Searching for BobbyMax

Running a technology message board is a bit like running a lunatic asylum, with one difference: The patients in an asylum are sometimes curable. [Ed. note: I believe the politically correct term is Madhouse.]

Take the furor over a regular poster on the Light Reading Message Boards who goes by the name of BobbyMax, a curmudgeonly prolific message-board participant who has become the shockjock of the Light Reading message boards

"Will everyone just please ignore BobbyMax," wrote BBoa in October 29 on the Light Reading board.

What is it that irks so many readers? It's probably BobbyMax's formulaic and machine-like posts, which, appearing nearly daily, are almost always negative and critical of every company and individual in the telecom industry. Maybe it's his flouting of spelling and grammar rules. Or perhaps that some of his posts border on hate speech?

Nah, he's just annoying.

Typically, BobbyMax posts in hit-and-run style, nailing an assailant with invective and then ducking off the boards from many hours, if not days. His negativity is pure and repetitious. He hates and is skeptical of everything. Here, for example, are the subject titles of some or his rants: Then, my personal favorite: "Mired in anger and mirage," you don't say? This "Dr. Gea" post marked the beginning of a new phase for BobbyMax, in which he lashed out at his critics. Previously, he ignored any attempts to debate or cricize his writings. Here he flings some at a reader named AAL5:

"Dear Dr. AAL5: Your hate mail campaign has not stopped. I do not mind if you express your ideas. You should be AAL2/3. Please repent your birth and existence in this world."

In researching BobbyMax's post, I've been able to find one single case of a reasonably "positive" post, in which he lauds next-generation Sonet technology: Next Generation SONET Saves Cost.. In that post he even goes as far to commend two vendors: "I think that Nortel and Alcatel have the best quality next generation Sonet nodes," writes BobbyMax.

BobbyMax was unavailable for comment, and he hasn't responded to repeated requests for comment on the Light Reading message boards.

So who is BobbyMax? Inquiring minds want to know. And one of the most persistent questions from Light Readers is: "Could you please tell us who BobbyMax is?"

It's against Light Reading's own privacy policy to divulge the identities of message-board users to the public, but I'll tell you it's 99.9% likely that BobbyMax is hiding behind a generic Hotmail address anyway, so it don't matter.

Sleuthing reveals few real secrets. Rarely responding to criticism, BobbyMax reveals little about who he (or she) is on the boards. The global disdain for emerging technologies and startups leads many to believe he is firmly ensconced at an RBOC or incumbent equipment provider.

But several, more eccentric theories abound. One is that BobbyMax is the product of an Artifical Intelligence (AI) experiment at Bell Labs, gone horribly awry. Another theory is that he is the creation of Light Reading editors, for the purpose of generating message-board traffic. Light Reading management categorically denies creating BobbyMax, and we point to the fact that his frequent postings and rantings would require the hiring of a full-time "BobbyMaxer," for which we have neither the resources nor the patience.

What is clear, however, is that BobbyMax has pissed off a lot of people.

"Dear LR readers, The 'Ignore author' feature is meant for the likes of BobbyMax," writes jim_smith (the post is here). "Use it."

Other readers prefer he stay.

"I have to say that I enjoy BobbyMax's ranting quite a bit," writes Aleksander Zawisza in an email to the editors. "I don't agree with his bitterness towards engineers from '3rd world countries,' but I find that his views embody the worst of what some of us sometimes think about the industry's downfall."

In another peculiar twist, a reader wrote in to point out that a friend of his had a "similar name" to Bobby Max. His friend is angry that some people in the industry have confused him with BobbyMax. He said his friend is considering hiring a lawyer to stop BobbyMax from posting under that pseudonym.

It's almost as if BobbyMax is some sort of Doppleganger... a spirit representing the bad Karma of an industry in the toilet. His negativity breaches that of even the darkest pessimists. In BobbyMax's world, no new technology is relevant, all executives are cynical and criminal, and the industry has little hope but to descend into an abyss of permanent bankruptcy and depression.

No, things just aren't that bad. My phone still works. And this message board is a fine tool spurred by the telecom revolution.

Beware of BobbyMax. Maybe he's sitting next to you? Or perhaps he's your CEO. Ignoring him -- yes, now that's probably the right move.

- R. Scott Raynovich, US Editor, Light Reading
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gea 12/4/2012 | 9:08:09 PM
re: Searching for BobbyMax Funny!

Sometimes I am tempted to think that Bobby's programmer may deliberately monkey up the grammar in order to cover the various gaffes that Bot's make.

What's funny is that the Bot you linked to really does make more sense than bobby, at least on a line-by-line basis. Unlike a bot, Bobby improvises, claiming corruption and facts and figures (all with no basis in reality of course)that were not mentioned in the original article.

So IF Bobby's a bot, he's a very advanced one on some levels. If he's actually a flesh-and-blood human being, he's not as human as a bot!
Spaz 12/4/2012 | 9:08:14 PM
re: Searching for BobbyMax At first I thought that I had found the bot that was posting as Bobby.


Then I realized that this couldn't be the one for two reasons:

1. The grammar is good.
2. It puts together cohert responses.

It IS pretty fun though.

