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:
- 10 Gigbit Ethernet Technology Unsuitable
- China's Unethical Business Practices
- Kevin Kalkhoven Does not Conform to the Realties of the Business World
- Works of Tim Sullivan Invisible
- Too Many Serdes Vendors
- No Salvation for Sycamore
- Ciena Lacks a Sound Strategy
- Embarassing for Lucent
- Cisco's Creativity in Promoting Ultimate Insiders and Taking Advantage of Chaotic Acounting Practices
"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?"
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