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Top Five Technology Fanboys Wed 18 Aug 10

Apple has its lovers. Microsoft and Google have fanboys who love to hate them.

A popular theme for technical writers is to compare one product or technology with another. PC vs. Mac, iPhone vs. Droid, IE vs. Firefox, etc.

These debates include well-reasoned disagreement and other critical commentary. They also gather a lot of fanboy reaction. Fanboys are the folks who never let manners get in the way of their passion. They are loyal no matter what. Loyalty trumps facts and personal attacks suffice as sound, logical reasoning. Believing the best defense is a good offense: "You're a moron/idiot/shill/[insert favorite derogatory term here]," is the best way to showcase your analytical rigor for a real fanboy.

When you look at it in this light, the PC vs. Mac debate isn't all that different than Yankees vs. Red Sox or Ford vs. Chevy. Different topics, same passion.

Tech fanboys come in two flavors. There are those who love a certain product or technology and those who love to hate a certain product or technology. I'll call them the lover fanboys, where the object of their passion can do no wrong, and the anything-but fanboys, where the object of their passion can do nothing right.

With all this I thought it would be fun to take a look at and rank the various fanboy groups in a completely unscientific and tongue-firmly-planted-in-cheek manner. So here is my ranking of the top five fanboy groups.

Taking our top spot as No. 1 are the Apple lover fanboys. Their passion knows no bounds (see 25 signs That You Might Be An Apple Fanboy) as they believe Apple products are the perfect solution for every application. They simply cannot believe anyone wouldn't like the iWhatever.

Their favorite rejoinder to any perceived criticism is, "I don't know why people who have never owned or used an iWhatever wrongly believe ... " Never having used an Apple product is the only logical reason people couldn't love it, after all.

Coming in a close second are the anything-but fanboys of Microsoft. Although there are some staunch supporters of Microsoft, the most vocal fanboy contingent falls firmly in the anything-but category. Microsoft has a historical base from the days of the famed BSOD (blue screen of death).  Long the bane of everyone's computing existence, the "Aw, s--- I lost all my work" response to the BSOD is ingrained in our DNA.

With the BSOD fading away, fortunately Microsoft provided Vista and "the Ribbon" to keep things lively. Want to see if someone is a true anything-but Microsoft fanboy? Simply tell them you heard Steve Ballmer admitted that Vista was a mistake. The pure of heart will not be fooled, knowing Ballmer would never concede that. The lesser believers will be crestfallen and become lightheaded as they see their reason for existence disappearing.

Our third-place winners are the anything-but Google fanboys. The informal corporate motto, "Don't Be Evil," is seen as a challenge to these fanboys as they look for every opportunity for Google to not live up to this. Fortunately Google has made it easy for them with their willingness to follow government censorship demands in China, its collecting of personal data while mapping with Street View and its position on Net Neutrality. Google is all about making things easier, after all.

Our fourth-place winner is something of a spoiler. While being an Apple lover fanboy almost makes you an anything-but Microsoft fanboy. But the opposite is not always true: Not all Microsoft haters like Apple. This is because some are Ubuntu/Linux lover fanboys. These are the purists who can go on and on and on about why Ubuntu/Linux is so superior.

Open source is their religion, and Ubuntu/Linux is their god. Why anyone would want to use a packaged operating system or application is beyond them. Everyone wants to write their own programs, don't they?

Our fifth and final winners are the Firefox browser lover fanboys. I suppose you could argue that there is an anything-but Internet Explorer fanboy group too, but I included them as part of the anything-but Microsoft fanboy group. Like their Ubuntu/Linux cousins, technical purity and security seems to be the main attraction for the Firefox lovers.

Unfortunately for the uncaring masses that just want to go to Facebook and YouTube and blindly use the browser that came with their PCs, these arguments don't carry a lot of weight. As a result the Firefox lovers seem to do a lot of talking, but not many people are listening.

Well, that's my list. What's your list of the most passionate fanboy groups? Let the slurs and debate begin! Add your opinion in the Reader Comment section.

This article is also posted on Forbes.com.  Feel free to join in the discussion either on this site or at Forbes.com

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