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It's a pity that Microsoft's Beth Goza, who we teased here last week, has taken down her weblog. Far from wanting to see it disappear, it ought be preserved in a time capsule.

But not only has Beth's blog gone underground - so has the parody which inspired our story. It's disappeared from no less than five mirror sites.

Even more extraordinary, a witch-hunt is on to find the perpetrator. One member of the PocketPC community says legal action is being threatened against the author, whose identity remains a mystery.

"The phrase 'it will soon be out of our hands' was used by one figure close to Beth," we're told.

It would be remarkable if Microsoft's expensive legal and public relations machinery were deployed in what is essentially a private matter.

And highly unlikely, too, as parodies are protected under the First Amendment.

Microsoft's approach to the press is singularly enlightened, when compared to say an Apple. The company takes barbs in good grace, and doesn't deploy feudal divide and rule tactics. It's never, to our knowledge, sued a journalist. Of course it has its favorite hacks, but in general the philosophy is - they're always going to be mean to us, they'll always be around: meanwhile, we have a message to convey, and stuff to sell.

Evil and elitist?
So were we being evil and elitist, as some of you suggested?

As I replied to Jonathan at StretchingThoughts.com, it's only elitist if you think that blogs are folks' only form of expression.

The king of webloggers Jorn Borger - he was the first to use the term and it's still the best - used to use a quote by Tolstoy in his Usenet sig:- "In human stupidity, when it is not malicious, there is something very touching, even beautiful... There always is." And there is something bewitching about Beth's ruminations such as " just for the record i like it when my foods touch" a line worth of Ralph Wiggum.

No, what's strange is when an attack on one blogger is perceived as an attack on blogging in general. That implies that there can't possibly be a quality threshold in blogdom, and confirms John Dvorak's worst fears about groupthink. This is an unnecessarily defensive reaction and quite wrong. If blogs are writing, there's good and bad writing.

Of course, John was being satirical, and he wasn't decrying blogdom: only the mentality that blogging is in of itself revolutionary and no criticism can be voiced, and no quality threshold can be drawn; that we must not differentiate between good and bad, because it's all somehow equally valid.

The parody itself was pretty mean and spiteful. But it's a parody. We hope that groupthink doesn't extinguish parodies, as they help us see that the Emperor has no clothes.

Please let us know if you've been contacted in relation to this investigation. And in the meantime, enjoy some other fine online journals by Microsoft staff:- which might be low on cheap laughs, but high on content:- Better Living Through Software, min jeschwad, Inkblog, and more highlighted in this Kuro5hin thread

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