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Racism At Microsoft?

CmdrTaco posted more than 13 years ago | from the ya-don't-think-about-it dept.

News 634

chandas sent in linkage to a story running at ZD Net about rascism at Microsoft. Apparently seven former and current black employees want $5 billion, saying that Microsoft fosters a hostile work environment. Is racism an issue in the tech industry? I've been reading Chuck D's autobiography (He is smart as hell) and he talks a lot about racism in the sports and music industries so this subject has been on my mind a lot lately, but it never even crossed my mind that it might be an issue in the tech industry. Of course, as a pasty white boy I probably wouldn't even notice even though I've always thought of the internet as colorblind.

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634 comments

My experience (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#530503)

I worked as an engineer for a defense contractor about ten years ago. There were three black male engineers out of about 80 technical staff; one was very cabable and energetic, one was capable but spent half his time looking for racial discrimination to complain about, and one shouldn't have been allowed out of high school. The managers of that branch office were constantly interviewing black applicants because they were under quota pressure, but given the candidates the managers had a choice between an almost entirely white and asian technical staff and hiring someone who simply couldn't pull his weight. (Ironically, the #2 person in the office was a black man and #3 was a black woman, but they didn't count against the quota because they were management, not tech staff.)

As an industry programmer for the last ten years, I've worked with exactly no American black programmers. Plenty of non-whites, mostly Indian and Chinese. At the larger companies the managers were, as before, under pressure to hire black
techies, but again had the choice between not hiring the black candidates, and hiring them but pissing off the current employees who would have to carry their load.

FWIW, I'm white but I married a black woman.

Re:oh come on (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#530504)

And FIVE BILLION? Well, that just speaks for itself...

Couldn't agree more, I am so sick and tired of these people who want us to cry for them, and then go and sue everything in sight for ridiculous amounts of money. Should we believe they truly care about the issue if they're demanding that much money? Give me a break.

But whatever, it seems to be the latest trend in America now, had a bad childhood? sue your parents, failed a class? sue your teachers. How can anybody take these people seriously? Obviously they know MS is a cash cow, and they're trying to get in on it, I even have a hard time their accusations are even true.

Actually it is a class action (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#530511)

not 7 people wanting 5 bills, but they want a class action for all current and former employees that have been discriminated again.

Are they still black? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#530512)

...Apparently seven former and current black employees want $5 billion...

Let me understand. They were formerly black, and they are currently black. And there are 14 of them: seven former and seven current. Yea, because 7 * (former + current) = 14; or is it 7 * former + current = 8 employees?

Re:Reverse discrimination (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 13 years ago | (#530528)

in sports I think it's almost detrimental to be white nowadays
That's because blacks make better runners. Duh! That's kind of like claiming that it's detrimental to be a woman, 'cos there are less female football (US or soccer) teams.

What percentage at MS are Asian? (1)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 13 years ago | (#530552)


I am betting it is pretty high. If the MS lawyers were smart, they would flaunt these numbers. Oh, I forgot... according the Queasy Mfume those Asian workers aren't the *right* race....

5 BILLION (1)

Perlguy (17814) | more than 13 years ago | (#530555)

I don't care if they abused them physically on a regular basis. 5 Billion is just plain stupid.

It's not as if they spilled hot coffee on their own lap or anything like that...

Racism (1)

eln (21727) | more than 13 years ago | (#530559)

Of course, since I've never worked at Microsoft, I can't speak for them in particular, but in my experience the tech industry is about the least racist industry out there. In every tech company I've worked for, race has never been an issue in anything. The only thing that really matters is skill level. Those that are deemed as un-trainable or just plain dumb are treated like dirt, while those who are clearly intelligent and know their shit are treated with respect...regardless of what they look like.

As for the damage amount, it seems like this is a few disgruntled employees looking to cash in on America's obsession with race, using a company with loads of liquid cash.

Color blind (1)

deacent (32502) | more than 13 years ago | (#530573)

The internet is color blind but it's not culture blind. I find that racism tends be more culturism (is that a word?). Different culture (i.e. language, traditions, dress, etc.) means that you have to cope with a lack of understanding and often stereotypes tend to fill in the blanks. I think everyone is guilty of doing this to a certain degree, although the more watchful and/or sensitive people will try harder.

-Jennifer

Cmdr Taco surprised at Racism? (1)

alexjohns (53323) | more than 13 years ago | (#530623)

I know that not too long ago (within the last year) you (CT) said that you read almost all of the posts on /. And yet you're surprised that there's racism in the tech community? Considering that most of the people reading and posting here are techies, I can't believe you're surprised.

It doesn't happen in most discussions, but isn't there always some racist comment when there's non-white people involved in the story? Perhaps you're insulated from it, but there's lots of racism out there. Anybody remember the LOD/MOD flap about 5 years ago?

It surprises me that the person who, arguably, reads more /. posts than anyone else would be surprised at this. The problem for most racists is that they can't tell who's what color. Once they figure it out, there's usually some fallout. Know any black geeks? Ask them what their experience is. Bet if they've been online for over a year, they've had some racist comments directed at them.

That doesn't mean anyone at MS is guilty of it. And BTW, I'm as white as Rob, if that matters.
--

this is absurd (1)

Trailer Trash (60756) | more than 13 years ago | (#530627)

Bill Gates has given $20,000,000,000 (yes, you read right, twenty billion dollars) of his personal fortune to his charitable foundation, which is currently mostly committed to providing vaccinations to those living in 3rd world poverty. To even suggest that he's a racist is absurd.

Rather than a few anecdotal stories, I'd like to see how Microsoft's employee racial makeup compares to the rest of the industry. My guess is that it is pretty much the same as anywhere else. The whole tech industry isn't "racist", blacks just don't seem to be too interested in computers.

If these guys are going to file a lawsuit, fine, they should at least ask for reasonable compensatory damages. I can believe that one or two guys got wrongly passed over for promotion, but out of 20,000 employees that hardly represents a trend.

Michael

Re:Reverse discrimination (1)

brogdon (65526) | more than 13 years ago | (#530633)

Chuck is probably speaking about racism in terms of who is in power in those industries. How many black sports team owners are there? How about black coaches? How many black executives of record companies have you ever seen, except for whatshisname that owns Def Jam (and started it himself from scratch)? There's plenty of black talent in music and sports, but not much black power. That's probably what he's on about.


