Think about consequences

Marc Fleury, founder of JBoss, used to have a strong opinion about Red Hat. And as a CEO blogger, he shared it with everybody in September 2004:

RH is a PACKAGER, not a technology house. How do they DARE call SUN on technology innovation. SUN by all measures has been a star in technology. SUN created more technology over the years than RH ever will, JAVA, NFS (open source) etc. RH is a packager, it doesn't create JACK, it doesn't create Linux, it wraps it up in proprietary shit. And no the contributions that they make don't really count. Linus Torvalds creates Linux.

But you won't find this on his blog anymore. Now that RedHat has bought JBoss, it's been removed, and Marc has now, along with $350 million, a brand new opinion on RH:

RedHat and JBoss share a joint culture of pure-play open source. While different, our cultures are both centered around the mission of changing the industry through the development, distribution and support of free and open source software.

Hopefully we can count on the Google cache, and the vigilance of a few bloggers like Patrick Chanezon, Dave Johnson or Angsuman Chakraborty. And after the blogosphere, the news has been picked up by The Register and CNet.

I've read several pieces from Marc Fleury, which I liked. Now I must admit that this episode leaves a bad taste about authenticity and transparency, which are values one should not toy with too casually, especially on a public blog. If you needed a proof why it's recommend to never delete a blog post, you have a great one. Bonus if you also needed a proof that the internet has some memory. And since the original reaction from Marc was about a blog war between RedHat and Sun, I can't resist to quote Sun's blogging policy with, I think, a quite relevant advice:

Think About Consequences
The worst thing that can happen is that a Sun sales pro is in a meeting with a hot prospect, and someone on the customer's side pulls out a print-out of your blog and says "This person at Sun says that product sucks."

In general, "XXX sucks" is not only risky but unsubtle. Saying "Netbeans needs to have an easier learning curve for the first-time user" is fine; saying "Visual Development Environments for Java sucks" is just amateurish.

Once again, it's all about judgment: using your weblog to trash or embarrass the company, our customers, or your co-workers, is not only dangerous but stupid.

Rewriting the above tip with selective replacements of certain words and brands with JBoss, RedHat, shit, wannabes and girly men is left as an exercize to the reader, and whoever needs to write RedHat's blogging policy.

2 Comments

One cannot help but feel that these kinds of restrictions, or self-censorship, lead to something other than a weblog. More akin to public relations, in that it's probably apolitical, painfully even handed and generally cloaked in management doublespeak. One can see a growing multitude of "blogs" from the corporate sector that follow this trend. There is such a thing as "fake authenticity", or cachet.

Obviously, there are a few exceptions, but they are that; exceptions. And that's a shame but so wonderfully predictable.

Nice and relevant to quote the Sun blogging policy: Tim knows what he's talking about!