First, let me say once again, there has
been no corporate pressure whatsoever to cut short my previous posting
(Broken Windows Theory). Nobody has
said, or even implied, that I need to change anything about what I said. So conspiracy theorists, please rest assured
that The Man is not out there monitoring and censoring the blog world. Seriously.
I pulled the content of the posting
because productive discussion wasn’t happening. Of the 160+ comments, about five have
had any real value from an “open minds, open discussion” point of view. I also pulled the content (once again,
completely self-initiated with no pressure whatsoever from anybody) because
there is enough internal debate within Microsoft about the value and ethics
of blogging which I’d like resolved.
[Follow-up: I've restored the original post, after much internal discussion. Essentially, pulling the content was causing undue attention.]
Many perspectives have been voiced to me,
both publicly and privately, debating the value and ethics of employee blogging. Here, by “employee blogging,” I mean “blog
entries that are openly identified as being written by Microsoft employees.” The rough gist of internal feedback from
Microsoft employees falls in these categories:
Let’s Agree on Goals
From my perspective, it’s not a
free speech issue. I’m employed by
Microsoft, so there’s a valid discussion as to what sorts of posts are allowed
for me to make as an employee of the company.
Conditioned in my employment can indeed be restrictions on what I should
and shouldn’t say – I buy off on that 100%.
(For the last time, though, please remember: no one has pressured me to change anything.)
Second, the simple case that I think
everyone agrees on is that nothing confidential should ever be divulged. This is where Mini-Microsoft, as entertaining
of a read as it is, crosses a line. That’s
also the reason it can only remain up as long as it’s anonymous.
The more interesting debate I’d like to
have is not whether employees can or can’t post certain things, but should
they. I have no interest whatsoever in the
set of things that are clearly against company policy to post. I’m much more interested in the spectrum of
things where people, even internally in Microsoft, disagree.
So How Does It Net Out?
The bulk of the internal feedback I have
gotten falls on the side of encouraging posts like Broken Windows Theory. The vast majority of emails I’ve received
have to do with how the article has opened up important issues for
discussion. Folks in this camp say
that Scoble has given a human face to Microsoft, has made Microsoft more
accessible to the majority of customers.
The openness, and in some sense, the vulnerability, of both addressing
our strengths and discussing our weaknesses has been refreshing, these folks
Another camp would say that blogs are a
key part of how a company is perceived, and that they act as a megaphone
of both positive and negative opinion. Part
of an employee’s responsibility, then, is to at all times help build and
reinforce that positive image.
What’s most interesting to me is that
even within the company, we don’t quite agree on whether Broken Windows
Theory is a net positive or net negative.
If I take it purely based on numbers, the overwhelming majority of
employees writing in say that it’s a positive thing. But I see merits to both sides of the