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OOXML Vote and the CPI Corruption Index

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the voting-on-the-merits dept.

Microsoft 190

Tapani Tarvainen writes "It turns out there's an interesting correlation between Transparency International's 'corruption perceptions index' and voting behavior in ISO's OOXML decision. Countries with a lower score (more corruption) on the 2006 CPI were more likely to vote in favor of OOXML, and those with a higher score were less likely. According to the analysis, 'This statistics supports with a P value of 0.07328 the hypothesis that the corrupted countries were more likely to vote for approval (one-tailed Fisher's Exact test). In other words, simplified a bit: the likelihood that there was no positive correlation between the corruption level and probability of an approval vote, that is, this is just a random effect, is about 7%.' Of course, correlation doesn't prove causality."

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OpenISO.org (5, Interesting)

jafoc (1151405) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478233)

Since in so many counties the MS-OOXML "evaluation" process was a farce and the outcome shows complete incompetence because it amounts to blind approval of MS-OOXML, I believe that it is time to put some pressure of competition on ISO (which is essentially a cartel of national standardization organizations) by means of creating OpenISO.org, a new international standardization organization committed to principles of openness [openiso.org] .

I've put up a little website with some initial thoughts, and I'd appreciate feedback from the slashdot community please.

Re:OpenISO.org (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20478249)

This is so dull sounding I'd rather read the troll about the guy who eats poop.

Re:OpenISO.org (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20479017)

Yes, we knew we could count on you to poo-poo any idea threatening your monopoly, Ballmer.

Re:OpenISO.org (4, Insightful)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478597)

I've put up a little website with some initial thoughts

Your cause is interesting, but I'm afraid there's a lot more to do than a barebones 'vision' page, so to create a standards body able of replacing ISO.

ISO has created over 16500 standards, and publishes ~1250 new ones each year. Yes, that means several new ones each day. Those include food safety, environmental protection, oil and gas, ship and automobile building, basically everything.

Computer formats comprises but a minuscule fraction of ISO's work.

OOXML was overthrown at ISO, isn't this what you wanted after all.
So the system works, no need for anti-establishment rebellion for anti-establishment's sake.

Re:OpenISO.org (1, Insightful)

StringBlade (557322) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478769)

ISO has created over 16500 standards, and publishes ~1250 new ones each year. Yes, that means several new ones each day. Those include food safety, environmental protection, oil and gas, ship and automobile building, basically everything.

It makes me wonder what the value of having so many standards is. Isn't a standard supposed to be a single authoritative source / guideline on how to do something? If you have 500 competing standards or an organization whose sole purpose is to churn out standards then that dilutes the standards that come out of the organization, doesn't it?

Perhaps a simple example would be the Imperial measurement system versus the Metric system. If we had one global standard (Metric most likely) wouldn't that make life a lot easier for international joint ventures of engineering and such?

Dictionary.com [reference.com] says:

standard /stændrd/
-noun
1. something considered by an authority or by general consent as a basis of comparison; an approved model.

Re:OpenISO.org (2, Interesting)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478951)

It makes me wonder what the value of having so many standards is. Isn't a standard supposed to be a single authoritative source / guideline on how to do something? If you have 500 competing standards or an organization whose sole purpose is to churn out standards then that dilutes the standards that come out of the organization, doesn't it?

Where did I hint any of those standards *compete* with each other. Go out, look around. There's more than document formats out there. And all of this needs a standard. ISO provides it.

Re:OpenISO.org (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478981)

The great thing about standards is there's so many to choose from!

(Yeah, old joke... funny 'cause it's true though)
=Smidge=

Re:OpenISO.org (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478995)

It makes me wonder what the value of having so many standards is.

You have to look at how many industries there are when you think about that 1250 number. check here [iso.org] for a listing of the ISO standards by ICS. Everything from health care to math to EE to agriculture to military engineering and back again. You are talking about standards for **everything**. This world is a pretty diverse place.

Re:OpenISO.org (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479035)

It makes me wonder what the value of having so many standards is

Are there not 16500 different "things" that exist in the whole of human endeavor that could be standardized? If so, then each could be so without creating conflicting standards.

Re:OpenISO.org (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479103)

Are there multiple standards? I always thought ISO was against having multiple standards for the same thing...
1250 standards a year doesnt imply overlap, there are many things which need to be standardised, lots of which seem rather petty to people outside of their own industry...
But where would we be without standardised measurements etc?

Re:OpenISO.org (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20479163)

> Are there multiple standards? I always thought ISO was against having multiple standards for the same thing...

Then what's the deal with OOXML when we have ISO ODF?

Re:OpenISO.org (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479313)

Exactly, it should never have got this far...
It's only the constant pushing, bullying and bribery from microsoft thats got it this far

Re:OpenISO.org (5, Insightful)

jafoc (1151405) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478881)

OOXML was overthrown at ISO, isn't this what you wanted after all.

No, MS-OOXML hasn't been "overthrown" at ISO, at least not yet. There's going to be that "ballot resolution meeting" in February 25-29, 2008 in Geneva (I've already booked my hotel room, since hotel bookings can be a bit difficult in Geneva if attempted on short notice) and then there's going to be another vote. In my opinion it'd take a miracle for MS-OOXML not to get passed then regardless of how many of the substantial comments the "ballot resolution meeting" manages to resolve.

So the system works

No, it doesn't. It's totally broken. And if in the end the voting result happens to be the correct one (rejection of the "fast track") after all, that won't be the case because of a trustworthy process based on legitimate, valid arguments, but rather it would be the case because of the successful application of comment-bombing and similar tactics by the opposition.

no need for anti-establishment rebellion for anti-establishment's sake

I have seriously tried to work within the existing system, with the only resulting success being that I have learned just how badly broken it really is.

