Employee biographies generated the least excitement amongst the people I was able to rope into talking with me about them.  I liked the theme format because it shows that these quotes are not the only ones I heard, but the ones i managed to write down that described what I heard throughout the conference.

General Interest in Employee Bios

  • “I didn’t know they existed”
  • “I’d only read though it if I’m bored”
  • "I don’t care if you play poker”
  • “They can’t hurt”
  • “I generally don’t care about that information”
  • “Why do you have Bio’s if you have blogs?”
  • “Static content is not useful”

Most people didn’t know they existed. The quotes after the first quote is generally what was said after I demonstrated them to Tech-Ed attendees. 

How Bio’s Could be More Useful

  • “Good as a last resort to find someone who works on a product I need to e-mail, but I would want to go through public communication in blogs or forums first”
  • “They need to be more visible if you make them useful”
  • “They might be more interesting if I could track everything from popular authors”
  • “If I read an MSDN article I enjoyed I might click on the authors name. At that point it would be cool to see that persons list of other articles, their blog posts, their forum posts, and the bugs they’ve fixed in the product. If they had that information they would be more worthwhile”
  • “Why not include related people bio’s in search results in some way so that users discover them as a last resort”
  • “Why can’t I navigate to them or see them on the specific product web site?”
  • “Bio’s need to link to useful information, or provide useful information before you invest in them”
  • "Bios without contact information are not worthwhile"

I did manage to have a few good discussions with people about how we could make them more useful.  I would describe this feedback as the “pick one bio system for experts (MVPs and MS), stick with it, and make sure the bio’s are interconnected with all the other community tools so you could track Raymond Chen’s every move”  scenario. 

Questioning the Investment

  • “Take those resources and make the forums and blogging more accessible to people internal to Microsoft and therefore more usefull for end users”
  • “Biographies and a contact me form would have to be very well connected to every other community resource at Microsoft… it just doesn’t seem like it would be worth the investment”

Despite having painted themselves a pretty cool (IMO) direction for biographies none of the people I spoke with were convinced it would make a difference in MS perception that justified the expense above making improvements in the other areas I covered (CTPs, Feedback Centers, Blogs, Forums, etc. )