When is it Ok to Delete a Comment or Why David Gee and Hewlett Packard Think the Blogosphere Should be a One Way Conversation
Update: Earlier today I posted this article about having my negative comments removed from an HP corporate blogger’s post by the blogger. Since this article, David Gee, the blogger involved has reinstated my comment on his blog and has in fact admitted that HP made a mistake in censoring my comment and has described the deleting of my comment and its subsequent reinstatement as a learning experience in a follow up post. In a post entitled, “Taking it on the Chin, Gee writes, “This was a good learning experience for us and we strive to maintain honest and open communication with our customers. If we are going to use blogging as a legitimate connection between us and our customers, we need to choose either to be in all the way or out. We choose to be in. We want to hear from you.”
I would add that David made this change prior to this story being picked up, at my suggestion, by Slashdot. Although today’s situation may illustrate that a small blogger through amplification of the blogosphere can have a meaningful impact, I think that HP honestly reassessed the situation and made the change.
This is a really positive thing and I commend and applaud David Gee and HP for in this case doing the right thing. As a new blogger I welcome David to the blogosphere and look forward to his and HP’s contribution going forward. In my book both David and HP have moved up a notch.
Original story below.
Yesterday while perusing Steve Rubel’s excellent PR blog
Micro Persuasion I noticed that he had a post up which seemed kind of complementary towards Hewlett Packard. Steve had posted on HP’s new podcasting effort by Nora Denzel, HP’s senior vice president and general manager of HP’s Adaptive Enterprise and Software Global Business Unit. Apparently she’s doing a new little thing called “Agility Radio.” It looks like her latest podcast is titled, “CIOs will be judged by agility in the next decade,” you may be right Denzel, especially in the agility of removing comments that are critical to your company or product. Steve went on to point out that although Denzel’s podcast may be a corporate first that there were already a few other HP corporate bloggers popping up out there.
So imagine my surprise when I posted a well written respectful comment critical of HP on the first HP blogger on Steve’s list, David Gee, the head of worldwide marketing for HP’s management software business, only to have it promptly deleted and my HP passport (required to leave comments) revoked. In fact David not only killed my comment and turned off my access but he shut down comments for that post entirely. I guess this is one way to deal with criticism Dave. And welcome to the blogosphere by the way, it looks like you’ve almost officially got a month under your belt and you’re off to a good start. The post that I left the comment on was entitled “Customer Intimacy.” I guess you don’t really want to hear from customers who aren’t so intimate huh?
Now there are legitimate reasons to remove comments. Mark Cuban had a post out yesterday which outlined some of his problems with comment spam. Venture Capitalist Fred Wilson also recently posted on the problem of people misrepresenting themselves and offering purposely misleading comments. My old pal Michael Gartenberg over at JupiterResearch doesn’t even allow them on his blog, although he’s gone out of his way to still try and get bloggers involved in the conversation including a little joint blogging that I did with them a few weeks back. But one reason in my opinion that it is not valid to remove comments is strictly because someone is critical of your company or product. This is lame and I would have thought that HP would have known better.
Although I’ve removed a lot of comment spam I’ve always left comments up that are critical of me or of what I’ve written. I’ve only removed one non spam comment to date and that was because the language was especially offensive and vulgar.
Some companies get it and are using the blogosphere to their advantage. I think the work that Robert Scoble is doing at Microsoft is an excellent example of the way that a company ought to embrace the blogosphere and corporate blogging. But you know what? I doubt you’d ever see Scoble taking comments down because they were critical of Microsoft. For two reasons really. Reason number one is that sometimes you can learn a few things from your critics and believe it or not even convert them from critics to fans by listening to them. Reason number two is that sometimes trying to silence someone who is critical of you only ends up amplifying the original criticism in the end.
So my advice to you David is that if you aren’t willing to engage or discuss problems with HP through your blog (or I didn’t even so much as get an email from you), then you’d probably still be better off just ignoring the comments rather than trying to make them go away.
For those of you wondering what my comment was about, below are the before and after screen shots (funny thing that way David, you can take things away on the internet but sometimes they come back). You will need to click on each to blow it up to see it.
Now I’ve been unhappy with some things at HP for a while particularly as it relates to their support for their Media Center product. Suffice it to say it’s been horrible. After paying HP $99 for lifetime telephone support I have found their tech support to be seriously lacking. I have had tech support individuals tell me that they did not even know what Media Center was. I have had HP tech support individuals consistently misdiagnose my problems and although I suppose you should probably know that Google is better than most tech support professionals anyways I had expected more from HP. Further, in my opinion, they totally botched the most recent Media Center upgrade. Microsoft had provided HP free discs for the upgrade and HP had a buggy website that took about 8 weeks to get discs out and didn’t even include all of the upgrade software provided to them by Microsoft. <
Anyways. If you are going to do corporate blogging and you are going to allow comments I think you’d be better off not deleting the ones that are critical to your company or product. Just my two cents.
Also, not sure if people noticed it or not in my screen shots — you have to enlarge them to read them — but I’ve already saved over 20 minutes using the Google Accelerator. Whooo Hooo.
Update: It would appear that David Gee has changed his mind and has reinstated my comment along with a comment from him saying he would pass the feedback along. A good first step. I’ve asked for an explanation as to why it was removed and hopefully will hear back soon.