Re:OpenISO.org (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479473)

So the system works, no need for anti-establishment rebellion for anti-establishment's sake.

Darn stodgy ol' antidisestablishmentarianists.

Re:OpenISO.org (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 7 years ago | (#20480509)

OOXML was overthrown at ISO, isn't this what you wanted after all.
So the system works, no need for anti-establishment rebellion for anti-establishment's sake.


It wasn't overthrown, it was merely denied fast-track approval. And I think the level of corruption that went on with this is scandalous, and the ISO members ought to be ashamed of themselves for producing a system that can be so easily manipulated with money. As you said, these guys also deal with standards dealing with safety, so it actually makes me even more nervous.

Re:OpenISO.org (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478671)

How would OpenISO be impurvious to any and all corruption yet still be open to all stakeholders and at the same time be efficient and manageable?

Re:OpenISO.org (1)

jafoc (1151405) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479489)

How would OpenISO be impurvious to any and all corruption yet still be open to all stakeholders and at the same time be efficient and manageable?

Ok, the fundamental management idea is to have, similar to how other standardization organizations are organized, a hierarchy of working-groups dealing with more and more specialized tasks. The rule here is that when a working-group becomes inefficient due to too many participants, the working-group should be divided into subgroups, all of which report their results to the parent working-group.

The fundamental decision-making principle is of course that decisions should be made in a fact-based manner. The fundamental question is: What happens when there is no consensus about an appropriate fact-based decision? In most existing standardization organizations, at that stage the decision-making process either breaks down or the committee members vote. Both of these mechanisms are inadequate because is the first case a company like Microsoft can prevent any decision it doesn't like by means of breaking the consensus, and in the second case it can manipulate every vote by means of telling enough "gold certified" (economically dependent) partner companies to vote. What OpenISO.org will do in case of such disputes is to have its employees or external experts selected by its employees evaluate the arguments for the various positions on their merits. If it turns out that there are several justifiable viewpoints, the proponents of the various possible approaches can all get their preferred solutions equally endorsed by OpenISO.org provided that the openness and maturity requirements are fulfilled. (Openness requirements will include that there should be no patent issues etc; maturity requirements include that there should be a BSD-, Apache- or LGPL-licensed reference implementation and that the spec has been reviewed for cross-cultural applicability and with regard to its impact on people with disabilities.)

If there are unresolved conflicts and OpenISO.org does not have the necessary financial resources for resolving them, OpenISO.org standardization work will be stalled in the concerned areas until some interested party contributes the necessary money for getting the conflicted questions examined in a proper, professional manner.

In order to prevent to wasting too much money on dealing with trolls, those who have taken positions which are found to be frivolous will after wards have to pay themselves for getting their disputes resolved. The same applies to anyone who engages in conflict-bombing (initiating many conflicts simultaneously.)

While untimately no absolute guarantee of corruption-proofness can be given, I can promise to do what I can to prevent it. In addition, OpenISO.org can be set up as a foundation under Swiss law so that if it fails to act according to the principles in its by-laws, legal action can be used to force the foundation to comply with its by-laws.

Please correct as ASAP as possible... (4, Funny)

Chapter80 (926879) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478875)

OOXML Vote and the CPI Corruption Index
Nice Headline. Allow me expand one of the acronyms for you:

"OOXML Vote and the Corruption Perceptions Index Corruption Index"

OK, that's it for now - I have to run down to the ATM machine and put in my PIN number...

Re:OpenISO.org (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479061)

Just yesterday I announced a competing certifying body [slashdot.org] . Ain't fair, you taking my idea. I'm gonna sue.

Re:OpenISO.org (5, Funny)

throup (325558) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479471)

Thanks to what Microsoft have told me, I believe there is a place in the world for both of your competing certifying bodies. One may publish potential standards that have been created from scratch with the intention of being useful to the world, whilst the other may be better suited to represent existing standards in a more open way.

So, for example, OpenISO.org may publish something along the lines of:

Standard process for brushing teeth
  • Hold toothbrush in left hand;
  • Hold toothpaste tube in right hand;
  • Position tube above toothbrush and squeeze the tube until a pea-sized amount of paste is on the brush;
  • Transfer brush to right hand and follow the process detailed in OpenISO.org OI22987 Standard process to brush something [openiso.org] .



Whereas SoiOpen.com may publish something along the lines of:

Brush your teeth the right way
  • Buy a Colgate toothbrush;
  • Buy some Colgate toothpaste;
  • Use them like Steve Ballmer does*.

* For personal reasons, Mr Ballmer will not discuss his dental hygiene routine with anyone.


Sorted.

Yes, you inspired me (1)

jafoc (1151405) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479761)

While I've been thinking for quite some time about launching a competitor to ISO, it's true that you inspired me with your humorous posting to name it "OpenISO.org"... if you like I'd be happy to give you credit in some way on the OpenISO.org website [openiso.org] .

Re:Yes, you inspired me (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479947)

Thanks buddy! Glad to have inspired someone. You made my day. You run with Open ISO man! It is your baby now.

Re:OpenISO.org - there is no way to fix capitalism (2, Interesting)

dermond (33903) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479667)

instantly i like the idea of openiso.org but i am sceptical:

there is no way to fix capitalism. money can buy you influence. even here. if you have enough money that you can pay 40000ppl worldwide you can alos afford to pay a few more to subvert openiso.org if it ever becomes necessary. it will make it hardare but it will not make it impossible. most likely it will not become necessary since they just buy the governments and tell them to ignore openiso.org at all. see all the legislation that is in favor of corporations like microsoft and others that is going on in the EU, the US and everywhere... most political parties in power there are already in line with capitalist interests.

what would make such an approach useful is that in the process of finding sane standards the people involved will learn about the deficiencies of the capitalist regime. capitalist regime is corrupt per definition: it means that money can buy you what you want. which is plain corruption. the more money you have the more human labor and natural resources you can command...

greetings from vienna,
mond.