--Brogdon

Re:Reverse discrimination (1)

SPorter (83284) | more than 13 years ago | (#530649)

"Reverse discrimination" is a misnomer. The term is still "discrimination."

There is nothing special about anti-white discrimination that justifies a special term.

In fact, the term "reverse discrimination" is discriminatory itself and using it inappropriate.

$5 Billion (1)

seigniory (89942) | more than 13 years ago | (#530662)

With a 'B' - how freakin ridiculous is that... sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will cost you $5 Billion.

Re:Reverse discrimination (1)

ifurita (91598) | more than 13 years ago | (#530674)

That's because blacks make better runners. Duh!


This is a joke, right ? Just pokin' fun at some stereotypes, right ? How was this not moderated as flamebait ?

Re:Blinded by color? (1)

ifurita (91598) | more than 13 years ago | (#530678)

Uh...I didn't see it specified in the article what percentage of the people filing the suit were "low level types." (head of a unit sounds high enough to me.)
Either way, there's no analysis of the available pool of workers vs. workers hired so I don't know how much of a case they've got.

Re:Reverse discrimination (1)

ifurita (91598) | more than 13 years ago | (#530679)

I think he was referring more to the treatment of people and not how many are hired.

Re:This disturbs me slightly :) (1)

btlzu2 (99039) | more than 13 years ago | (#530693)

While I can't fully agree or disagree with their basis for the suit (though I tend to disagree), I believe they are suing for what they believed they would have earned in stock options by this time if the Microsoft "Man" hadn't kept them down. I'll be extremely disappointed, even though I'm no big MS fan, if these racism charges are true, but I never believe them at first, the racism charge is such an easy cop out these days thanks to folks like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

Re:$5,000,000,000??? (1)

cyoon (99971) | more than 13 years ago | (#530696)

No, your rationale only relates to compensatory damages -- money which compensates the employees for what the employees lost. However, the $5B includes punitive damages -- money which prevents the company from doing it again. Otherwise, companies would always do the wrong thing and hope that they don't get sued. Even if they do get sued, their payment is deferred for months, even years, which usually works out to their benefit. But I do agree that $5B is an absoultely ludicrous figure. I haven't seen the breakdown of how they get $5B, either.

This is pretty normal stuff in the U.S. (1)

bwoodring (101515) | more than 13 years ago | (#530697)

Under most circumstances, In the United States you can sue whoever you want, for whatever amount of money you want. But you will have to demonstrate not only that the person or company that you are suing behaved badly but that you were tangibly harmed by it.

Just because you can sue someone, doesn't mean that you will win. You may have your case thrown out, or you may even be counter-sued. Additionally, if you lose, you will have to pay court costs and a lawter. Even if you win, you rarely get exactly what you asked for. If you actually intend to be awarded what you ask for, you will have to demonstrate the damage that was done.

These former Microsoft Employees know that they probably won't win this case, and they also know that even if they did, no judge or jury would award them *nearly* $5 Billion. The goal is not to win the case, but rather to force Microsoft to settle out of court for a few million rather than risk losing much more and being humiliated in public.

The reason they are asking for such a ludicrous amount of money is to generate publicity and embarrass Microsoft into settling.

Here's hoping... (1)

JohnnyGTO (102952) | more than 13 years ago | (#530703)

that Microsoft uses all the money they donate to minority causes and uses it to defend themselves. Microsoft has is were it is by using talented people I real doubt they would hold back anyone who was truly qualified.

Eliminating Racism in Technology (1)

changos (105425) | more than 13 years ago | (#530710)

Here are some simple steps to eliminate racism, and discrimination in technology today.
1) Don't let people use real names on anything official, give everyone a username something like bla456. Never let people associate your real name with your username.
2) Put many departments together, everyone with the same kind of cubicle, in random patterns so no one knows who is the big boss.
3) If someone might break your system give him privilages like, working from home.
Sad to say I'm Latin, living in Utah, and working from home. I guess some people might get mad to have me as a boss.

Re:5 BILLION (1)

SirWhoopass (108232) | more than 13 years ago | (#530716)

I agree that the plantiffs did not endure anything to deserve $5 billion.

The other side of the coin, however, is (assuming there is racism at Microsoft) the penalty must be enough to hurt Microsoft and keep them from doing it again. While the people probably deserve something on the order of $100,000 (or whatever they lost in not getting promoted, etc), Microsoft wouldn't even blink at damages like that.

Of course, I'm still not convinced their case has any merit.

Lack of qualified workers is not racism (1)

SirWhoopass (108232) | more than 13 years ago | (#530717)

I don't know whether or not there is racism at Microsoft, but one statement from the lawyers doesn't seem right.

The lawyers cite statistics showing that just 2.6 percent of Microsoft's approximately 22,000 employees, and just 1.6 percent of its 5,155 managers, are black. "The numbers illustrate that Microsoft is guilty of some of the most egregious discrimination in corporate America," Hoffler said.
How can that be used to claim racism? I'd be willing to bet that only 2.6% of computer science graduates are black. I've seen very few black students in my classes, while asians (mostly Chinese) and Indians are well represented (especially when you consider what a small percentage of the general population they are in the midwest).

These racism lawsuits disgust me. (1)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 13 years ago | (#530728)

It seems that these people expect everything to go their way, but if it doesn't, they bitch and whine about it because they think it's caused by the fact that they're a minority. Some people think that they should get special treatment only because they belong to a minority group. Hmm, isn't that just as unfair as getting special treatment only because you belong to a MAJORITY group?

NEWSFLASH! The world doesn't exist for your benefit. These things happen to EVERYONE. Grow up a little.

So the guy got passed over for a promotion. Big deal! I can't begin to tell you how many times I've been passed over for one, when other, LESS QUALIFIED, people get it instead. Oh well. That's the way that businesses work, it never makes any sense. Especially in a large company like MS, I'm sure it's extremely easy to get overlooked.

One thing that jumps out at me about this whole deal is the money they want. 5 billion dollars?! Hm, this kinda reeks of "Hey, MS is rich! Let's try and get money out of them any way we can! Wait, we're a minority! HOW CONVENIENT!"

