One of the first lessons taught to me in law school was "When you're arguing a case, don't ever ignore arguments against it and hope the other party just won't bring them up. Find them, then carefully defuse them." However, I tend to think that in software marketing, that last part gets changed to "carefully diffuse them." It sounds the same, but causes a lot more confusion.
This gets worse when two vendors go head-to-head. For instance, last month, collaboration and community software vendor Jive published a whitepaper called "Jive vs. Open Source." It argues the case for Jive just as I would expect a marketing team to do it. It mostly ignores the pros of open source (saying "there are no licensing costs to deal with," which isn't even necessarily true; it depends on the license.) But it also states open source cons without much effort to actually reason them. I particularly liked the out-of-context quote, "Open source projects focus on developing software that addresses a specific need, ensuring that the need is well met." The whitepaper doesn't really explain how this is supposed to be a bad thing.
On the final page, Jive states its advantages over Drupal. Acquia (the Drupal commercial open source company) took offense, and has now responded with a package called "Drupal Commons" as a specific alternative to Jive SBS. Unfortunately, Acquia is fighting fire with fire, using pretty much the same kind of superfluous argumentation the other way, talking about Jive's million dollar licenses and how they'd "love to show how Drupal can run circles around Jive SBS for a lot less money." Personally, I'm not quite sure I'd like software to run in circles.
This is just a little tiff between vendors, so why should you care? Well, both are making it abundantly clear that a vendor is not a neutral source of information (even if the vendor is marketing open source, like Acquia.) So wouldn't you rather get your information from people that are not trying to argue a case?
Of course, I'm now trying to win you over as much as these vendors do. There's a huge difference, though: it's not in our best interest to confuse you; we only win by providing you with clear analysis of your choices, depending on your specific context. And in this case, that means digging through whitepapers -- and more importantly real customer experiences -- so you don't have to...