More interesting pattern (5, Insightful)

jkrise (535370) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478255)

Countries like India and China ... home to over 33% of the world's population - have voted "NO". Countires like Cote' de Ivorie and Cyprus have equal voting rights.

This population index anomaly must be rectified, before the ISO can regain any credibility as an International standards organisation.

democracy != fact-oriented decisions (2, Insightful)

jafoc (1151405) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478323)

The questions which are relevant for standardization can, and therefore should, be always decided in a fact-oriented, principled manner. Otherwise the corruption problem will always remain regardless of voting weights.

Re:democracy != fact-oriented decisions (1)

QuickFox (311231) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479239)

How? Who decides which alternatives are fact-oriented and principled?

If people could easily agree on on which alternatives are sound, people would do it that way all the time, in most fields of human endeavor. You're taking an unsolvable problem and assuming it's solved.

Re:democracy != fact-oriented decisions (1)

jafoc (1151405) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479893)

How? Who decides which alternatives are fact-oriented and principled?

If people could easily agree on on which alternatives are sound, people would do it that way all the time, in most fields of human endeavor. You're taking an unsolvable problem and assuming it's solved.

What can be done is to create an organization that makes it its core competence to make decisions in a principled, fact-oriented manner. (I'm right now trying this in the area of standardization of information and communication technologies [openiso.org] .) Of course I can't force anyone to trust this organization. I can just do my best to create an organization which does a good job, and then it's up to everyone to choose to trust this OpenISO.org or ISO/IEC JTC1 or Microsoft's propaganda.

Re:More interesting pattern (3, Insightful)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478363)

I think that is kind of the point - that large countries can't dominate small countries. If China and India decided everything, then everybody would drop out and it would no longer be an international standard. It would be a Chinese-Indian standard.

Re:More interesting pattern (3, Interesting)

jkrise (535370) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478473)

that large countries can't dominate small countries. If China and India decided everything...

But small countries are easily dominated by money-wielding vested interests... don't you think? The 51% "Yes" votes actually translate to less than 20% of the population of the nations that participated. That's a gross aberration, and the ISO must take note of it.

BTW, even if India AND China supported a standard, they'd only hae 33% representation - many more nations would need to support to reach 67%.

Re:More interesting pattern (1)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479137)

I didn't say it was the best way to do it, but I do think it is better than a population-based approach. The whole point of an international standard is to facilitate interaction/trade between different *nations*. It is voluntary, and countries can use whatever they want internally.

Anyways, a population-based approach has "circular" problems - you need a population-based voting system to successfully elect a population-based voting system. If it was population-based to begin with, most countries would not have joined, and thus it would not really be an international standard.

Re:More interesting pattern (1)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479341)

How about a logarithmic or semi-logarithmic population based voting method?

Say, if a country has 1 million or less citizens, then they get one vote. 10 million citizens = 2 votes, 100 million citizens = 3 votes, and so on.

So, China, with 1 billion+ people, would get four votes, but they could be "outvoted" by five small countries.

Re:More interesting pattern (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20478877)

That problem could be reduced by using a double majority system, as in the new EU "constitution": There must be a qualified majority of countries voting "yes", but those voting "yes" must also represent a qualified majority of the people. Extending to the maximum number of "no" votes is simple (here also the "and" rule should be used, because otherwise China could easily block any standard alone).

Re:More interesting pattern (1)

PetiePooo (606423) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478891)

It would be a Chinese-Indian standard

I say better little-indian that big-indian... Call me an x86 fan-boy. 8-)

Re:More interesting pattern (5, Interesting)

arivanov (12034) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478443)

Welcome to the world of international organisations.

Those of us observing the ruthless buying of pro-whaling votes by Japan over the last decade have noticed this one long ago. In that case countries that do not even have a coastline or a single ship registered in their name apply for a membership in the International Whaling Commission with Japanese money and go ahead to vote with a yes.

Unfortunately the dead body of a standard is not sufficiently heavy and smelly so it will be difficult for GreenPeace to dump it on the Microsoft doorsteps http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4627178.st m [bbc.co.uk] . Pity actually. It would have been quite fitting.

Re:More interesting pattern (5, Interesting)

asc99c (938635) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478547)

Although I don't agree with whaling, I feel I should at least point out that the IWC was a whaling industry organisation that was subverted into a conservation group. This happened as a group of big countries recruited a lot of the smaller countries (with again, no whaling interests of their own) to join the IWC and vote to ban whaling.

So this ruthless vote buying process is hardly without precedent ...

Re:More interesting pattern (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20478533)

Well it is one place where no country can become a super-power. Unless someone comes up with a Nuclear Option vote.

Re:More interesting pattern (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 7 years ago | (#20480177)

Countries like India and China ... home to over 33% of the world's population - have voted "NO". Countires like Cote' de Ivorie and Cyprus have equal voting rights.

This population index anomaly must be rectified, before the ISO can regain any credibility as an International standards organisation.
I propose African nations get a three-fifths of a vote.

THIS is good journalism (1, Interesting)

Arathon (1002016) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478353)

This is one of the best stories I've seen on Slashdot in months. Actual facts always trump FUD and jumping to conclusions.

Re:THIS is good journalism (1)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478455)

It seemed like a bunch of statistical mumbo-jumbo to me. They had a cause, and they found some statistics to reinforce what they were saying. Had the result not been what they were looking for, they would not have posted the story. That's not good journalism.

