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“no employee should ever post any comment” January 7, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Inexplicable Memos From Above, Technology Trouble.
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As we invite more and more of our customers to be part of [our public sites] and to comment on [things we post], no employee should ever post any comment on any chat. If something needs to be addressed please contact your department head, a manager or the Web Master and they will respond as the administrator. Under no circumstances may an employee post any comments on our chats identified as themselves or anyone else. We must respect the fact that that is a place for our customers to comment and we can not truthfully say that we are not involved in these comments if our employees are posting on them. If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know.*

CC-licensed photo by Flickr user joelogon.

CC-licensed photo by Flickr user joelogon.

Wow. Just… wow. Everyone in the online department, as well as the content management and creation departments, had a collective jaw-drop when our local Big Boss sent that out. Versions of it were sent out all over the company (I was on the conference call** that set out these rules).

I understand the liability issue, but seriously… if you can’t converse with people reading your blog or your created works, then you’re completely missing out on the two-way street (sometimes called a “return path”*** in corporate parlance) that is today’s interaction with content consumers.

Apparently we are allowed to write a follow-up article or blog entry to respond to things said in comment threads (mistakenly called “chats” because our bigger properties mistakenly call them that), but that’s it. Completely defeats the purpose.

Welcome to Corporate America, two-way communication. We’re sorry you’re here.

* Yes, all e-mails from our Big Boss come down as one huge paragraph. Depressing. And he has a secretary whose job it is to send these out; you’d think she’d know.

** Though not really paying attention.

*** The true definition of “return path” is a bounce e-mail address. But that’s not how corporate people use it these days. I have a post planned on how it’s used.

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