Holy cow, I wrote a book!
I had been kind of baffled by some of the Microsoft employee blogs
that appear to consist almost entirely of
rehashes of Knowledge Base articles,
or sometimes even just "A new Knowledge Base article on topic X has
Now, that's useful information to have if you're interested in topic X,
but is it really something you can build a blog around?
Can't you just
sign up for KB notifications
(That's probably how the blog author found them anyway.)
And then there are the head-scratcher blog entries like
There are no new KB articles this week.
But I never really thought too much about them.
They merely registered as noise to me.
Baffling noise, but still noise.
And then I learned why these types of blogs exist:
Because somebody put down blogging as a goal
on their annual performance review.
If you want to say that one of your goals for the next
year is to maintain a blog,
you have to specify how to determine whether that goal was met.
As I've noted earlier,
Microsoft is obsessed with measurement,
so the way to tell whether your blog was a "success" is to
come up with some sort of metric for success.
These people naturally chose Number of blog postings per month
as their metric.
Running behind this month?
No problem, just crank out a few Hey, here's a Knowledge Base
article you might be interested in postings and you've filled your quota.
This is another example
how deciding how you're going to measure
something affects the people you're measuring:
They alter their behavior to maximize the metric rather than the
concept the metric is supposed to be tracking.
If you decide that you want to expand the Knowledge Base and
set numeric goals for employees on how many Knowledge Base articles
they should write each year,
don't be surprised if you find that in the waning weeks of the year,
there's a spurt of largely useless Knowledge Base articles.
In an internal discussion of this topic, I wrote,
"Blogging to improve your review score is like
entering politics to get rich."
While it may be true that politicians tend to get rich,
and many people enter politics
in order to get rich
(or more legally, enter politics in order to exit politics
in order to get rich),
I believe that
getting rich shouldn't be the motivation for entering politics.
And improving your review score shouldn't be the motivation for blogging.