Re:THIS is good journalism (1)

plover (150551) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479415)

It seemed like a bunch of statistical mumbo-jumbo to me. They had a cause, and they found some statistics to reinforce what they were saying. Had the result not been what they were looking for, they would not have posted the story. That's not good journalism.

No, it's exemplary journalism, according to the Rupert Murdoch Standard of Journalism. It's just not the same as saying "unbiased".

Re:THIS is good journalism (1)

lattyware (934246) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478545)

I find it highly ironic this post was just below yours:

Sorry /., but this is the sort of crap reporting that is persistent on the web and (because they're desperate to retain viewers/readers) is becoming the de facto standard in print and media journalism. Appending "Of course, correlation doesn't prove causality." to the end of an article strongly implying causality in every sense, doesn't absolve the reporter from the false conclusions he/she implies throughout the rest of the article. That the correlation was run at ALL implies that someone was 'looking for something' - suspect 1. The layer upon layer of dependent statistics leading to a very authoritative-sounding "the likelihood that this is a concidence is 7%" makes it sound very scientific and accurate - suspect 2 Sorry, this is FUD passed off as news supported by phony statistics.

On a side note, I agree with you.

It's interesting, but besides the point. (1)

Erris (531066) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479355)

This is one of the best stories I've seen on Slashdot in months. Actual facts always trump FUD and jumping to conclusions.

In the end, the study shows a correlation between corruption in a country and a country's approval of OOXML. That's interesting, but there are more direct and useful studies and actions. Those places that voted "yes" should be embarrassed, not because "yes" was wrong, not because there's a statistical correlation between "yes" and corruption.

It was easier to study OOXML and condemn it with facts directly. Plenty of people did this and published it. Those studdies point to places where the standard was woefully incomplete, contradictory and impossible to implement in a reasonable way.

It was also easier to prove real corruption where it occurred. Vote buying and stacking was proved at all levels.

Finally, it's better to spend time on a remedy than it is on interesting studdies. OOXML was rejected, but further action is required. M$ should be punished for their corrupt practices even though they failed. ISO needs to protect itself from that kind of behavior or it will lose public confidence. M$ was blatant this time, perhaps because they would like to destroy ISO itself. Next time, they might not be so obvious but should not be given the chance. Usually, when you prove malice like that you don't get another chance to screw things up. Those who took bribes should be banned forever and M$ should not be allowed to participate in new standards for years. Their participation in the future should be dependent on all people responsible being replaced.

Thanks, Intarweb reporter (3, Insightful)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478357)

Sorry /., but this is the sort of crap reporting that is persistent on the web and (because they're desperate to retain viewers/readers) is becoming the de facto standard in print and media journalism.

Appending "Of course, correlation doesn't prove causality." to the end of an article strongly implying causality in every sense, doesn't absolve the reporter from the false conclusions he/she implies throughout the rest of the article.

That the correlation was run at ALL implies that someone was 'looking for something' - suspect 1. The layer upon layer of dependent statistics leading to a very authoritative-sounding "the likelihood that this is a concidence is 7%" makes it sound very scientific and accurate - suspect 2

Sorry, this is FUD passed off as news supported by phony statistics.

 

Evidence of causality (1)

jafoc (1151405) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478449)

In this particular case, there's plenty of evidence of irregulaties in how national standardization organizations handled MS-OOXML, so the causal relationship is not really at issue.

Re:Evidence of causality (2, Insightful)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478687)

>>so the causal relationship is not really at issue.

He was talking about the article, the misapplication of statistics in particular, not whether there were irregularities or not.

Sweden has a low corruption index, but there is evidence of irregularities there. See, I just used evidence to trump the statistics in the article...

Re:Evidence of causality (2, Informative)

LarsWestergren (9033) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479019)

Sweden has a low corruption index, but there is evidence of irregularities there. See, I just used evidence to trump the statistics in the article...

No, the article doesn't say that. It says "We found that more corrupted the country is, the more likely it was to vote for the unreserved acceptance of the OOXML standard proposal."

Good that you mention Sweden though. The "irregularities" you mention were that Microsoft Sweden offered bribes to close business partners to vote "yes" to accept a suggested standard SIS had carefully evaluated over months and decided was worthless.

Re:Evidence of causality (1)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479231)

No, the article doesn't say that. It says "We found that more corrupted the country is *perceived to be*, the *higher the correlation* was to vote for the unreserved acceptance of the OOXML standard proposal. Of course, we failed to mention whether the correlation was statistically significant or not, and we pointed out that this does not establish causality, but we knew people were going to read it just like the above poster did, so hey, HIGH-FIVE!"

Re:Thanks, Intarweb reporter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20478523)

That the correlation was run at ALL implies that someone was 'looking for something' - suspect 1

Really? 'cuz you know, I thought that starting with a hypothesis was pretty standard for empirical science. Maybe that's just me.

Re:Thanks, Intarweb reporter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20478529)

To summarize:
1. This is Slashdot & Slashdot is BAAAAD
2. "Of course, correlation doesn't prove causality."..."...doesn't absolve the reporter from the false conclusions..."
3. "someone was 'looking for something' "
4. ...
5. "...this is FUD passed off as news ..." (= PROFIT)

Sorry, took me five steps instead of the standard four.

Re:Thanks, Intarweb reporter (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20479049)

Sorry, took me five steps instead of the standard four.

1. Recognize that the standard is three steps.
2. ???
3. Profit!

Re:Thanks, Intarweb reporter (0, Offtopic)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478631)

But is that not what modern news reporting is all about?

Re:Thanks, Intarweb reporter (4, Insightful)

StringBlade (557322) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478643)

That the correlation was run at ALL implies that someone was 'looking for something' - suspect 1.