MrLight 12/4/2012 | 9:13:06 PM
re: Searching for BobbyMax Couldn't resist...here is my add to this thread.

MrLight :-)
Spaz 12/4/2012 | 9:19:25 PM
re: Searching for BobbyMax I just wanted to let all you interested Maple folks (because nobody else cares really) that I have created a new thread in the reader message board area, The Maple Optical Clothesline. Maybe it can be your one-stop shopping for all of the dirt on Maple. It will actually help productivity at Maple (such as it is) because now everyone won't have to search all over the LR boards for Maple posts. Here's your chance to get out those pent-up rages. Try it. It feels good. See you there!

Spaz 12/4/2012 | 9:20:04 PM
re: Searching for BobbyMax henry_class wrote:

I am interested in starting a BobbyMax fan club. Bobby will be the champion of all deprived and downtrodden engineers. These startup VCs and thief executives have to be taught a lesson. BobbyMax help us. - a deprived Maple engineer



I just caught your post. Are you currently a Maple engineer? That would explain why you're following threads like this one. That's not meant as a slam, by the way. God only knows that was one thing that kept me sane when I was there! Or are you one of the lucky ones like me that got out?

I keep checking back onto LR hoping to see some news about the old Alma Mater so that I can have some real fun responding to A Tool's spin doctoring. I also think that such an article would give all of us current and ex-Maplers the forum to really let it all out. I'm looking forward to that. How about it, LR?

rtc_11 12/4/2012 | 9:20:12 PM
re: Searching for BobbyMax all of the misspellings, the 'seemingly' naive questions, the annoying habits - those are all intentional. the intent is to incite debate. have you ever noticed that the questions he asks always are provocative?
Litewave 12/4/2012 | 9:20:20 PM
re: Searching for BobbyMax First of all, I'm pretty sure he's Chinese. This is primarily from the speech pattern..

Agreed. Not just speech patterns, but actually phrases seemed to be literal translations, which explains why his english seems so convoluted.

Educated Indians often speak the Queens English well enough to put us to shame, and that ain't true with Booby.

Exactly. Hes definitely not Indian.

And judging from the emphasis he puts on his education, he probably some some PhD years ago from "Harvey Mudd"...

No way any PhD could be that dumb.

I think he works at Lucent.


Even though he has expressed a lot of vitriol towards West Coast VCs (which is why I think a lot people assume he's a Left Coaster), I think he's a Right Coaster..

Why west coast? I'll guess he's not located in China because in one post he concedes the Chinese steal US intellectual property.

I don't agree. The West cost conclusion was based on time-stamps of over 2 months worth of his posts - either hes on the West coast or hes a chronic insomaniac from China or Taiwan ;-)

If BobbyMax = HarveyMudd, then I think he's been in the country longer. As I said he probably went to school at Harvey Mudd College and has been working at a low-level engineering job since he graduated. I say 7 to 10 years.

His English is too poor to have been in the US for more than a couple of years.

- Quite possibly a test engineer...
Not sure how you came up with this one.

Most of the rest of my conclusions were based on various posts of his, none too specific though (I got bored with trying to figure the clown out a long time ago).

Anyone else wanna take a crack at mining his posts for more clues?
gea 12/4/2012 | 9:20:20 PM
re: Searching for BobbyMax "His English is too poor to have been in the US for more than a couple of years.

- Quite possibly a test engineer..."

No, he's not a test engineer. When I once mentioned I had done technical audits at Bellcore, he went on and on in several posts trying to ride me on being a "mere test engineer", which would indicate he's something else.

As for the level of his english indicating he hasn't been in the US too long, this may be true given how bad his english in. BUT, this guy ain't walkin' on terra firma, and I've met similar characters whose english never improves (they don't seem to listen to the way people actually speak...). In addition, he's got to be a loner type, so he may not actually hear people speak a lot of english too often. If he's still got a job, I imagine him hunkered down in some remote cublicle or office somewhere, and is largely left alone most of the time.

As for the timestamps, they have changed in the last bunch of months...he used to post at "normal" hours, so I suspect he was let go in a recent wave of layoffs at Lucent. Maybe he scuttled back home to Taiwan or something...

Tony Li 12/4/2012 | 9:20:24 PM
re: Searching for BobbyMax Harvey Mudd doesn't have degrees in geology.

I would posit from his clear immaturity that he's probably younger, not older. Certainly no more than 35.

gea 12/4/2012 | 9:20:24 PM
re: Searching for BobbyMax First of all, I'm pretty sure he's Chinese. This is primarily from the speech pattern (I speak Chinese and have lived in China). Educated Indians often speak the Queens English well enough to put us to shame, and that ain't true with Booby.

I also see him as some older researcher, probably hidden away deep inside Lucent (until recently perhaps)...one of those characters that probably knows a lot about, say asynchronous signals or something, in an area that management is probably almost unaware of. He may have retired, too.

And judging from the emphasis he puts on his education, he probably some some PhD years ago from "Harvey Mudd" in geology or some such crap, and worked his way into electrical back in the 60s (I think he's old, too, from Taiwan maybe).
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