Blogger Forces Company Blogging Policy Issue

Update: 9 Mar 2005 9:04 am

…we do not censor people’s blogs, and we take the censorship allegation extremely seriously. I actively encourage our employees to blog, and to express their opinions. However, many readers do not make as clear a distinction between personal and work lives as many experienced bloggers do, and will view a provocative image on a blog in the worst possible light…

Everyone, send good vibes Dave Sifry’s (Technorati CEO) way.

Niall, perhaps this would be helpful to remember in your position as Technorati Community Manager:

“Provocation and controversy are good for building hype, bad for building community”
“Being provocative or negative is one way to generate traffic, but it doesn’t generate culture.”

I’m googling for the author of this quote, if you know please drop it in the comments. I think it was said in the context of podcasting. Thanks.
Found it, 15 Mar 2005 11:30 pm, credit for this quote goes to Mark Vandewettering via Dan Lyke of Flutterby (see the comments. Thanks Dan!)

Update: 8 Mar 2005, 11:30 am

Jason Kottke is a smart person. He changed the title of his original post because as more information came out, Technorati was not at fault. I agree and have followed suit.

Frankly, I find the entire situation artificial and awkward. As it turns out, Kennedy set himself up. I saw nothing wrong with his original post. Poor taste or otherwise. He then went around and basically asked his employer to find fault with it. Quid pro quo, he proved his own point – when given the chance, employers are happy to say no. Blah and now I’m out of coffee.

Original Post

The last couple days, I was thinking about exploring integrating Technorati’s Tags into WordPress. Then I read Technorati censoring employee blogs? over at Kottke.org.

I concur with Jason, if I ran a company that aggregated weblogs, the last thing I would do is piss off webloggers.

The post in question was on Niall Kennedy’s personal site. Niall was comparing employer’s desire to restrict employees blogging to wartime propaganda.

Last night I modified a few propaganda posters from the 1940s to express how corporations would like to control what their employees say on a weblog, at a bar, or even to their families.

Cue Technorati being, um, ironic (Employer commands employee to pull down blog post commenting on employers restricting employees weblog posting). It’s funny, cause it’s true:

No, this post was not a joke and it was a post meant to generate buzz about a topic. Technorati executives are concerned about how employee weblogs expressing opinions may be interpreted as an official Technorati position. All Technorati employees have been asked to review weblog posts with staff members before posting. I reinstated my original post this morning and I am ready to willing to hear the community’s response to my individual voice.

Will opinions expressed on employee weblogs be considered official company positions?
Unless the weblog is http://Technorati.com/OfficialTechnoratiWeblog and has a big Technorati logo on it, NO!

Just 2 days earlier, Steve Gillmor commented on the Google’s new Autolink “feature” and offered this advice:

Who cares if you can do it because. Forget the stuff about do no evil. Do no stupid.

Technorati Bloggers and companies should follow the same advice. or I say we stop pinging them. I’m holding off digging into their tagging until they do.

5 Replies to “Blogger Forces Company Blogging Policy Issue”

  1. Hi Garrick,
    Thank you for evaluating the issue and taking corporate policies into consideration before using a product. I put up a lengthy post this evening that goes into more detail about the what went on over the weekend. If you have any questions please let me know.

  2. After reading Niall’s lengthy post. I’m glad the employees-will-have-blogs issue is being forced, if awkwardly.

    First off, I didn’t know Naill worked for Technorati until this came out. So my feelings about Technorati turned pear-shaped just because the of the disclaimer. I would have gone on blissfully otherwise.

    Secondly, if an employee’s personal comments on an industry they’re experts in (why they were hired) are by default considered “official positions by their employer”, we are on a slippery slope.

    One where everything from home-buying decisions to afternoon coffee choices could be construed as “official company positions”.

    Bloggers need to be responsible and keep their employers out of their posts. Companies need to realize their employees are also brands, with their own “official positions”.

  3. isn’t this just the same cluetrain discussion we end up having every few years? sure feels like it to me. and the resolution i reached before probably still holds true this time around. namely, “of course your company is concerned about what you say publicly about it, but they’re also not too stupid to appreciate the upside of having people speaking honestly and rationally, so just don’t do anything stupid and ruin it for the rest of us.”

    look, when employees of tivo are posting candid comments on slashdot threads about the future of PVRs – and nobody even bats an eye! – we’ve gotta take a breath and admit that some great progress has been made. and then we have to stop pretending that your company even cares what kind of coffee you drink ;-).

    oh, and I don’t ping technorati – or anyone else for that matter – because the spam/adbots seem to use it as a launch pad for their crawlers. maybe I’m wrong, but i’ll survive without being aggregated thankyouverymuch.

  4. Corante’s Stowe Boyd has an excellent recap of the situation.

    This whole things leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I didn’t agree with Niall’s methods or his conclusion. Neither does Stowe.

    But we shouldn’t accept the premises that Niall has aquiested to. Individuals are individuals: they are not cogs in a corporate machine. There is a thing called free expression, and a life outside of work. We should protect the freedom that allows us to state our personal views — however unpopular — and not fear for our job because our employer doesn’t agree or is unwilling to stand up for that freedom.

    In the end, Niall’s stock is lower, and Technorati’s is the same. I see it having little impact on the issue.

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