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July 23, 2005 12:43 AM

Broken: on Microsoft

Kareem Kandil writes:

If you look up the definition of "Microsoft" at, you'll get a rather interesting definition.
See for yourself here.


Worst part is there are no halloween documents.

Posted by: First Person at July 23, 2005 01:10 AM

Definition of Halloween Documents. Evidently didn't port those over too...

Posted by: Alden Bates at July 23, 2005 01:51 AM pulls its definitions from a number of sources, those source have their own bias. That's why each definition has an attribution line.

It isn't a definitive reference, if you want that you have go to a respected name in the field, like Webster's, Oxford ort Merriam-Webster and the like.

Posted by: sfl at July 23, 2005 03:13 AM

Broken, what it should state is microsoft can not be located in the dictionary. Try your search with our web search. Also calling microsoft an evil empire under the dictionary link is a bad design this is just an opinionated statement and not factual.

Funny aside I typed in "evil empire" at yahoo search and the first link was to

Posted by: tool at July 23, 2005 06:05 AM

The "Halloween Documents" link is broken because there's a tag in the link where a space should be. Try this instead if you care:

That definition links to the actual documents here:

Posted by: stoo at July 23, 2005 08:56 AM

Broken is relying on "" for reference instead of using the OED.

Posted by: Anon at July 23, 2005 10:10 AM

Microsoft haters! D:

Posted by: Infinity at July 23, 2005 10:18 AM

I'm still trying to figure out what's broken about this. Is it that the creators of are relying on the Jargon File for results?

Posted by: Todd Bradley at July 23, 2005 10:55 AM

Oh, fer cryin' out loud!

Ok, folks, I suppose this is broken because many people don't look at the attribution line for what database pulls its definitions from and assumes they're all serious sources, and even fewer folks have any idea what the Jargon File is.

Prepare to be educated:

* pulls from many different sources, including Merriam-Webster, Acronym Finder, American Heritage Dictionary, WordNet, CancerWeb dictionary, medical dictionaries and others. This is infinitely more useful for most people than, say, the OED by itself, as you can compare and contrast definitions and usage. Acronym Finder is especially useful, as the acronym you're looking up often isn't in some of the standard definitions available from other sources. Yes, specialized dictionaries still have their uses, and yes, the OED is still the definitive reference, but is incredibly useful for the average Joe who wants to figure out what onomatopoeia means.

* The Jargon File ("official" version at ) is a legendary "comprehensive compendium of hacker slang illuminating many aspects of hackish tradition, folklore, and humor." Read it and learn. It is hilarious.

* In keeping with the hacker culture, the definitions found in the Jargon File are quasi-satirical, and thus taking them seriously is a big mistake--somewhat on the level of getting your news from The Onion. That said, I guess when filtered through one expects serious definitions and since the context of satire is lost one would be inclined to take such a definition seriously at first blush. That is, I suppose, broken to some. Personally, I think it is relevant to find the hacker culture definition to a computer term--after all, it is a culture based totally and completely around computers. And twinkies, don't forget the twinkies. I got more out of the Jargon File definition than the others provided.

* Presuming that could redesign their results to better emphasize the sources and designate such sources as the Jargon File as not altogether precisely scientifically factual, it is still better to include such sources than to exclude them entirely. It IS still broken, however, that pulls definitions from the Jargon File without properly handling the "reefers," or cross-references. Look up "halloween documents" in the Jargon File (which should link for you) and you get a whole lot more than provides.

Posted by: Erich at July 23, 2005 11:23 AM

As stoo points out, DOES have a definition (again provided by the Jargon File) for "halloween documents," and this in itself demonstrates two things:

1 - Anyone looking up the phrase "halloween documents" wouldn't get any results from any other source cites, OED or otherwise, but gets a comprehensive definition and explanation from the Jargon File--even if the user has no idea what the Jargon File is or if it even exists. This shows the "value added" usefulness of, and is why I use it often, even for words I already know the definitions of: I often learn even more than I already knew.

2 - has linking problems that need to be fixed. I have often seen links to non-existent definitions or broken links like this example, where the definition DOES exist but the site improperly links them so that they cannot be accessed. Misspell a word and suggests alternate spellings a la Google's "did you mean..."--but not all of the suggestions you get actually exist in their dictionary, as previously discussed in this space:

(This article states that this is "fixed," but I'm not sure if that refers to the specific example in the article or the problem at large. I suspect the former, as I have on occasion still stumbled into the latter.) should NOT link to a word or reference without cross-checking its own database to verify first that such a definition actually exists!

Posted by: Erich at July 23, 2005 11:38 AM

How come This Is Broken is no longer linking URLs in posts? Is it broken?

Posted by: Hoki at July 23, 2005 11:57 AM

Here is the Halloween documents...hehe

halloween documents

n. A pair of Microsoft internal strategy

memoranda leaked to ESR in late 1998 that confirmed everybody's

paranoia about the current Evil Empire. These documents

( praised the technical

excellence of Linux and outlined a counterstrategy of attempting

to lock in customers by "de-commoditizing" Internet protocols and

services. They were extensively cited on the Internet and in the

press and proved so embarrassing that Microsoft PR barely said a

word in public for six months afterwards.

Posted by: Phil at July 23, 2005 12:36 PM

The reason i sent this in, was because the definition deos not actually tell me what the company does(or at least, is supposed to do) and instead gives me an opinion that, regardless of how true it is, does not help to inform me in the slightest.

Posted by: Real_Saddam at July 23, 2005 03:00 PM

To be fair, Real Saddam, the first result returned by is a cross-reference to the "Microsoft Corporation" definition which does provide (at least in rather dated form) the information you're looking for.

Posted by: James Kew at July 23, 2005 03:56 PM

I get my definitions at anyway....

Oh and...


Posted by: Bill the Gates at July 23, 2005 09:28 PM

That's not broken, it's quite true.

Posted by: Kyle at July 23, 2005 11:06 PM


Posted by: Bill Gates at July 25, 2005 12:39 AM

Doesn't Mr. Gates do that anyway?

Posted by: Bob at July 25, 2005 08:34 AM

Not broken. The first link gives you the definition you are looking for.

Posted by: Jay at July 25, 2005 09:27 AM

This may not broken but it danm sure is funny, and even has a bit of truth to it...

Posted by: DJDAN420FL69 at July 25, 2005 07:45 PM

You must admit that it's informative...

Posted by: Bob at July 26, 2005 11:42 AM

Anyway, you guys are kind of right, since i wanted this to be a "just for fun" entry anyway. I'm not sure what happened.

Posted by: Real Saddam at July 26, 2005 02:21 PM

Are you Kareem Kandil?

Posted by: Bob at July 27, 2005 06:37 AM

yes, I am

Posted by: Real Saddam at July 27, 2005 11:50 AM


Posted by: Bob at July 29, 2005 09:12 AM

If you wanna see another one, try looking up IBM

Posted by: no one at July 30, 2005 04:44 PM

Click on IBM and see what happens! :D

Posted by: Jonathan at May 27, 2006 12:16 PM

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