Are you suggesting that correlations cannot be run without someone "looking for something" to prove causality? If so, why would anyone ever use correlation in any sort of statistical analysis because it's merely a means to an end in the eye of the person running the correlation.

Bogus statistics example: 78% of 16-18 year old children consume large amounts of carbonated soda. 93% of 16-18 year old children attend high school. It therefore follows that there is a direct correlation between 16-18 year old children who drink carbonated soda and those that attend high school.

Please forgive my abysmal example of a correlation (because I'm really bad at doing real math and statistics) but it's there to show that anyone can create a correlation and assign it some number without having an ulterior motive. The implication of your statement above was that this correlation shouldn't have even been run except that it was to further the agenda of the author.

I think the correlation is interesting on its face, but I'm not about to use that as evidence in an international court to point fingers and shout "corruption!"

Re:Thanks, Intarweb reporter (3, Informative)

WaZiX (766733) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479783)

just because 78% of the 16-18 drink large amount of soda and 93% of the 16-18 year old go to school doesn't mean there is any correlation between the two... That's not a bogus statistics example, that's just an example on how bad people (you in this case) understand what correlation is...

Correlation would be: 85% of the kids 16-18 attending school drink large amounts of soda, whereas only 40% of those who do not attend school drink large amounts of soda. That is an example of correlation.

A good bogus example would be: People who wear suits to work have on average a higher income then people who wear work clothes, there is therefore a correlation between how nicely you dress to go to work and your salary. Therefore the way you dress to work has an impact on your salary.

Please note that the correlation in itself is not the bogus part of the example, the bogus part is the conclusion made by myself. Statistic themselves are rarely bogus, and if they are they can clearly be shown to be bogus, the conclusions drawn are the problematic part.

Re:Thanks, Intarweb reporter (4, Insightful)

LarsWestergren (9033) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478895)

Appending "Of course, correlation doesn't prove causality." to the end of an article strongly implying causality in every sense [...]

It wasn't the article that said that, it was the Slashdot summary. A bit of a weasel word though, it should be clarified as "correlation doesn't always prove causality, but in this case we believe based on evidence A, B, C that..." or removed.

[...]doesn't absolve the reporter from the false conclusions he/she implies throughout the rest of the article.

Speaking of weasel words... What conclusions do you believe are false then, and why?

That the correlation was run at ALL implies that someone was 'looking for something' - suspect 1.

We HAVE to look for SOMETHING, both in statistics and other science. It is pretty much impossible to do as Shelock Holmes said - "It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. It biases the judgment." How do you know that you have all the evidence if you don't even know what you are looking for?

Sorry, this is FUD passed off as news supported by phony statistics.

You may not agree with the conclusions, but how are the statistics phony?

Re:Thanks, Intarweb reporter (1)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479615)

>>but how are the statistics phony? .07 does not indicate correlation. Stating a correlation value has lead many reading the article to believe that there is a correlation, but statistically there is not. That's pretty deceiving. It is a phony correlation.

Also, others more knowledgeable in statistics have posted in this discussion saying they have misapplied the statistics to begin with.

Two points to make here: (2, Insightful)

Enlarged to Show Tex (911413) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478405)

First off, it just goes to show you how beholden the US government is to Microsoft money. Second of all, it shows you why the US branch [usjaycees.org] of a certain worldwide NGO based in the US [www.jci.cc] has been so slow in adopting the methods of its parent...because, oddly enough, International has seen fit to partner with Transparency International. Your average USian knows nothing of TI, and those that do tend to poo-poo them as being insignificant.

Strange (2, Informative)

protomala (551662) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478411)

Brazil voted no, and we are a curruption paradise :) Actually there was a strong fight in ABNT (brazilian standards regulation group) as happens in the government. The brazilian agencies and federal govern always used windows in a large scale from desktop to servers, while universities used most Unix and Linux. Current federal govern supports Linux, but there is a big resistance in sectors that always used windows and often there are problems with licitations (govern auctions) imposing a specific type of software. For example, you can auction for "Microsoft Office" or "a Office Suite". Most states already fobid the first option in law, but at federal level it's not forbidden, even that there is a recommendation to avoid this kind of situation. But even with laws, often happens situations where the auction is so specific that it could only have a winner, when police does some investigation finds that someone got a "deal" to make sure company X wins. Recently in my state they found a guy stealing mail stamps! Millions of them. He bought and kept the money for him, because the legislative house had a deal with the mail company to send letters. When found he buried the stamps in his house garden. Can you belive it?

.07 is not significant (5, Interesting)

pbooktebo (699003) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478417)

Most research in the social sciences considers the threshold for statistical significance below .05. Since this is above, few would have confidence that this result is not random chance. So, reporting this result, while informative if you are trained in statistics, is likely misleading to the average reader...

Re:.07 is not significant (5, Informative)

wembley fraggle (78346) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478549)

Not only is 0.07 not significant, they used a 1-tailed test, rather than a 2-tailed test. If they had used the 2-tailed test, the p-value would have been 0.14, which is REALLY not significant. You're only ever justified in choosing the 1-tailed test over the 2-tailed one if you know for certain which way the influence is pushing. If, for example, one could make the case that the OOXML vote would have gone the other direction, with the more corrupt countries voting against it (a case we have no a priori reason to discard), then the use of a 1-tailed test is inappropriate here.

Actually, having read TFA, I'm pretty sure that correlation isn't appropriate at all here. The corruption scores are discrete, categorical values, rather than continuous values. This calls for nonparametric methods. Start with chi-square and move on from there. You can't do correlation with a straight face if your variables are discrete, since there's no guarantee that the "distance" in corruption between 2 and 3 is the same as the distance between 4 and 5.

