Yesterday Josh blogged about the MSBuild status which I posted earlier this week.  His blog entry generated an interesting conversation which I felt I should comment on (hence this blog entry).  The basic pushback was:

Status of internal projects may represent competitive information, may have legal consequences to contracts, expose security bugs before the fixes are deployed, and may represent excessive transparency. I work on something inside MSFT that would sink existing product lines. Should i post our build status information? <absolutely not>
Next they'll want us to start publishing checkin mail?

Interestingly enough I have heard this pushback three distinct times this week, and with exception of the above none were related to my little blog.  The first time was when I read next week's business week article titled “Blogging with the Boss’s Blessing” which dives straight into this issue.  I read the article because it features Sara Ford (who works a few doors down from me), and because we are all very proud of her :).   The second time was in an unrelated meeting I was having with Lutz, Rob and company.  There we were basically discussing how it only takes one irresponsible employee one blog entry to undo years of messaging and position from marketing.

All three conversations boil down to the same question:  “when is transparency detrimental to a company”!

In my utopical world, I think the answer is very simply *NEVER*; as long as people use their common sense.  People *should not* blog about things that they don't own.  For example, I shouldn't sit here blogging about the cool demo I got of XYZ yesterday, even though it was the coolest thing I've ever seen, since I don't know how much of XYZ is public yet, I mean I have an idea and I think it is public... but I just don't know for sure. People *should not* just copy and paste internal things into the blog.  For example, I shouldn't just copy and paste my status as is externally (and btw I haven't).  Ultimately as Scoble says:

Before posting an entry in his personal weblog, Robert Scoble always pauses and considers how he would justify its contents to three people: his boss, his wife and Steve Ballmer. 

Again just use common sense folks, and blogging is a win win win proposition.  I won't be blogging about the status of converting the Windows Kernel to an MSBuild task.  I won't be blogging about the status of adding the hyperspace feature to the MSBuild engine.  I won't be blogging about things that don't make sense to be blogged about. 

Lastly *I think we should be posting check-in mails* and I will be doing so in the future.  I already do so internally every time we post an LKG (last known good) to our internal partners, and I will be posting the same list externally when we ship the beta of Whidbey.  I think this is the single most valuable information a developer can have when he/she are trying to figure out what the delta is since the last technology preview, alpha etc.  What has changed?  What are the breaking changes?  What are the new features I should be pounding on?  I strongly recommend this to any feature team, as this is one piece of information our customers have to *discover* by trial and error, and this would give them a clear roadmap of a) what to look forward to, b) what to play with first and c) prepare them for what will break since the last time we did this. 

And now I'm late for going to work (Ori is going to kill me)... since I woke up to just read a bit and ended up blogging (damn this thing is addictive).  Cheers everyone... and happy blogging