Oh, and on a side note, I love how the Slashdot crew passed over a bunch of great submissions (I'm sure) for a chance to bash MS. If this were any other company, they wouldn't touch the story.

-- Dr. Eldarion, who seems to be in a rather cranky mood today. --

I hat to do this but (1)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 13 years ago | (#530737)

I have to defend MS here. 5 Billion dollars! Can these people honestly tell me that they would have ever made a 10th of that off of stock options and promotions. This is nothing but pure rampant greed. And I believe in holding corporations accountable for the things they do/don't do.

The other thing I have to do is defend MS on the allegations themselves. From everything I have heard from Microsofties, this would never happen. Their supposed to be a "shove it down your throat" kind of pc company. One where being PC is emphasized so much you get sick of it.

Individual cases here may in fact be valid, but never on this scale. It is this type of unabashed greed that tarnishes legitimate lawsuits that /should/ be heard.

Re:Reverse discrimination (1)

pallex (126468) | more than 13 years ago | (#530741)

I think he means racism, as he said. Unless racism means something different in the States - everywhere else it can apply to anti-white as much as anti-black predjudice.

And yes, you`re likely to have the edge physically if you are black. Or aren`t you allowed to say that anymore?

Re:Geez (1)

pallex (126468) | more than 13 years ago | (#530742)

Of course its excessive. They`ve just looked at the maths of black/white employees, looked at other lawsuits and decided that on balance they`ll make more money suing that not suing. It really is that simple.
You`re going to see a lot more of these pointless lawsuits (racism/personal injury/infringement of privacy, and other cases where no `crime` by any sensible definition has occured) until there are either less lawyers or more sensible laws.

Re:Horseshit (1)

pallex (126468) | more than 13 years ago | (#530743)

"What sense would it make to discriminate, or otherwise piss off anyone? "

You dont need sense to be a racist. To quote from some 70`s UK graffiti "I have half a mind to join the National Front" followed by "thats all you need".

Re:Reverse discrimination (1)

RobFlynn (127703) | more than 13 years ago | (#530746)

Very true. Discrimination is discrimination and, by definition, covers any direction of discrimination. The 'reverse descrmination' term has always bugged me as well.

---
Rob Flynn

This comment is NOT flame bait (1)

silicon_synapse (145470) | more than 13 years ago | (#530770)

Despite it's appearance, this comment is very serious and not flame bait. I doubt that those blacks are any more discriminated against than anyone else in MS. I see more racism against whites than anyone else anymore. Yes, blacks have a rough past. Yes, blacks are still sometimes victims of racism. I think that they're having a hard time at work, and racism is a convenient excuse. Perhaps they don't do it intentionally. Racism is drilled into our heads so much that it's easy to assume a lot of things are the result of racism. Once again, I do believe racism is a problem, but I do not think it's nearly the problem media/lawyers make it out to be. <POOR_HUMOR>Oh yeah, I'm a young white male, the most discriminated against group in USA =)</POOR_HUMOR>

Microsoft (1)

Rakefighter (147924) | more than 13 years ago | (#530778)

For the most part, Microsoft does treat it's permatemp employees like shit...but I've never heard of racism being a problem at the biggest software vendor in the world. In fact, I've heard the opposite. Whatever reservations I have about their business, or their product, I have always accepted and understood that they're real employees are treated like gods...not so I guess.

On another note, you don't have to be a minority to comment on racism, as Taco might have you believe. Anyone that tells you anything else is either seriously lacking in common sense, or is trying to take advantage of you. Sometimes I get tired of being a white male in this brave new PC (as in political...not personal) world, as I am constantly reminded of the boorish behavior of my gender+race, both past and present. Not to say that this isn't an issue that we need to be on guard for all of the time, but the manner in which we go about safeguarding our society is both guilt-inducing and frustrating for the majority (as Taco has unwittingly indicated). Sometimes I wish that they (whatever minority has been so terribly wronged today) would just leave me and my sense of self in peace. At least then I would be able to start telling myself that I don't have to feel guilty for being white.

Of course, as you can probably tell, this post is made partly out of anger/frustration and partly out of common sense. Whether or not you can sort it out is most likely indicative of your ability to really read what I'm saying, or just make another rash judgement about me to heap on the pile. It's okay if you want to...I'm white. I can take it.

int break_spirit()
{
crush_nutz(left_nut,right_nut);
return(1);
};

Face it. It's REAL. (1)

ajhenley (150248) | more than 13 years ago | (#530783)

In case noone else has been reading the posts on slashdot, the tech industry is rife with racism. Against blacks, asians, and indians just to name a few. As a 32year old systems integrator (who fell in love with computers playing net trek at FIU at the ripe age of 11), I have seen more than my share of people that believe that believe that white skin is a prerequisite for technical skill AND fair pay. That being said, $5,000,000,000 is so totally ridiculous as to be obscene. I have to believe that it is just a negotiation starting point. Isn't bill so poor now that 5 billion would be 10% of his net worth?

Hmmmm (1)

brad3378 (155304) | more than 13 years ago | (#530788)

How many days would it take Mr. Gates to Earn $5,000,000,000?

Re:Reverse discrimination (1)

BinBoy (164798) | more than 13 years ago | (#530799)

According to the lawyers, you're right:

"The lawyers cite statistics showing that just 2.6 percent of Microsoft's approximately 22,000 employees, and just 1.6 percent of its 5,155 managers, are black. "The numbers illustrate that Microsoft is guilty of some of the most egregious discrimination in corporate America," Hoffler said. "

But using statistics to show discrimination has another name: quotas. I wonder if anyone has considered that maybe white programmers outnumber black programmers.

He is smart as hell (1)

ceswiedler (165311) | more than 13 years ago | (#530800)

Yes, Chuck D is smart as hell. Why did you feel you had to point that out, Taco? Would you have appended the same phrase to a sentence about Gates, or some other pasty white boy techie?

Re:Hmmmm (1)

LEPP (166342) | more than 13 years ago | (#530801)

although I am not a fan of Microsoft or Bill Gate$, at least he does not draw a salary. Not that he really needs to but one of his chief rivals, Larry Ellison, does. In some ways Larry Ellison is worse that Gates.

alternate plan: (1)

lemonlime (177474) | more than 13 years ago | (#530814)

Perhaps, rather than suing the company for money, they should try and force them to institute some program to fight racism©
--
Cognosco: To examine, enquire, learn

Geez (1)

cnkeller (181482) | more than 13 years ago | (#530817)

Does anyone else see 5 billion as a little excessive?

