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A couple of comments on some recent teapot scale tempests in the Domino community

By Andrew Pollack on 03/27/2008 at 07:49 AM EDT

Sorry I've missed playing in the latest round of who has the biggest ego. I've been working hard lately -- mostly to make up for a dreadful second half of 2007 while I worked on Second Signal and therefore didn't do enough consulting. It wouldn't be a good meaningless argument however, if I didn't weigh in. Here's an invoice for my two cents....

Grand Ruckus #1: Volker Weber posted a carefully aimed groin-kick of truth in the form of his "10 common beliefs in the Domino community", to which Nathan responded with return poke in the eye and metaphorical swirlie in his post "1 common belief in the Domino community" where as you can expect, John Head joined in to valiantly protect IBM no matter the risk to personal harm. What's really going on here?

Volker's post - while full of exaggeration and over generalization - does point out how we as a community are often too quick to dismiss Microsoft's products as unusable, salespeople as untrustworthy, and customers as fools or sheep. If you ignore the somewhat painful manner of its delivery, there is truth in the message. Surely those products work well for some shops. Surely most salespeople are doing their jobs honestly with the primary goal of feeding their families. Surely some of those customers are getting what they want. We ignore this to our own loss.

At the same time, Nathan's bitch-slap of a response holds a small nugget of truth in it as well. Most of us who don't read German technology press have no idea what Volker actually has to do with the Domino community other than that he seems to be somewhat famous among Domino bloggers. The really funny thing is that Ed, John, and Nathan are all part of the reason for that. While a respected member of the German press, when it comes to influence in the U.S., Volker is mostly famous for being famous. It's almost a Paris Hilton thing. If I were a religious man, I'd be praying he never makes that kind of video, however.

The result of all this finger pointing and side-taking, however, is pretty much nill. Ed will continue to react strongly to people who otherwise would escape attention altogether when they say things about Domino we don't like. Nathan will continue to dislike Volker. Volker will continue to not care. John will continue to valiantly defend IBM at every opportunity. Volker will continue to stir the pot periodically, just to make sure the smell attracts attention. The world moves on.

Grand Ruckus #2: SearchDomino's attempt to alienate their entire audience in one step failed, so they tried twice more. They did this by accepting advertising from a company that migrates customers away from Domino without being at all careful enough about the way that the ad was presented. In terms of accepting the ad revenue, I am 100% in support of Tech Target's right and responsibility to accept ad revenue from anyone willing to buy it so long as it meets the standards of public decency we expect in a business magazine.

Where they crossed the line is in the way the ad copy crosses the line to look like editorial statements. By blurring that line, the magazine appears to be endorsing the idea that moving from Domino to another product is equal to moving from outdated technology to modern. Though they've privately apologized to an IBM executive, they've failed to come out and print an editorial apology to their readers in the form of a retraction or correction as any print based magazine would.

SearchDomino claims that their editoral staff and their advertising staff have absolutely no influence over one another. To hear them talk, you'd think that a carefully policed no-man's land existed in the office and the two parts of the organization were kept apart physically and electronically. We all know that this is the ideal, but very rarely achieved. It is a constant struggle for the finest professional journals in the largest news organizations in the world to keep up that kind of separation. Tech Target is not the New York Times, so lets not pretend they're better at this kind of distinction.

SearchDomino can put an end to this problem by taking some very simple corrective action. An editor's note at the top of its subscriber emails, a change in policy which more clearly distinguishes ad copy from editorial, and a bit more responsible screening of content would do wonders. Until then, I've decided to take my own football and go home. For this reason, I turned down an interview with one of their journals this week, and will continue to do that. I realize this will hurt them not one little bit, but I don't think this is a hill to die on either.


There are  - loading -  comments....

re: A couple of comments on some recent teapot scale tempests in the Domino communityBy Bob Balaban on 03/28/2008 at 09:02 PM EDT
re: "Volker will continue to stir the pot periodically, just to make sure the
smell attracts attention. "

>> Perhaps he's stirring it just to see if there's anything left in it? When
the pot is empty, we all have to go get new careers....

Re SearchDomino: "you'd think that a carefully policed no-man's land existed in
the office and the two parts of the organization were kept apart physically and
electronically. We all know that this is the ideal, but very rarely achieved"

>> We all know this is unlikely to the point of being worthy of a Jay Leno
monologue. Anybody who claims differently should go work on John McCain's
campaign (IMHO)


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