Re:.07 is not significant (1)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478751)

If, for example, one could make the case that the OOXML vote would have gone the other direction, with the more corrupt countries voting against it (a case we have no a priori reason to discard), then the use of a 1-tailed test is inappropriate here.

Oh come on now. We don't have any a priori reason to discard that case?

And who would have the resources and interest to pay people off to vote against it?

Re:.07 is not significant (1)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 7 years ago | (#20480451)

IBM, the company that invented FUD.

Re:.07 is not significant (1)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479427)

Most research in the social sciences considers the threshold for statistical significance below .05. Since this is above, few would have confidence that this result is not random chance.
That is true. However, statistical significance is not the only justification for a result, although it is perhaps the primary criterion for academic publication and discussion. Here, however, the context is slightly different: in academic publication you want very high certainty (you don't want false theories published!), whereas here we are talking in a more informal manner. This result might in fact be just exploratory, that is, just an indication that 'there might be something' and it should be investigated further.

Also, look at the image [effi.org] . Yes, the final statistical significance was 7%. However, that number summarizes complex data into a single figure. Just like the average of a sample can be non-representative of complex data ("a statistician drowned in a pool with an average depth of 2 inches", etc.), so can the statistical significance be missing something. And indeed the image shows far more information. While not proof, it does reveal a fairly obvious pattern that should be studied further.

Obligatory Homer Simpson quote... (1)

smurphmeister (1132881) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478451)

"Oh, people can come up with statistics to prove anything. 14% of people know that."

Of course... (5, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478489)

Of course, correlation doesn't prove causality.

Given the inappropriate use of the Fisher's test, questionable use of a one-tailed model and p > 0.05, I'd start with worrying about having proven correlation.

Re:Of course... (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479265)

Does anyone else think this thinking seems a bit Marxist? We have a plan "OpenDocument" decided on by scientifically by experts. The only opponents are class enemies like Microsoft and their paid lackeys who support a far inferior rival standard OOXML. This is not a mere slur, it is a scientific fact proved by statistics.

Now, I couldn't give a toss about standards quite frankly. MS Office works fine and is installed on every machine I use. But the logic of these conspiracy theories is that class enemies should be somehow silenced, otherwise open debate will be sabotaged by them. Maybe I have false consciousness since I don't care and thus the choice should be taken away from me and made by experts. And I don't like the way that people are abusing science to make their loony political opinions 'objectively true' - this seems close to sacrilege to me.

The only encouraging thing is that 99.99% of the population of the world will never even hear their arguments, and probably wouldn't be interested in them if they did. But still it's annoying to see obviously intelligent people behaving like this when historically this sort of thinking has proved to be disastrous.

Re:Of course... (1)

JimbleBimble (1057548) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479577)

Why is the use of Fisher's test on a 2x2 contingency table incorrect? Any why do you feel the two-tailed test would be more appropriate than the one-sided one? You presented no argument in either case.

Really, why your post was modded +5 insightful when it lacks any explanations at all is a mystery to me. Oh wait, hang on, this is Slashdot, where out-of-hand rejections to analyses are uncritically accepted (particularly knee-jerk reactions to the use of statistics), so long as they conform to everyone's preconceived ideas and opinions...

Re:Of course... (1)

stranger_to_himself (1132241) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479703)

I think the post was really complaining about the inappropriate use of a 2x2 contingency table.

An analysis of the continuous corruption scores would have been a far better and more powerful use of the data.

I agree with you about the one-tailed test though.

Correlation DOES Imply Causation (3, Interesting)

thetan (725014) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478493)

Come on people, we've been over this already [slashdot.org] !

If you look at the scientific studies, correlation is so closely correlated with causation that it's safe to say that one causes the other.

Check the stats [netspace.net.au] for yourself.

Re:Correlation DOES Imply Causation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20478665)

Exactly. That's why Ice Cream consumption correlates so well with drownings in the US. Seriously, though, the whole point of doing a correlation study is to get an indication of possible causation, otherwise why bother? In this particular instance, however, I don't think correlation was established.

BillyDoc

wow! imagine that. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20478497)

more tin foil hat fodder from kdawson.
 
there was a time i wouldn't think that a slashdot editor would have less credibility then john dorkvorak but here it is.

Transparency Catalogue (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478537)

Transparency Intl should repackage and sell the corruption index as a Price+Services catalogue for each country. Would save a lot of wasted time and effort....

Obligatory old joke:
"What kind of a woman do you think I am?"
"I thought we had established that, and were negotiating the price!"

I have a rule for these types of articles (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478563)

If I don't completely understand the methodology in collecting the data and what they are doing to generate the final number, then I don't trust the article. This article had me knee deep in statistics that seemed overly complicated for what they were trying to say. This puts me in the high yellow on the BS meter.

Has ECMA become a Microsoft shill. (4, Insightful)

supersnail (106701) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478591)

Another intersting point coming out of all this the role of ECMA International
formerly European Computer Manufactureres Association - dont see many of them around these days).

ECMA is fully accredited by ISO and in ists search for a new role as a standards body did
a nice job producing a standard for the orphaned Javascript ( except for changing the name
to the disease like ECMAscript).

However since then other "standards" developed by ECMA have been:-
-- the programming language C# ( C "sharp")
-- a Common Language Infrastructure (CLI)
-- a CLI binding for C++
-- Office Open XMLOffice

Anyone spot a pattern here?
The other problem is that ECMAInternational is essentialy a club of computer software and
hardware manufacturers and unlike national standards organisations (ASA, BS, DN etc.)
does not have any public interest mandate; it exists only to serve its members and
to join you need to be a large software or hardware manufacturer.

I have no problem with any industry forming a club to standardise things among themselves
but for an industry association to be the main sponser of an ISO standard seems plain
wrong.