I wonder in how many cases of these racial law suits, that people are simply overlooking the fact that, regardless of color/sex, you simply weren't as qualified as someone else?

I'm personally a little tired of it all....

Dont agree with the story (1)

cOdEgUru (181536) | more than 13 years ago | (#530818)

Not because Microsoft wouldnt be dumb enough to do it, but because if all the tech firms decide to hire people only from one race, they would simply lose out in the long run.

However, there might have been some white supremacist jerks in any company, and I have met a few in my time, but they can do indeterminable damage to careers and company profiles. such as what might have happened here. As for the plaintiffs mentioned, I would have expected them to take the matter to the topmost level within their company, and I really dont understand their agenda in bringing it up now. Maybe they just wanna make money, maybe they are seeking justice, but honestly, it doesnt matter anymore.

If you are being put down, then stand up and fight. Dont quit your job, fight and if possible, take the whole thing to court while you are working there. It would be appreciated then. Then quit and join Sun or whatever. But if you would rather do nothing about it then, and decide to bring it up years later, then I have to question their intentions.

I believe all races are equal. And the jobs should go to people who deserve them. I have met a couple of brilliant black guys who are intelligent hackers and programmers in Redmond. And they loved working there. Not because they didnt know about Linux :). But the point is, if a person is technically sound, then most times he wouldnt be put down. But its a different story in the management circles. And I have had my share of dumbos who get their work done by other geeks and take credit.

Microsoft isn't racist... (1)

b0z (191086) | more than 13 years ago | (#530824)

They steal from everyone equally. They will take money from a white person just as easily as a black person.

Greedy bastards. (1)

scott1853 (194884) | more than 13 years ago | (#530828)

I guess they got wise to Microsoft's impending failure over the next decade and figured this is the only way they'd make their billions from MS.

No, it's (1)

sulli (195030) | more than 13 years ago | (#530829)

a few $m per person, and $Bs to the lawyers. Participants in class actions almost never get the kind of payoff the lawyers get.

Re:He is smart as hell (1)

Chump1422 (196125) | more than 13 years ago | (#530833)

Well, he might have appended it to a sentence about Eminem, Fred Durst (Limp Bizkit), or Vanilla Ice. The differentiating factor here is techie, not skin color.
Most techies we admire have done quite a bit to deserve our admiration for their intellect. Most rappers have not. Thus is makes sense to praise them, or at least isn't absurd or insulting.
Why assume it's about race? Why bother complianing about someone who handed out a deserved compliment?

Re:He is smart as hell (1)

hyperPjohn (209247) | more than 13 years ago | (#530839)

Why did you feel you had to echo it?

Why are there so few blacks in high tech? (1)

JonCohen (212559) | more than 13 years ago | (#530843)

I would be interested in the opinions of blacks and members other underrepresented groups - ie, anyone other than a white, chinese, or indian male. I'd ask someone where I work but there's only one, and I don't feel like making him answer for his entire race.

Re:Not a bad deal (1)

cbwsdot (212913) | more than 13 years ago | (#530847)

"That's quite an absurd amount of money."
Thats how it works, you ask for alot then you settle for less. The workers are hoping the bad publicity will cost more than whatever they want to settle agree to settle for.

--

Unlikely, racism is bad for capitalism (1)

damiangerous (218679) | more than 13 years ago | (#530859)

Why would a company handicap itself by deliberately excluding either a market sector or a skilled job pool? There's no logical reason. Individuals can be racist, companies cannot be. Isolated incidents will happen, but such rampant supposed racism at high levels in a bastion of capitalism like Microsoft is beyond the realm of plausability.

Hi, it's 2001! (1)

Hairy_Potter (219096) | more than 13 years ago | (#530860)

I'm a dev, and don't play sports. but from time to time i watch a game of football or basketball (mainly to feel somewhat masculene). It seems that the players will be >= 80% black, but certain roles are almost always white, quaterbacks, are almost always white, coachs seem to be nearly 95% white. owners are probably 100% white.

While your comments about black quarterbacks was true in the early 1990's, consider the quarterbacks in the playoffs.

Daunte Culpepper, Steve McNair, Randall Cunningham, Donovan McNabb.

Of course, you're on the money about coaches.

Racism at Microsoft? (1)

Water Paradox (231902) | more than 13 years ago | (#530871)

Racism is not fun. But what's worse than racism is people who cry "racism" when it's not the case. Since I couldn't get to the link on the story, I wasn't able to see if they have hard evidence, but I wouldn't even consider it a news story unless they did. Racism and sexism are terms which alienate and polarize, and need to be supported with more than hunches and rumours.

Re:This disturbs me slightly :) (1)

John Sullivan (234934) | more than 13 years ago | (#530876)

Why, here 5 employees are suing for $5 Billion - Isn't this completely over the top? $50,000 each would be more like it.

Firstly, it's supposed to be punitive as well as compensative. The problem with big companies is it gets *very* hard to make them notice a slap on the wrist. Secondly, the article says it's class action with hundreds of plaintiffs, or at least potential plaintiffs, at which point they're only getting $millions each. That sort of level of payout seems to happen quite regularly in similar discrimination/unfair dismissal cases over that side o't pond.

Horseshit (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 13 years ago | (#530877)

That's horseshit. In the IT industry, it's nearly impossible to find and keep good people. What sense would it make to discriminate, or otherwise piss off anyone?

On top of that, saying that just because blacks make up a small percentage of upper level employees doesn't mean anything. It's not MS's fault that in this country, blacks choose to educate themselves much less than other ethnic groups.

And, this lawsuit won't stand. The courts have repeatedly said that no company is required to maintain quotas. That would kill most businesses instantly.

MODERATE ME DOWN PLEASE (1)

AlgUSF (238240) | more than 13 years ago | (#530883)

I can't wait until the people of this country actually find out who ends up paying for these BS lawsuits. THE CONSUMER So MS loses a $5 Billion case, so they raise the costs of windows $25. It is like when the auto industry gets sued because some moron can't drive and killed themself. Or when McDonalds gets sued because someone spilled coffee on herself. Don't even get me started on the cigarette lawsuits.

