What is FUD?

FUD is an acronym for Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. It is an immoral way of promoting a product by introducing one of these elements into people’s thinking about a competitor and is frequently used by proprietary software vendors to denigrate the merits of free and open source software.

When ethical business people want to sell something they publicise, improve their product and make sure theirs is the best. They defend their intellectual property to make sure it is distributed in ethical way – whether is a closed source or open source product.

When unethical people whose product might not be as good as the competition want to control a market so that no one else can get their foot in the door, they will try all sorts of tricks.

One of those tricks is FUD. The idea is to try and introduce one, two, or all of the above into people’s perceptions of the competing product. The assertions might not be true, have any fact to back them up, and – more dangerously – might be implicit rather than explicit, so that it is unconsciously absorbed.

This page is to help us see that FUD by documenting it, but first, a word of warning…

Open Source zealots beware! It’s not just Microsoft that cast FUD, the open source posse does too…

If there were a competitive advantage to this software we’d be using it, wouldn’t we?

This is a fantastic baseless fact that you can be thrown around when cornered. It has an undercurrent of “I am a professional therefore anyone else’s thinking on this issue is wrong, even if they have more successful business models and a better car”. People will still fall for it though.

The software is only secure because no-one uses it, so it’s not a target

Perhaps they just have better security model? Wake up and smell the coffee.

Our product doesn’t sell more because of uncompetitive practices, it’s because it is so much better

And people watch Eastenders because it is the best TV drama. Kylie Minogue is one of the worlds best musicians. Come on, saying it’s better because it sells more is just disingenuous, especially from those running cartels.

There is no FUD; people are scared for a reason

When people are scared about something they haven’t tried out, it must be because of something they’ve heard about; that something is FUD. We’re are going round in circles. There is no Kieser Sosey. There are however documents known as the Halloween documents.

Our friends at insert_company name could did not find any increase productivity with this product

I know someone who can’t use a toaster. So?

Stop it!

Things to remember (that can also be used for uncertainty and doubt):

  • Fear is a powerful way of manipulating people
  • Fear is a useful response which helps us guide our future
  • If you use fear to manipulate make sure it has a base
  • If you spot someone using fear without any factual base, point it out to them
  • Never trust people who use baseless fear tactics, and don’t see it as an error – these people are known as socio-paths and should not be trusted

Back to the FAQ.

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Christian Wach has written 34 articles