Top 5 FCW stories

Some stories are undeniably hot

We like to think everything we publish is interesting and useful to our readers, but some stories touch special nerves. It's hard to predict where those nerves are located, however, as illustrated by the following list of the top five most popular stories published on in the past six months.

1. Microsoft ordered to stop selling Word
Almost everybody who uses a PC uses Microsoft Word, even the ones who haven't figured out how to make that annoying animated paper clip go away. But when a federal judge ruled that a small Canadian company had the rightful patent to certain components of Word and ordered Microsoft to stop selling the product, Clippy suddenly seemed like a friend in danger. The injunction wasn't immediately effective, and Microsoft has filed an appeal, but is it possible that another word processor – possibly the free OpenOffice suite from Sun – could delete Word from federal computers? 

2. How the Open Government Dialogue got slimed
Politically motivated readers responded to our commentary on how “birthers” – conspiracy theorists who believe President Barack Obama was not born in America – took over the Open Government Dialogue, an interactive site intended to allow citizens to ask questions and make suggestions to the White House. And then we got a bit of slime ourselves, as some of our commenters accused us of joining the conspiracy to suppress the truth. Makes you wonder what brand of polish they use on their tinfoil hats.

3. GSA signs agreement with Facebook

Status update: Feds love Facebook! lol.

Web 2.0 tools have suddenly become prominent, thanks in part to the Obama administration’s championing of them and in part to agencies discovering for themselves how useful the tools can be. For agencies to legally use Facebook and certain other sites, the General Services Administration negotiated deals that include amendments to the sites’ terms-of-service agreements. The story might have been less interesting than the 36 pictures your agency's chief information officer just uploaded of his daughter's wedding reception and the karaoke singer who looks suspiciously like a guy you see in the agency hallways. But it was interesting enough to bring in readers looking for details.

4. House chairmen want to stop performance pay
Perhaps the quickest way to rile federal employees is to mess with their pay systems. Some Democratic members of Congress urged newly appointed Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag to put the brakes on pay for performance and take time to study the issue. The good side of pay for performance is that if you do an exceptional job, you get paid more. The downside is, if you do a bad job, you get paid less. Some employees and their unions take objection to this view and prefer the traditional system where pay is based largely on seniority.

5. DOD may ban Twitter, Facebook, other social media
Hey, that seems to contradict No. 3, doesn't it? That's because the government, in general, is having a pretty schizoid relationship with these new services. Some agencies embrace them, others reject them, and most are still trying to figure out how to use them. The range is particularly apparent at the Defense Department, where the Marines were banning Facebook while DOD launched a new version of brimming with social-media features. Some defense leaders are concerned about security, and some managers worry about losing productivity as employees get sucked into Facebook quizzes to find out which "Gilligan's Island" character they are most like. We can understand the concern, but seriously, that's important information. (See this related story).

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.


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