Lawyers are getting rich, and the hard working people of this country are getting stiffed. Lawyers like to create a sense of "lets stick it to the evil corporations", they don't mention the fact that the customer pays for it in the end.



Bill's Sofa (1)

Spit_Fire1 (247104) | more than 13 years ago | (#530899)

All they gotta do is break into bills house and look under in his sofa they i'm sure that 5 or 6 billion fell out of his pockets this week.

Re:Reverse discrimination (1)

IP, Daily (250583) | more than 13 years ago | (#530906)

Reverse discrimination? That doesn't mean anything. Discrimination is discrimination, it doesn't matter which group is discriminating against which. If an Hispanic man discriminates against blacks as a group, would you call that sideways discrimination?

Either way (1)

dmomo (256005) | more than 13 years ago | (#530910)

Where did they arrive at 5 billion for 7 people?
It seems to me that the amount awarded should not be an amount so large that the 'victim' would have willingly been a victim for that price.
I can tell you now, for that amount of money, I would go once more through all prejudice short of physical violence that I have experienced in my lifetime. I see greed sprawled across the table. Both sides.

quit complaining (1)

delpreston (257985) | more than 13 years ago | (#530916)

if your good your good regardless of skin color. People tend to cry race whenever they arent good enough for a job.

n#gga please (1)

deran9ed (300694) | more than 13 years ago | (#530936)

Microsoft has enough issues to be dealt with and I think anything can be construed as racism depending on the way people tend to take things, remember that microsoft scandal with the monkey bars and a picture of little black kids playing on those monkey bars.

People's instinct to overblow many situations don't help, I don't see anyone complaining about the rotten situations Mexicans must deal with when they're stereotyped to be low wage workers in almost all instances, or Arabics to be stereotyped as 7-11 workers or taxi drivers. All you hear about is the media hyped bullshit which makes for juicy gossip enough to bring in the hits to those websites or sales to those magazines, newspapers, etc.

Windows2000 Spoof [antioffline.com]

And the 90% asians at my school still "minority". (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#530949)

Asians at my college are still considered a "minority group" even though they make up 52% of all enrolled students and over 90% of students in the engineering school. As such they are entitled to benefits and scholarships the "38% Evil White Majority(tm)" here can't touch.

Thank got the Univ oc Calif. regents and later the state voters voted to simply remove "race, gender, national origin, sexual orientation" from consideration criteria for all jobs, student applications, etc.

An end to racism is a good thing, right?

Guess who is most against and want these laws repealed and the affirmative action programs and admissions rules put back to favoe [ethnic flavors of the day]? It's the ones who run the race based programs, i.e., The minorities who profit from racism (getting state/federal dollars) and don't want it to end. Face it, without hate and racism, what would Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Louis Farrakhan do for a living? They'd be out of a job, so naturally they don't want racism to end. They need "hate", for their continued existance. And it it's not there anymore, they'll create it themselves.

Re:$5,000,000,000??? (2)

Squid (3420) | more than 13 years ago | (#530959)

The idea is to PUNISH Microsoft for what they did. $5,000 or even $5,000,000 is pocket change to them. Lawsuits tend to be for amounts in proportion to the company you're suing, not the amount of damage actually caused to you, for precisely this reason: if you don't sue them for enough money that it shows up on the books, they won't get the hint.

Re:Not Discrimination! (2)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 13 years ago | (#530964)

And since he left Microsoft, doesn't that make his claim on discrimination moot, as he chose to leave?
No, at least ont in the UK it doesn't. You can resign, and file for unfair dismissal, on the grounds that the company had left you no other viable option.

Re:Reverse discrimination (2)

jeff.paulsen (6195) | more than 13 years ago | (#530968)

That's because blacks make better runners. Duh!
This is a joke, right ? Just pokin' fun at some stereotypes, right ? How was this not moderated as flamebait ?
Ever watch a big marathon? Or any of the longer Olympic footraces? East Africans tend to dominate. Racism in action, or tall people with long legs? You be the judge.

I can just picture (2)

finkployd (12902) | more than 13 years ago | (#530974)

I can just picture their bald, white labcoat wearing lawyer hold his pinky up to his mouth as he exclaims "Five Billion Dollars"

Finkployd

Re:$5,000,000,000??? (2)

grappler (14976) | more than 13 years ago | (#530978)

Well, obviously that would be the rational way to approach it, but not the only way. The damages they seek are punitive. When I hear that word I hear "puny" but what it of course actually means is "punishment".

In other words, their message to the court is "we're mad, and Microsoft has to be hit where it hurts. They're big and rich so we'd like, uh, 5 billion..."

Translation: "We are shameless and greedy, so why not sue the biggest company around for lots and lots of cash"

Re:Reverse discrimination (2)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 13 years ago | (#530981)

Funny that with such a high number of athletes that are black, you have to search long and hard to find a head coach or team owner who's black. That's the kind of racism people generally talk about in sports -- its okay for them to PLAY well, we just don't want them up in the clubhouse...

---------------------------------------------

Cross sections (2)

Webmonger (24302) | more than 13 years ago | (#530987)

But if "you'll get the same kind of cross section of people there that you get anywhere", then you should get the same proportion of blacks that you'll get anywhere. And that doesn't appear to be the case.

Re:$5,000,000,000??? (2)

nchip (28683) | more than 13 years ago | (#530996)

I think their point is to have punishment microsoft feels, not that they lost 5 billion because of microsoft. Just like car manufacturers have to pay kazziollons for their mistakes.
If they would ask for somthing like 50 million, It would be just a scratch in their quarterly report.

Re:Cross sections (2)

furiousgeorge (30912) | more than 13 years ago | (#530997)

ok - i'll bite.

I meant 'cross section' as it attitudes, not race. Should women be suing Microsoft (and any other tech company for that matter) because the percentages don't match up with the general population? Less women go into tech than men, it's just a fact. It isn't Microsofts fault (My university had TONS of scholarships that were ONLY for women to try to get them into tech, but the numbers were still way low).