Microsoft for one seems to have spotted an ideal vehicle for turning proprietary products into standards.

Nothing to see here. (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478599)

no positive correlation between the corruption level and probability of an approval vote, that is, this is just a random effect, is about 7%.
So how is this news? The writer seems to be contradictory. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Re:Nothing to see here. (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478647)

And it is worth mentioning that a random effect of 7% is less than 2 standard deviations from the mean.

Another interesting correlation... (1)

mattgreen (701203) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478601)

...those with Linux bumper stickers were three times more likely to believe their choice in operating system should be defended with religious fervor. How curious! Of course, correlation doesn't prove causality.

Re:Another interesting correlation... (2, Insightful)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478771)

Of course, it is statistically a proven fact that the safest place to stand is in the exact middle of the road. The data doesn't lie. The people analyzing it do!

Re:Another interesting correlation... (2, Insightful)

arehnius (1071476) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479387)

Another proven fact is that the safest place to stand in the universe, for a human being, is on the surface of the Sun (or else give me the name of someone who died or was injured there). The data doesn't lie. The sample used does.

In Soviet Russia (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20478781)

Voting alongside Microsoft corrupts YOU!

Eh? (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478785)

This statistics supports with a P value of 0.07328 the hypothesis that the corrupted countries were more likely to vote for approval

Since when does a p-value of 0.07 reject the null hypothesis?

Also, I love preaching the correlation/causality mantra as much as anyone, but it seems a little superfluous here - does anyone really think that Transparency International's CPI actually caused those countries to vote in a certain way?

Re:Eh? (2, Funny)

cnettel (836611) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479259)

Of course it did! MS looked at the CPI ratings and then targeted their corruption attempts in the seemingly most suitable direction, so different ratings would have affected the outcome directly!

finding correlation (1)

roaddemon (666475) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478841)

I can just imagine the journalist's process for choosing the CPI index. 1: prove correlation between OOXML support and terrorism. Unable to find any correlation. 1: (second try) prove correlation between OOXML support and stealing candy from babies. Unable to find any correlation. 1: (third try) prove correlation between OOXML support and CPI index. Correlation found. 2: write scientific sounding article about said correlation. 3: ? 4: profit!

causality doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20478849)

So what if correlation doesn't imply causlity -- the point isn't whether being corrupt causes them to support OOXML. The causality issue of interest is whether the amount of money M$ dumped into countries (above board and under the table) causes OOXML support. It's somewhat Bayesian where corruption is the bias factor.

p less than .05 (1)

The -e**(i*pi) (1150927) | more than 7 years ago | (#20478869)

um, in the statistics courses I took, a p less than .05 was needed to show a meaningful correlation, and p less than .01 was needed for a strong correlation.

and of course decreasing numbers of pirates directly correlate to global warming. http://www.seanbonner.com/blog/archives/001857.php [seanbonner.com]

or how about the one where driving drunk gives a higher probability of surviving in a an accident versus a non-drunk person in the same situation. (yes I know that the drinking may increase your chances of getting in an accident at all which could nullify the benefits of being drunk in that accident, but that goes to how how people can misuse statistics)

and how do we get less than signs in out posts?

Its a PERCEPTION index (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479067)

Lets make it clear that it is a corruption perception index. Not an actual corruption index. An exemple of the difference is that fighting corruption usualy increases the index at short time.

Also, lets make it clear that the index isn't that precise, and its data isn't that reliable. Transparency International used to have a disclaimer at their FAQ that basicaly said that, unless you completely comprehend the methodology, if you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane. Comparations between countries aren't accurate, as aren't comparations of different years at the same country. Basicaly, the average Joe should stay away from the data.

ODF sucks (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20479183)

The biggest enemy of ODF is OpenOffice.org which is a complete and utter piece of crap. Regardless of what standard makes it through, nobody is going to want to sit down and use that horrible thing for more than a couple minutes before crying for MS Office. Not only is MS Office vastly superior to every other Office suite but it also sets high standards for accessibility by those who are handicapped, something the government should really consider. MS makes good products but you guys are so blind by bizarre nerd rage and FUD that they could cure cancer and you'd still hate them.

conspicuous absence! (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479209)

You know who is missing in action very conspicuously here? The Corporations. They are, by far, the largest class of customers for MSFT. If there is a true level playing field and multiple vendors are competing for their business, it is the corporate world that will benefit most. But they are absent!! Why? If the Fortune 500 companies chip in 100K each per year, that will found a Institution with about 50 million dollars. Worldwide, 100m$ per year is not unreasonable budget. You can hire a very good committee and a very competent staff and lay down true interoperability standards that all vendors including MSFT should conform. Fortune 500 Institute for Interoperable Office Software Certification paid by the customers to look after customer's interest would take care of all the shenanigans by all players, not just MSFT. Vendor lock is what every vendor is shooting for. From engineering design automation companies like Ansys, Abacus, PTC, Mentor Graphics, Synopsis, EESoft to IT vendors like SAP, Oracle to providers like blackberry, BlackBoard (university teaching software) etc all of them play this game. Heck, a ordinary home user like me is vendor locked into Quicken!

It is high time the customers band together and fund an institute that will be chartered to level the playing field and foster competition.

Re:conspicuous absence! (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479369)

Yes; maybe we should call the institute " the government ", and set it up so that we can fire them periodically if they work against our interests....

Re:conspicuous absence! (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479873)

Sounds nice in theory, but it does not work in practice. There are so many voters who have priorities other than office file formats. The appointed politicians know all they have to do is to satisfy their core constituency in whatever matters to them most, gay marriage/rights, (pro/anti)abortion, environment/property rights, national security, personal liberty ... Then they are free to do whatever they want on issues that are of interest to a microscopic minority, like office file formats. So using Govt to ensure interoperability would work only when the interested parties do not meddle with the process. So SAE can specify the viscosity of engine oil or width of car tires. IEEE can specify cable connectors...

