Microsoft’s Betsy Aoki gave us a great session explaining all about “blogging at Microsoft”. Initially, during 2003/4 there were only 5 bloggers using BlogX, after PDC a further 200 signed up and within a year there were over 1000…mainly using .Text. Currently, Betsy manages of 1600 Microsoft bloggers split between blogs.msdn.com and blogs.technet.com (and a handful of other employee-specific sites).
Those of you who are avid bloggers and follow Microsoft blogging closely, will know that Microsoft have gone through a few blogging engines in their time so far. Initially, some Microsoft bloggers used BlogX. This was followed by .Text and now by Community Server 1.0 (written by Scott Watermasysk and Telligent Systems who are lucky enough to be able to say: “Writing blogging software is our day job now!” I’m only jealous!)
Betsy played a pivitol role in the migration to .Text and the subsequent migration to Community Server 1.0. When migrating from one engine to another, it’s worth considering how refferals might work: consider setting up 304 redirects for the RSS feeds. Raymond Chen‘s blog took over 30 minutes to port from .Text to Community Server…mainly due to the vast number of referrers!
Betsy noted some of the problems peculiar to a blog site. Particularly:
- Skins are absurdly important. You would think content was the important thing, no, it’s the look’n’feel. How long did you spend looking out the theme/skin for your blog?
- Microsoft employees want to blog: Wherever, whenever. Initially, Microsoft bloggers were a little reluctant to blog, stating “you want me to blog and do my day job”. Now, and this was evident in this session and Betsy and Eileen’s session (more later), Microsoft bloggers can’t get enough of it. Folks are on the ‘phone complaining when they can’t get to their blog…it’s an addiction (a soft one luckily!)
I was interested to learn that Microsoft don’t have an official blogging policy, but they do offer advice on “how to blog” and particularly, “how to blog smart”. Robert Scoble is noted as “setting the scene” and “driving it forward”. Betsy explained that Microsoft don’t have a blogging policy because they don’t want their employees to feel constrained, nor do they want blog readers to believe that employees are being told what to write…i.e. blog posts become a marketing device. So it seems that good stuff doesn’t always need policy.
I enjoyed this session, it was delivered well and gave me an insight into something most of us take for granted…I mean, blogs.msdn.com just appeared…did it not?