There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.
j

The Internet is NOT the whole Tech Industry ... (2)

SuperRob (31516) | more than 13 years ago | (#531000)

Of course, as a pasty white boy I probably wouldn't even notice even though I've always thought of the internet as colorblind.

The tech-industry is NOT just the Internet. There are a lot of sectors in the tech-industry, and the internet is a fairly small part of it. Everyone seems to have the opinion that if you're high-tech, that means you're a dot.com, and that's just not accurate.

That's probably why the NASDAQ as a whole tanks when a dot.com goes under, even thought many companies in the exchange don't do "business" over the internet.

Of course, I wouldn't expect a pasty white boy to know the difference. :)

Well, yes... (2)

Steve B (42864) | more than 13 years ago | (#531015)

Microsoft fosters a hostile work environment

For starters, they make you use crappy in-house software.
/.

Actual Race Demographics ? (2)

superid (46543) | more than 13 years ago | (#531016)

When I read

The lawyers cite statistics showing that just 2.6 percent of Microsoft's approximately 22,000 employees, and just 1.6 percent of its 5,155 managers, are black...

the very first thing that popped into my head was...what are the actual race demographics in the Redmond area? I mean, if the pool of employable minorities in the local area is 1%, then Microsoft should be lauded, not sued!

SuperID

Re:Reverse discrimination (2)

RedX (71326) | more than 13 years ago | (#531027)

And yes, you`re likely to have the edge physically if you are black. Or aren`t you allowed to say that anymore?

No, you haven't been allowed to say that in at least 12 years, as Jimmy The Greek [detnews.com] found out when he was fired by CBS in 1988 for saying that blacks were better athletes because of genetics.

This is a class action suit... (2)

adubey (82183) | more than 13 years ago | (#531033)

Now, the way class action suits normally happen is that *some* of the alleged victims, or a party representing the victims launch the suit, but if they win, the money is split among *all* the victims.

So that means it isn't just the 5 victims who get the $5 billion, but rather the money is split among *all* black employees at Microsoft.

Surely Microsoft punish themselves (2)

SIGFPE (97527) | more than 13 years ago | (#531040)

If Microsoft are passing over good candidates for promotion for stupid reasons then surely they punish themselves by making their own company less good than it could be.

And surely if Microsoft's practice is worse than that at other companies then those employees could find work at a company that would realise their true worth.

--

Re:$5,000,000,000??? (2)

jon_c (100593) | more than 13 years ago | (#531042)


If you think about it, its like saying that Microsoft have made $5 billion out of these people, and that these people have lost $5 billion because of Microsoft. Maybe these are exceptionally talented individuals, but surely they should only ask for how much they have actually lost?


in lawsuits like this it's 1,000,000 for actual salary injustness. and 4,990,000,000 in personal (mental, ego, whatever) lose.

The legal justification is that if you "stick it to the corperation" big time, they'll actually change there policy. the jurors (spelling?) will see a large rich corperation that can offord it on one side, and vicumized people on the other, so they might not care how much the penalty is.

-Jon

Racism in the tech industry (2)

RobFlynn (127703) | more than 13 years ago | (#531049)

I can't speak for Microsoft but I know that where I am employed that there is no problem. I work in an office of about 13 - 15 people. The majority are asian but we also have whites, blacks, etc. Everyone is treated witht he same amount of respect. It's actually a great environment to be in.

---
Rob Flynn

Re:"Plantation Mentality"? Welcome to the IT world (2)

RobFlynn (127703) | more than 13 years ago | (#531050)

hahah! The only thing that I can say is, Amen! I have an uncontrollable urge to go rent 'Office Space'

---
Rob Flynn

Re:Blinded by color? (2)

SquadBoy (167263) | more than 13 years ago | (#531059)

I have to agree it has long been common knowledge that low level types get treated like dirt. But the tech fields do make a easy target for this kind of thing. For whatever reasons most people working at any tech firm are going to tend to be white and male or h1b visa types. Therefore it is very easy to claim that they are behind the curve in the race area. There may or may not be more that the firms can do about this but I don't think it is really their fault. Also keep in mind m$ has *very* deep pockets and are kind of hated by alot of people. I don't at the moment see alot of substance to this one, but with more info my mind could change.

Re:Racism in the tech industry (2)

JordoCrouse (178999) | more than 13 years ago | (#531063)

Thats exactly right! Thats because our product has a certain uniformity to it -- The code is bounded by standards and it looks the same around the world, and in the end it is just zeros and ones. It is handled and displayed by a machine, that is also bounded by standards, so as long as the same machine is used, it will look the same around the world.

Generally, programmers care more that quality code is delivered on time instead of who actually wrote it. I don't think there is any other industry in the world that can deliver that kind of uniform acceptance.

Of course, thats just in the raw writing of code. When you hit the people side of things, everything breaks down. You might be an excellent programmer, but your boss might be racist and resist you from getting raises. Or your customers might be racist and not buy your products.

So its not racism in the tech world we're talking about, it's racism in the real world.

Re:Reverse discrimination (2)

JordoCrouse (178999) | more than 13 years ago | (#531064)

Actually, I would say thats not true for several reasons. Of the major four sports in the US (basketball, football, baseball and hockey) most of the people that control the teams at a higher level are white from the owners all the way down to the coaches.

So while the mix of races in the players themselves is closer to equal (except, as you mentioned, in hockey), the people who control the purse strings and run the show are almost exclusively white, and I'm sure this has lead to more racism than is apparent to outsiders.

Not Discrimination! (2)

TheNecromancer (179644) | more than 13 years ago | (#531066)

According to Jackson's suit, also filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., he was repeatedly passed over for promotions to jobs for which he was qualified, losing out to white candidates from both inside and outside of the company. Jackson has since left Microsoft.

Okay, so this is different from normal business practices how? And since he left Microsoft, doesn't that make his claim on discrimination moot, as he chose to leave?

Engineering is as white as hip-hop is black (2)

scotay (195240) | more than 13 years ago | (#531069)

Chuck D could ask the same questions of hip-hop. Why is it so predominantly a "black" art form? Is it racism or just the makeup and backgrounds of the individuals that make up the group? It just so happens that hip-hop is an expression of a culture that is largely non-white.

