A colleague of mine at Readify asked on an internal list what we all thought of the idea of moving all of our personal blogs over to a central server managed by the company, something like blogs.readify.net (no, that’s not a link, that’s an example). Amongst the lively discussion of whether or not it would be a good idea, I made some comments that several other Readifians suggested I blog about. Although it seemed a bit narcissistic to blog about a comment about a blog revolving around the company I work for, I thought about it and decided to post it in case someone else was interested in hearing my thoughts on this concept.
Remember, these comments are in relation to pre-existing blogs by guys who, mostly, keep them up to date with all kinds of information. Also, I’ve paraphrased some of it for context and other reasons.
I’m busy (we’re all busy). When I am not consulting, I’m doing professional development to further educate myself. When I am not doing professional development, I have a family, and occasionally, other work to do that helps me sustain my family. As a result I have only a small amount of time to devote to a single blog. If I had to maintain separate blogs for personal, for company specific information, for tech, etc, I would (quickly) go insane and most likely stop posting at some or all of them.
(Yes, I know some people manage multiple blogs, but I have plenty of other writing I have to do without having to track multiple blogs too)
I don’t want my blog to be hosted under the corporate banner, not because I’m not loyal to Readify, but because it’s more about me as a person than it is about Readify as a company. Part of "me" is my technical side, which is what people who know me from Readify are most likely interested in. Having a single blog is like representing me as a whole – you get the tech moments, you get the proud father moments, you get the nerdy cool moments, and you get the philosophical moments. I would rather have it all together as I never know which bit my friends, family or coworkers will be interested in at any given time.*
(And yes, that’s why we have categories in our blogs – so if someone is interested in just a "piece of me" they can look under a particular category)
Also, having your blog under the corporate banner instantly associates you with the company in a much more meaningful way. Some readers may see this as negative, most probably not (but the point here is, some may).
There is an argument put forward that the blog can be independent of the company particularly if we are careful to make sure the company doesn’t have to financially invest in the blog server but this is meaningless from the reader’s point of view. In the media industry it’s all about perception, and the perception of having a company "provided" blog space is that of a company "directed" and "controlled" blog space.
It is a far better implementation to do what we do now. We all have our own personal blogs, and they get aggregated into the Readify bloggers page on the website. This way, those visiting Readify can see that there are a large number of us actively blogging in our own time.
Think – if those guys who feel strongly about a particular issue are blogging about it on their own blogs stating how important it is, is it going to be a stronger message having half a dozen blogs.readify.net entries scattered across the site discussing it, or half a dozen independently run blogs from all over the place, discussing it and linking to each other? As Mitch commented in this discussion, this is helpful to search engine rankings if nothing else, but it also would actually present a stronger drive to the issue than a single corporate (remember, it’s the perception not the reality) message.
And finally, does Readify want to be associated with everything I post? What if I go on a rant about the NSW State Government? Or get involved in discussing something really prickly like abortion? What if I do something that I thought was innocent but get barrages of hate mail that start slandering me and the company I am working for? Or go down the inane route for a minute – does Readify want to be associated with me discussing video games, or my kids?
And of course, there are legal ramifications to consider in this too – what if I posted something slanderous/libelous? If it was a company "sponsored" blog, then Readify could be held as co-defendant. What if I posted something that broke NDA? Again, a company "owned" blog could mean the vendor terminating or negatively impacting their relationship with Readify.
The more I think about it, the more I realise: having a separation between the company and my blog is a probably good thing for both parties.
PS. I should note that I do not intend to do any of those bad, evil, hurtful things… just using them as examples to consider. 🙂
* A further thought to this idea. In the virtualised office world we work in at Readify, it can be difficult to keep up with everyone’s lives. Having a central blog that "tells it all" allows my co-workers to discover things about me that they may not have been aware of previously, or known was happening. I actually really enjoy reading abbot the other guys’ families and what they’re doing outside work. The tech stuff is cool and potentially important to my work, but the other stuff is even better at helping us gel as a team.