Recently a coworker pointed me to a column by Mary Jo Foley about Microsoft's community push, largely based on a chat with our very suave Olivier Ribet. It's nice to see the Microsoft-related communities page get some play in the press, and I've canoodled enough about the famous “community components“ that you know I appreciate the hard work of the Microsoft.com development team in putting all this together.

But while kudos and thanks are in order to Mary Jo for calling out our accomplishments, the headline completely cracked me up:

Microsoft's Charm Offensive: From 'Big Brother' to 'Big Buddy'?“

First of all, people, charm is not like halitosis, where it wins enemies and encourages people to pass out in small, crowded conference rooms (don't laugh, this can happen). If charm is offensive, it's no longer charm. The headline reminded me of those great contests newspapers run amongst each other once in a while, singling out the most humorous blooper headlines. Newspapers are on deadline, they've got both witty and tired wordsmiths on the copy desks (or folks of tired wit; it runs all the way around the spectrum) and wacky headlines happen.

But I have to laugh at the idea I'm part of any sort of charm movement, even if it is offensive. (Ask Mom about how I ill-manneredly put elbows on the table starting when I was 4 years old). And when I think of the bloggings of some of the darling-yet-cranky blogging cohorts of mine (no, I'm not naming names - Mondays are not good for dealing with darling cranks)-- I'm not sure we can exactly call them charm commandos either, storming the beach with roses and chocolate. Or gadgets and chrome as the case may be.

They are mostly spewing stuff that looks to the uninitiated like a keyboard gone wrong, but that gets other people who live in the innards of APIs, web services and Longhorn to nod wisely and say, “Yep, uh-huh, know what you mean.“ Charm is perhaps only in the eye of the coder here. And while anyone stuck in a tough coding situation will be grateful, and perhaps others may be prompted to debate or reply, I'm not sure that counts as Microsoft becoming Big Brother or Big Buddy (and anyone tries to call ME “Little Bro“ or “Little Buddy“ is going to find out how charming I think that is. NOT. :P)

I think mostly what you see is the start of a decent dialogue between Microsoft folks and anybody who wants to talk to us. In a sense, we've hopped on the Cluetrain and we're ready to listen as well as talk more where you can see us. Some parts will come out awkward, elbows and knees. Some who know how to write or code up a storm will shine better. You'll see it all.

But if anyone finds a way to do mind control through blogging, though, let me know. I have a cat I need to use it on. :-)

Live it vivid!!