Engineering is largely the sport of white males. There are certainly many Asians and Indians represented, so I don't think it's purely a race thing. The problem with geeks is that they are not the types likely to reach out to any group that is not like themselves. Is this racism? I think it is more the introverted nature of geeks. If anything the geek love of knowledge and new ideas makes them more able to bridge the race gap. You just have to figure out how to get these divergent groups together to be able to share the resource of these ideas.

The real question is not about Microsoft but why black males are so underrepresented in engineering across the board. What is it about the culture and economic situations that make this so. This is where the real problem lies and where any solutions will come from.

Re:Reverse discrimination (2)

Chump1422 (196125) | more than 13 years ago | (#531071)

Uh, you must mean reverse discrimination right? Clearly there are no absence of blacks in most of the major sports (except for ice hockey). I'm not trying to be a bigot, but in sports I think it's almost detrimental to be white nowadays.

Look at their front/back offices. Few coaches are black, few, if any, owners are black, etc, etc. And except for the lucky few major stars, most of the players (who are minorities) are used/abused for a couple of years and then let go for a younger, cheaper player of equal ability. This happens especially often in football, where most rookies get $150-$200k per year, and players with 3+ years of experience have a minimum of $300k or so. Doesn't make sense to keep those guys around.
So you let them go without any sort of safety net, and hire your white buddy for the managing/coaching job. These guys have gone through HS and colege with football as their meal ticket and have no other skills. Now they have to pick up and start over from nothing at 25-30 years old.
That's unfortunate. It's race-related since so few of the minorities get a chance to be involved in sports off the field. And it's not reverse discrimination. People love a white star, but they aren't excited to see a black coach.

I agree... (2)

B00yah (213676) | more than 13 years ago | (#531077)

with the idea behind the lawsuit, but is the amount justified? 5 billion dollars divided 7 ways comes out to ~$714,285,714.28/person. If this were any other company, would the amount be as large, comparitively? Even if you looked at it on scale, this is still a large sum.

Devil's Advocate - Is Microsoft Innocent? (2)

dasunt (249686) | more than 13 years ago | (#531087)

Let me play devil's advocate for a bit. Maybe Microsoft (as a whole) isn't racist, it could just be a few bad apples. Microsoft is a large company with many employees, the odds are good that sooner or later they will hire a racist employee, and if there aren't enough complaints, how will they know there is a problem.

Also, the technology field is not a field for the poor, and poverty does tend to fall upon minorities and women (especially single women with children). I'm white and male myself, but I grew up in a single-parent household, my first computer I owned was a 286 I bought for myself around 5 years ago. School gave me enough experience with computers to learn BASIC, but not much more. Everything I learned I was self-taught, and if I was going to enter the technical field now (and I'm considering it), I would probably go for a MSCE and a little training to be a network admin, since it needs little schooling and jobs are available. Pay might not be great, but its money. Now with such training, I might be qualified to staff Microsoft's help lines or sweep the floors, not much more. I'm sure not going to be a code monkey on Whistler or Office 2002.

Continuing to be a devil's advocate, I would ask for hard evidence of racial bias, for example, having two employees of equal skill and training, and picking the white employee consistantly for advances in position, and raises in pay, and the employee has to be high-ranking enough for these to be the company's decision, and not a rotten boss's decision. Alternatively, if you could show me that valid complaints against bad bosses were brought to management's attention and ignored, you could prove to me that Microsoft is racist. Otherwise, the problem didn't exist, or its the occasional racist employee that management doesn't know about

Just my $.02

Having worked for half a dozen tech fortune 500s (2)

DeafDumbBlind (264205) | more than 13 years ago | (#531088)

I have to say that the tech industry is as close to a merit based system as you can get. If you know your stuff you will get ahead. Although I've never worked at microsoft I know several people who have, I've never heard any complaits of this sort.

Re:Reverse discrimination (3)

jon_c (100593) | more than 13 years ago | (#531100)


Uh, you must mean reverse discrimination right? Clearly there are no absence of blacks in most of the major sports (except for ice hockey). I'm not trying to be a bigot, but in sports I think it's almost detrimental to be white nowadays


I'm a dev, and don't play sports. but from time to time i watch a game of football or basketball (mainly to feel somewhat masculene). It seems that the players will be >= 80% black, but certain roles are almost always white, quaterbacks, are almost always white, coachs seem to be nearly 95% white. owners are probably 100% white.

I don't know if it's hard for a black man to get a job doing one of those roles, for a black man to be an owner of a major sports team he would have to be pretty damm rich, and unfortantly, there arn't to many rich black folks out there.. huh, does this sound racist?, naww, must be my white liberal guilt.

-Jon

Re:Geez (3)

RobFlynn (127703) | more than 13 years ago | (#531102)

This reminds me of an issue with football coaches a while back. There were complaints that there weren't enough coaches of a certain race and that more should be hired.

This made me mad. My race as well as the race of the coaches doesn't matter. It's a qualification issue. If the coach of the other race was more qualified then he would have been hired. It's as simple as that.

Tell me this:
If you're on a plane flight would you want your pilot to have been hired because he/she was more qualified or because he was a minority in the field and they thought they should balance everything out? I'd pick qualification _ANYDAY_.

The hiring based on race is racism of another form -- which is exactly what they're trying to stomp out. It seems like a vicious circle to me.

This kind of relates to my previous post. At my current job we have many races. We have "minorities" and "non-minorities". I know for a fact that everyone here was hired because they were damn good in their field -- not because they needed to "balance" things out.

Anyway, this may have been a totally unrelated rambling. I just wanted to vent some steam. Hopefully no one was offended. I don't see how you could be but hey -- no offense was meant if you were :).



---
Rob Flynn

Re:Reverse discrimination (3)

Electric Angst (138229) | more than 13 years ago | (#531103)

but in sports I think it's almost detrimental to be white nowadays

Yea, it really sucks to be white and in the sports industry right now. After all, that means that you're probably an agent, manager, or executive, making a whole ton of money and not taking any physical risk. Oh, and don't forget how you don't have to worry about trying to make enough money to support you for your entire life during its short, physical peak.

It's just horrible...

So, either you're a clever troll, or a total idiot...


--

Reverse discrimination (3)

Fervent (178271) | more than 13 years ago | (#531108)

I've been reading Chuck D's autobiography (He is smart as hell) and he talks a lot about racism in the sports and music industries...

