Genii Weblog

I want to ask a favor

Thu 8 Feb 2007, 08:30 PM

by Ben Langhinrichs
I know that people have a right to do as they like on their own blogs, but I dislike those people who act as if they accept comments but then simply don't allow comments that are even vaguely in disagreement.  If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the blogosphere.  I should think that they would be enlightened by examples such as Ed Brill of IBM, who freely allows comments that might be quite negative about either his employer or his blog, or Brian Jones of Microsoft, who puts up with a fair amount of grief in his quixotically optimistic quest to carry the banner for Microsoft's Office Open XML.  But alas, control seems more important than honesty for some blogs, and their blogs suffer for it by resembling public relations engines rather than true blogs.

So, here is a bit of an experiment.  I recently posted comments on a couple of weblogs regarding the Office Open XML issue, and IBM's role in particular.  The comments have not appeared.  I don't think I was too harsh or out of line, but perhaps I misjudged the tolerance.  So, if you have a minute or two, try reading Jason Matasow's posts Open XML - ISO/IEC Standardization and the ironically snarky Snarky Comments.  Jason Matasow is a senior director in the Microsoft standards group, and the about page for his blog says the following, with my added emphasis on the last line:
About Matusow's Blog

Blogging opens the door for conversations. Conversations with people I would never have come into contact with any other way. The issues that interest me the most are at the intersection of business, technology, policy, and intellectual property. I am fascinated by the multitude of approaches that exist within the realm of the software community. Please let me know when and why you disagree with my points of view.
Also, try reading Jonathan Murray's post IBM vs. ISO and Open XML.  Jonathan Murray is a Worldwide Technology Officer for Microsoft, and in this post, he talks extensively about customer choice, actually using the words "customer" or "customers" fifteen times.  He also makes it clear that he believes IBM is solely responsible for the difficulties Microsoft is having getting through the ISO process.

But all that aside, here is the experiment.  Read these posts, and respond to them.  Positively, negatively, whatever.  Just be courteous and reasonable.  I am just curious whether only my comments are suppressed, or whether these gentlemen are really open to listening to "customers" and knowing when people disagree with their points of view.  We'll see.

Update: As Ed has pointed out, my responses, and many other people's, have finally shown up on Jason Matasow's site.  So, as my sixteen year old would say, props to Mr. Matasow.  Since other people's responses have shown up on Jonathan Murray's post, I have to guess he didn't see fit to include my comments, but just in case, I'll repost them.

Second update: I reposted, and this time the comment showed up on Jonathan Murray's post.  I'm glad to see both gentlement are open to some dissension.

Copyright 2007 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:

555.1. W^L+
(02/08/2007 07:45 PM)

When I could not get a response to show up on Jonathan's blog, I responded on my own. He did allow my link to my response to go through.

I have not attempted to respond on Jason's blog.

555.2. Philip Storry
(09/02/2007 03:16)

I suspect that comments are moderated by default, and that Jason may not have much time to moderate them given how many people he has to speak to right now. ;-)

555.3. Ben Langhinrichs
(02/09/2007 04:33 AM)

Philip - You may well be correct. Why not post a positive comment and see if it equally ignored? That would clarify matters a bit. And if it were not ignored, but mine still were, it might also clarify things. What do you think?

It honestly just rubs me the wrong way when people invite honest disagreement, as Jason Matasow does, then don't let it happen. It rings false, but I also may be underestimating how busy the man is. Thanks for pointing that out.

555.4. Jane Griscti
(02/10/2007 09:01 AM)

Posted comments on both sites; the crux of both posts is that I find MS's arguments rather facile. Why build an Open XML/ODF translator? To me it implies their customer base needs ODF, so why not make the products ODF compliant to begin with?

Not sure how they'll be taken or responded to.

555.5. Ed Brill
(02/10/2007 03:54 PM)

Looks like your comment has finally appeared on Matusow's blog, along with many others. OTOH, Thomas and Jane's comments have shown up on Jonathan Murray's, but yours still isn't there. Submit again, perhaps?

555.6. Jonathan Murray
(12.02.2007 07:15)

Ben. My site is open to all comments. There is no filtering. There is no editorial review and approval process. If anyone takes the time to comment then they appear on the site (Except in cases of outright abusive/inapropriate language where I reserve the right to remove them.) Best regards, Jonathan Murray

555.7. Ed Brill
(02/12/2007 09:34 AM)

Perhaps since Mr. Murray's "blog" only has three entries, the first of which was years ago, he's not quite accustomed to how blogging comments work :-o

555.8. nksingh
(02/19/2007 03:33 PM)

Worst I've seen is Rob Weir of IBM, who seems to moderate quite heavily and explicitly (he appears to say so in his blog disclaimer).

555.9. Ben Langhinrichs
(02/19/2007 04:38 PM)

I don't think Rob moderates overly harshly, but given that he says what his policy is, I also have less of an issue with it. Some people don't allow comments at all, some allow them but heavily moderate, and some allow all but outright spam. I obviously prefer (and follow) the latter policy, but I am OK with almsot any policy that is open and explicit. A blog is, after all, a private conversation between a person and his or her readers, and individuals have the right to set the rules of that conversation. Readers can choose to participate under those rules or not, but I really object to those who invite differing opinions and then don't allow them.

Fortunately, both Jonathan Murray and Jason Matasow seem to be honorable gentlemen, and their lack of posting seems to have more to do with lack of time on the part of one and a buggy comment system on the other. All comments since have been posted, as far as I can tell.