But when the atmosphere is vitiated like this, the people with direct financial stake in the outcome should step in, and make sure their interests are protected. Why aren't the GEs and Home Depots, and the Walmarts in the committee making sure they have the option to switch vendors easily?

Arrow of Causality (1)

ichbineinneuben (1065378) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479401)

Correlation doesn't prove causality... are you suggesting that it's the other way round here? That embracing M$ products may lead to sloppy ethics and corruption? Not that I find that implausible.

Re:Arrow of Causality (1)

bryguy5 (512759) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479839)

No, there could be a third factor involved.

Something like Corrupt countries are usually less technologically developed and don't have a political stance on technology, have fewer computer geeks, and like pre-packaged solutions.

If the relationship is more direct do you think it's M$ bribing or rapant pirating in the country makes M$ very popular and reduces interest in nix alternatives.

Lies or Truth from Microsoft? (3, Interesting)

scruffy (29773) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479417)

The International Herald Tribune [iht.com] has an interesting quote from Microsoft.

[Tom] Robertson, [Microsoft's general manager for interoperability and standards], defended the Office Open XML format and predicted its eventual adoption by standards organizations.

"Open XML is already widely available and is being used by Apple and Novell," he said. "It is in the Palm operating system, and in the Java and Linux operating environments. Not only is it easy to work with, there are no intellectual property concerns to do so."
Is this stuff true? I suppose an essential part of corruption is to justify your decisions with lies.

Re:Lies or Truth from Microsoft? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20479845)

Maybe.
Apple - iWork'08 under Tiger can import OOXML documents, but it does so in a roundabout way. It imports OOXML files into it's native format (.pages, etc), but it can't write OOXML. (Not to mention you have to export the document back to office format, rather than save as). TextEdit under Leopard is said to be able to read/write OOXML as well as ODF, but I can't confirm this. The iPhone is also said to be able to open OOXML as well.
Novell - Novell's OpenOffice is said to be able to handle OOXML (according to wikipedia [wikipedia.org] ), but I have not tried it myself. According to the same article, OO.o 2.3 (not Novell) is said to have an OOXML importer [openoffice.org] - so I guess that could cover Linux as well.
Palm - Datavitz DocumentsToGo [dataviz.com]
Java - No clue.
IP Issues - No clue
Easy to work with - Not my area of expertise. :-D

How to Prove Anything (1)

Nymz (905908) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479691)

1) Ask your friends (people that think like you) what they think (call this process a diverse survey of experts)
2) Obscure the fact that it was a Popularity-Contest by using an official sounding acroynym like CPI (Contest Popularity Index)
3) Now compare CPI numbers to other numbers, and produce percentage numbers (percentages also sound very official)
4) Profit!!! as you have now created Real-Proof(TM) to support your preconceived beliefs (I knew it all along, and feel so superior)

Some people use statistics like a drunk uses a lamp post; for support rather than illumination.

Linux Linked to Obesity, Albinoism (1)

mhannibal (1121487) | more than 7 years ago | (#20479939)

In other news: A recent survey of 1200 Linux users confirms that more than 80% are pasty-faced, overweight men. "This is a significant overrepresentation" an anonymous scientist reports. The only possible conclusion to be drawn is that Linux is the single most significant factor in obesity and albinoism. Also, it seems using Linux is presumable linked to gender chromosome changes. An information campaign is being considered by the Department of Health.

Flawed statistics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20479987)

A two-tailed test should be used, not a one-tailed test, doubling the p value to .14, and thus there is a 14% probability that support for the said association in the data is pure coincidence.

The one-tailed test assumes as null hypothesis that corrupted countries are more likely to vote no. For sure this is not what we consider the default ? The default is that there is no association between corruption and voting behavior, and thus a two-tailed test is required to reject this null hypothesis.

Forget the p already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20480493)

I can see a lot of statistics 101 graduates here, eager to show their mad skills by homing in on that p value.

As said above, 0.05 is a common treshold -- in academic discourse -- of whether it is worth continuing the discussion or whether the theory should be scrapped outright. In this case, the relevant question is not how much p exceeds that arbitrary value, but whether it is worth continuing the discussion. Should the theory be scrapped outright? Or should we be concerned that corruption had something to do with the process?

Given this article together with facts that have come up (case Sweden), I personally think it's very much worth looking deeper into possible corruption in the process. It would be surprising if national organisations were affected in strict correlation with their country's CPI index, but it provides a starting point for more detailed investigation.

Btw if you wanted to, you could massage that result to show a much more dramatic correlation by e.g. including unconditional approvals only, which I think wouldn't be completely unjustified either.

That's racist! (0)

Manip (656104) | more than 7 years ago | (#20480067)

If you read how that "index" is created basically they go out and ask a bunch of people who likely have no idea where Iraq is which countries they think are more likely to be corrupt.

So if they haven't been told good things about your country on their TV in the last few years you're going to get a bad score.

I love how it rates Japan as one of the worst places, when it is actually a richer country than the US / Aus / UK. Assuming of course that you believe wealth solves corruption.

Poster needs course in stats (1)

eturro (804858) | more than 7 years ago | (#20480315)

In other words, simplified a bit: the likelihood that there was no positive correlation between the corruption level and probability of an approval vote, that is, this is just a random effect, is about 7%
Actually, if the P value is 0.07. you are saying that if you assume the null hypothesis (no correlation) to be true, the chances of observing the correlation in that graph (or better) is 7%. That is different than saying that the chances the null hypothesis is true is only 7%.
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