Uh, you must mean reverse discrimination right? Clearly there are no absence of blacks in most of the major sports (except for ice hockey). I'm not trying to be a bigot, but in sports I think it's almost detrimental to be white nowadays.

"Plantation Mentality"? Welcome to the IT world! (4)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#531111)

Excuse me folks, but isn't every worker, black and white, working in the IT field
(and especially larger companies like, oh, say, Microsoft) treated like a slave? 60+ hour work weeks, oppressive management structure, morons getting promoted
over vastly more skilled and competent co-workers ... like, welcome to the real world!

Blinded by color? (4)

acroyear (5882) | more than 13 years ago | (#531113)

I find that quite a few of their complaints aren't discrimination based on color...they're things that Microsoft does to ALL of their low-level employees. We don't call them Microserfs for nothing, you know...

$5,000,000,000??? (4)

calumr (175014) | more than 13 years ago | (#531115)

How can 7 people justify getting $5 billion?

If you think about it, its like saying that Microsoft have made $5 billion out of these people, and that these people have lost $5 billion because of Microsoft. Maybe these are exceptionally talented individuals, but surely they should only ask for how much they have actually lost?

Bullshit (5)

grappler (14976) | more than 13 years ago | (#531118)

Sorry, M$ may be evil but come on.

I remember one time Jesse Jackson headed to silicon valley to complain about a shortage of blacks being hired.

The resounding response: "Bring 'em in! We are facing a shortage of computer experts and we will hire anybody who is competent!"

oh come on (5)

furiousgeorge (30912) | more than 13 years ago | (#531119)

shit like this bugs me, but whatever.....

I worked for MSFT for 4 years and damn - i'd do it again in a second. I've never worked for a compnay that treated it's employees as well. You're going to stay late? Let us order dinner for you..... anything you want to drink. Shuttle buses. Great stock options If you worked your ass off and did good work, expect to get nice fat bonuses (twice annually) and promotions. Nobody I ever met gave a rats ass if you were white, black, purple, straight, gay, male, female, etc. Your work is what mattered - period.

All that aside - racism? Have you seen the racial makeup of any tech company in the US? 'Whites' (whatever that means) are generally in the minority.... in my current company a SUBSTANTIAL minority. People get promoted according to ability, talent, social skills (YES - to manage other people you can't just be a code genius, you have to be able to work with people as well). Just because you are 'qualified' for a promotion doesn't mean you are the MOST qualified. Sorry - that's life.

Don't get me wrong - i'm not about to say that there couldn't possibly be individuals whos actions may be suspect. But they would be just that - individuals. A coroporate racist policy? Give me a friggin break. People forget that MSFT in Redmond is what - 18000 employees? It's a small city! And you'll get the same kind of cross secion of people there that you get anywhere....

And FIVE BILLION? Well, that just speaks for itself...
j

Not a bad deal (5)

johnathan (44958) | more than 13 years ago | (#531120)

First of all, I'd let someone do just about anything to me for $5B. That's quite an absurd amount of money.
The lawyers cite statistics showing that just 2.6 percent of Microsoft's approximately 22,000 employees, and just 1.6 percent of its 5,155 managers, are black. "The numbers illustrate that Microsoft is guilty of some of the most egregious discrimination in corporate America," Hoffler said.
I find this to be a bit hyperbolic. Anyone have an idea what the percentage is of black workers across the tech industry? These numbers don't indicate any malfeasance if they're in line with the rest of the industry. Maybe black people don't tend to go into this line of work, for any number of reasons. I'm not saying this is true, but it's hard to comment on MS's practices without knowing the broader picture.

--

Racism is Stupid (5)

Thomas Wendell (98443) | more than 13 years ago | (#531124)

I worked at Microsoft as a developer for over 10 years in the Office group. I participated in the hiring process and was a manager. We were constantly looking to hire, train and retain the best possible people for the job, regardless of race, gender, personality or anything else not directly related to getting the job done.

Very early in my tenure, the hiring criteria was explained to me thus: "it doesn't matter if the candidate goes and pees in the corner of your office in the middle of the interview, if the candidate is a brilliant programmer, we hire him or her". The foolishness of racism or gender bias was even clearer by implication and made explicit through HR training.

Apart from the obvious moral and legal issues, racism is stupid and self-destructive. Success means a lot at Microsoft and discrimination reduces your competitiveness. In my experience, stupid people don't last long at Microsoft.

Obviously Microsoft is a huge company which I left several years ago, and I don't know the specific people involved, but I doubt the corporate culture has changed that much since I was there.

*punitive* damages, people (5)

OlympicSponsor (236309) | more than 13 years ago | (#531132)

I have no real opinion about whether $5 billion is too high or not.

However if we are going to discuss it, we have to at least get the facts straight. First of all, the 7 people are trying to make this a class action suit--which spreads the money out some.

Second, at most importantly, the plaintiffs aren't saying that they personally lost $5 billion due to racism at Microsoft. They want that as *punitive* (means "punishing") damages. If all MS was required to do was give each black person $100k (for lost salary, etc) they wouldn't even notice. The idea is to inflict some pain on the corporation to force them to change.
--
MailOne [openone.com]

Racists suits using percentages are tricky (5)

typical geek (261980) | more than 13 years ago | (#531134)

Becuase for a variety of societal reasons, there aren't as many blacks in the computer industry as there are whites, or Asians.

You can say the same thing for women, there aren't as many women in the computer industry as men, percentage wise.

I think to find their suit substantial, they need something stronger than percentages.

This disturbs me slightly :) (5)

Lover's Arrival, The (267435) | more than 13 years ago | (#531135)

Hi. I don't understand the American legal system when it comes to suing people and companies. It seems like you can sue for any amount of money that you like!

Why, here 5 employees are suing for $5 Billion - Isn't this completely over the top? $50,000 each would be more like it. Doesn't it mean that big companies are in total fear of the very slightest slip up, and are unlikely to take risks and innovate when it could mean that they are likely to lose Billions if it even goes slightly wrong.

Also, I really really find it hard to believe that a company in this day and age would be racist. They are driven by money, and finding the best employee for the job is the absolute bottom line in any company these days.

It'll be very interesting to see more details of this case and see just what happens! ;)

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