SteveSi censored me?

December 21, 2005

Here’s what happened:

  1. I read Steven Sinofsky’s recent post about PMs at Microsoft
  2. I disagreed with a few things in his post and responded in my blog
  3. I posted a manual trackback in his comments since his blog platform doesn’t have trackbacks
  4. He deleted my comment in his blog because I had a link to Mini-MSFT’s blog at the very end of my response

I know it’s his blog and he can do whatever he wants on his blog, but I was still shocked and appalled by his actions. I decided to e-mail him and we had a brief thread. Basically he told me that 1. he doesn’t think anonymous blogs add any value and 2. he doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with arbitrarily deleting comments (he says the “social norms” of blogging haven’t been established yet). I disagree with him on both points, but I’ll concede that he’s entitled to his opinion.

Here’s a little snippet from our thread that I found pretty confusing…

I think what I reacted to is that you claimed that mini represents the way things are at Microsoft so read that, and you “guarantee it”. Given that mini is anonymous and you do not work at Microsoft, from my perspective that is a bit over the top.

I agree that maybe that statement was over the top; I’ve updated my post in light of that. However, I’ve e-mailed Steven back about the fact that I did work for Microsoft – so I have ample first-hand experience – and that my previous post wasn’t based on Mini-MSFT at all. Well, it seems he’s decided to ignore my reply and the sentiment of many people who don’t agree with his censoring actions – including other Microsoft employees…

At first, I could understand that it was a simple mistake where he thought I was just quoting some stuff out of Mini’s blog/comments and disagreeing with his post. But now that he knows the context and should realize that my previous post isn’t based on an anonymous source, I would think that in the spirit of healthy communication, Steve would restore the original comment and encourage some constructive discussion.

Again, I understand it is “Steven Sinofsky’s Microsoft TechTalk” so he can do whatever he wants on his blog, but can someone talk to him about how transparency and open discussions work out here in the blogosphere? Hey Scoble, can you have a chat with Steve about this please?


17 Responses to “SteveSi censored me?”

  1. Hi Mark! Just my two cents: first off all, I imagine it’s none too cool to find a comment yanked. I can’t throw any rocks at SteveSi since, after the BusinessWeek article and being Slashdotted, I ran into my own comment existential angst, alternating between deleting naughty comments (but leaving a “deleted” dead body crumb behind) to turning off comments altogether to, eventually, comment moderation. It takes a special kind of openness and skill to manage wide-open comments, especially comments from the rabid end of the spectrum, and I just plain didn’t have that skill, unlike, say, Scoble.

    So I can understand and respect Sinofsky managing the conversation on his blog. He should switch to moderated comments given how responsive he is anyway. He should also put up a small little note regarding any comment policy he’s sticking to, even if it’s as broad as say Eric Sink’s.

    What I think is bogus is the poo-poo’ing of the Mini-Microsoft blog because it’s anonymous. That’s Bill O’Reilly binary logic and intellectually dishonest, plus it’s Emperor Robe gathering at its best. I would say some of Sinofsky’s longer posts have been to balance what’s discussed on Mini-Microsoft (bureaucracy, # of reports to a manager). And I understand that. He’s the angel on one shoulder, I’m the little red-dude with a pitchfork on the other shoulder. Or maybe… it’s the other way around.

    I’m still looking forward to him discussing performance appraisal at Microsoft and for sharing what the inaccuracies were in Jay Greene’s BusinessWeek article, and maybe even the Forbes article that came out at the same time, though it’s the BW article that seems to have opened the can of whoop-ass.

    Take care,

  2. markjen Says:

    Hi Mini,

    Thanks for the comment. My opinion is that comments should be left as wide open as possible (aside from obvious trolls and comment/trackback spam). If a comment furthers the discussion I think it shouldn’t be deleted – if it goes against your viewpoint then it should definitely not be deleted! The true power of blogs is that they can facilitate conversation, not that it can be a PR page with a RSS feed.

    I think SteveSi is doing his blog, the community, and Microsoft a big disservice by moderating his comments to exclude discussion like the one we’ve been having over here.

    That’s just my opinion, I’m sure others vary.

    As far as recognizing your blog due to the anonymity, I read that as “I’m not going to recognize mini-MSFT becuase it goes against my own personal opinions and the corporate image.”

    I’d like to think that open blogging at Microsoft has decreased the amount of confusion for people who are considering working there, but I fear new college grads might only read one or two opinions and not get the full picture. I think everyone has their biases and the only way to get a semi-representative view is to read a variety of sources… I hope those college grads know to do their homework!

    Here’s to hoping for change! 😀


  3. Do comments matter in a world where everyone can watch search engines and see who’s linked to who? Which is how I found this post.

  4. rose Says:

    you are such a drama queen. I guess you ARE a girlie man afterall.

  5. Sam Says:

    Comments do matter. I believe that Steven’s action reflect poorly on Microsoft culture and are an indication of what one should expect in that workplace.

    I suspect only a very small percetage of people who read blogs watch search engines to “see who’s linked to who”. The google blogger web comments extension does make this a lot more automatic for me.

  6. markjen Says:

    Robert, you know comments do matter, maybe not on your blog – where many readers are highly technical – but especially in a blog like SteveSi’s – where people who link there oftentimes aren’t technically savvy at all. What they will now see is a one-sided conversation and they might believe that all sides have been represented – they might assume that because that’s the whole point of having conversations in blogs.

    Now, if SteveSi is suggesting that we start a new world where blogs are places where people should close off conversation and steer it only in the direction they like, then I’m going to have to get off the train. It just doesn’t sound nearly as compelling when it’s not a conversation, and instead, it’s just a PR page with an RSS feed attached…

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