Constructive Feedback on Microsoft Blogs

You never know what is going to take off.  My post last week about the positive benefits and quotes I heard about Microsoft blogs at Tech-Ed made its way around internally in a way that no e-mail I could have ever sent would have.  Chalk that up as another benifit... why communicate all information internally when a blog might offer a more diverse audience that includes internal AND external folks that really care. 

Anyway, someone asked me what the constructive feedback about our blogging was.  I needed a bit more time to write this up because the quotes don't speak for themselves as well.  I should also be clear that I had no issue with the all positive nature of the previous posting because by in large the feedback was very positive.

Keep in mind too that the people I spoke to where the ones that agreed to come to my focus groups on the community stuff we do (so they are probably not your average joe dev)  or where people that started a conversation with me at the community/VS booth after figuring out who I was.  :-)  

"What are blogs" or "I don't have time to read all the posts every day" - This is discoverability. IMO the lack of good post discoverability is something that creates a high barrier to entry.  The other quote that resonated with this is "Bloggers read blogs" . To me it means the same thing.  We need to do a better job of surfacing good content each day to developers that only have a few minutes each day to read news or learn something.  With almost 2k  (mostly dev related and growing) blogs this is a big problem. There were a lot of people that fell into this category at the show and it was probably the most negative thing I heard. 

"The awe will die down - a lot of the initial hype of "ooohhh" I can talk to MS people will dissipate as it becomes more common." At that point we'll be judged more our content and usefulness than the uniqueness that we get kudos for today. 

"Too much VS 2005 talk" - Although customers understood why this happens since people like to blog about things they are working on they want MS to realize that the world doesn't use .Net 2.0 just yet... and probably won't be for a few years.  But this person also said that its good to know that VS 2005 content will be waiting for him when he needs it.  :-)

"Where are the servicing team blogs?"   -  This was spun off by another member of the group after the VS2005 blog complaint. His postulation was that there is a servicing team working on VS2003 stuff now that could be blogging content that could be used by customers in production today.  Product servicing is an area (and a sore spot when brought up) I'd like us to be more transparent with.

"Blogs are great, but you should focus on answering people's questions"   - This person sat in on my focus group and knew I was going to talk about forums later. He wanted to make sure we had good escalation paths from VS -> forums -> peers -> MVPs -> MS employees as his #1 priority. This is similar to the last two and means to me that we have to really make sure our focus is on making our existing customers more successful as a top priority.

"All the blogging from Dev Tools makes other MS teams look bad."   - This came from my birds of the feather talk about MS perception.  "Where are the office bloggers" was another quote.  I personally know a few office bloggers. I think part of the problem is discoverability and another is that although they may work on office their blogs are more general developer focused.  We, as a company, need to do more to highlight people like Chris Pratley whose blog is a great example of what more office folks could be doing. 

"Where are the exec bloggers?"   - I got this one a few times.  We don't do enough to highlight the 12 PUMS (Product Unit Managers... big bosses) and VPs that we have in Devdiv that blog. Most people didn't know the VB PUM,  C# PUM, Asp.Net PUM (just to name a couple), or even that Soma (VP of Developer Division) blogged... or that we have a combined feed for them.  These guys lead entire large teams that build our products and would love to hear from you.   

"I showed my boss the Channel9 site and he couldn't beleive it was an official Microsoft site and that you would let crazy people run up and down the halls scaring people with a video camera." Ok, that's not really negative as much as it's a fun quote.  The related feedback was  "Some of that(video/podcasting/etc) content is entertaining, but it's hard to know which ones I should invest the time required to watch the video in because I can't scan it as well as text content"

Again, IMO, we need to keep in mind that participating in the blog world is not just about our writing our own good blogs, but making sure we keep our ears to the ground and read our influencer blogs and respond to them.   A lot of the good stories I heard came from that sort of interaction.  Read on!