SCO's decision to rethink its scoinfo.com Web site, which the company had floated as a way of providing an archive of legal filings, hearing dates and SCO positions on various matters, is perhaps the first sign of common sense from the company for three years.
Scoinfo.com was conceived as a platform to counterbalance Groklaw.net, which has been a thorn in SCO's side since the company's legal battles got underway. Groklaw has consistently and effectively analysed and criticised SCO's strategy and tactics, and its successes have caused far more than mere embarrassment to Darl McBride and his gang.
But would SCO's mooted site ever really stand a chance of fulfilling its mission? In the red corner, Groklaw has grown into a huge community of people eager to defend open-source software in general and committed to dissecting SCO's various claims in particular. In the blue corner, scoinfo would never have been anything more than a repository of documents at best, or at worst a thinly veiled conduit for SCO propaganda.
Not that it is impossible for a corporate body to draw a large, loyal and above all active customer community. Apple is a perfect example, as we know only too well -- any story we run that paints Apple in less than a rosy light attracts a hail of talkback in the company's defence. But to get that sort of support you need to be seen as being on the side of the angels. SCO's habit of suing its customers has made it seem more attuned with other, darker forces. The company would have about as much chance of building an active community of Unix or Linux users ready to spring to its defence as would the RIAA with a community of music fans.
So what would be left for scoinfo.com? A place to post legal filings? Despite Groklaw's openly declared partisanship, the site is also an unparalleled source of accurate legal reportage on SCO's court adventures. If it had shown bias or incompetence here, be sure that SCO would have already drawn our attention to it. It's inconceivable that SCO, or anyone else for that matter, would be able to produce a more timely and comprehensive set of documents. That job is taken.
SCO clearly feels hurt by Groklaw and wants to hit back. Yet in recognising that it has no real case to make against it online, the company is sensibly husbanding its resources to concentrate on its two business plans: litigation and software development. We hope that the company will further realise that Groklaw's unassailable position reflects the strength of the arguments it espouses. Two business plans is one business plan too many: for the good of its customers and the market as a whole, the company should now take the next logical step.