linux/Open Source destination on the Internet' doesn't employ people who know what GIMP is. Last time I checked, GIMP was a pretty big and popular free software project. I don't expect they would know all free software projects of course, but I'm pretty sure our web page indicates that it is indeed a site for free software.

Darn., posted 3 Feb 2000 at 02:34 UTC by jdube » (Journeyer)

Well, to me it looks like Linux is beginning to be exploited by business people with no clue. At first you may laugh at it or be offended by it, but think of it this way: would the business people bother exploiting it if it was going to fail? Did they ever exploit BSD? No. So maybe it is a good sign, because with success there are always the "clingers," you know the types: Corel, and now, apparently, Andover. Even Microsoft, if you count the announcement on Slashdot today that they will release a Linux Media Player. Actually that was probably another stupid joke they did, but I guess we won't know till tomorrow.
Yes, it feels dirty. Yes, it feels wrong. But having the sell outs of the Linux world (especially some companies considered "big name") can't all be bad. We don't have to buy their product, or use their product, but to play devil's advocate let's look at it this way: if one company sees Corel fail at delving into Linux, do you think that they will try? Of course not. And the more companies that are afraid to try Linux or marketing Linux, the less likely it will catch on.
Yes, I do realize that this was concerning the Gimp and not Linux, but as Gimp is a Linux app I thought it would be fitting to point this out here. Once more graphic computer artists (or whatever the heck you call them) find out about the Gimp, maybe they will use Linux. Now, I'm not saying you should shell the bucks out of your pocket just for a little advertising, but take it as a good omen.

The Gimp is not a Linux app!, posted 3 Feb 2000 at 13:05 UTC by Raphael » (Master)

Just for the record, I would like to remind you that the Gimp is not only a Linux application: it runs on other UNIX-like systems (I use it daily on Solaris) and it has been ported to Windows and OS/2 as well. The Gimp seems to become increasingly popular as a Windows application.

And now for the on-topic part: I just hope that Andover has a marketing/advertising department that is clearly separated from their investments/acquisitions department. I could understand that they have clueless people in the former and bright people who understand Open Source in the latter. If all of them are clueless, then it is scary.

Oops, posted 3 Feb 2000 at 15:02 UTC by jdube » (Journeyer)

Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that it was a Linux only app. It runs on Linux, though, and I bet that's why they called.

Will VA make Andover more clueful?, posted 3 Feb 2000 at 18:08 UTC by kelly » (Master)

It's clear that at least some of Andover's marketing droids are clueless about the industry they operate in. The real question, IMO, is whether VA's recent acquisition of Andover will change anything....

World domination is a crock., posted 4 Feb 2000 at 01:14 UTC by Radagast » (Journeyer)

Make it better and more free. World domination, "market penetration" and all these other things are uninteresting. The only "advantage" to a free platform that's offered by having a large market share is that companies will port their proprietary software to it. Which isn't much of an advantage at all, really.

As for the cluefulness of Andover, seeing what Slashdot is like these days, both from the user side and the admin side (Roblimo, anyone?), I wouldn't be too surprised. I'm not too optimistic about the VA thing either, given that VA has its own agenda which isn't necessarily congruent with the interests of the community. Their intense focus on Intel chips, for instance, could be negative to the state of non-x86 ports of free software, especially in a scenario where more and more free software developers work for the large companies.

No money?? What are you smoking?, posted 4 Feb 2000 at 22:12 UTC by uzi » (Journeyer)

Considering the Slashdot Beanie award for $2k to Wilber the GIMP, you should have plenty of money for advertisements now!


win32 gimp, posted 7 Feb 2000 at 13:38 UTC by DaveD » (Observer)

I would also like to chime in on win32 gimp...

My wife is using this daily! And, she is passing copies around to people in the Edu. Tech. program she is in at Cal State. Most of the peoples eyes glaze over about the time the `x' of unix rolls by, but gimp they get.

The win32 port has increased linux visibility quite a bit, at least in this case.

Whoah!, posted 7 Feb 2000 at 20:34 UTC by dunne » (Observer)

Hey, slow down! Salespeople are, as a rule, clueless. Period. They are good at selling things. They generally don't know shit about what they are selling. Of course's salesforce aren't any different. That's Showbiz!

Now that Linux is mainstream, we are going to see this sort of thing reported time and time again. But, really, so what? It's hardly a novelty for anyone who's been in the computing field for any length of time. When Linux was not commercial, this sort of thing didn't happen, because there was no money in Linux. Now there is; so don't expect Linux to be treated differently from any other commodity.

-- What's the difference between a used-car salesman and a computer salesman"?
-- The used-car salesman knows he's lying.

Old Jokes Never Die, posted 9 Feb 2000 at 03:38 UTC by idcmp » (Journeyer)

If I decided that every time I heard someone from the US say something stupid that every American on the planet was a fool I would have it constantly re-enforced into my skull.

Luckily I'm able to reason that just because one person in a group may have a faulty understanding of issues, or make a mistake that can be corrected, that s/he doesn't reflect everyone there.

As anyone who has ever been in an akward situation where they weren't aware of everything going on can relate to, sometimes you make mistakes. Perhaps the rest of us have been lucky enough that these people who corrected our mistakes didn't take the time and energy to post our mishaps on a website.

Yeah, this was pretty funny., posted 16 Feb 2000 at 22:14 UTC by chrisd » (Master)

Hey there everyone, we all let out a collective "What the ***" when we heard about this too, we found the sales guy and explained that this is not really rthe right thing to do. In his defense, he just didn't know, and luckily, he does know now, Andovers VP of sales Bill Dwyer talked with him and explained things. (Bill is pretty cool about such things)

Josh Freeman over there will be doing a bit more on who and how to contact for ad sales and such so this sort of thing doesn't happen again, no matter how funny it is. IF anyone has anything else on thier mind, they can email me at

Chris DiBona VA Linux Systems.

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