The term blogosphere started as a joke but quickly became a common word to indicate the community and the social network of blogs and bloggers. Like every other community, the blogosphere has its own style, guidelines, and customs. These rules are a way for the blogger community to recognize its own members and to define itself. Bloggers define a blog as a group of web pages with certain features, like posts, permalinks, trace-backs, comments, and the presence of the author and date associated with each post. While everybody has the absolute freedom to use the word blog for any web page, the guidelines are shared by almost all the bloggers. For example, I can drive a Smart car and wear a French beret and claim to be a cowboy; but if I sit in a Texas bar, I'm sure the other cowboys would not recognize me as one of them. The same holds true for bloggers and their blogs. If a blog doesn't accept comments and trace-backs we can still call it a blog, but the blogosphere may not consider it one of their own. (FYI: I am not a cowboy and I do not wear French berets. I also do not drive a Smart car.)
According to several experts, the blogosphere style-guidelines are not only useful to the blogger community; they are fully compatible with business and business blogs. The popular book "Blog and Marketing" by Jeremy Wright (blog) presents several examples of companies that are able to benefit from blogs without ignoring or reinterpreting the concept of a blog. In his book Jeremy describes the famous example of Kryptonite. In 2004 the company decided not to address several bloggers' negative feedback about one of its bike locks (see the original video on how to use a 10-cent ballpoint pen to pick a $100 bike lock), and lost a great amount of user confidence in their products.
I'm having a similar experience with a company with plenty of ambitions to enter the CAD world. In a recent post on this blog I highlighted that Adobe Acrobat Reader could benefit from some major redesign and that the latest releases are unstable and can easily crash (mostly when used inside a web browser). A few days later, Doug Halliday on an Adobe official blog acknowledged my post (no links, just my name): "Reader not working? Wow! The point about the reader working or not is interesting. We will investigate this and report back - this is the first I have heard of such issues with the Reader."
In the mean time I found that FoxIt is selling a PDF reader plug-in for the FireFox web browser. The interesting part is how FoxIt is promoting his PDF Reader on LifeHacker website: "You don't need Adobe Reader to load up for 5 minutes, freezing your computer 4 times in the process, just to view a PDF."
I thought it would be useful for Adobe to receive this kind of feedback; I went back to Dough Halliday blog and posted a comment (only after going though an unnecessary registration process): "Hi Doug, Just a short comment on the topic "Reader not Working?" raised by my recent post on NOVEDGE blog and addressed by your post. I believe I'm not the only one experiencing a problem with the Acrobat Reader. It seems to be a known issue. I'm a bit surprised that Adobe has to learn this from me. For example, take a look at the description of FoxIt Reader, a FireFox plug-in intended to replace Acrobat Reader."
My comment was never approved by Dough and never appeared online (blog comments have to be approved in order to be published). Like Kryptonite, Adobe decided to ignore a user feedback.
a blog is a great opportunity for a business to establish a beneficial dialogue with its customers
I sincerely believe a blog is a great opportunity for a business to establish a beneficial dialogue with its customers. Being in a dialogue means to listen and to answer, even when you don't like what your customers are saying. Is Adobe having a dialogue with its customers or just using blogs as a marketing tool? Please feel free to express your opinion by leaving a message (I promise I will not delete your comment).
P.S. On April 1st, 2007 after leaving a comment, and exchanging a couple of e-mails with me, Doug Halliday published my original comment (dated March 7) on his blog. I would like to thank Doug for his positive reaction to this post.