Follow-up on Qsol’s “Our Servers Won’t Go Down” Ad

The “Our Servers Won’t Go Down” Ad

Old tasteless Qsol “Our servers won’t go down” ad(You might want to read the previous post for some background first.)

The ad pictured to the right is the original “Don’t feel bad. Our servers won’t go down on you either” ad that got Qsol into trouble in back in 2000. The ad has received some much-deserved derision with a DisGraceful Award from GraceNet (a group that promotes the contributions of women in technology) and a place in the In Search of Stupidity Museum (the companion site for Rick Chapman’s book bearing the same title).

The ad ran in Linux Journal in late 2000, and after a number of complaints, Qsol responded in the “Letters to the Editor” section saying:

We sincerely apologize to all those who have expressed concern about our advertisement recently featured in Linux Journal (November 2000). It was certainly not our intention to be offensive and we wish to again express our regret to anyone who was displeased by the ad. We understand that this has angered some readers and have therefore reacted immediately by pulling this artwork from all future issues of the magazine. Again, we extend our sincerest apologies.

Something must’ve changed their minds, because they ran an updated version of the ad in the August 2007 Linux Journal (and presumably other tech magazines from their publisher).

The Reaction So Far

The ad got a link in Reddit titled Who says Linux geeks don’t have a sense of humor?. The usual jokes were made (“rm -rf clothes”, for example), but not a single commenter suggested that the ad might just be a little bit sexist and possibly a cause of women’s avoidance of high tech. Elizabeth Bevilacqua wrote about the ad in her LiveJournal, and a couple of male commenters did the usual hand-wringing.

I’m hardly someone you could accuse of being politically correct; I have some issues with the way that society currently treats perfectly natural male behaviours as suspect.

However, I think that stuff like the Qsol doesn’t help the high-tech gender balance. I think it “breaks” rather than “bends” (from the expression “If it bends, it’s comedy; if it breaks, it’s not”). Once again, what Neal Stephenson wrote in Snow Crash about sexism in geekdom still holds true. In the novel, the men belived that Juanita Marquez’s work on faces and facial expressions for a VR interface was relatively unimportant, and Stephenson wrote:

It was, of course, nothing more than sexism, the especially virulent type espoused by male techies who sincerely believe that they are too smart to be sexists.

I think that the ad does the tech industry a double disservice. It sends a message to women that they might want to look to another field for a career and it makes men in high tech look like dolts.

Doc Searls Helps Out

I sent an email expressing my concerns to the man I like to refer to as “the adult supervision of the blogosphere”, Doc Searls, who’s Linux Journal’s senior editor. He responded quickly, saying that he’d have a word with the publisher and asked me to please pass his apolgies along.

Thanks, Doc! You’re the best.

7 replies on “Follow-up on Qsol’s “Our Servers Won’t Go Down” Ad”

It’s nice to know that someone else finds this offensive and is willing to say something about it.

Unbelievable. They would be run out of business if they advertised on the backs of minorities by throwing around racials slurs. However, women are acceptable targets.

I hope that the women at QSOL wise up and sue the corporation for sexual discrimination. Clearly, the men of QSOL think that the women there offer nothing to them. That ad helps to reaffirm the sexist nature of that industry.


If you are truly offended by this ad, You need to quit talking about it. This ad was designed to get people talking about the company. Given the response in 2000, you had better believe the both the company and the magazine knew exactly what would happen. Bad publicity is better than no publicity. I had no idea that QSOL was even out there before the ad. Now, I know that they make servers. In that regard, the ad worked. The more people complain publicly about them the more effective the ad is. They are trying to get talked about and you are doing exactly what they want.

I admit I was a bit affronted and disturbed when I saw this ad, so I quickly turned the page. Somewhere in my cobwebbed old brain there must have been some dim synapse still flashing the memory of this ad (and some other pretty offensive ones) of yore in Linux Journal. But it didn’t quite click, you see, until I hit upon this discussion going through various blogs.

Actually, I got to renewing my 10years+ readership and subscription to Linux Journal when the USDollar hit an unusual low just the other week. But I didn’t, quite, you see.

So, seeing the ed’s are some answers short on this issue, I guess they aren’t all quite as blogospherically savvy as the tiring Doc implies but rather just so many blog-eds (however you like to pronounce that:)… and they are welcome to keep airmailing the rest of my glossy copies for the duration of my present subscription, but that will be that.

Buh-bye, LJ. It was nice knowin’ ya, while the goin’ was good. There IS a difference between funny and offensive. Go back down to your corner, now.

And as for that Quriously SOL company, they never had me as even a prospective customer. So they can go down wherever and whenever they want. But Linux Journal DID have me as an ACTUAL customer, for well over a decade. Think about that, in re-math class.

@Archie: Maybe you mean like the EV1 “head surfer” guy got talked about – you know, the sole sucker who fell for tSCOg’s Linux licence scam and lost the business over it? As you probably know, tSCOg is also in deep caldera now.

No, Linux Journal has gone the sorry way of John C Dvork and Maureen Embarass. No, I do not want fries with that. Thanks.

Oh, and I will keep all my nerdy author’s rights to myself. (C)ause they’re mine.

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