Ed Bott discussed on a ZDNet blog a case of a Microsoft blogger who, according to him, gave some wrong advice. The post is about a problem that might occur during the installation of the IE7 preview. The Microsoft blogger explained how to circumvent this problem by making some changes in the registry. A friend of Ed Bott followed the instructions, thereby, severely damaging his system.

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I didn't go too deep into this, but as far as I can understand it, the Microsoft blogger didn't give a wrong advice. He didn't just follow some guidelines of a more experienced writer. For example, he didn't warn his readers that changes in the registry can have serious consequences for the system stability. So, Bott's friend crashed his Windows by hacking the registry, without really knowing what he was doing. Now, Ed Bott asks: When Microsoft gives bad advice, who pays?

First of all, it could have been worse. The Microsoft blogger could have really given a bad advice, not just a good advice that is only badly formulated. He could have said something that is simply wrong. Then, not only would some inexperienced users have crashed their systems, but probably lots of geeks, too. This also could have happened to an experienced writer. Humans make mistakes.

Now, Ed Bott advices Microsoft to peer review the posts of its bloggers:

Microsoft has earned lots of praise for the freedom it extends to employee bloggers, and the last thing I want to do is argue that they should dial back on that freedom. But a little peer review couldn't hurt, especially for any post that offers detailed instructions that would normally appear in a Knowledge Base article.

Peer reviewed blogging? I wouldn't call that blogging. This is just publishing! I don't know how many Microsoft bloggers there are meanwhile. But it is quite clear that there are so many that this is simply not doable.

In my RSS reader I distinguish between blogs and news sites. I always read the blogs first, because usually I get the more interesting information there. These guys write about their daily work, they don't just reformulate press releases. So to my experience you get more professional and useful information there. Of course they go more often into the details, meaning that they are more prone to mistakes.

I also read some Microsoft blogs, and I like many of them just because they are not peer-reviewed. I am not so much interested in official Microsoft statements. I want to know what its employees have to tell me about their work and about the products I use every day. If you are a Windows admin, I recommend reading the blogs first, then if you still have some time, check out the news sites. You can search for the Microsoft blogs here.

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Just in case you don't like Microsoft, I recommend replacing "Microsoft" with Apple, Red Hat or whatever is your favourite company before forming your own opinion about the topic discussed here. The general question is, whether peer-reviewed corporate blogs are to your liking or not.

  1. Jim 17 years ago

    LOL…I’d rather see many of the “professional journalists” get their articles peer reviewed than MS, Apple, or anyone. They give bad advice more than any of the others. Oh, that’s right, it’s “an opinion piece”. «sigh»

  2. Jim, the question is, what „professional“ is supposed to mean in this context. Journalists often say that bloggers are not professional writers. That is true, but the point is that bloggers are often professionals in the fields they write about. So I agree with you that in some cases it might be a good idea if journalists let their texts be peer-reviewed by IT professionals.

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